To All the Young Women Out There:
Hear me out. I want to share something with you.
I had it all.
Dream job? Check.
Dreamy boyfriend? Double check.
Awesome friends and family, a killer pad, and a roommate I actually got along with? Triple check.
Did I mention, I was in my 20s?
Yeah, all was good. On paper, that is…
I was obsessed over leading the picture-perfect life and performing my role as the picture-perfect girl. Yep that was me. Don’t hate me because I’m cute, smart, and well Miss Perfect (I’m not, keep reading!). I said that “was” me, okay? And here’s the thing — I didn’t have the presence of mind to enjoy it all, truly.
All the amazing stuff — the boxes that were all ticked off I mentioned earlier? Well, I barely saw the awesome roommate, friends, boyfriend, and family. And the apartment? Was never around that much either.
I was at the gym. Why? Because “being healthy” consumed my life.
While I should have been enjoying my pad, boyfriend, and friends — I woke up every morning at 4:30 AM to go to the gym, where I worked out with a trainer and huffed and puffed through endless hours of cardio.
My obsession over “being healthy” meant figuring out ways to get out of happy hours with co-workers. That meant politely declining dinner with friends and coming up with excuses to skip out on family events. Oh, I would come up with all different excuses. Everything but admitting:
1.) I was probably ditching them to go to the gym or
2.) I didn’t want to waste the calories from eating and drinking. Saying “sorry, I have to go to the gym” and “I can’t hang out with you because that means I will consume more than 300 calories” is crazy, right?
Not exactly, “being healthy” behavior, huh. It would be rude to tell my friends that my new bestie was the Stairmaster. Here I was, Miss Perfect perfectly fine with being a hermit. This did not put me in a very good state of mind, nor was I “healthy,” which I strived so hard to be.
I can remember one time in particular, having major anxiety at the Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day parade — a big deal in the town and everyone goes out for it. I wasn’t able to go to the gym that day because my friends were coming over to my place to pregame before the parade. This should have been something I was really looking forward to. Having those memories with friends and taking a million goofy pictures are important. Instead, all I could think about was how I was missing out on spinning my way into a sweat session and the guilt from Italian sandwiches and beer consumed me.
Over the next year-and-a-half to two-year mark, I could literally feel myself mentally maturing and getting more comfortable in my own skin. It was at that same time, I moved in with that dream boyfriend (now husband). It was then that I started to get better with the whole socializing thing. I was becoming less obsessed with eating healthy and exercising. It was wonderful (and surreal) to go out to dinner with friends, explore new restaurants, and enjoy some wine without counting how many calories where in each sip. It was nice not having anxiety from eating more than I thought was the ultimate max to stay skinny. Going to the gym started to be something I liked to help destress, not something I dreaded since I had put so much pressure on myself.
So here I am on the other side of 30. At 34, the past few years have been a world of traveling, exploring, and developing a love for wine and chocolate. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to amazing places and explore these things that I now love. To hell with being Miss Perfect (she doesn’t exist, not here not anywhere). These days, I want to live and enjoy what I have — that’s what I call “being healthy,” don’t you agree?
I haven’t given up on exercise. My trips to the gym are more strategic. During vacations, I refuse to work out for days at a time. And that’s okay. I am at peace with that. The kicker in all of this? I’ve stayed the same weight throughout these years.
Now, as I reflect on my 20s and looking at other girls going through exactly what I went through, I have the following advice: Get over yourself! That’s what I am calling this. The “Get Over Yourself” movement. Okay, maybe a bit more direct advice would be important.
Here are 3 steps you can do to join the movement.
1. Do not count calories in your head all day. For me, it just wasn’t a good way to go about life since every calorie counted (the max was 1,500 a day). You should be spending that brain power on tracking all the places you want to travel to or restaurants you want to try.
2. No matter what, do not cancel your plans. If you are feeling guilty over what you ate the night before or anxious about what is to come, just remember you made a commitment. Suck it up and go. People remember that stuff too. My friends and family still talk about when I was no fun for 3 years. It’s embarrassing. So, stick to your word.
3. Eat healthy and exercise, don’t get me wrong, but try everything in moderation. What works best for me mentally and physically is 2 days weight training, 2 days cardio, if I’m lucky 1 day of yoga. Pounding the pavement every day is going to kill your knees and eventually your mental stability if you miss a day.
Remember this ladies: you always look good, so splurge every now and then. You are powerful women so embrace it. You have your entire life ahead of you, so enjoy it!
No one cares whether you went to the gym 1 day or 6 days last week. No one cares, but you. Please enjoy your time with friends and family, it is so important. I regret missing out on this part of my life. I’ll end it with this quote that really hits home for me.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. — H. Jackson Brown
No mention in that quote about the number of miles spun, calories burned, or days at the gym spent — enjoy your life, today.
Not Miss Perfect, but Perfectly Happy
Carley Lagemann is the founder of Veggies and Vino, the normal girl’s guide to healthy eating and drinking
Feel free to say hi at firstname.lastname@example.org
I would love to hear from you.