I Have a Confession to Make: I’m Probably Going to Say No

Y’all, I’ve been having some big fun for the last few weeks: the ZOOMA half marathon, a few after-work happy hours (with cocktails!), a visit with my parents (with unbridled eating), two school-night concerts (Bruce Springsteen and Gavin DeGraw), murder trial jury duty, and a handful of missed workouts to sleep later than usual.

In short, I’ve been living the way I perceive “normal” people live.

You know the ones… they don’t follow any kind of prescribed eating plan or worry about getting to bed at the same time every night. They think getting up at 6:00 a.m. is inhumanely early, and if they want to see a show, they don’t fret that if they do, they’ll miss their workout and maybe their sensible breakfast, and then their whole day will be screwed up. They can eat anywhere they find along the interstate, drink a coupla beers if they feel like it, and have probably eaten chicken wings sometime in the last year. They go running when they feel like it, and if they choose to skip a workout, it is not a 30-minute-plus, soul-searching ordeal that makes them question their entire self-worth.

On my blue days or in the throes of hormone poisoning, I am envious of these people.

But whenever I loosen the screws on my diet and training, the first few days feel fun and indulgent… and then my attitude and general well-being start a downhill slide.

I am currently at the bottom of the hill, and I’m ready to get my ass back up to the top.

Time for “fun” has passed. Time for “happy” is about to begin.

I’ve talked about this fun vs. happy conundrum before. And as I approach my 41st birthday (ahem), I’m learning to accept that my life goes in cycles of determined focus and discipline (a.k.a., happy) and indulgent playtimes (a.k.a., fun). I’m getting OK with that. I mean, I don’t want to never have fun at all, but I do need to keep a balance, and I tend to fare better when I err on the side of more discipline than less.

So it’s with a sigh of relief and optimism that I say these words: If you ask me to do something “fun” in the next few months, I might say no.

But trust me when I say, “It’s me, not you.”

I want and need to focus… on my nutrition… and getting enough sleep… and feeling excited about my workouts… and working toward some long-term goals that I have to change my life and what I do with it. And that means saying no: to staying out late most nights of the week. To booze. To food that’s not Zone-friendly. To anything that is a roadblock to my true goals. I need to sacrifice what I might want right now for what I really want.

But this state of being is not forever. It’s just for a while, so I can re-charge my batteries and emerge feeling strong and happy.

You like me more that way, don’t you? I know I sure like me more that way.

But please keep in mind, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask. I LOVE to be wanted. But you might hear no. Just trust that I would say yes if I wasn’t working so hard to be a superhero.

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  • Erin Clare says:

    What a sweet post. I think most of the people that know you, or at least respect this point of view would not think twice about it. I sure as hell know about the need to recharge myself.

    It was great reading this because as I was driving home from the grocery store with a bag of chips (grrrrr) I thought of you for some reason. I was wondering how you do it and if you have any tough days at all or if you worry about your past coming back.

    I know I had that thought about me today…so this was definitely a good read for me. 🙂

  • Mary says:

    I've been reading your blog for a while, but haven't read this post. Thanks for re-linking to it!

    That balance – fun vs. happy, as you put it – is such an interesting subject. You explain it very well.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Mary –> Glad you like this one. I need to remind myself from time to time that I'm actually so much more "ME" when I'm following my good habits. I definitely do better with "fun" in smaller doses.

  • Rach says:

    I just found this post! I Wholeheartedly can understand where you are coming from. I feel much more in control and happy when I’m focused on my health and clean eating and getting my workouts in. But as you say there seem to be cycles when I either forget, think that I am like ‘normal’ peeps and indulge in too much fun. It is always relatively short lived and I soon feel like crap and my head space is screwed in terms of getting back on track.. So nice to know that there are others out there tackling the same issues. Now on day 5 of a ultra (no nuts, no fruit) whole 30 and already feel so much better. Hope the holiday is great and you can find a way to be happy and have fun doing non-normal peeps stuff.

    • Mel says:

      Congrats on tackling a super clean Whole30. I think I’m going to be doing that when I get home from Costa Rica. We’ve been eating fresh fish and avocados — and also some restaurant food that I think had sneaky dairy and soy in it. I’m being careful but not overly picky — and I might be drinking a few pina coladas and eating corn chips 🙂

  • Rach says:

    Must admit I am very jealous seeing the photos of your wonderful holiday. Loving the recipes and planning on saving some of them up until it is a bit warmer here – its only c. 10 degs c here in London at the moment. Enjoy!!

  • Danielle says:

    I love this post. I often struggle with the same thing … My friends love to party, drink, eat junk & stay out late. I don’t want to isolate myself from the group ,…. But I also don’t want to throw my hard work away just to apease everyone else

    • Mel says:

      It can be hard to maintain friendships with people who have a very different lifestyle. I’ve continued to work to find a balance between an occasional night out with my pals — usually with club soda — and inviting them to join me in “my kind” of fun: dinner at our house, game night, walks around the lake. But yeah, prioritizing “good” over “fun” can be a challenge, and the truth is, we need both. Good luck to you!

      • Danielle says:

        This is true …. Im On that perpetual search for striking that balance. I’m getting there 🙂 Love Well Fed – it’s my favourite recipe book. I a, from an Italian background also so I understand the food/ family thing…. It’s nuts trying to make that work too … Nuts but not impossible