reflections

Confessions of a “healthy living” blogger

© Petra Collins

It’s been 7 years since I started this blog and as with all relationships there comes a time when you need to “check-in,” assess where you’re at, set some new boundaries, maybe even make some apologies. Since I haven’t updated in over 2 years I think we’re long overdue.

When I started The Healthy Hipster  it was 2010 and I was a textbook millennial. Overeducated, underemployed, single, living in a rented flat above a Portuguese family of 8 and trying to come to terms with a version of adulthood that looked nothing like what I’d anticipated. As an overachiever throughout high school, college, grad school and more grad school, I was starving for my next A+. Unfortunately I found that those didn’t exist in the “real world.” There were too many of us out there but the opportunities were limited and reserved for those with the right connections.

With too much time on my hands I found myself on the internet a lot  and much of that time was spent reading “healthy living” blogs. I was obsessed with them. All of them. Because they were all the same. Large, high resolution photos of bright green salad bowls exploding with spiralized carrots as orange as Kraft Dinner, chia seed puddings exploding out of vintage mason jars and avocado slices thinly layered atop a seed-covered slice of gluten-free toast fill your screen. On the right side panel you see a photo of a beautiful, smiling woman framed in friendly turquoise box. She is in her mid-to-late twenties, with flawless skin, and she is holding a cornucopia of vegetables in one arm and a yoga mat in the other.

The tabs at the top of the screen told the whole story. They included things like: WORKOUTS; MY FITNESS JOURNEY; RECIPES; MY WEDDING; MY FAMILY; ABOUT ME. The stories started with an inviting, “Hi there! Thanks for visiting Sassy Moves or That Almond Butter Life.” Then they got straight to the transformation story. A sad, lonely girl who lost her unseemly college weight and found meaning in her life through a passion for kale and marathon running. Cut to the husband. Cut to the wedding pics. Cut to the impossibly large and immaculately designed suburban house. The baby. The post-baby weight loss. It was all so simple. A hot body and a new life purpose all for the price of a bag of baby carrots. 

So I started The Healthy Hipster which was “a chronicle of my version of ‘having-it-all.'” For me, that included eating lots of vegetables and taking care of my body through running, yoga and fitness but also having a social life, pursuing a career and saving money wherever I could. My goal was to tell a different kind of story. Of course, what happened, was that I told the same story.

This blog talks about fitness and food as synonymous with “health” which I now know to be wrong and misleading. It mislead even me. I focused the anxiety, fear and grief I was feeling over my life throughout twenties on the only things I thought I could control – my body, my self. And that, dear readers, is not very healthy at all.

Looking back I think I started a blog because it gave me the power to define my life, to write my own narrative. I started a blog about health because I wasn’t healthy. About happiness because I wasn’t happy. So that’s what it became. A strange combination of the best and worst parts of myself, of the truth and the lies that I told myself and others.

I feel a lot of empathy for the person I was when I started this blog and I’m proud of what it became over time. I learned, as I wrote, much more about mental health and came to define a “healthy lifestyle” very differently. These days I know I’m doing well when I’m spending outdoors, with family, building positive relationships, practicing self-care, pursuing creative projects and being a positive role model for younger women and those facing difficult life transitions like I did.

I may try to write here again sometime, about those things or new things or even a pancake recipe. Maybe not. But I’m grateful for everyone who listened. Who is listening. And I hope that maybe reading this makes you think back on all you’ve learned these past 7 years. The skills you’ve developed, the ways in which you’ve grown. I hope you look back with empathy towards your 23 year old self and you’re proud of how far you’ve come. 🙂

 

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