My Moment of Cinnamon Roll Zen

It happened last weekend. I pulled my fresh, amazing, world’s best cinnamon rolls out of the oven, plopped them on the counter, and drizzled a light vanilla icing over them. Then I picked one up, burnt my fingers, and took a bite anyway. So. Good. Then I took another bite, finished the roll, and grabbed another. I ate three (3!) cinnamon rolls that afternoon before heading back to my office to do a little work. It occurred to me as I started applying words to paper that I had overcome the tendency toward immense shame and guilt that plagued me two years ago. A great sense of relief washed over me.

At this moment, I realized I had achieved the exact mindset I had set out to find when two years and 78lbs ago, I jumped on an exercise bike and switched to whole wheat. I didn’t want to lose weight out of some need to compete with someone, which is saying something (“competitive” is a very polite word for what I am, from time to time). I jumped on that bike because when I looked in the mirror, I realized I looked unhealthy. I looked sick. And I felt sick, too. My body ached, I had heartburn, I couldn’t climb stairs without wheezing, my face was red: I just wasn’t doing well. I have all sorts of hypotheses about why I allowed myself to become so unhealthy, but suffice it to say, a good dose of stress, depression, and a thyroid condition probably all played a role.

So I jumped on that bike, determined to find a lifestyle that would allow me to treat myself, but be healthy, to feel and look like I gave a damn about my body and what happened to it. The truth was, I had to develop that lifestyle from the ground up. I had no clue, really, what foods were and were not healthy, and in a pit of hormone- and life-induced depression, I couldn’t claim that I honestly did care what happened to my body. But I knew I should care, so I started building.

I began small: switched to whole wheat, weighed and tracked every bit of food, tried to exercise at least three times a week. After that, I began to consider organic versus non-organic produce, and what types of fat I should consume – coconut, olive, and grapeseed oil played starring roles. Then I started to make treats just that: treats, not everyday fare.

Incredibly, I began to taste food differently. I enjoyed every bite. I looked forward to treats and took immense pleasure in consuming them, whereas before I had just indifferently stuffed my face with them. With this greater sense of control, this sense that I was growing a garden of health and succeeding, my mood improved. I started to look alive. And yes, I started to lose weight, but that was never my sole goal.

Fast forward two years, and I stuffed three cinnamon rolls into my mouth – the first treat I’d had in a few weeks – and then sauntered back to my desk free of guilt and shame, but happy from having enjoyed the hell out of those cinnamon rolls. I felt sated. I didn’t need to eat the whole pan (not that three rolls is a paltry number, by any means). I had eaten until my enjoyment started to wane, and that was enough.

I don’t know when exactly I arrived at this state of mind. I only know that I’m glad to be here and ready to stay for the long-term.


**Oh, if you want my amazing, awesome, world’s best cinnamon roll recipe, I’m not going to hold out on you.**


By Michelle Miller

Michelle Miller is a twenty-something blogger, cook, freelance writer and editor living in Seattle, Washington. She’s a feminist trying ever-so-hard to embrace her spaces, conventional or not. She looks forward to numerous bad hair days, burnt cremes, a soapbox or two, and maybe (just maybe) a yellow polka-dot bikini in the years ahead.

2 replies on “My Moment of Cinnamon Roll Zen”

I could pretend I don’t know you IRL, but why? I know Michelle in the real world, folks. She’s not exaggerating, and I also know her well enough to know that she’s been incredibly healthy and eating the most mouthwatering myriad of delicious meals since she started approaching her eating with more mindfulness and intuitive pleasure.

One of the most telling and magnificent changes I’ve seen in Michelle over the past year or more is not in her weight loss (though she has obviously lost quite a bit of weight), but in the other physical markers that suggest good health. Her hair has become strong and shiny. Her skin always GLOWS now – so healthy looking, with rosy cheeks and an even complexion. Her eyes are brighter but her whole face and body look more relaxed. Before, (and sorry, Michelle, if this is oversharing) she had started to develop a grayish tone in her skin (looking a bit under the weather, like someone who has the flu), and she always looked incredibly strained – her muscles looked strained, her expression was strained, there was this great effort underlying everything to do I-don’t-know-what. It’s been such a joy (and inspiration) watching her health so visibly improve.

It’s not about competition or measuring up to some photoshopped standard of prettiness. She just looks healthier, better rested, and more at ease these days. It says a lot to the idea that we can find a way to treat ourselves the way our bodies demand and the way we deserve to be treated. Reading this piece reminded me a lot of the educated-intuitive eating Golda Poretsky has been talking about in her column here at Persephone, too. Such great health writing. YES.

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