Doing something new for the first time seems monumental. In fact, nearly impossible, right? We often forget that failure is actually part of learning. We learn by discovery and can build on that to be successful.
When I was faced with the terrible news that my doctor said I was borderline hypertensive and had terrible cholesterol and on my way to a heart attack, I finally heard her. The word got through that I had to start eating healthier, start exercising and dropping weight.
But how on earth do you set out to burn off 130 lbs? It’s just too overwhelming? That’s about how much I needed to lose to be in the normal range for a 43 1/2 year old woman who was 5′ 2″. I had 2 choices really. I either had to accept where I was and just be an obese unhealthy woman and be fearful of the day I drop dead of a heart attack- or I was going to do some soul searching, buckle down and tackle this thing to save my life.
And so I did just that. Somehow, I had a desire to live better. I had a deep calm inside me that said I knew that I was smart enough and strong enough to do this task. I didn’t know the ‘how’ but I knew that it was achievable if I really set my mind to it. Being an artist my whole live, I visualized things. Staring at a blank canvas with pen in hand is somewhat spooky – where do you start, right? Well the same thing happened on the beginning of my weight-loss journey. What was I envisioning myself to look like? To feel like and to be like? Would I even be the same person after I achieved such a transformation?
So I created a little vision board to help me. I thought about people who I knew that possessed traits that I respected and admired. I thought about people who are strong, confident and beautiful. Jodi Foster was one of those people. She’s been in her field for so long and yet seemed to be able to do her craft without getting all hyped up into the Hollywood scene. People respect her and her privacy. And I think she’s cleary strong, independent and beautiful. I want to feel like that. I clipped a picture of her off the internet and posted it on my wall and on my computer. I visualized me feeling like the way she looked in her picture. Strong and in control.
And so I began…one step at a time, chipping away at old patterns that I had learned from early on…trying to unlearn overeating. Trying to unlearn eating as a means for escape. Trying to overcome adding emotion to eating and instead – being more present and more mindful about what and when I’m eating…..
One trip to the store at at time. One meal at a time.
One less Coke at a time….
I began to create to patterns and new behaviors.
I committed to cutting out soda for 18 days; and was amazed that I could do it. 18 days seems so much more achievable than if someone had said to me, that’s it – no more Coke – EVER. But after the 18 days, I was so proud I did it, I added another 18 days, and so on and so on…and never looked back.
I did the same thing with going to the gym. I had been bullied all through elementary school and high school during gym class – so I had terrible memories of gym and PE. I used to have panic attacks because of the kids teasing me because I was fat. But I knew I needed to step into the gym. I joined the new YMCA back in Baltimore but didn’t step foot in the door for months afterwards. But finally, I did, and for 18 days I committed to going into the building. My therapist Amy at the time said, “I don’t care if you don’t even work out in the gym when you go, you just have to go.” So I did. and I went, day after day. I kept my head down low, didn’t look at anyone and started walking on the treadmill. I was afraid and scared and didn’t want people looking at me. I didnt’ have cool workout clothes on. I had frumpy men’s clothes on from Sears since that’s all that fit me at the time. I felt ashamed of my body. But, I went back day after day and you know what? At the end of 18 days I was so proud of myself! I had done it! I had actually overcame the fear of the gym and actually was proud that I not only went in the building, but that I stayed and walked on the treadmill!
That was the beginning of the new me….it started with the desire to live and the vision that I could achieve something.
Someone asked me once, How do you do it? How do you start eating differently and working out? and I replied, “You gotta want it. You gotta want it more than pizza.” And that was me. I wanted to live, and be in control and no slice of pizza was going to stand in my way.