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I Went on a Major Health Kick and Learned an Important Lesson
04.12.18

In partnership with WelleCo.

The fact that Habits Month, a conversation with my therapist and a Man Repeller partnership with WelleCo (a vitamin- and mineral-rich dietary supplement in a very beautiful jar) all hit at the pinnacle of my itch to do a full life makeover to be more healthy is what we in the biz call kismet.

I’d already decided post-fashion-month that March would be my kickoff to finally make some positive changes. I felt puffy, sleepy, stressed, mentally messy and generally gross. My list of ideas about how to improve these things was long. It included but was not limited to working out every day, meditating for 20 minutes every morning, making myself nourishing breakfasts instead of eating “bars,” consuming at least 120 percent more greens and vitamins, foam rolling before work and “getting back into effleurage.” (Effleurage is a facial massage I started doing on myself last year that, in short, makes me feel better, but as a person who is frequently sucked into intermittent blackout vortexes of worrying and scrolling through social media, the time it takes to stuff into a day already gripped by the relentless corset of adulthood makes it a near impossibility for me to keep up with.)

When I told my therapist this, she commended me for my organized plan to make some changes that I had deemed important. But, in a far more eloquent string of words, she then essentially told me to chill the hell out. She said that this massive makeover list of “How to Be Better” was a recipe to set myself up for disappointment. Contrary to the cinematic getting-things-done montages of the ’80s and ’90s, most humans cannot overhaul absolutely everything in one go. She suggested I instead try a few changes here and there, more in the way of making positive-for-me choices rather than turning over more leaves than a leaf blower in autumn. Instead of pledging to work out every single day at 6 a.m., why not aim to move more? Instead of becoming a health and wellness guru, start with some greens, yadda yadda — the kinds of things that I know I know but for some reason can’t seem to put into daily practice. For me, it’s either all — “I’m going to be the healthiest version of me to ever live!” — or nothing.

Since my way has never seemed to stick around for long, I decided to try her suggested approach for a month. Given the partnership at hand, adding in the WelleCo supplement to my morning routine was first on my now-much-lighter list. It’s a green powder that smells and tastes a bit like matcha and, in two teaspoons, boasts more vitamins, minerals (like vitamin D3, vitamin B12, iron) and good-for-you-things — including broccoli, which I cannot tell you the last time I swallowed — than I’ve consumed in a while. The formula I used, Super Elixir Greens, is intended to support the immune system, help digestion, fight inflammation, increase energy and improve hair, nail and skin health.

On my first morning, I sprinkled just a dusting (surely not enough to do anything) over toast with almond butter and then, late, ran out the door. But hey, I’d just made breakfast.

The next morning, I poured it into an ice-cold water bottle, shook it hard and drank it while rushing to work.

That Saturday, with more time on my hands than normal, I made a smoothie with frozen raspberries, blueberries, peaches, the WelleCo powder, a bit of almond milk, a bit of coconut water and a few grapes for good luck. It was great. The sun was shining. So I put my healthy concoction in a to-go cup and decided to take a walk.

“This is pleasant,” I mused. “I should do this more often.”

So I did. There was something about the combination of a small positive change (I could handle adding two easy scoops of a vitamin-filled powder to water on even my laziest, most stressed mornings, it turns out) and the daily intentionality of supporting myself, rather than fighting with myself, that appealed to my creature-of-habit personality. It set me up for the day — just like making my bed does.

From there, I began to pick up momentum.

+ I started to set my alarm 10 minutes earlier than usual on weekdays. (Normally I’d be like, “Let’s set this baby a whole hour earlier!” And then I’d hit snooze because a whole hour is terrifying.)

+ With these 10 minutes, I gave myself some options as to how to fill the extra time: stretch, do nothing and enjoy the concept of extra time, try a two-minute meditation (another therapist suggestion, rather than a full 20). A few mornings, I massaged my face while listening to music. Luxury in the little things.

+ I began to schedule my workouts a few days in advance rather than weeks ahead of time. Though it sometimes meant I got added to waitlists rather than being guaranteed immediate entry, this meant I was making more mindful decisions to work out, ones that fit in with my schedule that week or that day instead of some idealized workout schedule I crafted a month prior, which I almost always have to rearrange or cancel.

+ To help remedy a consistently stiff neck and back, I started foam-rolling for about five minutes or so each night with my phone way across the room and the TV on. Do you know how long I’ve been promising to start foam-rolling? FOREVER.

+ The WelleCo-infused smoothie I made that one super-sunny weekend became something I looked forward to, even on rainy Tuesdays, so I started making it more often. I liked having a post-workout treat; ever motivated by food, I was incentivized to get up and go because I knew I could come back and snack. I also liked the pre-office ritual of pouring something colorful into a glass, of giving myself a reason to be sort of still for a moment while drinking it, of actually taking my vitamins and ingesting, as mom is always recommending, “some green stuff.”

And you know the whole positive chain reaction of healthy eating, of course: I didn’t want to undo my good work, so instead, I did things that added to it — I touched my toes more, I walked more (which meant being on time more). I made a small dent in my long queue of podcasts while on those more-frequent walks.

The biggest thing of all: I truly started to feel better. More in control.

Because these changes were small, not doing them didn’t feel monumental. It wasn’t like, “Oops, well, I skipped my workout. Better swallow the components of my Easter basket in one go and never again even attempt to break a sweat.” It was more like, “No big. I’ll do some stretches at my desk today and try again tomorrow.”

As someone who’s pretty all-or-nothing when it comes to…every aspect of my life, these “small changes” can be harder for me to conceptualize. How do you know the changes are happening if you can’t see them, or if you can barely feel them?

You don’t, really, it turns out — until it all starts to add up.

Photos by Louisiana Mei Gelpi; Art Direction by Emily Zirimis.

P.S. Use the code MANREPELLER for free shipping on any WelleCo order over $50!

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  • kay

    relentless corset of adulthood!!!!! so so accurate. ugh thank you

    • Amelia Diamond

      🙂

  • DarthVadersCats

    Honestly? Just what I needed to hear right now. The all or nothing mindset is such an adrenaline high as you imagine all the fun stuff you’re gonna be doing – walking the dog on the beach at 6am, having in-season mango salad for lunch, jogging to all the McElroy podcasts – and then a ping in the gut when you’re in bed at 10am snacking on Doritos.

    Little things I’ve started is having fruit every day, actually drinking water in sips (it helps that I have a cool Star Wars bottle with one of them attached straws) instead of 250ml gulps, and taking ten minute walks with or without the dog. That’s good enough for now!!

    • Amelia Diamond

      totally. totally!!! it’s like veggies mentality: some = better than none but if none = try again tomorrow.

      • Cristina

        Or eating veggies the way you like them is better than not at all. Like broccoli with homemade cheese sauce and carrots WIT ALL DAT RANCH.

        • gracesface

          10 carrots requires 1 cup of ranch dressing DUHHHHH. :p

        • Amelia Diamond

          also pizza + ranch

          • Cristina

            :GASP: I didn’t know they did that in NY!! Yes. This is basically taught to you from birth in the Midwest lol. I was in PA once and asked for ranch and they thought I was crazy!

          • Amelia Diamond

            I actually “learned this” from my Buffalo/Rochester friends! Blue cheese dressing works too IMO.

          • ByeBeckz

            What if i said I’m eating this literally as I read your comment. HEAVEN.

          • Amelia Diamond

            damnit

        • Patrizia Chiarenza

          Baked broccoli but WITH Parmesan cheese all over them 🙂

        • Adrianna

          I grate cheese on and add olive oil to most of the vegetables I eat. Huge game changer.

  • Adrianna

    I had to be honest with myself and admit that I’ve been coasting with what I like to call Functional Depression through 2016-2017. I’ve also been focusing on my health more this year, but trying to do it in a more chill way.

    Don’t feel like going to the gym after work? That’s okay – buying and roasting vegetables while I watch Real Housewives is probably more productive. Like others, I bought a giant container of Vega and several bags of Terrasoul powders the first week of January, but it’s okay if I don’t consume it regularly.

    I’ve been tracking what I eat on an app, which is a loaded thing to say since it can suggest disordered eating. But I’ve actually found it very helpful to make sure I am eating enough fat, protein, and fiber. Ironically I haven’t been using the supplements, because I found I am getting a sufficient amount of nutrition and protein through food. I first focused on incorporating vegetables into my life in a delicious way, and I recently started weightlifting. (Particularly kettlebells!)

    Can we talk about how empowering weightlifting is? I think women can feel too intimated to try because of all the talk of reps and sets. Honestly, I pick up something that feels heavy, and then I put it down. I repeat that a few times.

    • Amelia Diamond

      “Can we talk about how empowering weightlifting is” I’ve been thinking about this a lot — it’s my favorite part of workout classes. Weightlighting plus anything that requires lifiting my OWN weight, light planing or LITERALLY JUST LIFTING YOUR LEG AND HOLDING IT THERE WHICH IS SO HARD. but i want to work more on the idea of physically supporting myself.

    • Weightlifting changed my life.

      • Erica

        SAME. the PWR portion w/ kelsey wells on the Sweat app has been miraculous

    • doladex

      I’ve just started weight lifting (like, a couple months ago) and it has CHANGED THE GAME for me. The gym is now fun, I look forward to seeing how I progress. I feel way stronger and even look fitter than I did when I was constantly trying to do as much cardio as possible. I barely even do cardio now (besides normal walking around) and I don’t think I will look back…

      • Adrianna

        I’ve completely divorced cardio from the idea of weight loss or maintenance, and I have a much healthier relationship with exercise now. I run/walk because I do enjoy it, but I refuse to waste $36 on a spin class ever again

        • doladex

          Ugh yesss no!!! Yeah it’s great when you associate it with endorphins and feeling good instead of calorie burning.

  • Sadie Glick

    Smoothies are my go-to every morning – it’s like a little pop of sunshine in a cup! I always throw in a big handful of spinach leaves or baby kale. Admittedly not all bodies can handle raw veggies (and the color sometimes is real funky….) but it’s such a sneaky and easy way to get in more greens. You can’t taste it and they blend down to practically nothing – win win.

    P.s. Love your articles and that rug

    • Amelia Diamond

      do you have a recipe you absolutely love? i am still working on finding on my “signature” but still mostly use it as a way to get rid of fruit + ripe outta nowhere avos i overeagerly bought (plus almond butter)

      • Comment regarding this v important topic got marked as spam and deleted. I emailed y’all…

        • Amelia Diamond

          ahhh that’s annoying !?? ok will be on lookout!

      • Cristina

        My fav smoothie recipe: vanilla kefir + spinach + banana + blueberry + peanut butter. Heaven.

      • BethanyBeach

        my go to smoothie recipe (which is delicious, SUPER filling, and zero maintenance): unsweetened frozen acai packet from trader joe’s, frozen mixed fruit, protein power (I use pea protein), 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds, unsweetened soy milk, and honey to taste!

        • Amelia Diamond

          pea protein!! i need to try

      • Sheila

        half a frozen banana, 3/4 c frozen blueberries, 1 c frozen spinach or kale, 1 tbsp peanut or almond butter, 1 tbsp cocoa powder, almond milk. Sometimes a dollop of yogurt if i need to use up, coco water if i have, and/or i shake some cinnamon/ginger/turmeric in if feeling fancy. Frozen stuff doesn’t go bad!

      • Kiks

        I just use some combination of almond milk, couple scoops of plain or vanilla yogurt, a banana, a bit of frozen fruit (cherries are my fave) and fresh spinach or kale if I have some on hand.

        It doesn’t have to be fancy, and these ingredients are easy to make sure I always grab on grocery runs.

    • Amelia Diamond

      And my dad very graciously let me take that rug right out of his bedroom!!

  • Amelia, you are always coming through with the most relatable pieces and subsequently the best advice. Love this sm!

    • Amelia Diamond

      took me a minute to understand what sm meant 🙁 –> 🙂

  • Ari Vance-Borland

    I too struggle with all-or-nothing mentality. Something I like to do is put tiny self-caring wellness things on my to-do list in writing. “Eat some fruit” “Stretch your legs” Very satisfying to cross off the list.

    • Amelia Diamond

      yes!!!

  • Kattigans

    Good work, Amelia!

    This is great advice for anyone who wants to implement change and create new habits. The reason so many new years resolutions “fail” is because 1) too many goals, 2) too many that are the antithesis of how someone is already, 3) humans just cannot implement too many habit breaking changes all at once. Its too monumental and they are harder to keep up long term. Your therapist’s advice was spot on. And in the end you will feel a sense of accomplishment, not failure, which keeps you going.

  • H Spindel

    Love this article. It’s inspiring me (as someone else who *has* to go all or nothing) to try to focus on small, more attainable changes as well. I’ve been reading MR for a while, and I just have to say… you all are great! All of your articles come across as being so honest and geniune and INCREDIBLY relatable.

    • gracesface

      I second that, I love your honesty Amelia!

      • Amelia Diamond

        that is really nice, thank you both!!

  • Charlotte Hackelsberger

    Such a great article! I have the same problem and been coming to a similar conclusion, sometimes less is more i guess? Or definitely better than nothing. Im trying journalling, lets see how long that will last
    Would love to hear an update 🙂

    • Amelia Diamond

      ok!! will do one mid may/ early june maybe??

  • Kariah Kussman

    this is so inspiring! I am the same way, it’s all or nothing and nothing leaves me feeling like a toad but doing it all leaves me exhausted. I’ve even been planning 5am workouts for the last like 6 years…. I think it has happened maybe once, MAYBE. Small steps=big changes yes yes yessss!

  • evanarchere

    Just remembered the song ‘ High Hopes ‘ by Frank Sinatra ; all about perseverance , consistency and commitment !
    One step at a time – life is a marathon . Pace yourself , to the end of the race ; remember , being first , is not everything !
    Old adage : ” It’s not just to win , but how you play the game ”
    Always important to finish ! !

  • silla

    This couldn’t have been more timely! I had a weigh in with a PT I’ve been seeing for 2 months today, and despite spending exorbitant amounts on working out I have not lost a GRAM. Or even centimetres! I can do a chin up and am way fitter but I was so depressed, and before I read this I was just silently critiquing all the ways I live my life and how I need to be stricter and get back into an all or nothing mindset (meditate twice a day, eat no grains or dairy, sleep 9 hours a night). reading this has reminded me that doing my best is more than enough and I can also CHILL THE F OUT. God I love you MR

    • Kiks

      Dude, you can do A CHIN UP??!

      I haven’t been able to do a chin up since I was like 14. That’s boss.

      • silla

        JUST! You’re boss xxx

  • elpug

    I love this! It’s the little things that add up!

    Wait that shit’s $135?!! Whaaaa. I guess more motivation to make it worthwhile?

  • “For me, it’s either all — “I’m going to be the healthiest version of me to ever live!” — or nothing.” Relatable

  • Darthnaider

    Ooooh long list of podcasts? Please share 🙂 (really liked the article too 🙂 )

  • Emily M

    Your therapist sounds like she knows her shit. I am such an all-or-nothing person, too, but going through recovery for an eating disorder has taught me the art of giving myself grace––always more than I think I deserve. It is a beautiful thing to be able to wake up the next day and try again!!

    • Kiks

      Congratulations on going through recovery, that takes a lot of strength and hard work.
      I started therapy a few months ago for my all-consuming lifelong anxiety and one of the first things she said to me was “MY GOD, you’re hard on yourself!!!”
      It is so crucial and so freeing to realize you don’t have to listen to the voice that tells you you’re worthless.
      Cheers to staying well 🙂

  • Kiks

    Making myself breakfast is such a small thing but I feel SO much better when I do! I make a smoothie or toast after I’ve showered, so my hair is air-drying and my various face creams are being absorbed while I prepare and eat. Yay for multi-tasking!

  • Alex Blackstone

    This is exactly what I needed to read!! I struggle with the all-or-nothing concept so often. Making tiny changes and not mentally abusing myself was the hardest part to learn.

  • Elizabeth Cooke

    Sending love as one of your Man Repeller bus tour fans!! You asked for a go to smoothie recipe. I have been using Kimberly Snyder’s GGG (Glowing Green Smoothie) as a base to experiment around. Love adding celery and cucumber.

  • Jay

    I actually had to laugh when I read this. This is so me (again, Ameila, you sure you dont have relatives in Germany?!). Like I always want to change everything at the same time and radical and … bla…

    And then…

    Well.

    Figured out a while ago that this is not the way it works.

    And yes, I‘m now doing the one step at a time approach. And that way it does work.

    Plus, I have a Manrepeller Rewards Shopping List. And every Sunday, when I can tick off my weekly goal, I can make one purchase from that list…

    (This week?! Lacy Comfy Bralette, inspired by the conversation @Harling and @Haley had on this…)

  • Hell ya ! you go Amelia 😉

  • gail

    “the relentless corset of adulthood”. Grow up already. All you millennials do is moan and whine about having to be an adult. What you’re upset because no one gives you a trophy at work just for walking through the door? Get off your phone and you may not feel like you don’t have enough time and are stressed all the time. You don’t need constant entertainment.