I got my Oregon driver’s license last week (a comical endeavor which featured me panicking over the realization that I’d have to take the written test, taking the practice test online and flunking it in a fairly spectacular manner, then studying rabidly [go ahead, ask me any motor-vehicle-related-question for the state of Oregon, I’ve committed every single rule to memory and am basically the OR DOT Rainman now] for the goddamned test before showing up to the DMV in a cold sweat and ultimately passing just fine, thank you very much, although I was hugely distracted by the question of “What does this sign mean?” with a picture of a deer crossing sign and a selection of hilariously weird answers, which included “Dim lights because you are about to enter a deer sanctuary,” “Deer crossing ahead,” and “Slow down because you are approaching a deer petting area”) (DEER PETTING AREA) and when my permanent license showed up in the mail yesterday I spent some time regarding the two photos: the younger me on my Washington license, the me-of-last-week on my current license. I’m smiling in the current photo, as opposed to the strange thousand-yard-stare I’m doing in the older photo, but even setting facial expressions aside, I think I look … happier.

Screen shot 2012-07-26 at 6.05.08 PM

I was thinking, too, about how my weight is several pounds heavier on my new license but I distinctly remember fudging the numbers last time. How ridiculous is that, right? I mean, really. But I did, I gave a weight that was maybe eight pounds below my real weight, and my license before that had a weight I hadn’t seen since high school.

This time I didn’t feel the need to fib. Sure, I may have written down my early-morning-naked-on-the-scale weight rather than my shoes-and-clothes-evil-doctor’s-scale weight, but whatever, the point is I didn’t pull a number out of my ass for some pointless vain reason that doesn’t even make SENSE. (Police officer, regarding my bloody, lifeless form crushed from the impact of a rogue semi-trailer: “Well, that’s a darn shame. Says here she was in pretty good shape, too.”)

Anyway, I guess I feel more relaxed about diet stuff and fitness lately. I continue to get in these seemingly endless loops of eating really well and exercising every day, then suddenly losing all motivation and devouring great towering piles of junk from the Fuckit Bucket, but I don’t beat myself quite as much over the cycle. I spend a few days in the trough, then I eventually shake it off and hit the farmer’s market and put on my running shoes, and so it goes. (I’ve found it’s useful to have a variety of clothing sizes for this particular lifestyle, by the way.)

I joined a gym here, and sometimes I go to this class that’s sort of a combo of step and weightlifting, and the room is full of older ladies who crack jokes and bullshit with the instructor, and it’s super low-key and no-pressure and I like it. When the weather’s nice, I ride my bike, or go running, or walk the neighborhood. Sometimes I throw on a DVD and jump around the living room. I don’t spend my entire day thinking about my workout, I just … do stuff, or don’t, and it’s not a huge deal.

I don’t mean to imply I’ve matured beyond feeling hateful towards my belly roll or wobbly upper thighs, mind you. I feel wildly uncomfortable when I put on a few pounds, which is usually what prompts me to stop mainlining Cheetos. But fitness just feels like something I do, now. It’s not something I have to life-coach myself into on a weekly basis. It’s not taking up nearly as much headspace as it used to.

Looking back, I think I may have been a little intolerable about diet and fitness a few years ago. I focused on it a lot, I talked about it a lot, I shared a lot of thoughts that were meaningful to me but probably came off as preachy … or at least boring as fuck. I think it was what I needed at the time — something to help me feel strong and in control when my life was turned upside down by babies and I was stuck at my shitty degrading job — and it was hard for me to understand that the thing that was so beneficial to me wasn’t somehow a magic cure-all for the entire world, too.

It’s more clear to me now that we all go through stages and we all need different things and what’s great for one person at one time may not be great for someone else — or even great for that exact same person a few years later. Duh, right? (Look, I never claimed to be a quick learner.)

At any rate, I’m glad to be in a different place now — in so, SO many ways — than the person in the first photo. I don’t love the new wrinkles I find every day, but I’m glad for being older and maybe even a tiny, tiny bit wiser.

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tanya
tanya
9 years ago

I think you look fabulous, dahling, absolutely mahvelous. And I have never been bored reading your stuff, weight-related or no.

Megan
9 years ago

I’ve been reading your site since long before the fitness kick and I didn’t find it boring at all. It was a big part of your life and even if it wasn’t my thing it was interesting to view the whole arc of it in yours. Turns out it was my thing and I Jillian Michael-ed my way to a significant weight loss, so thank you. I also knew, thanks to your writing, that a trainer or Crossfit was not for me. Please don’t look back on talking about all those experiences with any negative feelings.

Also I am jealous of your hair. For the record.

Amy B.
9 years ago

That is a illegitimately HOT drivers licence picture. Seriously.

NancyJ
NancyJ
9 years ago

I agree – you were never boring about dieting or fitness. We all go through those stages and more than anything it was a comfort to me knowing that someone else felt the same way about themselves that I did!
I also agree that your relaxed state about how you get your fitness and how you feel about yourself is a direct result of your surroundings and how comfortable you are with your life at this point.
I am so thrilled for you and your family about your move and the incredible change you’ve made in your lives by moving and I look forward to your stories about it.

Eric's Mommy
9 years ago

How do you take such a good driver’s license picture? Your hair is perfect. And yes you do look much happier :)

Badger
Badger
9 years ago

I don’t know, I liked the weight and diet related posts – they gave me good motivation and inspiration. But I like your other stuff too. It’s all good, is what I am saying. Your new photo is great, btw.

ris
ris
9 years ago

You look so much happier and more relaxed in that second picture! I love the fitness- and diet-related posts. I find it super inspiring and interesting to read about other people’s health journeys.

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JMH
JMH
9 years ago

LOVE this post…I am in the same place as you right now..I work out, but not religiously, and I eat healthy yet I indulge in crap food too. And I am happy with this lifestyle! I can listen to my body, give it what it needs and not feel awful if I have some ice cream with my family. Feels great and I have gained maybe 3 pounds even though I have relaxed the food/exercise rules. Those 3 pounds are totally worth giving up the obsessive/constant thinking about diet and fitness all.the.time.

Emma
Emma
9 years ago

For the record, you were never preachy. I think your posts helped us (at least me) realize that we felt the same way about diet/exercise/fitness/cheetos, but we just weren’t as apt to verbalize it and explain it like you. So thank you. I look forward to reading about your mellowness, as you aren’t the only one gaining more wrinkles… Oh, and HAWT DL pic, mama!

Tessie
9 years ago

Love this post…so happy for you.

I also want to express appreciation for your posts on Crossfit…so many are so evangelical about it that if it’s not for you you start to wonder why.

Sara
9 years ago

This was such an awesome post- I’m so happy for you! I’ve been reading your blog for years now, and have loved watching you get to this place and reading your thoughts along the way. You look gorgeous in your new pic! Glowy… happy. :)

Jill
Jill
9 years ago

Here in VA they no longer allow us to smile in our license photos and the pictures are also in black and white. Which is to say that I am jealous of the fact that your license looks like an actual PICTURE of you versus the deranged mug shot look I have going on on mine.

Christina
9 years ago

Excellent! I am infinitely glad to hear your happy posts on various forms of media. If we take control of our lives (as best we can) the changes can be so profound!

I will admit that there was a time when you were hard core into fitness and that had a souring effect. I have actually stopped reading some blogs because of the preachy nature of them. I find that in health and fitness there should be balance. I feel bad writing that because it would imply that I liked people more when they were unhappy with themselves or something? That is not it but I am not even sure how to explain what made me stop reading those particular blogs. It was like along with the big fitness changes, came a certain personality change to. Like the personality I had come to like so much became hard edged or angrier. I don’t know…

Any who, on a more positive note, you are the reason I am runner again/now. I read all of your running posts and I was like dang I can do that. So I did finally and I love to run and it has been a fun positive outlet. I do it for my sanity mostly but also so I can more often eat from the “fuckit bucket”. HA!

Cara
9 years ago

I read your writings back then. And even though I’ve always been a ‘healthy most of the time’ is good enough person, I still think (and thought) your writing was interesting whatever place you were in. There are blogs I stopped reading because they became rabid on a topic AND stopped being interesting to read. (I’m good with passion, but I’m reading for entertainment.) Yours never fell in that category. Just keep writing and I’m happy!

babs
9 years ago

Ha, I *love* the term “Fuckit Bucket!” Our 5-month-old doesn’t sleep through the night yet, so I’m definitely reaching for that bucket in the wee hours of the night.

And just like the others have said, I’ve loved reading your blog at whatever stage you’re in. Thanks for keeping it up.

Jesabes
9 years ago

I didn’t find you intolerable, but I did think of you as the ‘fitness lady’ at the time. It became your online identity (for me). I didn’t (and don’t) exercise much, but still found it interesting and not preachy/boring/annoying.

Samantha
Samantha
9 years ago

Um, can we talk about your hair in the Oregon picture? LOVE.

Also, I’ve been feeling the same way lately with fitness/diet. I’m getting married in three months and I have put on about four dress sizes since meeting my fiance two years ago. I’ve been beating myself up about losing weight before the wedding, but I finally had to tell myself yesterday to chill the fuck out. When I try and work out three times a day and eat nothing but rice cakes and low-fat salad dressing, I end up bingeing for a week and a half on everything else. I decided yesterday that I don’t need abs and I don’t need really toned arms, but I do need to be healthy. So using real butter and sugar or olive oil for stir fry isn’t going to kill me, as long as I eat it all in moderation. And I don’t have to do seven hours of Jillian Michaels when all I really want to do is walk down the street with my kids.

Just be happy is my new motto. I may be a bit heavier now, but it’s okay. I’m still happy.

In the words of Richard Simmons: GIVE YOURSELF A HUG!!

Donia
Donia
9 years ago

Your police officer comment made me snort my coffee…

Judy
Judy
9 years ago

I think you look younger in the newer picture. Sounds like you’re learning to love yourself and be comfortable in your own skin.

Francesca
9 years ago

FACT: You are aging backwards.

Laura
Laura
9 years ago

Wow, thank you for this. I’m in a quite extended trough myself at the moment, and it’s great to hear a tale from the other side. You’re so right about everything. And just. Thank you.

jamie
9 years ago

I didn’t find out I had to take the written test for my Oregon DL until I was at the DMV getting ready to take it, and I failed pretty awesomely.

Julia
Julia
9 years ago

I think you look YOUNGER in the Oregon photo — maybe because you are so happy :)

bj
bj
9 years ago

“something to help me feel strong and in control when my life was turned upside down by babies and I was stuck at my shitty degrading job”

I think that’s often the reason for focusing on some particular item that you can control (especially after bearing children when so much goes out of control). Fitness, diet, breastfeeding, strong opinions on strollers, slings, carseats, baby food, . . . . What I’m learning is to listen without judgment (how does it hurt me if someone really wants to try a guten free diet?) and without letting myself be judge. As long as the judgment doesn’t get explicit (that is, someone telling me I have to do something), I can live with them believing strongly that I should do it.

Keep these posts coming. It’s truly wonderful to see you finding your happiness. There are a few other bloggers, some of whom have gone through terrible times, who are finding contentment as well, and it’s just lovely.

Alyce
Alyce
9 years ago

This was a lovely full circle moment and – as always – I thank you for sharing. I am happy that you’ve found a lively balance of fitness and food that isn’t all-consuming. Good on ya.

And another hellsyes! to the amazing photo. Damn, girl.

Jenniferw
Jenniferw
9 years ago

I like the fuckit bucket – but in my house I say I need a fuckitoll pill.

Trina
Trina
9 years ago

I’ve been reading you for years. I have never stopped. I would kinda skim the exercise posts because at the time I wasn’t there. You did inspire me though. It’s taken awhile, but I am on the wagon now and SLOWLY getting back in shape. I have 60 pounds to lose (well actually 55 now). Thanks to you I know the hell that is the 30 day shred, but, it’s working so I am sticking with it. :) Also, thanks to your cross-fit experience, I know for sure that’s not for me. I am hoping in a year from now I can be where you are now.

m @ random musings
9 years ago

I’m with the other commenters in saying that I didn’t find the exercise posts boring or preachy – more like a glimpse into someone else’s internal body-image monologue. Thanks for sharing!

this post does seem to resonate with other bloggers’ posts regarding the need to take a break from blogging, ’cause it’s too much work. imho if all take your lead and simply use their blog as a format to explore ‘current headspace’ there might be a little less burnout.

m @ random musings
9 years ago

oh and you look a *lot* younger in the OR DL.

telegirl
telegirl
9 years ago

You look terrific. I found your diet/fitness posts inspirational as well. As a matter of fact, I still go back and look at your before/after pictures and it helps me keep focused.

Annika
Annika
9 years ago

God DAMMIT Linda, your life transformation is truly inspiring. I feel your “lightness” in your words. Congratulations on your beautiful new road.

Amanda
Amanda
9 years ago

Very well put. I love the organic way you describe your approach to fitness and nutrition. Honestly, that must be the healthiest thing I’ve read on the subject in a long time–and I needed to read it.

Kimberly
9 years ago

I’ve always loved how you write, regardless of the focus or subject matter. Sometimes reading fitness focused individuals makes me feel a little lazy, but that’s frankly a push I often need to get moving and I appreciate it. I’ve also appreciated you sharing you and JB’s career-related moves, as it’s also the push I’ve needed to make professional changes myself. What I’m saying is, write you and keep doing it sincerely and it will always connect with people in some way. xo

Jenn
9 years ago

As someone who has been following your blog since before your babies came onto the scene, I just wanted to tell you that this is one of my favorite things you’ve written because that photo and these mellow words express a contentment I didn’t even realize was missing from this space :) I’ve always loved your writing, but this one made me smile from ear to ear! Thinking about the obstacles you have overcome to get to where you are, I am inspired. Go, Linda.

Jennifer
Jennifer
9 years ago

I was right there with you in your fitness posts of 2006-2008. I used them as inspiration to eat better (remember your “kick your ass salad”) and I got my cholesterol down 50 points. Also did some serious “back in the pool” time and ramped back up to swim a few 3-mile open-waters.

Your post about “look what you can do in 3 months” still resonates with me. That plus the photos of your scary arms!

It’s sort of embarrassing that I needed the motivation from some person-I’ve-never-met’s blog, but for whatever reason, your story did it when other motivators didn’t.

So, thanks, and keep on keeping on!

sooboo
9 years ago

Man, you look great in that new photo! The old one is not bad either. I look like a lonely
lesbian in mine. I’ve had it for 8 years and they won’t let me retake it.

I enjoyed your fitness posts. I’m a running addict and I liked hearing about your experiences doing different things, particularly the Cross Fit torture. Some of those entries were pretty funny.

But, your writing is really honest and relatable, whatever the topic is. I don’t have kids but I enjoy the way you write about your family.

Beth
Beth
9 years ago

I LOVE THIS POST. I never minded your fitness/weight posts, you always seemed pretty balanced to me. There is a certain blogger I used to love, but just cannot read anymore because her whole take on fitness is preachy and based around the aesthetics of it totally obsessed with what a fit body LOOKS LIKE – not relatable at all. I enjoy this realistic perspective on keeping active and healthy.

lindsay
9 years ago

I think the buddhists say ‘only impermanence is permanent.’ I loved the fitness stuff, but it makes sense that the blog and you have continued to evolve. Thanks for writing.

Nothing But Bonfires
9 years ago

“Oh, but we were so much older then / We’re younger than that now.” Sorry, just felt like some Bob Dylan was in order. Everything you just said was so right on. I’ve NEVER given my real weight on my driver’s license (or for anything where it might actually have SERIOUSLY MATTERED, like getting scuba diving equipment or flying on and jumping out of small planes) which is even more ridiculous, frankly, since there was actually a modicum of legit life or death in those scenarios and I chose VANITY.

Anyway, I just love how you think about everything. But especially this.

JB
JB
9 years ago

My head is buried sooo deep in the Fuckit Bucket right now.

I have always found your posts inspirational and realistic about the cycles of fitness – not preachy at all. But I do sometimes feel like the reason I can’t get into a fitness routine is because I can’t suddenly become this full-time fitness person.

On FB, I see lots of people transform into evangelical fitness freaks who are SO.HAPPY! and FEELING.GREAT! about their 5am run and it just feels so fake and exhausting.

Maybe I could just exercise (or not!) and not have to tell the world about it.

You look so happy, Linda. Awesome hair.

Jen
Jen
9 years ago

As a looonnnggg time reader (ok, not that long, but baby Riley long) I admire your courage, and your wonderful beautiful, honesty.
For the record, I never found you “preachy” or “annoying” when on your fitness cycle. If anything, I felt like, “well, if SHE can do it, what the hell is wrong with ME?”
So, from one Mom to another; THANK YOU!! Keep being you, keep blogging about being YOU and being REAL. Of the many blogs I read, I find yours to be most “normal”.
You look….vacant in the old photo and happy, present in the new. It speaks volumes. “Run” with it!!! ;)

MRW
MRW
9 years ago

Well at this point it’s becoming an echo chamber in here, but I have to add that I’ve read you since before kids and never minded your fitness posts. They helped met stay motivated to exercise and to get my ass to the gym during the day when I really needed it.

Right now I’m deep in the world of hating my job and being unable to change. I find in response I am able to only really do exercise I like. I have found something I love now and am a bit fanatical probably because other parts of my day are a trial sometimes. So I totally understand where you were and where you are now and hope to be there again someday.

Lisa
Lisa
9 years ago

Picture looks great! At least you can smile in yours- here we are not allowed to smile for the picture. Which makes it oh so much more wonderful.

And I can relate to the test-taking; we’ve moved to different states four times, each which resulted in having to take the written test. This was before they had the practice tests online. Somehow I was always the guinea pig that got to go first, barely squeak by with one wrong answer to spare, then go home and tell the hubby all the tricky questions I could remember. He would then go in and ace it.

Great post. Nothing feels as good as being content.

joaaanna
joaaanna
9 years ago

Swear to god – your new picture looks almost like you’ve had a ‘lift’ of some kind. Not in that obvious, overdone FACELIFT way. But you look more alert and happy and …corny as it sounds… ALIVE! You look fantastic. Really, you do!

Erin
9 years ago

I think you look happier too. I’m in a shitstorm of ugly right now so reading this post gives me hope that I can gain some composure, make some changes, and look relaxed in my own skin eventually too. Congrats on the peace, you’ve earned it.

Redbecca
Redbecca
9 years ago

I feel like I’m reading “Linda: unplugged” or something. There is a different vibe in your tone that is so mellow. Love it!

nonsoccermom
9 years ago

I’m almost glad to hear that you flunked the written test the first time – I’m brushing up to take the written exam in CA in order to switch over my TX license and I’m freaking out a little!

At any rate, you do look much, much happier. More relaxed, and I can tell from your recent posts (long-time reader/lurker here) that you’ve settled into the wonderful, comfortable life you were seeking. Congratulations! (I can only hope that my family’s transition from smallish-town Texas to San Francisco goes half as smoothly.)

lesley t.
lesley t.
9 years ago

I’ve never found you remotely preachy on the fitness front, just honest and motivational.

I remember the post you did about all the noise and conflicting ideas out there about health and exercise and how there simply isn’t one right path–I loved that!

Jen
Jen
9 years ago

Your beautiful, lovely, glowing self in the new photo shows a contentment and peacefulness that I don’t think we’ve seen before. And, honestly, you have been an inspiration for years and years. I’ve LOVED your posts forever…the pre-kids days, the deep, dark secrets, the painful admissions, the highs & lows, the amazing pregnancy tales,the Before & Afters and the wonderful crazy exercise/fitness journey you shared with us. You’re amazing…then and now!