I’m not sure why I’m doing this, except that I find myself without a job.
Okay – that’s a little passive. I left my job two weeks ago. It was causing me a great deal of stress, to the point that it was impacting the rest of my life. I won’t go into the gory details here. Just know that I am better off.
Emotionally and mentally, that is. I’m in a bit of a bind financially. I’m freelancing part-time, which should sustain me for a few weeks. But I’ll need to find something else soon. (Regardless, I understand I’m in an extremely privileged position. Not many people can risk leaving their jobs just because they make them unhappy.)
I’m at a crossroads. I turn 33 in just over two weeks. I’ve been in the workforce long enough to know what makes me happy and what doesn’t, what I’m good at and what I’m not. (Again: privilege allows me to choose between these things.) Just after the new year, when things at work were starting to get really bad, I began to panic. I have no skills besides writing (I know writing is a skill, but tell that to a creative writer looking for work). I’ve worked in retail, food service, grocery and tobacco distribution, higher education, home improvement product writing, educational copy editing, and marketing and communications. There’s no trajectory to my career thus far. I can do a little bit of a lot of things, but I haven’t built up expertise in anything. I don’t know where I’m going.
This is why I registered for the National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT) course and exam. I’ve become invested in health and fitness over the past three or so years (check out this essay for more about that), and it seemed that the amount of research I’d done about nutrition and weight lifting translated into some sort of knowledge base or skill. Why not combine that with my love of teaching and do something with it? I became certified last month, and I’m currently looking for a place to train clients. I’m now pursuing my group personal training certification and plan to offer sessions in Pittsburgh city parks this summer.
But as a writer, over the past few years of reading and studying, I’ve been struck by the language used in health and fitness circles. Though it’s much more complicated than this, I’ve noticed two extremes of language: the macho, militaristic, almost violent language used on many popular bodybuilding sites, and the gentle, sunlit, self-love leanings of more wellness-oriented sites. Neither style tells the whole story of health/fitness/wellness, but neither is entirely in the wrong, either. I haven’t found much popular writing that examines the difficult space where the two overlap, where the complexities and contradictions of wellness can be explored.
NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness describes the importance of journaling, or self-monitoring, to developing new healthy habits: “Self-monitoring is usually done in the form of a daily written record of the behavior the client is trying to change.” I’m interested in taking this fitness journaling practice a step further and using it to generate hybrid creative and critical work. That sounds pretty pretentious. Basically, I’m going to use this blog to write about my own pursuit of wellness, how it makes me feel, and the challenges I encounter, as well as additional thoughts on related topics.
Sometimes this might get pretty boring. I might just talk about the workout I did that day. I might ramble about the hours I spent planning the next day’s meals in MyFitnessPal so that my calories and macronutrients perfectly matched my goals. I’ll probably talk a lot about self-doubt and body image and masculinity, or the language used in a certain bodybuilding article I read. Whatever happens, in the end, I hope it’s worth reading.
(Shout out to William Zinsser for the blog title inspiration.)