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Begin (Again)

I’ve been dreading writing this post for months now, but it’s the right thing to do for you all and for me.  So, be kind.  I don’t do vulnerable if I can help it, but it would feel too inauthentic not to give you a peek behind the curtain at the MacroEd Oz.

At this point, it is my hope that you’re very familiar with our Registered Dietitian Jeremy Mullins.  He’s an ace in his field and ALL of our nutritional information comes from him.  He’s also a great athlete and adventurer.

Jeremy has owned CrossFit gyms longer than I’ve even known what CrossFit was.  He’s been an athlete since he was a child and while weight loss as always been a struggle, he’s an inspiration in terms of fitness activities.  Recently he sustained an injury that required shoulder surgery and he’s still in the gym kicking tail with every activity his doctor will allow (which sadly means riding 50 miles on an assault bike right now…yowza!).  Seriously, I am SO proud of how he’s handling his recovery and not being a brat about it.  I would still be stomping and pouting.

He’s a coach and a lifetime athlete and I’m SUPER glad he has all that experience to share with us.  He makes us all more fit and better educated about how food AND movement affect our overall health.

As for me, I’m the resident nerd making Jeremy’s teachings into easy-to-digest online courses, building the website, and macro-hacking things in the kitchen.  I’ve used our macro program and had success but it, and everything else related to my own personal health and fitness, has kinda taken a backseat for a while…a long while.

::channeling my inner Sofia Petrillo:: “Picture it, Huntington, 2009.”

I’ve been happily married (and eating maybe nonstop) for three years.  I’m working full time and in grad school.  I’m busy (or at least I think I am at the time, silly girl) and doing the best I can to feed myself according to the “healthy” standards taught by marketers and the media.  This means a lot of 100-calorie packs of Oreo thins, drive thru food, low fat/fat free/sugar free everything aaaaaand gaining like 40 lbs. 

I stop getting on the scale when I reached the 190s and refuse to buy pants any bigger than a size 14 because that means going shopping at the “big girl stores” and I cannot accept that I am a big girl.  I go to a globo gym and run some mornings (and hate it and myself the entire hour). I do some Zumba. And I eat what I think I’m supposed to at least as often as I think I need to. (consistency has never been my thing)  No matter what I do, I weigh the same or gain weight, so all of the sacrifice seem pointless, frustrating and stupid.

One of my absolute besties joins CrossFit Thunder and won’t. shut. up. about. it.  She looks better than any of us have since college and seems excited, happy, and full of energy.  (and did I mention that she looks awesome and is in smaller jeans? #goals)  So reluctantly I agree to go with her.

I hate it.

CrossFit is AWFUL.  It hurts.  I hurt.  I SUCK at it and as a super-capable, type-A, 4.0 nerd, I don’t do many things that I suck at, but MAN, am I bad at CrossFit.

I’m not sure if it is the stubbornness of not wanting to be beaten by something, prodding by my bestie, or refusing to let my husband (who is now crossfitting and naturally gifted at it) beat me, but for whatever reason, I stay at Crossfit.  I never become any good at it, but I keep showing up.

A few months later, I try on a short-sleeved dress shirt for the first time since the summer before.  (who even owns short-sleeved dress shirts anyways?! #fashiondisaster)  At this point, I’m not as terrible at the gym as I had been.  I’m putting in my time.  I’m starting to feel a little better about myself, so imagine my surprise when I can’t get my big arms through the dang sleeves.  I lose it.

The next day at the gym, I go off like a rocket at my coach.  “I don’t CARE if I ever get strong enough to do a push up. I don’t CARE if I’m building muscle.  I CARE that my FREAKING SHIRT WON’T FIT.  I’m not here because I want to become a jock. I’m here because I want to fit in my daggone clothes.”  God bless him for not kicking me out then and there because my language may have been a bit more colorful in the moment. 😉

He asks me something that still haunts me to this day.  “When are you ready to talk about your $h!tty diet?”

I am floored.  Offended.  Mortified.  And somehow surprised.  What did it matter what I was eating?  I’m straight KILLING myself for an hour a day like four days a week.  Surely to goodness that offsets all that drive thru food.  Well, friends, as it turns out, it matters.

Over the course of the next few weeks, he works with me on my food choices.  I learn about the paleo diet, start cooking at home and taking it easy on processed food and desserts, and lo and behold, the weight begins to move.  Over the course of the next couple of years, I lose about 45 lbs and go from a size 14 (that everyone with a working pair of eyes knows should be a 16) to a size 6.  I feel amazing.  I fall in love with the gym, my diet, and doing gym rat stuff with my gym rat friends.


I am 5 lbs from my goal weight by the winter of 2011 when I get pregnant.  It is the best thing that has ever happened to me.  I crossfit through my pregnancy (what up, haters and keyboard OBGYNs?) and end up delivering my first baby at a weight LOWER than I was when I first walked into the gym in ’09. 

Shortly after my first baby, I have my second.  Through both babies, I work on my doctoral degree.  After my second baby, I start a couple of little hobby companies/projects and finish my dissertation.  MacroEd comes along somewhere in the middle of that and I pour myself into building materials to help our growing community with their health and nutrition goals.

I am busy and I’m accomplishing a LOT towards a lot of different goals in different areas of my life.  During this era, I learn how to be a mother.  I learn how being a mother redefined my life as a wife and become more intentional about my efforts in that realm too.  I advance in my job.  I learn a ton at school and finish the biggest academic project of my life eight years after I started it.  I have a lot of fun and make a little money at my side hustles.  It is a good season.  It is a productive season.  But if I’m being honest with you and myself, it isn’t a healthy season for me personally.

So, that brings us to present day Ashley.  I am as heavy and nearly as unhealthy as I was the first day my friend dragged me into the gym 8 years ago.  I’m older.  My metabolism is slower.  My two beautiful babies that I wouldn’t give up for anything in the world have completely wrecked my body.  I’m tired.  I’m busy.  And I’m pulled in a million directions taking care of a lot of people and projects that I love.  But…I’m also smarter and my understanding of health, nutrition, and fitness are in a much better place than when I first started.

**This is where a current photo would go but I’ve been in ninja mode hiding behind other people every time a camera shows up, so I don’t have any.  Problem, much?  Ugh.**

So, for those reasons, I’m ready to begin…again.  I’m basically back to first-timer status in terms of everything related to fitness, so I’m going to use that situation to my benefit and yours.  Instead of bellyaching and feeling sorry for myself that I can’t do what I used to or “should” be able to do, I’m owning this spot.  I’m at square one.  And that’s just going to have to be okay for now.

Our community at MacroEd has been a part of my life long enough now that I think of how I can help you guys in nearly every situation I’m in.  “I can’t wait to show them this!” or “Wonder if I can hack that for my people?” or “They’re gonna freak when I share the recipe for this great new thing.”  Those thoughts are all a regular part of my routine.  They’re a lens I see my world through now.

I did the same thing for this new beginner fitness status of mine.  I thought, “How I can I use this to make things better for my people?”  And the answer was pretty clear.  I’m gonna be the guinea pig for you guys.  I’m going to try all of the fun fitness things you might want to try and then tell you what to expected.  I do it for you in terms of food so it seems like an easy departure to do it for you here too.  I’ll be the big sister who tries something out so it’s less scary when you’re ready to try.  So that’s my plan.

I’m starting a “Beginner’s Fitness Tour” of sorts where I get to go and play where you’d like to play.  I’ll learn the ropes to prepare you for your first visit and tell you all about it.  I have a list of fun stuff I’d like to experiment with, but if there’s something specific you want to see, let me know in comments and I’ll do my best to check it out for you.  I don’t know how frequently I’ll be visiting and posting, but I promise to do it with as much regularity as possible.  It is my hope that you’ll be more excited, prepared, and empowered to step out and try new activities because of this project.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress and you keep me in the loop on activities you’d like to learn more about.  Here’s to starting over and beginning again.

All the best,

This Post Has One Comment
  1. […] First of all, from the very bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for all the support for the first Begin Again post.  That one was difficult to write and even harder to share, but your response was so kind and encouraging.  I received more messages, texts, and emails over that post than all the other ones I’ve ever written combined…seriously.  So, thank you for “getting” me and for being so kind and amazing.  I shouldn’t be surprised because this community has proven to be the best over and over again, but I truly was so pleasantly surprised by your feedback.  (If you missed the soul-bearing post, catch up here: Begin Again.) […]

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