As I walked out of my favorite salon in Dupont, I reflexively reached for a mint—something I've probably done dozens of times.
And in that moment it hit me: I've been lying to myself for years.
Should I back up?
Yeah I should probably back up.
A little over a month ago I committed to Ericka's challenge and just a few days later I finally went to see a physical therapist about back problems I'd been suffering through and ignoring for weeks (maybe months if I'm being honest).
It only hurt during work outs when I was doing sit ups, v-sits, Russian twists, or crunches—but I didn't stop doing those exercises during class because I didn't want to be the fat girl* with an excuse about why she couldn't perform an exercise. Nobody likes that girl.
So I got an evaluation from Karen at Balance and she armed me with PT homework and told me to (duh) stop doing sit ups, v-sits, Russian twists, or crunches and just hold a plank or do something else instead. Sweet.
After almost two weeks of doing the PT homework while still going to boot camp and barre classes most nights of the week, I had to finally crack and confess to her (via email) that the pain was bad and had started coming on even though I still wasn't doing anything that had originally triggered it.
There were so many times in class when I actually wanted to cry out in pain—but I thought I was making excuses and being weak and just needed to keep going and do more mobility even if it meant crying in an Epsom salt soak later.
Doesn't fitness sound awesome?
Anyway: That was stupid.
So after I finally made my confession, Karen gave me a really terrifying task: One week total rest.
I felt myself becoming whale-like just reading her email.
Since I was allowed to use the elliptical and keep doing the PT homework, I threw myself into that totally.
I used to think those girls in the gym on their headphones, texting on the elliptical were idiots.
And now I know they're idiots.
Okay, that's mean, but seriously—cardio bunnies: please, do yourselves a favor and go to an actual class that requires you to pick up heavy things and put them down. Please. Just do it.
Something else I decided I needed to do was start a Whole 30 challenge.
Because it looked totally easy and I thought to myself I eat 90% clean already anyway, how hard could it be to go 100% for one month?
Oh, cute little Lyndsey. You are so, so cute.
I read this post about what I should expect—and I thought to myself well I'm not going to have the hangover/food withdrawals/cravings because I don't eat junk food anyway. I hardly ever eat bread unless I'm at dinner with friends; I hardly ever eat dairy unless it's yogurt; and I don't eat candy.
TL;DR - I sat on a throne of LIES.
I would eat a super healthy breakfast of a green monster smoothie or a bowl of spinach and eggs... but I drink lattes every single morning when I walk to work.
I drink tons of green tea and two liters of water every day... but I also drink a cup of hot chocolate from the Keurig-like-thing we have at work most days of the week. YES, ME.
I never buy candy from the store or add a cookie or a brownie to my lunch order... but if it's at work or a party, or in a bowl by a desk, I'll totally eat one... or four.
And we don't have to mention how many calories are in alcohol or how much of that I consume during a normal week.
My point to all of this is: I was never conscious of how much those choices added up until I had to face them every day.
And y'all - it's REALLY hard to remember.
It's easy to pack all your food and plan your meals and only eat the things you're supposed to (at least for me it is), but it's really hard to just remember not to order a latte (you want tea, Lyndsey—TEA), not to silently take a chocolate from a dish on a desk and eat it without even thinking about it.
So really, more than anything else, this challenge has woken me up to how many things I do without awareness. And it's scary.
The funny thing is, I remember vividly CRYING with a friend not too long ago because I was so frustrated with my fitness life—I work out hard five or six days a week, I said. I eat chicken and spinach and gallons of water, I said. I don't know why I'm on this plateau from hell. My friend basically told me to suck it up and make some hard changes if I wanted it badly enough.
It was like that scene in the Devil Wears Prada when Andy reaches a breaking point and cries to Nigel that she can't go on and he tells her she's hardly trying at all. After a moment of gasping indignantly she realizes he's right.
So, instead of Chanel boots—I'm just Shiite Paleo for 24 more days. See—I really was hardly trying at all.
*Yeah, I called myself a fat girl. You read it. And it probably made you as uncomfortable to read as it made me to write. I "know" I'm not fat - I'm a size six, I'm healthy, etc. but for whatever reason—and I don't know if this will ever go away—when I'm in a class full of people I always think I'm the biggest girl, the least in shape person there—even though a) it doesn't matter and b) it isn't true. Isn't being a woman awesome?