Six years ago, I had a routine: get all the kids ready, drop the two oldest off at the elementary school, then head over to the gym, where I’d put the baby and the preschooler in kid care, and I’d go off to spend the next two hours doing whatever I wanted. Usually, I wanted to take a spin class. I was pretty fanatical about my spin classes. I had teachers I loved and teachers I barely tolerated. Some songs were great for spinning (Latin dance music– who knew?), while some songs made the class almost unendurable– and if you asked (and even if you didn’t), I’d be happy to expound on which was which. In class, I’d sit in the back, right under the fan, with my water bottle full and my game face on. I was the annoying girl who grunted and sweated and tried to race you. It was awesome. If you had asked me what I was passionate about back in those days, spinning classes surely would have been on my list.
Five and a half years ago, we moved, and I can probably count on one hand the number of spin classes I’ve taken since. I haven’t even been on a bike.
Looking back, it’s obvious that spin classes were, for me, just a fad. An enjoyable fad, to be sure. My butt looked amazing, and my abs were much tighter than they’ve ever been before or since. But when we relocated, there wasn’t a gym that had classes at a time that worked, and my kids were old enough that I didn’t need my daily interaction with the girls at the gym (as competitive as it may have been on my part) to save my sanity.
As I type this, I’m sitting here with a cup of warm Crio Bru beside me. If you don’t know what Crio Bru is, it’s ground cocoa beans– so no sugar, no gluten, no dairy, no sodium, no fat, and it’s brewed in the same kind of little French press that people use for coffee. Do I prefer Crio Bru over hot chocolate, which is chock full of sugar, dairy, and fat? Not at all, I mean no disrespect to a great cup of hot chocolate, but I’ve told myself that for the next three months (until I turn forty in January), I’m going to try my best to eat as healthfully as possible (during the week, on the weekends I eat whatever I want). For the moment, that means that I’m avoiding sugar, white flour, white rice, cheese, and basically anything tasty that isn’t a fruit, a vegetable, or some kind of meat. For the first two weeks of the experiment, I even gave up Diet Coke, but I decided I needed something to look forward to in my day.
I do this from time to time. After reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals I became a vegetarian for about a month. Anytime I read anything by Michael Pollan, I determine that I will grow my own food, grind my own wheat, and create my own sourdough bread using a start smuggled in my luggage all the way from Oakland. After my fourth child was born, I dropped thirty pounds on Weight Watchers and became a devotee. And this latest attempt to find my abs (because I want to look hot in a swimsuit on my fortieth birthday– never mind that I live in Utah and it will be ten degrees out and my poor starved abs will be under three sweaters) is just as faddish as everything else I’ve tried. But for some people, food fads actually change the way they eat. My friend Heather has been paleo for half a decade. My neighbor Nicole has implemented the Pollan manifestos and really does grind her own wheat and feels passionate about where the food she feeds her family comes from. While my own family is thrilled that I’m making something besides cheese quesadillas for dinner, I think they’ll all be happy when I stop feeding them sweet potatoes four nights a week.
Remember TAMN and her blog Seriously So Blessed? Launched about six years ago, her blog spoofed a certain kind of Mormon woman. This kind of woman was a stay-at-home mom who had a husband in medical or dental training. This kind of woman blogged about the minutiae of her life every day. This kind of woman was training for a half marathon. This kind of woman (minus the outlandish things she named her kids) was me. After we came home from the gym, I’d play with my little ones for a while, then park them in front of the tv while I ran into the office to write my blog post for the day. I know lots of people have defunct mommy blogs. I started mine in January 2006, mostly as a place to write, of all things, poems. Over the years it has been a creative outlet, a pregnancy journal, a weight-loss motivator, a place to brag about running, a diversion while waiting for adoptions to go through, and, most recently, a place to write book reviews. Nearly 2000 posts later, I’d say that the blog is a legitimate passion. It’s probably why I’m writing this, right now, as editor-in-chief of Segullah, and certainly what led me to go back to school for my MFA. And yes, just like TAMN, I did start training for my first half marathon with girls in my ward, and that has translated into more than 2,000 miles of running each year for the last seven years (on the ever-elusive hunt for my abs).
As I pour myself a second cup of Crio Bru, I recognize that I sometimes have to resist thinking the fads in my life are silly, because one of the way we find the things that we become lifelong passions is by trying new things, falling for fads, and maybe even sustaining a few of them when they’ve run their course for everyone around you.
What are the fads you’ve followed that have turned into passions? Any words to the wise for fads to jump right on or fads to avoid?