Blog | Lindsey Smallwood


Insanity or Bravery?

Lindsey Smallwood

I'm back at Middle Places this week, on New Year's Resolutions and the small bravery of trying again...

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I think it might be brave.

Like so many friends of mine, I’m embracing the new year as a chance to start fresh with goals relating to health and fitness. Throwing out the potato chips. Joining the local gym. Looking for new recipes that feature vegetables instead of carbs. 

You know, the usual.

No, really. The truth is this is my usual. Every few months I find new motivation to make these types of changes. I’ve done it the healthy way – various combinations of Weight Watchers, fitness boot camp, MyFitnessPal and steamed vegetables. I’ve done it the unhealthy way – restricting calories, binging and purging, letting my body become an obsession.

And for good or for bad, these changes last for a while. Until they don’t. Until life gets in the way, and I stop putting in the effort. Until tragedy strikes and I begin turning to food for comfort. Until I find myself once again firmly entrenched in patterns I don’t know how to escape.

In my adult life, the measure on my scale has swung +/- 50 lbs from the weight I know is right for me. I’ve been frighteningly small and embarrassingly large. And lately, after carrying, birthing and nursing two babies in two years, I’m finding my body tired.

Some of that exhaustion is from fetching late night glasses of water for my toddler and early morning singing in the baby’s room. But I think most of my fatigue comes from the fact my habits aren’t supporting my body, which needs better sources of energy than I’ve been giving it and more practice at becoming strong through exercise.

I’m starting again, doing the same thing I’ve done over and over again and expecting different results this time. I’m making another attempt at something I’ve repeatedly failed at doing since puberty.

My mantra is borrowed from an admittedly cheesy inspirational poster I saw years ago: Think about what you want most, not want you want in the moment.

What I want most is to feel strong, energized, to know my body is as healthy as it’s within my power to make it. To appreciate the gift of food and not abuse it. To set a good example for my kids.

Yet it’s easy for me to see all the ways it won’t work this time either.

  • What if I get pregnant again?
  • What about making meals for my husband, who loves carbs and cheese and has the metabolism of a young rabbit?
  • Can I really afford to buy healthier food and pay for a gym membership?
  • Will my resolve remain in the face of book club treats and mom’s brunches and small group pizza parties?

Those questions are real and large and valid. I’m daring to try anyway, knowing I’m responsible for my one wild and precious life, and it’s always worth doing the right thing, even when failure is possible.

It feels scary. Exciting. Brave.


This post originally appeared at Middle Places.

Hot Pants & Heatstroke

Lindsey Smallwood

Last week we took a family trip to Moab, Utah.

Moab is a tiny tourist town nestled between two epic National Parks - Arches and Canyonlands. The landscape is like something out of a science fiction movie: enormous red earth temples carved by natural erosion in the rocks, land bridges and rock tunnels appearing out of nowhere, sweeping views of canyons larger than the eye can see, dotted with rivers, rocks and dirt roads. It's like no place I've ever been. 

After spending our first night in the cabin we rented at a local campground, we woke early to beat the desert heat by getting to the Park early for some kids-in-backpacks-and-frontpacks hiking. I packed our lunches and made sure we had enough water while the boys investigated the large ant colony by our picnic table. Cleaning up the breakfast dishes, I surveyed our tiny home-away-from-home and surmised that we were ready to go. 

Then I looked in the mirror. 

Instead of seeing a happy mother of two in a tailored top and carefully selected jeans, I found arm flab and jiggly thighs competing for attention with my tank top and running shorts. It's been a cold spring in Boulder and this moment was the first time I saw myself in summer clothes. It wasn't pretty. 

The embarrassment was tight in my chest.

Is this really what I look like?

The shame began to whisper.

That's what you get for snacking your way through nap time.

I threw off the outfit and changed into a different shirt and shorts combination, realizing as I looked back to the mirror that the clothes were not the problem. I briefly considered wearing jeans, even pulled them out of my suitcase, longing to hide myself in the dark forgiving fabric.

Really, Linds? You'd rather hide in your jeans and get heatstroke hiking in 100 degrees then let those hefty gams see some sunlight?

I put my shorts back on.

The hike to Delicate Arch that morning was incredible. Chris carried the water and we each wore a baby as we made our way up the steep mountain trail without any shade. It was hard work but the payoff was the incomparable views of surrounding canyons. I kept stopping just to say "Wow".

At the top, we found a fellow hiker willing to snap our picture. 


We sat down after we took the photo, getting out water and snacks for the boys. As I held out the straw for Tommy to take a drink, a woman stopped, watching us feed our sweaty babies. 

She looked me in the eye. 

"Beautiful," she said. "Just beautiful."

She kept walking. 

Her words landed like arrow, quick and sharp. She wasn't complimenting the way I looked in my shorts or how my tank top accentuated my curves. When she looked at us, enjoying the view and making a memory, she saw beauty. Beauty in being together.

And I saw it too. 

So often there's beauty if only you look in the right place.

We're home now, with a camera full of pictures and hearts full of sweet memories.

I'm tracking calories on my phone in hopes of feeling better in my shorts, while trying to ignore the voice.

The voice that says my body isn't what it should be. It's been there for as long as I can remember. It tells me the same stories of shame and failure over and over again. There is some truth to it's claims, but it would have me believe that it is the only thing that matters. 

It's not. 

Family matters more. 

Adventure matters more. 

Trying something new matters more. 

My marriage matters more. 

Enjoying the once in a lifetime chance to climb red earth canyons to sky high rock towers matters more.

I choose what matters more. 

So if you need me, I'll be rocking some shorts to play with my babies in the Boulder summer sun.

And looking for beauty in all the right places.

Even in pictures I told Chris to delete. 

Friends - are you choosing what matters more? How do you quiet "the voice"? Here's hoping you're finding ways to make the most of your one wild and precious life.