I keep thinking about Arthur.
I’ve watched this video at least 20 times in the months and years since I first saw it, and I cry every time. There’s no denying how amazing and inspiring it is. It has been viewed over 12 million times. 12 MILLION. And yet, despite how inspired I am each time I recall Arthur’s story, I still distinctly remember one time where I watched the video while eating ice cream. Let’s consider the irony there, folks. We’ll get back to Arthur in a bit.
Recently I’ve been going back to Barre3 after a long break. It’s been amazingly wonderful but also has brought up a lot of changes in my body (some painful), a lot of regret, and quite a bit of hope and motivation. I’ve been processing this for a few weeks now, and have some stuff I want to talk about if that’s cool with you. You’re still reading this, so I guess it is.
6 years ago, I started my very first blog, called Less of Beth. Every day (yes, every day) for almost 10 months I posted my daily calorie input and output, and shared a weekly video documenting my weight loss. In that time, I lost nearly 80 pounds. One husband, and two babies later, I gained it all back, but oddly, no more. It was like my body remembered my starting weight and wanted to return to that exact spot.
If you’ve been following along here at Eat Within Your Means for a while, this is not news to you. In fact, last September I tried to re-launch Less of Beth as part of the blog, and shared the following list.
Top 10 Reasons Why I’m Doing Less of Beth
10. I want to get rid of my maternity clothes.
9. I want to sign up for Stitch Fix.
8. I want to wear the red “goal pants” I bought 6 years ago.
7. I want to walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded.
6. I want to set a good example for my kids.
5. I want to be a hot mom.
4. I want to do the dishes without breaking a sweat.
3. I want reduce the chance that I’ll get the diabeetus.
2. I want to wear a bikini on the beach in Maui next April.
1. I want to weigh less than a linebacker.
Let’s just say I didn’t get very far with this re-boot. Here’s what really happened with that list.
10. I want to get rid of my maternity clothes. I got rid of them, but not because they didn’t fit.
9. I want to sign up for Stitch Fix. This goal still exists, although what I really want is a capsule wardrobe.
8. I want to wear the red “goal pants” I bought 6 years ago. This goal still exists. The pants are hanging in my closet, waiting.
7. I want to walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded. Haven’t tested this one in a while, but the goal remains.
6. I want to set a good example for my kids. I’m on that path right now, for sure. They’ve been seeing me exercise and make healthy food choices a lot recently. That makes this momma very happy.
5. I want to be a hot mom. I’m not there yet. I realize this is subjective, and every woman deserves to claim her hotness as she sees fit. Right now, I would say I’m tepid, leaning towards lukewarm. 🙂
4. I want to do the dishes without breaking a sweat. Not even close. I’ve considered putting a portable fan in my kitchen that blows on me at all times.
3. I want reduce the chance that I’ll get the diabeetus. Good news! Got some blood work done and everything checked out A-OK.
2. I want to wear a bikini on the beach in Maui next April. Went to Maui. Long story short, it wasn’t a dream vacation, and no bikini was involved. So, updated goal – Kauai next December! Michael, take note. 😉
1. I want to weigh less than a linebacker. Some progress made, but I still weigh more than many linebackers. Not combined, thankfully.
As I look over this list, honestly, I see a lot of failure. And if I dwell on that too much, it starts to get pretty depressing, and the ice cream starts to sound really good. Why is it, when I feel crappy about myself, I reach for something that will make me feel even more crappy? Anyone who has devoured a bag of tortilla chips in one sitting understands exactly what I mean. But recently, I’ve started to think about failure in a different way. One that helps me to see that my regret about the pint of ice cream or the bag of chips is a symbol pointing me in a new direction. Forward.
What is failing forward?
Let me back up. I totally thought I came up with the term “failing forward.” It came to me one day, and I felt it perfectly described my journey through life. I was feeling quite proud of myself, until I heard about this book.
I haven’t read it yet, but dang if the cover alone doesn’t describe exactly how I feel about failure these days.
At Barre3, the topic of failure comes up a lot. In class, our instructors encourage us to embrace failure, because it means that our body is being transformed.
turn your magic on,
to me she’d say
everything you want’s a dream away
under this pressure under this weight
we are diamonds taking shape
– Coldplay, “Adventure of a Lifetime”
These days, I’ve started to look at failure as momentum. Am I actively trying to fail? No. I am actively trying to allow that failure to shape me – whether physically, mentally, or emotionally. Failure is not only inevitable, it is one of the universal parts of the human experience. Everybody poops. Everybody fails. And, if I may make this ridiculous and slightly gross comparison, we can learn something from both our poop and our failures. Just the other day I saw an article about what our poop tells us about what’s going on with our body. Apparently there are ideal shapes. So we can make changes to our habits to get a better result the next time. In a much less disgusting way, our failures can also help us to make adjustments to our behaviors and move forward.
Let’s get back to Arthur now. In the video of his transformation story, he falls down. A lot. Sometimes it’s hard to watch, because it looks painful and awkward and embarrassing. The kind of thing you wouldn’t want anybody else to see. But I think it is this vulnerability and willingness to share those failures that makes Arthur’s story so compelling. So…I’m starting to document my own little transformation story.
In Barre3 we do a few different yoga poses, the most challenging for me being Warrior 3. It’s supposed to look like this.
As of Sunday, October 23, 2016, here’s what I look like trying to do Warrior 3.
While doing this posture, I felt fairly strong and confident. Looking it now, I realize how completely wacky it is. My leg is nowhere near high enough, and my hips seem to be trying to smile at the ceiling rather than the floor. But, now I know where I stand, and where I need to go. Without that “failure”, I wouldn’t know.
There are lots of other postures I can’t do at Barre3, or at least I can’t do them well. Side plank, bridge lifts with one leg in the air, and a full plank, to name only a few. My plan is to share video updates of every posture that is “unavailable to me” right now (as my instructors kindly say), because, I’ll be honest, I want my Arthur moment where I see a time lapse video that literally shows me failing forward. How cool would that be? I have no visions of grandeur, no expectation of millions of views. But if even one person sees this, and sees themself in it, and is spurred to action, I’ll consider that a beautiful reward for all the failure.
This is me, with my sweaty, red-faced mug grinning away because I took a class with all 9 instructors at my studio and completed my “passport.” So far this month I’ve taken class 16 times. That’s a lot failure, baby! 🙂
Oh, and I am just over halfway to a “mini-goal” with a very fun reward when I reach the finish line. I’m excited to tell you about it, when the time is right. In the meantime, thanks for sharing this ride with me. It’s my honor, truly.
I’ll get back to the recipes now. 🙂
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I’m sitting here with tears running down my face. Thankfully I’m at home. My 82 year old father (your Grandpa) is visiting and asleep in the next room. He’s an inspiration to “Never Give Up”. The family he was born in to was poor and dysfunctional in many ways. He was not afraid to try anything growing up and as an adult. He did a lot of failing forward with jobs, relationships, health issues, etc. After his first marriage which failed early on, he found the love of his life. They were married 50 years, and would have been longer if it hadn’t been for Grandma’s exit from this earth at 68 years old. After nearly 8 years, I can hardly have a conversation with Dad when he doesn’t tear up at the mention of Mom. She was another example of never giving up. I miss her every day.
Beth, I admire the way you keep heading in the direction you want to go, even if you have to change your route or destination along the way. You’ll get there.
Beautifully written. And you already are an inspiration my friend, every day. We’re all with you in this as you work towards your goals and help us all embrace our own “failures” that can sometimes seem insurmountable. You go girl!!
I found your blog a several weeks ago, so I wasn’t there for your first weight-loss journey. I’m excited to be with you on this next journey! Perhaps your “failure” was “meant to be.” How many NEW followers will find this blog and be inspired? How many OLD followers are experiencing the same frustrations? Looking forward to your posts!
You ROCK, Beth! You are real, you are funny, and everybody who knows you, loves you. Probably everybody who reads you and hasn’t met you loves you too!
I’m with you on those yoga poses; many “unavailable” at this time, but always working on them, with improvements seen.
Let me just say this – getting to know you online for many many months and having gotten the change to actually meet you in person – I can say with complete confidence YOU ARE A HOT MOM! I know it’s subjective, like you say, but to me a warm smile, a joyous attitude, a positive personality, smarts, creativity, confidence, and a big heart all equal HOT MOM! Not to mention, yes, you are beautiful on the outside too! We are all on personal journeys and even if we hit the goals of one, another always comes up. Nothing wrong with that. Cheers to your journey, friend. Glad you are setting a good example for those kiddos and taking care of yourself. WIN!
I did yoga regularly for 7 years, and my best warrior three looked much like yours. It’s the journey, and the small continuous improvements that get us through life. You are inspiring for us all.
Patricia Bradbury says
Beth I am so proud of you. You are an excellent mother and wife. Your kids are amazing.
I know I don’t get to see you and the kids often but I keep track of your blog and even
though I am not a vegan some of your recipes sound so delicious I would try them.
Keep up the good work on your exercise and eating right and you will become the woman
you want to be. Love you.
Shannon @ Pass Me Some Tasty says
Beth, I love this post and your vulnerability. We all have our areas where we feel completely inadequate but to pursue our goals by just putting them out there for all to read is an awesome motivator for us all to fail forward together. I wanna come do that Barre class with you sometime. I think it would be fun (and funny since I’m sure my Warrior 3 pose would look more like Floppy Waffle pose).