You know how when you have kids and you look down for just a second to tie their shoe or pick up their Legos and the next thing you know it’s five years later and everything is different and you have no idea what is going on outside of your living room? Well, I just looked up and somehow, between getting knocked up with my first child and celebrating the second birthday of my youngest child, every single person I have ever met has jumped, to varying degrees, on the personal improvement bandwagon.
Everyone is on the path to wellness.
I mean, I scroll through Facebook and they’re signing up for 5k’s in droves. They’re posting 6 a.m. gym selfies. It’s been four months without a cigarette and two years without a drink and nearly half a decade since that demon gluten has touched their lips. They’ve changed their entire way of thinking about food and diet and sustainability and are consuming whole foods they got at Whole Foods. They’re eating like cavemen and dinosaurs and feeling amazing. AND they lost 17 pounds on whatever a keto is.
The ones who used to complain about people complaining about them smoking are now the ones complaining about the people smoking. They’re meditating and traveling and replenishing their souls. They’re politically active and raising money for charity AND doing it all while raising politically active, charity-minded families.
Because they have all turned into time management GODS. They work eight hours, maybe ten, hell, sometimes twelve, and then go home and record a podcast, or an album, or both, which they do while also sewing quilts, which they sell on Etsy, which they in turn use that money to pay for the food and medicine all the rescue dogs they are fostering need.
If it sounds like I’m making fun, I’m really not. I think this collective transformation I’m witnessing whilst splayed out on my couch is amazing and life-affirming and inspiring. I just felt a little out of the loop because one, I was in survival mode with my small children for so long that it’s hard to imagine everyone else doesn’t also buy cookie dough and wine in bulk. And two, I’m old enough to remember what counted as “wellness” before Goop and Instagram came along.
Sit down and let Auntie Aprill give you a brief “wellness” history lesson, kids. See, when I was a kid in the 80’s, being healthy meant eating giant tubs of pretzels and then burning those calories off by half-assedly participating in one of the 78 VHS workout tapes you owned. In the 90’s, no one even ate food. All our nutrients came from Diet Coke and cigarettes and our only exercise was ripping very elaborate holes in our jeans that we all claimed were from legit wear-and-tear. And none of us could afford therapy so we just watched “Reality Bites” over and over and over again.
In the early 2000’s, wellness consisted of wearing gaudy pink tracksuits with “Juicy” written on the butt and taking over the recommended dose of those diet pills Anna Nicole Smith was shilling. We also cut down our indoor tanning time by, like, a fourth, because cancer or whatever. By the time Obama was in office, we were mixing our vodka and Red Bull with a dash of vitamin water like the responsible adults we had become and, as long as we were doing less drugs than Lindsay Lohan, we pretty much considered ourselves in good shape.
But now, well, now people are striving to get healthy in actually healthy ways. Long term ways. Scientifically proven ways. In ways that address their physical, mental and emotional needs.
It’s a potent idea. So potent, it’s even rubbed off on me. ME. The person who used to consider binge-watching “My 600-lb Life” as exercise because, hey, I wasn’t ON the show or anything. But, now that I have kids, I want to live forever. Even more importantly, while I am living, I want to feel good and be present and be content. For them. And my husband. And me. (WELLNESS!).
Which is why I signed up to run a half marathon this October. And it’s why I drink more moderately now (although it’s a Boston moderate, which is still enough alcohol to kill your average Californian). And it’s why I cook most of our meals. From INGREDIENTS. And why I’m busy making outlines for the books I want to write. And why this summer I didn’t sign my children up for anything and we just explored and traveled at our leisure. And why I’m saving up my money, not for things, but for experiences. And I’m reaching out to my friends more because loneliness is a silent killer. I’m even donating to the occasional goddamn charity.
22-year-old me would hate 37-year-old me.
But screw her. I feel better. I do. I ran almost seven miles Sunday morning. And then went gallivanting around the city with my family. And then still had the energy to go out to a coffee shop and write for a couple of hours before heading home to put the kids to bed. And then I collapsed on the couch, exhausted. But a good exhausted. Life’s too short for unhealthy coping mechanisms.
All in all, I’m quite proud of myself. Of all of us. We’ve come a long way, baby.
Which is also why I won’t feel guilty when, as soon as I post this, I’m going to mix this can of Diet Coke with some whiskey and watch “Reality Bites.”
You know, for old time’s sake.