what “fueled by diet coke” is all about.

Evidently, pregnancy cravings are a beast. When my mother was pregnant with me, she carried around and nursed a 2 liter of Coke each day. This means that I started drinking Coke quite literally at conception. Throughout my childhood years this didn’t seem to be a problem. Everyone in my family drank soda regularly; nowadays, the dangers of regular soda consumption are widely known. But back when I was a kid, toddlers sucked Coca Cola from their Evenflows.

My first recorded instance of dealing with body image issues was when I was eight years old. When I looked into the mirror, I realized my stomach stuck out a bit (possibly from all the dang soda and sugar I consumed?) and I distinctly remember thinking to myself that I couldn’t wait to get boobs because they’d make my stomach look smaller. I was already comparing myself to other women and falling short. When I got to middle school, I felt chubby compared to my skinny prepubescent classmates. I decided to take matters into my own hands. My distorted body image blossomed into full-fledged crash dieting, even though I got boobs like I’d wished. I decided to go on a very strict diet of simply a bowl of oatmeal a day but, because I was so desperately in love with (read: addicted to) Coke, I couldn’t bear to part with it. So I made the switch to Diet Coke.

To stave off hunger pangs, I would consume several Diet Cokes a day. I would even substitute meals for it. It seemed like the perfect plan! Eat one bowl of oatmeal and drink a six pack of Diet Coke a day! Perfection! What could go wrong with that plan? Diet Coke was a delicious stomach filler, devoid of calories, fat, sugar, and evil, and full of only tastiness and caffeine (a metabolism booster!)

What could be better?

When I was a junior in college I lived with one of my best friends Becky. We typically shared groceries, but I was quite reluctant to offer up any of my Diet Cokes. I made frequent stops by the fridge each day to grab a can without thinking.

One day, I mindlessly walked into the kitchen and to the fridge to get my Diet Coke fix. Becky was doing something by the sink within arms reach of me and when I reached for the door handle she, like a ninja, slammed her hand on the fridge door and prevented me from opening it.

“Lindsay,” she said seriously. “We need to talk.”
“Okay,” I replied. I was extremely nervous. Becky and I are very close, and when she takes that tone with me it is usually because I deserve to be smacked across the face.
“This has got to stop. You can’t keep drinking Diet Coke like this. I’m worried about you. You drink so much of it. And I don’t even know what’s in it! I wish you’d switch to regular Coke so at least I’d know what the hell you’re consuming everyday!”

I was stunned.

I had never thought about the fact that, apart from caffeine and deliciousness, I really didn’t know what was in my lone beverage choice. But she was right — the entire reason I drank Diet Coke was because it didn’t have anything in it. That was the whole reason I made the switch in the first place. And suddenly, it made sense.  While I wasn’t consuming calories or fat, I was definitely consuming gallons upon gallons upon gallons of something, and I didn’t have any earthly clue as to what that was. I suddenly became very uneasy.

So I Googled it. It’s what you do when you’re already freaked out about something and wish to become even more freaked out about it.

What I found wasn’t particularly surprising. All of the ingredients were words I couldn’t pronounce, except for aspartame, which I found out is actually poison.

According to the Internet, “the following chronic illnesses can be triggered or worsened by ingesting of aspartame: Brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, mental retardation, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia, and diabetes.”

So. Despite my satisfaction with the fact that I was skinnier than the majority of people who drank regular Coke, I was (it seemed) deteriorating from the inside out.

My intervention from Becky changed my life. I’d been so obsessed with being skinny that I’d completely neglected my own nutrition. So I conceded that this had gone on long enough and I made an appointment with a nutritionist.

After analyzing my eating habits over the course of my life (which, at some pretty low points didn’t allow for me to consume more than 900 calories a day) the nutritionist informed me that yes, Diet Coke was really bad for me and, oh, just a bit of a side note, I’d been suffering from an eating disorder since age twelve.

Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, or EDNOS. I was officially diagnosed with an eating disorder and before I had time to fight her on it, she was spouting off my recovery plan straight to my shocked, open-mouthed mug.

It took me several years to really develop a healthy relationship with food. Actually, I would say I didn’t really reconcile with food (and my body) until about a year and a half ago. After going through that mentally (and physically) exhausting hell, I made a pact with myself that I’d never, ever, EVER do that to myself again and that I was going to treat my body with love and respect because it was the only one I’d ever have. I realized that life’s too bloody short to hate your body so much, and I’d already wasted twelve years of my life doing it.

Not only was I addicted to Diet Coke, but I was also addicted to the poison that society was feeding me on a daily basis through magazine covers, TV shows, movies, the pornography industry, the modeling industry, the cosmetic industry, the textiles industry…

What poison is that? The idea that I’m not good enough the way I am. The idea that my self-worth is wrapped up in my pants size, my shirt size, my body shape, my weight, my BMI, my skin color, my hair color, my hair texture, the amount of calories I consume (or don’t) in a day…

Sadly, unlike Diet Coke, I can’t choose to quit consuming this poison. It’s unstoppable. These industries profit on making me feel bad about myself, and unless I live in a dark hole under the ground with earplugs and an eye mask, I will be exposed to messages that perpetuate the idea that I’m worthless and poison me in a very real way.

So. Rather than being beaten by it, I am fueled by it. I won’t let my guard down. I will fight against it.

That’s what this blog is all about: taking the poison fed to us daily and turning it into a passionate war against negative self image.

At the top of my blog it says, “On Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Self-Acceptance.”

We all have a right to accept ourselves and it ticks me off royally that we live in a society that makes money off of making us believe we can’t ever accept ourselves the way we are.

If all I ever do is write blogs about my struggles with this, that’s fine. If nothing else, at least there’s one more blog out there that speaks positivity and love against negativity and hate.

That’s what this is all about. I hope you’ll join me on the front lines in the war against self hate.


EDIT: And, of course, I have to mention that the name is an obvious nod to one of my favorite record labels, Fueled By Ramen. If I ever get famous enough and they ask me to change the name of my blog, of course I will because they were here first and are way more awesome than I’ll ever be.

oh yes i did – a blog about sex.

Photo Credit: Ashley Poole Photography

I’ll never forget my first sex talk.

One day in kindergarten I was blissfully hanging upside down on the monkey bars on the playground. All of a sudden, my innocence was stolen from me as one of my classmates raced up to me with some interesting news.

“Lindsay!” She shouted. “Do you know where babies come from?”
“Duh,” I replied quickly. “The stork brings them. Everyone knows that.”
“No! That’s not true!”
She then proceeded to lean over and whisper into my ear the bare-boned mechanics of sex: “A boy’s peepee goes into the girl’s peepee!”
I was appalled. “EW. Oh. Wow. Ew. Why would ANYONE ever do that?!”

[Ironic side note: This particular classmate went on to have sex on the school bus in eighth grade in front of all of us fellow travelers. She also got pregnant the following year.]

I didn’t hear much about sex after that. A lot of my friends would tell me how their parents sat them down to talk about sex; they’d also relay horror stories of walking in on their parents “swapping peepees” but, because my dad left when I was three and my mom remained single thereafter, I didn’t have any experiences like that. I had nothing. All I knew was that sex was really freaking weird and gross.

When sixth grade rolled around, I went on the compulsory (and dreaded) “discover your body” field trip. I’m not sure whose genius idea it was, but every sixth grade class at my school was required to take a trip to a local hospital to get a mandated sex talk. (I suppose the school board assumed our parents weren’t going to do it, so they had to. In my case, this was true, but still. It sucked.) The boys and girls sat in the same room (separated by an aisle) and were forced to watch videos about what happens to our bodies during puberty. In theory, I guess the videos were supposed to make puberty less painfully awkward and more normal. But, because we were between 11 and 12 years old, that didn’t happen. It just reaffirmed our paradigm that yes, members of the opposite sex were disgusting and awful. (And whoa, our bodies were bizarre and gross, too.) The takeaway we were supposed to have was that puberty was normal because it prepared our bodies for sex and sex was normal. But nothing seemed normal to me about erections and periods and pubic hair. And there definitely didn’t seem to be anything normal surrounding the glaring fact that once you did have sex you would ABSOLUTELY walk away from it with a fertilized egg and your genitals would be covered in sores via some ungodly disease. Yes. Every time. You WOULD get pregnant and you WOULD get an STD if you had sex. Guaranteed!

Five-year-old Lindsay echoed in my head. “GROSS. Oh, why would ANYONE ever do that?!”

When I wasn’t learning about the physical and biological fears of sex, I was learning about the spiritual consequences of sex because I grew up in the church. (Don’t get me wrong. I love Jesus and all. But I really think the church has gotten sex all wrong ever since I can remember.) The only things ever spoken about sex in the church were that sex was completely and utterly evil and if you ever even THOUGHT about sex or were CURIOUS about sex or had a CRUSH on a member of the opposite sex you were subject to eternal damnation. Sex was only for married people and it seemed like even married people only did so to procreate (and most likely hated every minute of it.)

Because of these experiences, I wanted nothing to do with sex. Ever. If I had my way, I would have never gotten my first period or had to buy a bra or shave my armpits. I would have enrolled in an all-girls’ catholic school and locked myself in my dorm away from boys and their weird penises and all the scary and evil things about sex. But, of course, I had friends with older brothers who had access to all kinds of pornographic magazines, channels, videos, etc. I couldn’t escape it. I think my earliest recollection of exposure to pornography was around age seven. So the first sexual act I ever witnessed was angry, violent, taboo, wrong, and not at all God’s vision for sex.

In high school, my first boyfriend pursued me relentlessly. He wasn’t the type of guy I wanted to date at all. He was kind of unattractive, with braces and pimples. He played guitar and was kind of a bad boy, and was obsessed with me. Since he was so desperately in love with me, I dated him. He was the first guy to give me any sort of positive attention and so I fell for it. Two years later, after he’d quite literally robbed me of my virginity and my innocence, I found out from his friends that he’d only dated me in order to “corrupt the church girl.” And you know how high schoolers are. Since my ex-boyfriend was a guy, and he nailed me, he was “the man.” I, however, was just a slut. A dirty, filthy, worthless, slut. A church girl used and corrupted, unable to experience grace or forgiveness because she was nothing. Just a slut.

In 2008 I started dating the man I’d eventually marry. He was (and still is) a leader at our church. Since so many years had passed and I’d changed into some sort of “new creation” I thought my past was just left where it is. In the past. I felt peace. I felt forgiven. Until another church leader pulled my (then) boyfriend aside and said,

“Guard your heart from Lindsay. Her past relationships have been… kind of a mess.”

Slut. Dirty. Worthless. Slut. Forever.

Fast forward to August 1, 2009. My wedding night.

All of a sudden, after 23 years of hearing nothing but negative things about sex, BAM! I’m married! Now I’m supposed to have sex all the time. After 23 years! Just like that?


We’ve been married a year and a half now and I’m happy to report that my relationship with sex has done a complete 180. Some days it’s still hard to wrestle with, but for the most part, I think I’m finally getting it.

If you’re reading this and thinking to yourself, “Wow. What a weirdo. Why would she post all of this stuff on the Internet?” know that I have no problem posting this because this is exactly who I am. It is a legitimate struggle for me. However, I post this NOT to make anyone feel bad. This is not your invitation to a pity party for me. I just want to take action in the only way I know how. I’m sick of the sexual brokenness in this world, and if I can open the door to communication about it then maybe — JUST MAYBE — we can start to change the world.

Parents need to be more open and honest about sex with their children, first and foremost. Parents are the most prevalent role models for kids, and if the parents don’t speak up, someone on the playground or a naked girl spread eagle across a magazine centerfold will.

And dear GOD, Church. Yes, Church. Big C church. I’m talking to you.

Stop demonizing sex on a daily basis. Sex is the best gift God ever gave man apart from salvation. You’re doing nothing but contributing to the problem. Not only are you ruining the image of sex, but you are taking precious lives affected by sexual sin and turning them INTO their sins. I am not a slut. I am a precious daughter of God who was the victim of some pretty crappy circumstances.

And, on top of that, I know that I am not alone. If I had a penny for every girl (or guy) I talked to who was a victim of sexual abuse, I could quit my job and write this blog full time.

my first half marathon.

7:15 am. Fifteen minutes before gun time.

I parked my car in a garage close to the start and finish of the race. When I looked around at the other cars pulling in, I couldn’t help but stare at their drivers and passengers. We all had something in common. We were all here for the same reason.

We were all about to run a really, really, REALLY long distance.

As I got out of my car and started walking to the start line for the marathon, I noticed that the above statement seemed to be the only thing we had in common. I looked a lot different from everyone else walking (or running?!??!!) to the starting line. The women had no boobs. The men wore tiny shorts on really scrawny legs. This wasn’t a 5k “fun run.” This was a half and full marathon. This was the big league. This was about to be the most intense morning of my life.

At the start there were signs held up with large groups of runners clumped behind them:

  • 7:30 Pace and Faster
  • 9:30 to 7:30 Pace
  • 10:30 Pace and Slower

I scoured the mob but couldn’t find my two friends, Evan and Madison, who were also running the race. That was a bit disheartening, but I quickly shrugged it off and reminded myself that I was running this half marathon for me and no one else. I headed to the back of the line to join ranks with the “10:30 Pace and Slower” runners. As soon as I got in line, I felt a relieved. Back there, I wasn’t awash in a sea of two-by-fours with pony tails. I was comfortably placed among women who still had a womanly body shape (like me!) I was right where I belonged, and I didn’t care if that meant I was “slow.” I kept my focus on my three goals:

  1. Finish.
  2. Clock in under 3 hours.
  3. Don’t be last.

I found peace in those three goals. Based on my training, I figured that I could meet them. But my comfort was shattered as soon as the starting signal sounded and the mob began to move forward. I panicked.

My insides screamed, “No! Wait! I haven’t trained hard enough! My longest run is only run seven miles! I can’t do this!”

But it was too late to chicken out. One step. Two. Three. Four.

And I was off. I was running, hoping to reach the finish line at 13.1 miles without dying.

If it were up to my cardiovascular system, I could have run the entire marathon (26.2 miles.) I didn’t find myself out of breath ONCE. My breathing was always steady, always controlled, and always comfortable. I only slowed to a walk at aid stations (placed every two miles) while I calmly drank water or Gatorade. Slow and steady. Slow and steady. Just finish. Because I was near the back of the pack (albeit not last!) I was usually alone. There were a few rare moments when I was within 30 feet of another runner, and because I wasn’t allowed to wear headphones I found myself immersed in a quiet stillness accompanied by the rhythmic patter of my running shoes on the pavement. Relaxing. Freeing.

For nine miles.

Around mile ten, my legs were done. Everything from my waist down was burning in excruciating pain. I remember thinking that I was feeling the worst pain I’d feel until the day I’d give birth. Every step was harder than the last. But I’d gone too far to give up. I had to keep going.

The last mile was the absolute longest of all of them. By the time I was approaching the finish line, the majority of the racers had already finished. They were walking back to their cars on either side of the road I was on saying, “Great job! Keep going! You’re almost there!”

I didn’t know if I loved them or hated them in that moment. But I smiled and said, “Thank you” regardless of my feelings.

Just shy of the finish line I saw them — a cluster of people jumping up and down and shouting my name. I couldn’t make out the faces as I trudged past them, but those people knew me. And that was enough. I saw the clock at the top of the finish line: 2:59:29! I’d done it! I’d met all three of my goals! I excitedly crossed the finish line with my fists in the air and turned hug the bodies attached to those faces.

Evan. Suzanne. Kelby. Kyle. Wendy. Janice. LeRoy. Shannon. Madison.

I knew that Evan and Madison would be there because they were running the race. But I also knew that both of them would finish before me and I’d just assumed that they’d leave after that. But they didn’t. They waited for me. (Evan waited over an hour!) I hugged all of them so tightly and let them tell me how proud of me they were. That was so special to me. Being that the race was on a Sunday, my husband was unable to be there. So the fact that my friends were there was so incredible. They even took pictures of me and texted them to my husband to show him. I really don’t have any other words for it. My friends are amazing.

I could never have done this without a bunch of people. So I’ve got to dish out some thanks:

Thank you:

  • Evan, for being my training buddy and being so unbelievably nice about the fact that I run so much slower than you and hold you back.
  • Everyone at the finish line. I know I already said it, but seriously. It meant the world to me.
  • My husband, for encouraging me to train even on the days when both of us just wanted to stay in bed and cuddle.
  • Tara, for letting me use/commandeer your shin brace.
  • Hal Higdon, for having a fool-proof half marathon training schedule.
  • Runner friends, for your unending advice and encouragement.
  • The Flight of the Conchords, because anytime I felt like giving up I’d just sing to myself, “I’m the mother flippin!”
  • Anyone who ever experienced my tardiness to a meeting because a run took longer than I thought it would.
  • Zack and Sarah, for letting me use your gym when it was too bloody cold to run outside.
  • Florida, for not snowing on February 6th.
  • Sliders, for helping my thighs to remain unchafed.
  • Gu, for being equal parts disgusting and effective.
  • The folks at the first aid station who were blasting Flogging Molly as I approached.
  • The police officers who stopped traffic to ensure the runners’ safety.
  • The cars the police officers stopped, for being so incredibly patient (except that one guy who laid on his horn.)
  • The runners ahead of me who gave me high fives and shouts of encouragement, even though I was behind them.
  • Everyone who every prayed for me and this race.
  • Everyone who told me I could do it when I said I couldn’t.

And, most of all,

  • God. I wish I could say that I’d prayed for something else in my life harder. Finding the right husband. Finding the right job. Loving my enemies. Whatever. I honestly can’t think of anything I’ve prayed harder for before, during, and after. Thank you, God. You are amazing. I hope I could glorify You in this.

Lindsay & Evan: Half Marathoners!

losing control.

Was I the only kid who thought they could singlehandedly control the universe?

Most of you know I’ve wrestled with insomnia ever since I can remember. Up until pretty recently, I believed that if I didn’t think the phrase I’m not sleeping tonight when I was in bed then I’d have a decent chance at actually falling asleep. Mind you, I could think all sorts of variations of that phrase and still be okay. I hate insomnia. Why can’t I fall asleep? What time is it? How many hours until my alarm goes off? Those were all fair game. But the second I thought the words I’m not sleeping tonight I was done for. Game over. That’s all she wrote. All Nighter City, USA, population: ME.

I also remember refusing to wear pants to school in the winter because I just knew that if I wore shorts, then it would most certainly warm up outside. If I were a fourth grader in 2011, my mom would get called by child services and I’d probably get taken away to a foster home of some sort. But thankfully, for my sake, they didn’t care so much back in the early 90s.

In my mind, this made sense. It was my world after all. Why wouldn’t it do what I told it to?

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that this phenomenon hasn’t gone away entirely. Rather, it’s morphed and matured just as I have. Just like ten year old Lindsay wore shorts to force the weather to do her bidding, twenty-five year old Lindsay uses perfectionism as a tool to make sure that bad things don’t happen to her or her friends. If I lead a good life and do good things and say nice things and love people and smile and laugh all the time, I won’t get hurt. And, more importantly, my friends won’t get hurt. I mean, if I can make the weather change then I can do anything. Just leave it to me, guys. Lindsay’s got your back.

Sadly, that’s not the way the world works.

The past year I’ve been hit several times with the realization that I’m not in control of anything. A handful of my friends have had to endure the worst types of loss, heartbreak, and sorrow I have ever seen in my life. Marriages have dissolved. Babies have been lost. Families have been broken. As horrible as it is to see them suffer, it’s just as painful for me to feel so unbelievably helpless. I can’t do anything to fix it. I can’t say a magic phrase in my head that would remove their pain. I can’t put on some shorts and will them into happiness. I have nothing. All I can do is stand there awkwardly, my eyes flooded with tears, and ask them what I could possibly do to help.

Pray for me.

Let me cry on you.

Just be there.

Don’t do anything.

How is any of that good enough?! While their hearts are throbbing in pain, all I can do is simply pray? Let them cry? But it needs to be fixed! How can I fix it? And how could I possibly let this pain happen in the first place? How, while being their friend, did I let them experience such heartache? What was I doing when I should have been saying the right things and doing the right things? What was I doing when I should have been protecting them?

A couple I know lost their first child three months ago. Just today, the father posted the entire story on his Facebook so that anyone who wanted to know what happened could. While reading it, I got that familiar sense of failure in my stomach. I did it again. I didn’t protect them from pain. I missed it. I wasn’t paying close enough attention.

But then I read a section that made everything in my body freeze.

Her eyes finally opened, and before I could say a word, she said “we lost her, didn’t we?” I nodded yes, holding her hand and sobbing. Her reaction was completely different than mine (granted she had just woken up from surgery), and it gave me so much peace. All she said was, “It’s okay…..God is in control.” With that, she fell back asleep.


I am not in control. I am not in control. I am not in control.

[Disclaimer: Per my New Years Resolution to only post positive things on the Internet, please know that this is not a negative post. This is merely a reality check post.]