Get off your hamster wheel. It’s nice down here.

Confession time: Two months ago I paid an obscene amount of money to participate in a program called (rather problematically, I think) Weight Loss Boot Camp.

This morning was my last class. After eight weeks of 5:30 a.m. workouts (and also some skipped workouts and fried food, because come on), I’ve lost inches, gotten stronger and generally feel pretty badass. I doubled the amount of push ups I can do in a minute (from not very many, to a few!) and can plank for WAY longer than a 4-year-old now.

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Look how happy and healthy I am after eight weeks of morning workouts! I hardly even want pizza except maybe six days a week!

How to celebrate, then?!

A nap?
A new pair of shoes?
A fancy massage I can’t afford?
A weekend of carbs and Coronas?

Here’s the thing. Those “rewards” are all things I’m trying to CHANGE about myself. Why would I reward myself for doing an awesome thing, by sabotaging the awesome thing?

It sounds so simple, but haven’t we all done this?

Celebrate a dry January with a wet February… And March, and April.
Celebrate an intense workout with an equally intense margarita.
Celebrate a big success at work by clocking out early… for the rest of the week.

Why do we do this? It seems so backward, but I know from personal experience: Our first instincts to cope with ANY feeling are often the things that are worst for us.

And yet, after work today I considered not one, but all of the following to celebrate my “success.”

-A bottle of wine (to drink by myself)
-A large pepperoni pizza (to eat by myself)
-A pan of triple fudge brownies (I think you see where this is going)
-A new set of workout clothes (not just new workout clothes… a whole SET of them.)
-Going to bed at 7pm (Because life is so EXHAUSTING sometimes, especially when you’re doing hard things, damn it!)

But you know where I’m writing this from? I am in a movie theater, by myself, with NO ALCOHOL (sorry, 2015 night shift Lindsey), seeing a movie I’ve been wanting to see forever. (RBG, duh.)

If you’re 85 years old and have a nickname inspired by a 300-pound rapper, you win ALL the things.

I’ve been wanting to see this movie for MONTHS. So why haven’t I? It’s been out since May, I live within five miles of about 10 movie theaters, and it’s a film about one of my personal heroes.

The answer is, I don’t have an answer. Well… I do, but, “I get tired and going places after work is hard,” sounds lame as hell.

It’s true, a night spent with takeout and Netflix is a LOT easier than putting on pants, leaving the house, and paying to do something by yourself. Now, with my butt in the seat, I can write this post all confidently. All, “Look at me and how great I am at self care!”

But honestly? I had a bit of panic walking into the theater. Because I was only the second person there, and no previews were showing yet, so I had to SIT WITH MY GD FEELINGS for a minute. And jesus, it was a bumpy ride.

I even checked to see if the concession stand sold beer (which is laughable, because the concession stand at this tiny local theater barely sells popcorn), but nope – nothing there to help me numb out and escape myself.

You see a historic movie theater. I see 20 minutes of silence during which I have to confront my inner demons.

But you know what? That turned out to be kind of awesome. Because for two whole hours, I got to actually FEEL things – the good (women standing up for equal rights), the bad (SCOTUS striking down key parts of the Voting Rights Act), and the ugly (pretty much anything our current president does).

I laughed, I cried, I got goosebumps, I felt ALL THE THINGS.

And then I went home and laid on my couch and watched Netflix, because HOLY COW that was a lot of feelings, can a girl get a minute?

(Coming next week: I see the Mr. Rogers movie and sob uncontrollably in front of strangers and/or my mom.)

Here’s what I want to leave you with:

I get it.

Warm baths and long walks and herbal tea are NOT always as satisfying as booze, food, shopping, etc. Pizza tastes 100% better than a protein bar or a veggie bake or whatever health food you’re into this week.

BUT, If we’re always rewarding ourselves through negative behaviors, we’ve got to stop and ask ourselves: Maybe these “rewards” are the reason we have to work so hard in the first place. Maybe they’re the reason we can’t break the cycle of indulge/feel bad/beat ourselves up/feel like crap/indulge some more.

It’s time to get off your hamster wheel. It feels great down here in the little wood shavings.

And if you don’t know how to get off, just go see RBG in theaters. She’ll probably take care of the rest.