Stronger Than Yesterday

For the past few years, I’ve been working my ass off at building my mental strength after falling to pieces. My academic strength to learn my future career.

In the beginning of the pandemic, I went HARD on working out. I bought a Peloton, I did a virtual run club with friends, etc. etc. And then I froze my eggs in June. (WTF is time any more? That feels now like it was years ago.) I couldn’t work out for a month, which was both frustrating and kind of nice all at once after going hard for years. Y’all, do you know how much time you get back when you don’t work out?!

I gained weight after my mom got sick, then some after she died, and I haven’t lost it. Nor have I really tried. My mental health has been more important, frankly.

I know better, yet I still jump on the scale sometimes, and am generally disappointed by the number. There’s a comment from a friend on an old post that stands out in my mind, though: “there’s women who would kill to be your size.”

If I weren’t comparing myself to others or past me, I’d really be mostly OK with my body and how it looks right now. (Yet, I’d be lying if as I was sitting here thinking of writing about what this body withstood…if my mind didn’t drift off to the Theodora that ran half-marathons like they were nothing.) Something my therapist said a few weeks ago applies to…a lot. “How would you feel about [x], Theodora, if you weren’t comparing yourself to someone else or your past self?”

“Pretty good?”

Putting all of that aside! After being cleared to work out again, I decided I wanted to start strength training again. Even though I have my NASM personal training certification and know how to put together strength workouts…I find them boring and have a hard time finishing them by myself. Including/especially following some kind of streaming workout. Oh you want me to do another circuit? Nah, I’m good. (I fully understand the purpose of circuit training, but.)

My friend Liz is one of the smartest trainers I know. I met her at Uplift (RIP), and it actually turns out we’re both from Franklin Lakes, in weird small-world coincidences. She has a million and a half certs, but maybe more importantly, she is constantly reading and looking for the latest information on fitness and nutrition. She is very anti-fad and shiny thing. So when I started thinking about strength training, I knew I wanted to try working with her and would trust working with her over video when she can’t correct my form in person. Turns out she has some excellent rates right now—much less than an IRL trainer would be.

We’ve been working out together for about a month right now, and I don’t know if my body’s changed much from strength training once a week, but I feel better about it. Things feel a little tighter, and I’m noticing my muscles, not my fat.

There’s something Grace wrote last year that has stuck with me: when we say “flattering,” so often what’s underlying is: “that makes you look thin.”

and yes, this dress is also from Grace’s Amazon collection. I am heavily influenced by Grace Atwood.

A few weeks ago, my friend’s husband rented a boat for her birthday. It probably would have been one of the highlights of my summer even if there weren’t a pandemic, but after doing nothing for months, going on a yacht that cruised past my apartment, up to Malibu and back, was an utter delight. I asked my friend to take a picture of me, and when she gave me back my phone I did. not. like. this picture. It’s not “flattering” as in I think it makes me look bigger than I actually am.

But it also shows that I am happy as a clam to be on a boat with friends in this amazing place I’m lucky enough to call home now. Am I cozy and happy? Yes and yes.

but also here’s the photo I like mostly because I like how my hair looks.

In short: I’m trying to stop wasting time judging my body, and also strength training feels really good and empowering right now. (Bonus: it may also help with depressive symptoms!)

Movies and Books to Escape COVID Anxiety

Photo by Kimberly Farmer on Unsplash

Well hello, hello! How the hell are you? How are things where you are?

In LA, it’s feeling like such cognitive dissonance: more stuff is open than was at the beginning of the pandemic, yet cases here now are higher than ever. My anxiety is pretty high (also school just restarted, and it seems like it will be intense this quarter), but I’m trying my best to just remember all I can do is keep myself safe by doing what I’ve been doing this whole time. But damn it’s feeling never-ending right now…

So, onto something lighter. For those of us who are able to be spending more time at home, I think we’re all looking for escapes in books and movies.

Here’s some of the best media escapes I’ve found:


Schitt’s Creek: This is stretching it a little bit, because the last few episodes were right at the beginning of quarantine, but this show is just such a good light-hearted escape. The ending is incredibly emotional, so if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s an excellent emotional release—I sobbed my eyes out. (I cry at a lot though, so there’s that.)

I’m Sorry: I think this show is so underrated! It’s about a woman (played by Andrea Savage) who is a TV writer living in LA. I love it because she’s such a strong female lead, and deeply sarcastic. My friend Leah introduced me to this show when I visited her in NYC in late February, and I am now going to let Leah make all of my TV recs because this was spot-on.

The Baby-Sitters Club: Does your soul need a hug? Yes? Then this is the show for that. I was OBSESSED with the Baby Sitters Club books growing up—there’s 100+ in my dad’s attic—and it was such a warm and fuzzy nostalgic watch, but updated slightly for today to be more diverse and address more social issues. If you were also a huge fan, which character did you want to be? I wanted to be Stacey (so much so that I wanted to change my name to Stacey when I turned 18), and that still holds true. A friend of mine said she definitely thought of me as a Stacey, and that was the best compliment I got this year.

Eurovision: If you’ve been reading here for a while, you know that my love for Will Ferrell knows no bounds—though I will concede that 2008-2019 were not his finest work. HOWEVER! He is back with Eurovision, a hilarious movie about an Icelandic duo competing in an international singing competition. The soundtrack is written by ABBA and is so catchy. It reminds me a lot of Blades of Glory.


I’m working my way through heavier anti-racist stuff both personally and for school, but for this, I’m talking about the fiction I’ve read.

The Woman in the Window: This is an excellent thriller about a former therapist in NYC who becomes a recluse with deep social anxiety. I don’t remember if they specifically named Gramercy Park or just alluded to it, but as someone who lived nearby in Flatiron, I loved the reference to it. The extent of her interaction with the world is through her window…and then she sees something she can’t forget and becomes involved in the story. I had a small inkling of the ending, but it still surprised me.

Big Summer: A plus-sized influencer who was humiliated by her ex-best friend is then asked to be in said friend’s wedding—because she has no other friends to ask. The book starts out light, but then there is a very unexpected plot twist that turns it into a bit more of a thriller.

Rodham: This is a novel imagining what would have happened had Hillary Clinton not married Bill. Some of the fictionalized descriptions of her felt a little off from what I’ve read, and there were some steamy scenes, which made me really uncomfortable thinking of two very public figures’ sex lives. That said, it was an intriguing read.

The Lies that Bind: A woman in NYC goes to a bar after a nasty breakup, and her rebound is…not what she expected. The book takes place around 9/11, which also felt a little weird? I don’t know, too soon? (Even though it was nearly 20 years ago, it still feels like just a few years ago.) I thought that this book was a little overwrought, but it was still a fast and easy read.

Vanishing Half: I’m currently reading this very popular book (by a Black author) for a book club I’m in. It’s about Black twins who run away from home at 16 and end up leading very divergent lives. One is light-skinned and one is darker-skinned, leading to them being treated very differently. From a literary standpoint, this one is better-written than the ones above, so it’s not a fast read but it’s a good one.

What have you been reading/watching?