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My month of gratitude is winding down and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the most important people in my life: my friends and family.
If you want to find out who’s really going to support you and stand my your side, I have two suggestions. One: Change your lifestyle. You’ll find out who gets annoyed and who’s totally cool about you no longer wanting to spend your evenings plowing through a bottle of wine and suddenly wanting instead to spend your weekend mornings running. If you’re as lucky as I am, your friends and family will rally around you so much they’ll throw you not one, not two, but three bachelorette parties and all three will feature the delicious homemade food, minimal alcohol, and fun activities that have become your hallmark since starting a fitness journey.
Two: Get married. It does not take two people to pull off a successful wedding. It takes a VILLAGE of people. And again, if you’re as lucky as I am, that village of people will construct handmade decorations, put together floral arrangements, coordinate schedules, help you make decisions, help you make invitations, help keep you calm, and ensure that you don’t really have to do anything on the day itself except show up.
There were times this year when I’ve wondered: Am I as fun as I used to be? When I come to the wine tasting and only sip on one glass throughout the entire evening, do people find me boring? Is it a letdown when I say no thanks to the super sugary dessert? Are people rolling their eyes behind my back when I tell them I have ANOTHER race next weekend?
But here’s the thing: my friends and family have shown me that they don’t care what I eat, drink or do, as long as I’m happy. Most of the people in my life know that I choose my moments of indulgence carefully, so the wine that shows up in my glass on a holiday won’t also be there for a regular Happy Hour. Ditto for dessert and other decadent treats: I think by now most people know that I don’t eat these things every day, so they appreciate the times when I do. At least, this is the sense I get from them. Everyone has been nothing but supportive of my choices.
My husband is obviously the M.V.P. in this department because he lives with me every single day. He witnesses all my moments: the late-night Sunday meal prep because I procrastinated going to the grocery store, the “No thanks, I’ll stick to water” moments when we’re watching a movie together, and also the “Yeah, I WILL have popcorn and dessert tonight, so let’s cherish this for the rarity it is” moments as they come. This time last year, I would have been guzzling beer like you wouldn’t believe. I’d be making nachos from an entire bag of chips. I’d be suggesting we start our Saturday with cheesy bagel breakfast sandwiches and I’d encourage laziness in all its forms – all-weekend movie marathon, here we come. Now I’m suggesting hot water with lemon as a cozy treat. Now I’m making lentil and butternut lettuce cups for dinner and tofu chops for lunch. Now I’m running six days a week and eating fruit and cheese for snacks and tracking my daily water intake. Now I’m turning down invites because I need time to go grocery shopping and meal prep. That’s a huge lifestyle change. My husband has not complained once.
There’s an easy trap we fall into when we find ourselves on a fitness journey. We start wanting to talk about it. We start trying to convince others they should be doing it, too – after all, don’t they see how great we feel? Ask anyone who’s ever gone gluten-free or taken up Crossfit: it’s tough to keep it to yourself. I fully recognize how annoying this can be from the other side. But my family and friends have not complained. They try my healthy truffles made with dates and cocoa powder and they don’t make “Ew, where’s the sugar?” jokes. They’re open to going to restaurants with healthier menus. They’re open to going for walks together. They’re open to hanging out with me sans alcohol even though Tipsy Kristen is, let’s face it, probably more fun.
And my wedding? It was the most magical, memorable, meaningful, special day of my entire life and I truly did nothing but show up, get in a dress, and say my vows. My friends and family took care of EVERYTHING. I knew I’d be overwhelmed with emotion when I stood up at the front of the room with my husband, but I had no idea how touched I’d be when I looked out and saw friends from childhood, friends from college, aunts, uncles, cousins, people I’ve known five years, people I’ve known 33 years, people I knew in my hometown, people who traveled from the East Coast, people who traveled from another country, people who used to babysit me, people I now babysit for, old coworkers, old family friends: all looking back at us, supporting us, filling us with their love. The women who stood by my side as I got married were all women I’ve known for at least 15 years, and some were women I’ve known my entire life. They have been with me through everything. Breakups, moves, jobs, deaths in the family, everything. If even one of them hadn’t been able to make it that day, I would have been heartbroken. But they all made it. They all showed up. I honestly didn’t even know if I wanted a wedding – I wanted to be married without the huge ceremony – but once I was in that room with all those people I love so much, I realized I wouldn’t want it any other way.
All of this is a longer-than-intended way of saying: I’m so grateful for the people in my life who have helped me become who I am and who have supported me no matter where I am on my journey. I’m a fiercely independent and introverted person but I know there’s no such thing as going it alone and being happy. So to wrap up my month of gratitude, let me say this final thanks: Thank you, sincerely.