“Just say no.”
How often do you do things you really don’t want to do? Before we get too far, I’m not talking about grocery shopping, cleaning up after your pet, or filling out expense reports at work. There are some things we have to do as part of our role as functioning adults.
I mean how often do you agree to do things that you don’t really have to do, things to which you could simply say no?
Whether joining a committee, planning a birthday party for your child, or doing workplace tasks that shouldn’t fall on your plate, how often do you say “yes” to things when you’d really rather say no?
I’ve recently seen a couple posts on social media that have made me want to write about this topic – the first, what I believe is a big part of the problem, the second, what I believe is a big part of the solution.
I’ve hesitated to write about this because I know it could come off as negative, unsupportive, or judgmental. But if you go into it with an open mind, I hope you’ll see this for what it is.
And those of you non-parents, please stick with me and read on, there’s a good takeaway in here for you, too.
#1 You’re In Control
I recently saw a long rant posted on social from a, presumably, exhausted, frustrated mother. It detailed all the expectations on mothers with a light dose of sarcasm and bitching about her (and all mothers’) unfair situation. The frustrations that we “have” to behave a certain way, parent our kids a certain way, and make time for everything when there’s no time for anything.
The first instinct upon seeing these posts, at least I believe, is to sympathize, even give it a “preach!” response. And I get why, especially for mothers. Motherhood is hard. Sometimes, it does seem unfair. But this type of post bothers me and here’s why.
I hate to be the bearer of reasonable news and piss off half the population with a dose of sensibility – but these kinds of rants remove the idea that we’re in control of our situations. They make it acceptable to place blame on someone or something else when, the reality is, the situations in which we find ourselves are largely due to our own choices.
That’s right, choices. We all have the wonderful privilege to make choices.
But Do You Have To…Really?
There are certain things you have to do. Then there are others you maybe feel like you have to do. I’ll set it straight with a few examples:
You don’t have to volunteer for a committee or fundraiser.
You don’t have to cook perfect meals every single time.
You don’t have to respond to every email, text, and phone call immediately.
You don’t have to look wonderfully put together all the time.
You don’t have to do things for the sole reason of having perfect photos to post on social media.
I don’t know your situation. I really don’t. So I get it if some days you’re stressed and tired for one thing or another. Being a parent is hard. But it shouldn’t be so hard. Life shouldn’t be so hard that we stop enjoying it and feel the need to complain about it.
You Choose What To Do – And What Not To Do
Again, I don’t know you, your situation, or why you’re in this broken place you’re in. But what I do know is that you don’t have to do any of those things I just mentioned – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Last year, I could have felt bad about not dressing up my 6-month-old son in a Halloween costume. But I didn’t. It wasn’t something I wanted to do so I decided to skip the stress of finding him the perfect costume. And guess what? He still looked adorable and had a fun Halloween.
You may feel like your inbox is constantly blowing up, you need to see what’s going on with every single social notification on your phone. But you don’t. Here’s why to shut off notifications and don’t worry about it so much – it’s something I do and it works for me.
And for those of you who work, you may feel like you have to overwork yourself to get a promotion. I’m not sure when it became not okay to be happy with your job and simply want to do it well but I’m here to tell you – man or woman – just because you’re not clamoring to be a vice president, a director, or a manager, doesn’t mean you can’t have a challenging, fulfilling career. I’m none of those things and I love my job. Bonus, I’m not working or worrying about work all the time.
My point in all this isn’t to judge other people and parents for their choices. Trust me, I’m a first-time parent and a working mom, and I’m on your side. Feed your baby formula, let him cry it out, and please don’t worry if she throws a tantrum in the middle of the cereal aisle. I’ve got your back and you’re doing a great job.
My point is to remind everyone, parents and non-parents, that nobody needs to be perfect. No one needs to do all the things. No one needs to be “shoulding” all over him/herself. No one needs to stress out to a breaking point just to appear to have it all together. And if that means setting boundaries and saying no to things, do it.
It’s okay to feel overwhelmed and to vent frustrations from time to time. It’s not okay to blame society, unfair expectations, and other people for a situation that’s a result of your own choices.
I think, too we can all be better in doing our part to create a world in which no one feels like they have to or should do it all. Maybe take some of the pressure off everyone feeling like they need to do it all. Let’s give each other – and ourselves – permission to not do it all. Permission to say NO.
It’s great timing that it’s November, because what a perfect time to work on saying No. I mean, it’s in the name – NOvember!
This idea also came from another social media post I saw, I’m pretty sure it was shared by my friend, fitness expert, and all-around awesome woman, Mariah Prussia. The concept of NO-vember is a reminder that it’s healthy to say no to things that you don’t want to make time for or don’t bring you joy.
Let’s extend it to just saying no as a healthy way to set boundaries, give yourself a break, help keep you sane, and make it more realistic to prioritize time for the things you really want and need to do. And do it without the guilt.
It’s Okay to Say No
When you say no to something you don’t want to do, you’re saying yes to other things that bring happiness or improve your wellness. If you’d rather not spend an hour shopping for the latest, trendy boots or responding to emails that can wait, but you would like an hour to sleep more, exercise, or read a book (but, you know, you “don’t have time” for those) consider how you’re choosing to spend your time.
I think there’s a misconception that setting boundaries, declining to participate in certain activities, and saying no are signs of being difficult when, actually, they’re all very healthy practices and good for time prioritization.
So if you don’t want to spend your time planning a Pinterest-worthy birthday party, securing donations for a charity auction, or packing perfect lunches, just say no. Or, if you do want to do all those things, by all means, do them. Just don’t bitch about how society tells you that you have to do all these things.
Okay, time for your thoughts. What do you think about NO-vember and beyond, giving yourself permission to set boundaries and just say no? The comments are yours so please leave one.
“Running saved my life.”
It was the perfect morning for a local 5k run. Chilly weather. A running buddy. And an aid station with water and donuts…wait, what? Yep, that’s right. Please read on.
Last weekend, I ran my first 5k since I was 2 months postpartum – almost a year and a half ago. My friend, Emily, recently took up running (yay!) and this was our first opportunity to run together. We played softball together, we snowboard together, and now we can run together.
My half marathon pacing season came to a close last Saturday but there’s nothing I enjoy more than a Saturday morning race, so I was super excited for the Sandy’s Donut Run, a laid-back, zero-pressure run with one of my besties.
On a related side note, it was the first really brisk race day I’ve experienced and reminded me about the best winter running gear must-haves – read that blog to learn what gear you need to keep running outside now that winter is upon us.
Let’s go back to the donuts. Yes, this annual race is sponsored by the best donut shop in America, Fargo’s original Sandy’s Donuts. We runners got donuts, not only at the finish line, but midway through the race at the aid station. I provide to myself I could indeed run while eating a donut. #winning
But the real joy I got from this run was it reminded me how fun it is to run 5ks. Also, that they’re such a great way to get people involved in something healthy and find their love for running.
Couch to 5k
There’s a reason why couch to 5k programs are so popular. Running is one of those sports where it can be hard to start from scratch – but once a person gets going, little by little, they keep going.
Plus, I believe running encourages more healthy habits like making better food choices, drinking more water, and being more mindful, and leads to better overall wellness like reduced stress and lower resting heart rate.
Running is also addictive – but, for the most part, I mean that in a good way.
Addicted to Running
There’s something about running, I’m not exactly sure what it is, but it’s easy to get hooked on it. The whole runner’s high is real, then there’s something to the idea, especially starting out, of, “I ran 10 minutes straight yesterday…maybe today I can go 12.” And it just seems to snowball from there.
Now, this can be bad, it easily can spiral out of control. I admit, when I first started getting really into running, my addiction bordered on bad. I chose running over most else. I felt anxious and awful if I didn’t run. I craved the stress relief, that badassery feeling, and feared I gain back my lost poundage if I missed a day.
But I’ve learned to manage it now and, for the most part, it’s a good kind of addiction. I think most runners find their proper cadence (no pun intended) and balance for it to be part of their lives, not take over their lives.
And, especially for people in a similar boat as me with addictive personalities who are former bad addicts – drug addicts, food addicts, smokers, you name it – running or exercise in general can be a positive, new addiction to replace dangerous ones.
5ks – the Gateway Drug…to Wellness
Speaking of addiction, have you ever heard that marijuana is a gateway drug? If you’ve seen Half Baked or recall high school health class, that’s probably not news. The theory is a person who has never touched drugs may experiment with them after they try weed. Apparently, once someone tokes up, it opens the door to other drugs.
Running was my gateway drug to wellness. It pulled me away from unhealthy addictions, behaviors, and habits, and instead lead me down a path of healthy addictions, behaviors, and habits. It sounds cheesy but running kind of saved my life. So it makes me really happy when I see others, like Emily, finding their love and passion for it as well.
Was running a “gateway drug” to your healthy lifestyle? Did going couch to 5k – and beyond – change your life for the better? The comments are all yours so I’d love to read your story.
“Here comes the sun.”
Tired. Overworked. Stretched too thin.
It’s true, most people are stressed. Between not having enough time to do everything we feel we need to do, to the everyday pressures of work, school, family, and all of it, we’re all on that struggle bus from time to time.
But what if you could minimize your time on the bus – or, best of all, make sure things don’t get to the point where you’re not just on the bus, you’re driving it.
Establish a Morning Routine
One of the best ways to have good, focused days is with a good, focused morning routine. I’ve found that when my morning routine is on, my day is better than when I begin with a scattered, hectic day.
So what does a good morning routine look like? That link shares more about mine, pretty simple stuff. It’s different for everyone and it can be anything that works best for you. I have five ideas that will give you a starting point, things that have worked well for me as part of my morning routine that I hope will work well for you.
There’s one caveat to this: Try to create a morning routine that doesn’t involve checking your phone. I’m not saying you can’t look at your phone in the morning, just try to keep it separate from this special time that’s just yours.
Here are five ideas for how you can create a morning routine that’ll set up the best days. And, keep in mind, a habit doesn’t have to be a go-big-or-go-home effort. There are plenty of small changes for better health that everyone can make and the morning routine is no exception. Each idea includes a “go big” or “go small” option to help you see how it could work for you.
I truly believe eating breakfast is among the best ways to set up a good day. Eating breakfast fuels the body and the mind for work, taking care of littles, school, or whatever your day brings.
Also, I personally find coffee to be a magical way to wake up and important part of my daily breakfast – highly recommend at least one cup of joe to start each day.
A “big” breakfast doesn’t mean eggs, bacon, French toast, and juice. When I think of Go Big on breakfast, I mean taking the time for something that needs to be prepared like oatmeal, toast with peanut butter and sliced banana, or a smoothie.
A quick breakfast can be a banana, a protein bar, a can of V8 juice – anything you can eat quickly and with no prep. Just take the time to sit down and eat it, not scarf it down in the car. Just drive while you’re in the car.
Writing down your thoughts is an opportunity to get to know yourself better, remind yourself of important things, prioritize, really anything. For more on this topic, here’s how to start a journal, based on my effort earlier this year.
A journal entry can be your aspiration statement for the day. It can include a detailed list of to-dos, priorities, and something specific about how you want to show up for the challenges and choices you’ll be presented with that day. I, for example, have a different journal entry for each day of the week, in addition to my workout journal.
A journal entry doesn’t have to be a long, detailed account of the day. A sentence or a quote are great ideas for a positive, mindful way to begin the day.
There’s something incredibly powerful about the practice of gratitude. That fight you had with a coworker, a full inbox, or a sassy toddler – it’s amazing how those things can become so minor when recognizing what really matters in life.
On a related note to my last point, if you’re looking for an idea to jumpstart daily jounaling, gratitude is a great place to begin.
A complex gratitude practice can include more than just a conscious effort to think of or write down things for which you’re grateful; it can also include a follow-up plan of how you’ll “pay it forward” so to speak, perhaps going out of your way to thank a friend for being there for you or proactively complimenting a coworker because you’re grateful to work with him or her.
A simple gratitude practice can be recognizing just one thing for which you’re grateful in that moment. I do this every morning while drinking my first cup of coffee.
Back to all those stressers like constant emails, overscheduled kid’s activities, and trying to plan dinner, our minds are far too overloaded to really be at their most thoughtful, productive, and smart. Clearing the mind and taking time to just be is a great way to unclutter and refocus for the true priorities in each day.
A large mindfulness effort can be a full five or so minutes of distraction-free, focus. It can be meditation, yoga, or very slowed-down, intentional thought.
A simple mindfulness tactic is taking a few deep belly breaths before eating breakfast or sipping coffee, a moment to be calm and just be for a moment. Bonus, deep breathing before eating can aid in digestion.
I saved the best for last. Probably the most obvious and most difficult morning habit, exercise is also one of the best ways to begin a day. If you need a little boost, check out this old blog with tips for how to exercise in the morning.
Exercise can be as intense as a long run or heavy weightlifting sesh at the gym.
Exercise can be as simple as a 10-minute yoga routine or walk.
There they are – five of my best ideas for creating a healthy morning routine. What are yours?
Do you have a morning routine that creates great days? What are your favorite things to do each morning as part of a healthy routine? The comments are all yours so please share.
“Turn it around.”
I recently shared a couple of photos on Instagram and Twitter, pics of my son and me out on a run, playing at the park, and enjoying donuts. It may appear we were sharing some fun mother and son moments, which we were, but there was more to the story.
Survive A Tough Morning Or…
Earlier that morning was one of “those” mornings. You know, where I was close to losing my shit. My child was being difficult and whiny and I was running out of ideas to distract or redirect him. And it was only 9:00.
My son is a very energetic child. Since the early days, he’s been restless, the opposite of a chill baby. He’s rarely content for more than 60 seconds and he’s a gigantic mama’s boy.
Add it all up and sometimes, this combo creates a perfect avenue for mom to lose her shit.
Out of ideas, I decided we’d layer up, go for a run, then stop at the park on our way home as we usually do. Abel loves being in the stroller and he loves the park, while I felt I could find some peace and stress relief in a run.
The only catch was, I had just run a half marathon the day before. And I’ve been dealing with an Achilles and mild plantar fasciitis issue so a run was the last activity I landed on.
You know, desperate times call for desperate measures. Also, running and having a good day tend to have a lot in common.
…Make It a Great Day
What ended up happening was one of the more fun outings Abel and I have had in awhile. About 2.5 miles in, we ran past a neighboring park and he started waving and excitedly chatting.
He can’t speak in sentences yet but I picked up what he was putting down. “Mom, let’s stop to play at this park.”
I stopped, Abel played, I stretched, and he burned some energy.
Then I noticed we were about half a mile away from Sandy’s donuts, the super awesome Fargo donut shop that had recently opened a location near our house. I’d been wanting to take him there so we made our next pit stop and he enjoyed a couple bites of his first-ever donut.
As we were running back home, my watch hit 4 miles and I realized we were still about half a mile from home. I thought, why not detour to make it an even five, then hit our usual park near our house.
We stopped, polished off our donuts, Abel played more, I stretched more, then we trekked back home.
He was calmer and happier the rest of the morning, and the run felt awesome for me. No stiffness, no soreness, just light and fast. Probably a good thing I waited to eat my donut until our last pit stop, less than a quarter mile from home.
Choose To Be Happy
What could have been a draining, forgettable morning quickly became the opposite. What could have been me zoning out and focusing on time and distance quickly became less about the run and more about seizing moments.
Great moments often don’t happen by accident, they’re a result of choices. Also, can’t share this reminder enough: life is always more that how it appears on social media. There’s always more to a story than a picture or a post tells.
The next time you have a tough day, fight the urge to “just get through it” and think instead about how you could proactively turn it around. Maybe it involves exercise. Maybe it involves play. Hell, maybe the secret is donuts. Pretty sure Sandy’s donuts could solve any issue.
I’ll leave you with one more blog for some positivity and inspiration.
As always, the comments are all yours so feel free to share a thought on this topic. Connect with me @lindsayinreallife on Instagram or @LindsayIRL on Twitter, or subscribe to this blog so you get every week’s story sent straight to your inbox.
“I don’t know where the limits are but I would like to go there.”
I interrupt this week’s regularly-scheduled blog with an announcement: A human being is capable of running a sub-2 hour marathon.
There’s little to zero chance you heard it first here. News of Eliud Kipchoge breaking the 2-hour marathon barrier has been THE buzz since it happened on Saturday, October 12 in Vienna. I woke up to a text from my husband (he hits the gym at 6 a.m. on Saturday mornings while I sleep in until the baby is up) that read, “A guy just did the first sub 2 marathon today.”
Eliud Kipchoge – Not A Guy, The GOAT
A guy. Oh, gotta love that part from my athlete, yet non-runner husband.
Eliud Kipchoge isn’t just a guy. He’s a world record-holding runner who finishes marathons full of smiles and full of joy. He’s a guy who cares about others. He’s an accomplished and amazing distance runner. He really is the greatest of all time.
After failing at his first attempt to go sub-2, Eliud and his team made the feat a reality. He ran 26.2 miles at an average pace of 4:33. A 4:33 min/mile…for 26.2 miles. Let that sink in for a moment.
Naturally, as with anything in our modern world, the critics were out in full-force, from before Eliud began his race and after he achieved the goal. Because this run was controlled, with a team of pacers and a closed course (it wasn’t during a public marathon), apparently the feat wasn’t so impressive to everyone.
It was a huge deal, something everyone should care about, and for so many reasons other than the obvious.
Before I go on, here’s a fun fact: Eliud holds the marathon record of 2:01:39. So, haters, the dude’s still fucking fast in a non-controlled, “official” racing environment.
Achieving for All
What I applaud from Eliud is, this wasn’t about him achieving a goal. It wasn’t about a selfish glory boost. It was about showing what the human mind and human body are capable of, that there are no limits to what can be achieved. The point was to prove something great can be done.
Eliud himself said that he fully expects more people all over the world to run sub-2 hour marathons now. And I expect he’s the kind of guy who’d be there to pace or cheer them to it.
This feat and Eliud is a reminder that no one achieves anything alone. Especially in the running world, an individual sport, runners often rely on one another to achieve goals. Meb Keflezighi credited fellow runners for their work pacing and helping him to his Boston Marathon win in 2014. Des Linden famously offered to help Shalane Flanagen win Boston in 2018, then went on to get the W herself.
Lessons for All
Even if you’re not a runner, even if you’re not an athlete, even if you’re not someone who gets inspired by feats of human capability – you should care about this.
Eliud’s performance reminds us that a failed attempt at something doesn’t mean it’s not worth learning from and trying again. It reminds us that support and cheerleaders are a huge piece of achieving a goal. It proves that hard work and determination are admirable qualities, and they pay off. I think we can all take away a lot from what Eliud – and his team and his supporters – accomplished.
I’m also pretty impressed by the mental load Eliud carried throughout this process. All eyes were on him. Everyone wanted him to succeed. Part of me thinks everyone expected him to succeed. That’s pretty heavy. Yet, as I’ve read the story and watched the videos, he seemed calm and focused. I think we can all learn a lesson in staying focused amidst intense pressure.
Most of all, it’s pretty incredible to know that a human being is capable of something previously unattainable. Eliud’s quote of, “No human is limited,” brings chills. Imagine what you might be capable of that, today, you think isn’t possible. Maybe it’s something you’re willing to work hard for, fail, work hard again, then try again.
What’s your reaction to Eliud Kipchoge running a sub-2 hour marathon? The comments are all yours so please share.
Another month has come and gone so it’s time for more #wednesdaywisdom. This is wellness, health, and fitness advice in a quick, easy-to-digest format, designed to give you maximum energy and inspiration.
Think of it as eggs with avocado…only with words.
Because it’s October, this month’s wellness focus is about fear – but don’t be scared, I’m talking about overcoming it.
1. Behind the Scenes Running 26.2 Miles – Part 1: What to Expect
Ready to run a marathon? Broken down from the start line to the finish, and all the miles in between, here’s what to expect training for a marathon.
2. Staying Strong and Running Outside
It has been more than a year but we still remember Mollie Tibbets and what she reminds us about the joy of running outside.
3. The Value, Power, and Importance of Failure
Nobody wants to fail. But failure can be a good thing. Here’s my personal story of failure – more than time actually – that turned into victory.
Do you have questions or topics I can address with a #wednesdaywisdom blog or in a new, full blog? The comments are all yours to ask questions, share ideas, or, you know, just leave a comment – so do it, please!
“When we rest our energy is restored.”
You know why it’s important to take rest days from working out? I think it’s also important to rest and take breaks from other things – take writing for example.
When I sat down to write this week’s blog, the words just weren’t coming together. My thoughts were all there but they wouldn’t cooperate from my brain to the keyboard. Then, before I could overthink it, my son work up from his nap and back to reality I went.
I decided to take my own advice when it comes to rest and make this week’s blog a simple reminder that sometimes taking a bit of time off is the best way to get unstuck, whether it’s a workout slump, writer’s block, or really anything. So I’m going to take it.
In related, fun timing, Twin Cities Marathon is this coming weekend! What a great reminder to all the runners who’ve worked so hard, take some time to rest and relax this week, then be ready to crush the miles this weekend. And, of course I must share a blog with a couple others about the struggle of tapering before a race. But also, knowing it’s important to do it.
I’ll be out there on Sunday, pacing runners in the TC 10 Mile. Good luck to everyone running!
Do you need to take rest days to recharge and re-energize? What else besides a workout deserves a regular rest day? The comments are all yours so please share one.
“Sweater weather. Crunchy leaves. Pumpkin spice and everything nice.”
Fall is in the air. Leaves are changing, daylight dwindling, and I’m pretty sure the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte has yet to wear out its welcome – for those who like PSLs. Me, I’d rather have a pumpkin muffin. Mmmmm, muffins.
Sorry, back to the story.
There are so many reasons to love fall. Likewise, there are so many reasons to love running. Okay, maybe that part is just me and my fellow runners.
While fall isn’t my favorite season for life in general, fall is my favorite season for running.
There are plenty of reasons why fall is great for wellness. Likewise, there are plenty of reasons fall is great for running. Here are my top four reasons fall is the best season for running.
1. Chill Out
The cooler fall weather is hands-down my favorite part of running outside this time of year. I know I’m not the only one who struggles in the heat – and occasionally chooses the treadmill over the sweltering outdoors.
Fall running means layering up on the cooler days but still the option of dressing lighter on those warmer days. It’s pretty much a win for everyone.
2. Scenic Views
Is there anything better than fall leaves and the beautiful colors? Taking in the scenery is one of the best parts of running outside.
Not only are the views enjoyable this time of year, there’s something about it that presents an opportunity to appreciate and practice gratitude. Take a moment and notice your stride, breath, and surroundings, with being grateful for the simple spoils of life.
3. Races Aplenty
Maybe it’s just me and where I live, but there are tons of great races every fall. I refer to this as my “pacing season” because there are so many races on my pacing schedule this time of year.
Whether 5k, full marathon, or something in between, there’s no shortage of races to help stay on track and motivated, if that’s needed.
4. Ahead of the Game
For those who rely on New Year’s Resolutions to get back into the health and fitness swing, don’t wait. Get outside now and take advantage of the best running weather of the year.
As much as I love running outside all winter, it’s tough for a lot of people. Fall is a great opportunity to set up good habits while it’s nice out vs. putting it off until no one wants to go outside for any reason, let alone a run.
5. Better for Strolls
Yes, I had to add one more reason, this one specific to me and likely all the other runner moms and dads out there. I used to (and still do) love fall running for the four reasons above. Now, I can add that it’s an awesome time to run outside with my son in the stroller.
As those close to me know, I’m, shall we say, an aggressive sweater. Pushing the stroller while also dealing with summer sun and heat is no easy task – and I ended those runs more sweat-drenched than usual. Let’s just say the cooler weather is a welcome element. Plus, Abel doesn’t seem to enjoy it any less layered up and snuggled up with a blanket.
Do you love fall running? What other reasons do you have for getting outside to run in the fall? The comments are all yours so please leave one.
Connect with me @lindsayinreallife on Instagram or @LindsayIRL on Twitter, or subscribe to this blog so you get every week’s story sent straight to your inbox.
“Seriously? Another fucking salad??”
This week’s blog is going to be ridiculous. You’ve been warned so feel free to leave now – but if not, I’d love to have you stick around as I complain about a delightful first-world problem.
It’s incredibly hard to be a vegetarian these days.
Read on, as I share a story explaining what I mean by that ridiculous statement.
Early Vegetarianism – It Was Tough
As I child, when I first started adopting vegetarian preferences, it wasn’t easy. Growing up with four older brothers, busy working parents, and the general Midwest rule that one must eat hamburgers, pepperoni pizza, and something carnivorous with every meal, I struggled to find myself in meat-free meal situations.
Add to the fact that my choice to go vegetarian was simply because I didn’t like meat – no animal rights, no medical reasons – people weren’t exactly eager to accommodate me.
Throughout the years, it got easier, as I became old enough to cook for myself (and by “cook” I mean I ate a lot of cereal, soup, and flour tortillas with melted cheese) and as more restaurants and people began to accept the vegetarian lifestyle.
There were still plenty of instances where I could only order a salad or pasta at a restaurant. I attended my fair share of weddings where I had to fill up on side dishes and desserts. And there weren’t many barbecues or events where I didn’t have to get by eating a bun or a cheese sandwich.
But it got better.
Oh, but that joy was short-lived.
Modern Vegetarianism – It Doesn’t Exist
Nowadays, one can’t simply be a vegetarian, at least not in public. One must be vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and who knows what else is yet to come.
I’ve noticed this at restaurants and in the presence of others. Menus now have vegan and gluten-free options – but, oddly, not much simple vegetarian. When people hear of my food preferences, they used to ask if I was one of those vegetarians who still ate chicken or fish. Now, it’s typically often followed with the assumption I also don’t eat eggs or cheese or gluten.
Sigh. Sorry to disappoint, I’m “just” a vegetarian. I just don’t want the cute and cuddly animal flesh, everything else is fair game. In fact, I love to eat all the foods.
As one can imagine, mostly by the fact I’m even writing this blog, this annoyance has been building up for awhile now.
Salad and More Salad
I was recently at a conference where my annoyance spilled out. The conference was very inclusive in terms of catering to all types of food preferences. Those of us who noted dietary preferences were told we could pick up our lunches in a special area. My badge even noted Vegetarian on it, so I was pumped, thinking I’d actually get a vegetarian meal.
As the aging but still somewhat loveable Coach Corso says, “Not so fast.”
All the “special lunches” were lumped into one. The vegetarian option was also vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free. So guess what it was, both days? A salad. Day one, a salad. Day two, another fucking salad.
Sigh. I’m back to the days of a vegetarian being offered a tired old salad. Because, when accommodating vegans, celiacs, and lactose folks, there really aren’t any other options.
Being a vegetarian no longer means I can have a sandwich with veggies and cheese. Or a breakfast burrito with eggs and avocado. Even pasta with veggies, nope that’s no longer available.
For someone who simply doesn’t like meat, yet still loves eggs, cheese, bread, pasta, and pretty much everything else, it’s tougher than ever to be a vegetarian. “Just” a vegetarian.
Any other fellow vegetarians out there? High-fives! Vegans, dairy-free, and Celiac folks, you know I’m not hating on you. If nothing else, I hope my Celiac peeps know I’ve got your back with people mistakenly thinking a gluten-free diet is nothing more than that – a diet. If only the world had space for all of us…maybe one day.
Do you eat vegetarian or vegan, need to eat dairy-free or gluten-free? What are the struggles you have with it? The comments are all yours so please leave one.
“You have to make a choice – it’s either your daughter or me.”
Fellow fans of The Office (U.S. version) might recognize that quote as one of Kelly Kapoor’s crazy approaches to relationship management. Spoiler: Daryl make the right choice. The second quote belongs to him.
Last week, I attended a conference where the closing speaker was none other than Kelly IRL, Mindy Kaling. Among her many accolades, Mindy’s a writer and a first-time mom, so she and I have lots in common (yes, I’m being intentionally absurd with that statement).
Another thing we have in common – along with virtually every other mother in the world? Mom guilt.
What is Mom Guilt?
Non-technically speaking, mom guilt is the phenomenon of moms feeling guilty about doing anything that doesn’t involve being a mom. Working mom guilt, workout mom guilt, dinner with your girlfriends mom guilt, going to the bathroom alone mom guilt – really, nothing’s off-limits here.
In a world where fathers are doing more to split parenting and household duties (or I’m just lucky and my husband kicks ass in this arena), along with the world shoving “self-care” down our throats, it’s kind of crazy that mom guilt still exists. But it’s real.
And it’s no longer just for moms. I know many fathers out there feel the dad guilt from time to time.
A Different Perspective
At the end of Mindy’s talk, she opened the floor to audience questions. One woman, another new mom, asked her how she deals with feelings of mom guilt for being such a badass working mother.
Her response was one I’d never heard before, yet it was obvious, while also being super real.
In not these exact words, Mindy basically said that she reminders herself that her mother worked and how much she admired her for doing that. There were nights she wouldn’t see her mom but she was proud of her for working.
That really resonated with me.
I have no idea what kinds of things my son will find cool when he grows up, but I hope that these things, these things that sometimes give me #momguilt, make him proud. I hope the fact that I pursue these other things in life, that I work hard to enjoy life and be happy, I hope he’s proud of his mom.
Of course, this will never erase the mom guilt. Hell, I sometimes even get wife guilt for many of these same things, even though I’ve learned that getting up early is the best way to fit it all in.
But I’m going to start viewing it through a different lens, one that reminds me the life I have outside of my family is one where they – hopefully – are proud of me.
Okay, moms and dads – spill it. Tell me what gives you the guilt, but now spin it and tell me how those things can be good examples for your children. The comments are all yours so please share.