I frequently get messages from people who want to start working with me ...next week... or next month, or whenever. They always have some later date in mind. A lot of these messages, I think, are when they just want to complain a bit because they're unhappy with their current state and they want change but the reality of actually doing it is scary.
The thought of actually doing it has them telling themselves (and me), "they're just not ready" yet... or "when things settle down because I can't focus on that right now" or "I've got too much going on, I'll be ready next week when "x" happens and life is easier" or "I just want to enjoy summer (or Thanksgiving, or my birthday, or Christmas, or Easter or whatever is right around the corner that involves copious amounts of food) and then I'll be ready".
And it frustrates me.
It frustrates me because somewhere along the way we bought into this notion that getting our weight under control and taking care of our bodies is ...well, not something to enjoy. Or something that we have "psych ourselves up for" or "be motivated enough" to do.
We've come to believe that "enjoyment" occurs when we're sitting around doing nothing and overindulging on "bad" things while giving no thought to our physical or emotional well-being.
And that to change it and start taking care of those things means suffering.
But, that's exactly where the problem starts. Follow me on this...
We spend too much time supposedly "enjoying life" -- not really noticing the weight slowly piling on.
One morning we can't get our ass in our favorite skinny jeans and that top that used to make us feel amazing is tight in all the wrong places.
What do we blame? Our body. Bad, stupid, fat body! What do we when something is bad? We punish it. And because we can't get into our clothes the way we used to and those arms are getting squishier by the month, so we want a quick fix.
An ad pops up for the latest fad diet or celebrity workout program, we see it's claims of amazing results and we're all in! A couple days in, we're miserable, wondering how we're going to keep it up, annoyed because we're suffering and we're not skinny yet. Whether we manage to finish the program successfully or not, we inevitably go back to "enjoying life" and end up in the same situation all over again, months later. Except this time, we're really mad at ourselves for "failing" and this time we remember how much it sucked the first time.
So we put off "starting again" ...until we're ready. And the entire time we blame ourselves for being failures, or lazy or weak, or unable to control ourselves with food. But we are doing it all wrong.
A healthy lifestyle (including maintaining a healthy weight that we're comfortable with), when done right, adds so much to your life that you cannot imagine living any other way.
It should make you feel happy, energetic, powerful and amazing -- not beaten, exhausted, shameful, guilty and obsessive over food or workouts and like you want to quit every second of the day.
It took me more years than I care to admit to realize this for myself but now it's the basis upon which I train all my clients.
"Is what you're doing making you happy?"
If yes, continue.
If no, what can we change so that you are?
THAT is my goal for my clients -- their happiness.
I also want to take a second to get you to think about redefining what "happy" means with a little anecdote from my own life.
Every summer I would go home to Boston to visit family and to binge on all my favorite foods that I cannot get the rest of the year.
I'd start my day with some Hostess donuts, Friendly's Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream and maybe a breakfast sandwich from Dunk's. I'd lay on the beach in Mom's backyard most of the day, only to come back to the house every hour or so, just long enough to get a drink, grab a couple handfuls of candy and head back to the lounge.
By late afternoon, it's time to get cleaned up and go out for dinner. By this time I'm feeling bloated and gross and have no intention of making a mindful choice because I already feel like garbage anyway.
After dinner, my feet and legs are swollen and killing me, my stomach is also killing me, and distended up to my ribs. I feel like garbage, and I'm so exhausted I feel like I've been given a sedative. I go home to lay down after dinner because it's all I can manage to do.
Sometimes I'd go to the gym, but I wouldn't want to be there and I'd feel uncomfortable that my gym clothes weren't fitting right because I was so bloated.
That would be a typical day of me "enjoying my summer vacation". And I'd dread coming home because I didn't want to leave the "fun". But as the years went by I started dreading how "off track" I knew I was going to get when we'd go down. One summer I just decided I didn't want to feel like garbage that trip and I changed one little thing that changed everything. I was mindful.
I still ate all those things that I love -- every one of them. I still laid on the beach most of the day. I still went out to eat most evenings for supper.
The one and only thing I changed was my thoughts about the choices I was making.
I didn't end up feeling sick and miserable every night. And I my stomach didn't feel bloated, distended and horrible every day.
I even came home a little smaller than when I left.
And I realized that I actually enjoyed my vacation SO much MORE ...because I wasn't eating myself sick. I wasn't bloated and embarrassed that my clothes weren't fitting the way they should because of it. I wasn't restricting my favorite things but I wasn't over eating them either because I was allowing myself to have it all in a healthier, more balanced way.
Stop feeling like you have to wait for some later date be ready to be punished by diet and exercise and start chasing things that make you feel amazing, RIGHT NOW -- that's where joy and lasting change really live.