Blend 2013: What I Didn’t Expect (Finding The ‘Me’ I Had Lost To Healthy Living)

by Sarah on May 23, 2013 · 42 comments

There were a lot of things that happened at Blend I didn’t expect.

I didn’t expect to stay in such posh surroundings.I didn’t expect to eat so much fruit.

i cannot control myself in the face of free produce.

Or drink so little coffee.

unlimited coffee usually means caffeine overdose

I didn’t expect to discover that of the beers I sampled at Wasatch Brewery, the jalapeno one was my favorite.

or that i actually DO like beer. in very, very, VERY small amounts.

(I did expect that diet soda would still be my drink of choice. ;))

most people packed their zevia to take home. i finished mine within four hours.

I didn’t expect to admit that not only am I now apparently a bread person, I might also be a (goat) cheese person, too.*

*For my intestines’ sake, I will try to forget this experience.

I definitely didn’t expect to STILL be sore four days following GPP workouts after which I thought, “Man, I didn’t even sweat,” and couldn’t even push myself as hard as Neil encouraged.

And when I was packing my bag to go, I certainly didn’t expect that the shoes I’ve worn in Mexico, Costa Rica, and hiking in the Adirondacks* wouldn’t be coming home with me.

*Which apparently is “all over the world,” according to hyperbolic me.

i did bring the pants home. i have not, however, yet washed them. oops.

I also didn’t expect to take so few pictures.

or that they would apparently all be of hiking.

But what I REALLY didn’t expect was to be hiking on the top of the mountain with a couple of people I’ve known for a year, and a couple who I’d known for only a day, and have one of them say to me the words that suddenly provided clarity and insight into issues I’ve been mulling over for months:

“If food and fitness is all you felt like you had,

no wonder you became so fixated.”

You see, I’ve been getting really frustrated with myself.

Regardless of it is makes sense or is ‘fair’, it is true.

I’ve been frustrated that calorie counting became an obsession. That eating wasn’t easy any more.

I’ve been frustrated that for a long time I lacked creativity and interest in cooking.

(Without Meatless Mondays A-Z, there were some weeks I probably wouldn’t have even turned on the oven.)

I’ve been frustrated that where running was such a joy, it has suddenly become something I feel like I need to do, have to do, and am scared NOT to do. Comments of encouragement–“You look great!” “How far did you go today?” “Your stride is so easy and beautiful!” “I can’t believe you can go so far!”--have turned into pressure.

And I have been wondering:

What happened to me?

Just before I left for Blend, another blogger found–and posted about–my “Loser Like Me” post, where I listed all the ways in which I had pretty much failed in the healthy living blog world. As I was reminded of this post, and reread it, I couldn’t help but feel a little nostalgic for the girl who had written it.

When did the lack of pressure on myself to ‘fit in’ or to do what ‘everyone’ said was right disappear?

When did I lose my sense of balance?*

*Goshdarnit, the balance beam was the only thing in gymnastics I was good at.

When did I let healthy living take over my life?

Despite being frustrated and self-aware, I wasn’t necessarily getting any better, more balanced, or more kind to, well, me.

Then I went to Blend.

sadly i'm not actually IN this picture...silly flight times.

I was surrounded by many women who inspire me in their levels of fitness, and their knowledge of health and wellness…

i am ever in awe of lindsay. (for so many reasons)

…but who also inspire me in their confidence, beauty, grace…

…and, most importantly, balance.

three of the most balanced women I know. (also, i am pretty sure this will become the poster photo for blend.)

Up on that mountain (or maybe it was a hill?), everything, all of a sudden, clicked.

Of course I let food and fitness take over.

Because I felt like I had nothing else.

Back in the fall, I was probably bordering on depression.

I was uncertain about my job. I was bored. I was lonely. I lost my desire to blog.

The confident girl I knew was slipping away, and I didn’t know where she went.

Although I started seeing a counselor, and working to try and make changes to get me out of the mud I was stuck in, I was still missing. I was playing hide-and-seek, and I hid really well.

So, when I heard those words on the mountain–“If you only have food and fitness, then of course it became a fixation.“–suddenly I realized that as I felt unhappy with the other parts of my life, I could immerse myself in counting my calories, spending hours alone making Nutty Butter on the weekends, and running as far as possibleoccasionally just to avoid the fact that I didn’t have anything else to do–and not worry about what might be lacking everywhere else.

But I need to bring the balance back.

The confidence back.

The ME back.

And I will.

I’m already on my way, making career changes, and geographical changes, and perspective changes.*

*More on those to come.

Blend was like a reset button.

Although instead of starting over…I’m coming back.

Ironically, the first comment on my first postabout Blend 2013 was from my Blog Mama, Tricia, who said, “It’s good to see you again.” And although she meant–I think–actual pictures of me, in a way, she was right.

There. I. Was.

And it IS good to see me again.

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calee May 23, 2013 at 5:23 pm

I’m at work and i know if i do more than just skim this post i will be in tears. this weekend, i will read, and leave a real comment besides this:

^ ME TOO. On all accounts. Except I did have a few moments of comparison because holy cow i’ve never seen such tiny women.

lindsay May 23, 2013 at 8:55 pm

you look GREAT, just know that. k?

Calee May 24, 2013 at 8:40 am

thanks. i came back to reread it and i am seriously in tears. this post is what i’ve been wanting to see from sarah for so. long.

Michelle @ Eat Move Balance May 24, 2013 at 8:27 am

Same, Calee and Sarah.

calee May 23, 2013 at 5:24 pm

oh, yeah, and it still looks like you’re kissing a you-know-what in that cow picture. seriously.

Katie @ Talk Less, Say More May 24, 2013 at 9:55 am


Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut May 24, 2013 at 1:34 pm


Kim @ Wonderings May 23, 2013 at 5:37 pm

What a beautiful post! I couldn’t even put into words the community and love I felt at Blend this year. It was just nice to walk into a room in yoga pants and sweatshirt and feel completely normal!

Liz @ iheartvegetables May 23, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Sarah!!! What a great post :) Heavy, but great :) I’m so glad that you’ve found yourself agian! You’re such an amazing, positive light in the blogging community!

Sarah @ My (Mostly) Healthy Life May 23, 2013 at 7:00 pm

This is such an amazing post. You’re very brave for putting yourself out there… I commend you immensely for that. Xo

Miss Polkadot May 23, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Reading this made me so happy for you, Sarah! Not that Blend hadn’t seemed great before but hearing in which ways it helped you made me think of it as incredibly amazinh. Yes, I’m convinced you will find yourself again. There you are!

Lauren @ Sweat The Sweet Stuff May 23, 2013 at 7:57 pm

I’m glad you found yourself again. I really try to stay balanced too. It’s really important! I loved meeting you. You’re hilarious! :)

Sara @ Nourish and Flourish May 23, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Beautiful post, my friend–and straight from the heart. I’m so glad that Blend provided the opportunity to push the reset button—to find YOU again. You’re such an inspiring woman, and I really wish we’d had more time to chat. Hopefully that opportunity will present itself next year, but until then, I look forward to reading more about all of your exciting changes and adventures ahead. You’re being true to yourself, and I can’t wait to see where that takes you. <3 Hugs! xoxo

Lindsay @ Lindsay's List May 23, 2013 at 8:38 pm

i’m so in awe of you too, my friend. very very much.

lindsay May 23, 2013 at 8:57 pm

THIS WAS BEAUTIFUL< REAL< YOU! I love you friend. The balance beam might have been narrower, but you didn't fall off, you just were blinded by the narrow strip. I know, I know. The focal point can be hard to see, but you let go and embraced the REAL you, which is soooo amazing and confident and not driven by numbers. Yes? Thanks for being YOU, always!

Laura May 23, 2013 at 9:00 pm

I didn’t know you before this weekend so I don’t know what you were like before. BUT. I can totally relate to losing your way and getting caught up in what you feel you *should* do instead of what’s *right* to do. The two are not always the same thing, and at least for me, it can be so easy to let external pressures to act/be a certain way interfere with who I am and what I want to do. As I said on Amanda’s blog this morning, I think it’s a forever learning process, but I’m SO glad to hear that you’re starting to feel like you’ve found yourself and can be natural! XOXO So wonderful to meet you this weekend and I REALLY hope we can stay in touch and hang out again soon :)

Laura @ Mommy Run Fast May 23, 2013 at 9:15 pm

So glad the weekend was such a powerful experience for you. I wish we could have had more time together, but it was great to say hello and connect!

Lindsey @ Pas de Deux May 23, 2013 at 9:34 pm

Can’t wait to talk more in person, but WOOHOO I am so glad that you had such an “aha!” moment of discovery at Blend. :-)

Ang @ Nutty for Life May 23, 2013 at 10:04 pm

It’s funny what the mountain air will make you realize, huh? It doesn’t hurt to be surrounded by your friends, either. Looking forward to continuing to love your blog (and you). :)

Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table May 23, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Sarah… I just love you. Your energy and creativity always inspire. I am so happy to call you a “in real life” friend and I can’t wait to have you closer to me. :)

This new chapter of your life is going to ROCK!!!

Annette@FitnessPerks May 23, 2013 at 11:16 pm

Such a beautifully written post! This was me a few years ago–and I can honestly say, I’ve never been happier to be & live the real ME. You’ve got some exciting times up ahead :)

p.s. LOVE that last photo of us. haahah <3

Christine @ Love, Life, Surf May 23, 2013 at 11:41 pm

This is really such a great post Sarah and so insightful. Over the past year, I have often felt like I’ve lost myself to healthy living and have become so immersed in it. And that comment is so spot on. Yes! If there’s only food and fitness of course you focus on it. I’m so glad to hear that there were many unexpected revelations at Blend. I’m sorry that we didn’t get a chance to chat or hang out. The weekend went by way too quickly.

Julie May 24, 2013 at 2:33 am

I knew that mountain would help. You put into words here what I have never done. I also fixated on food and fitness for years because that’s what I could control. I was definitely depressed too. Blend and my new job helped me realize there’s more to life and that I am more than just my body.

Calee May 24, 2013 at 8:41 am

Sarah, I’ve waited so long to see this post from you. I can’t wait to see your perspective changes. LOVE YOU!!

Michelle @ Eat Move Balance May 24, 2013 at 8:46 am

I read this last night, and was so touched and could relate on a multitude of levels, but didn’t have the time to properly respond. I bookmarked it to come back this morning.

Life is too short to be consumed by things that do not matter. Like calorie counts and workout stats. Life is too short to not engage in pursuing passions, strengthening relationships and LIVING. What do you want to look back on and be proud of? What makes you smile? Makes your heart feel full? That’s important.

It sounds like you are on the right path!! You are already identifying the “denial” of what was going on, and the causes. And you are ready to make positive changes. Good for you!! You can do it. And you deserve it! Sarah, it was an absolute PLEASURE to meet you last weekend. I could tell immediately that you are an incredible person. So welcoming, loving and your smile brightens a room (look at that last picture!!). That girl should be around ALL THE TIME, and I’m excited to hear that you agree. Because she is beautiful, confident and intelligent. :)

Katie @ Talk Less, Say More May 24, 2013 at 9:59 am

I freaking LOVE you and I’m so excited we got to spend so much time together this past weekend! I’m excited for where your life is headed and to follow the journey. You’ve got big and exciting things coming thanks to YOU being YOU – don’t you forget that! :)

MegG May 24, 2013 at 10:19 am

Beautiful post, and you’re a beautiful woman! I’m cheering you on to find your balance and live the best life you can. We only have one, so live it well! I’m sorry we didn’t get to chat very much at Blend, I wish the weekend could have been longer!

Mollie @Sprinkles of Life May 24, 2013 at 11:03 am

Sarah- I am so glad to finally have met you! You are so fun, beautiful, smart, an excellent writer, healthy, etc. just the way you are and however you want that to be! (emphasis on however you want that to be 😉 )I’m so glad I was a part of that deep, thoughtful mountain convo. I think we all have times of thinking we’re not good enough, or always want to appear to be good enough and living up to the “standard”. For me, though, I *think* (for the most part) I have a good balance of healthy living. I eat sweets when I want, I’m not a great runner (and I’m fine with that), some days I skip the gym because I don’t wanna go, some days I don’t push myself really hard and do the exercises I enjoy doing rather than kill myself. I’m (for the most part- I feel that’s my recurring theme) happy with my life! It’s hard not to compare to others but I think we all need to keep that in the forefront of our thoughts. We’re living for ourselves, no one else!

Keep in touch! I hope to see you again sometime soon! I am really so interested in your dissertation! The progress, results, all of it! Keep me posted!! And good luck with the move and school!!


Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning May 24, 2013 at 12:01 pm

I love this. Everything you wrote. And I love YOU!
I can clearly relate to so much of what you said. And the pressure… let it go. You’re amazing exactly as you are- and however you turn out to be- you’re still YOU. As soon as you let go of the need to do things for others, you will feel so much more free.
And I have to tell you- being happy in your location can change EVERYTHING. It makes you see how much those little things DON’T matter!

Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut May 24, 2013 at 1:37 pm

I love you so much girlie!! <3 <3

It's a challenge to not get taken over by food and fitness…especially when we are in a healthy living community and that's all we see or hear about! Sometimes it helps to take a step back!

Hold on to the feeling that you are awesome and unique and wonderful JUST AS YOU ARE!

Also, thanks for being my jumping buddy on Sunday. I am sure I would have gotten a complex if I was the last one each time across. 😉

Amanda @runtothefinish May 26, 2013 at 7:01 am

I am really fascinated by the pressure so many feel from blogging. Maybe I do…I don’t know, I guess I’m usually just so grateful for all the opportunities and people and things it has provided I hadn’t really considered that…of course it allowed me to quit my job which was literally killing me and to find things like Blend where I could meet ladies like you who are FULL of life and encourage me to try new things because no bootcamp is not my gig…but it was fun and maybe I’ll do more.

I can say that in my early 20’s i would have felt exactly like, you so maybe this is simply my 31 year old self with a little more perspective. Hope to keep seeing more of the REAL you :)

Debbie (Accidently Delish) May 26, 2013 at 11:15 am

i LOVED this post and am so happy you had such an amazing experience at Blend.

This is actually one really why I really wanted to attend. I really think it opens your eyes to see what healthy balance really is. You know these are people who lead healthy lifestyles, but yet they understand balance, and allow themselves to enjoy their surrounds, the food, the experience and just live life. It kind of reminds you what “normal” is and makes you realize some of your thoughts and habits are not normal. Not saying you’re not normal.. well ok you’re kind of not normal 😉 but you know what I mean.

But I really think this is a great way to re-set and re-focus and really start LIVING. I am just so happy you got to experience it and so JEALOUS that you got to meet so many amazing people who I hope one day to meet. (you being top on my list!!)

love you girl, you are amazing and I am so proud of you.
(and I’m happy to SEE you again too)

Danica @ It's Progression May 26, 2013 at 10:53 pm

I’m so proud of you. And so filled with HAPPINESS that you’re finding YOU again.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that “Health is nothing without happiness.” Yes, they often go hand-in-hand, but if I’m not careful one will spin out of control and the other will be left behind…so yes, it’s absolutely about balance…
Find your *happy* again, girl. <3

Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli May 27, 2013 at 3:33 am

Do me a favor and keep writing stuff like this! I swear woman, you just know how to put into words things that I cannot. Everything here…is me. How could I not see that before?

“If you only have food and fitness, then of course it became a fixation.”

*Palm to face*

Thank you for this. I love you…so so much!!! xoxox

Brittany @ Delights and Delectables May 27, 2013 at 7:23 pm

I love you! I read this a while ago, but forgive me that I’m just now publicly telling you that I think you are awesome!!

I love how much you have grown, changed, and have realized. You stretch me and help me to grow as a person, and I’m so grateful for you friend! xoxoxo!

Brittany (Healthy Slice of Life) May 28, 2013 at 12:59 pm

So I’m a little embarrassed I am just commenting now, but in all honesty, I thought I already did! I read this when you first posted it, and thought how happy and sad this post made me. Sad because I was bummed you went down a path where you lost yourself (though I think we’ve all been there at some point) but SO incredibly happy that you are shining again. You are such a positive light and a witty voice in the “blogging community” and I hope you enjoy this journey back to YOU and all your awesomeness :)

Melissa @ Treats With a Twist May 28, 2013 at 1:27 pm

You’re totally right. I feel the same way. After moving to a new city, knowing nobody but my fiance, working alone in my kitchen/at my computer/nannying (for those that don’t speak and don’t care that you’re doing lunges while Dinosaur Train is on), food and fitness became ALL I had. Steve asked me where I went; why I am no longer the happy woman who has OTHER things to do; why I obsess in the mirror…because it’s all I have. I don’t have dates with friends. I have dates with the gym. So why wouldn’t I be ALL about it?
A friend asked me recently via text when the last time I truly relaxed and thought about something else was…? Well, it’s when I go out of town. When we escape for a weekend. When I have someone to talk to, my mom to shop with, something other than thinking about a wedding dress to fit into or cereal not to eat too much of.
I think these lonely lives spent totally online with “friends” just pressuring each other with our “good work” really isn’t beneficial at all.

Zevia May 28, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Holy WOW! This post is SO inspiring! You are such an inspiration – thanks for giving something so tangled that many of us are facing/have faced some true clarity.

Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets May 28, 2013 at 7:01 pm

First the frivolous: I didn’t expect to admit that not only am I now apparently a bread person, I might also be a (goat) cheese person, too. I love this and I hope your tummy allows you to explore this relationship with goat cheese.
Now the serious stuff, this was a really raw post, and I admire you for putting it out there. I can so easily see how this can happen in the HLB community (not that there’s something wrong with the community), but I see how easily it is to get caught up in the fantastic food, the fabulous ingredients, the workouts, etc, etc, etc. If I ever start to feel pressure (and I have and do), I say F that and decide to just be real and just be me, even as imperfect as that is.
I wish you success on your journey to rediscovering yourself, without food and fitness being the dominant focus, although if it’s not too much trouble, I’d still like some nutty butter. 😉

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