Sheri’s Rants #6

Posted on January 15, 2009 by


Transformation ‘Failure’?

Katie called me the other day – she’s an old friend who I helped get healthy about 8 years ago.  She was sharing her dismay that after her hard-won success completely transforming her body from pain and overweight into lean and fit, she had fully emotionally stepped into the depths of her eating disorder and gained a bunch of her weight back.  Gaining the weight back has been painful for her.  Katie is digging deep into her past, addressing foundational personal issues, and taking responsibility for her behavior.  Things she didn’t do the first time.  Katie is positive the people around her see her as a transformation ‘failure’, even though she receives nothing but support and admiration for the courage she is displaying.  She is in the throes of deep internal work.

Every one of us owns, by very nature of being human, a deep well of potential.  Clear, strong, individual potential to become anything we desire.  Our passions point us into the direction of the desire and we learn, if we pay attention, to harness our potential.  The issues that step between us and the our potential provide us with self-knowledge and opportunities for growth.  These things, I believe, are what keeps life interesting.  It’s not ‘failure’ that trips us up.  It’s what we DO with that ‘failure’.  When knocked down, do you lie there like roadkill waiting to be rescued?  Or do you get back up and have at it some more?  Katie got up and is tackling the issues in the way of her personal potential.  I think she’s a profound success story.

Now, if you have a desire to change your health and your body then the potential lies within you.  Period.  You’re not going to fully desire anything you are not capable of.  That desire has to be fed, it has to be fanned, it has to become consuming.  This desire is going to harness your potential – and how you are going to do that is with your habits.  Habits are the outward tool that you’ll use to achieve what you want to have.

I wanted to write a book.  The demand was high from the folks around me, the talent is there, the desire was high.  I walked around for months saying “I want to write a book but I don’t have the TIME” – and finally I realized that this was not something that someone else was going to fix for me.  In other words, initially I lay there like roadkill lamenting the hours of the day.  Finally I took a deep breath and simply changed some habits.  I set goals.  I got up earlier, I used my down-time differently, I carried around a notepad and a recorder to capture my flashes of insight.  I re-arranged my daily habits to allow myself to expand in this new way.  It worked. When I stopped doing those things and allowed life in all it’s forms to take over, then production on my writing stopped, and I felt like I had a hill to climb again as I pulled those habits back into line.  I found I needed to address the mental habits that kept me from maintaining those potential-harnessing habits to begin with.  I didn’t quite see myself as ‘a writer’, and once I embraced the fact that I AM a writer, I was back in line with my writing habits.

Katie is doing the same thing.  She initially learned new habits, applied them, and was successful at attaining her health and fitness goals.  Her insides had not fully caught up, however, and she did not fully see herself as a healthy happy fit lean person.   Her outsides did not match her insides – there was a level of internal discomfort with all the external success.  She quite naturally drifted back both mentally and physically to old habits, the familiar ground.  The amount of learning involved has been immense.  She has so much to share with others as a result!  Now Katie is pulling those habits that worked for her before, coupled with new insight and drive, back into her life.  One at a time.  With these new changes comes the lessons of self-love that are required to maintain a healthy, happy state of living.

Self care IS self love.  When someone says to me “I don’t have TIME to eat healthy and exercise”, I wonder about that.  What is that statement really saying?  If I don’t have TIME to take care of myself, what is the alternative?  Ouch!  If my job is more important that my self care, how am I going to enjoy the prosperity from that job?  If I’m not mentally and physically better off with my lifestyle choices, how can I be incredulous when my body balks?  Pain, disease, fat gain, unhappiness – the body is very clear with it’s feedback.

Yes, I know that changing lifestyle habits can be tricky.  It doesn’t have to be, but we humans are into change being hard.

Habits come built with an arsenal of ‘reasons’ and ‘explanations’ and even defensiveness. Part of the joy of being human is that we buy into these internal barricades to change and adopt them as truth. When looking at actually changing a behavioral habit, all those little adopted ‘truths’ we defend so strongly come blaring up, loud. It’s much easier to see this in other people.

Rather than delving deep into the ‘why’ of your internal processes, I suggest starting with small easy changes that you don’t have so much protective energy around. You don’t want to make huge profound changes in your lifestyle immediately – that would feel too much like a ‘diet’ and the head has a hard time wrapping itself around that. You won’t adhere to the long term. Much simpler to go slow and allow your head to sort things out as you move along. In that way, your brain can work effectively with your physical changes and you won’t be sabotaging, defending, and protecting the old patterns.

The benefit of starting small and going slow is that with each change, you’re going to feel a little better – both in your body and about yourself in general.  Each little private victory paves the path for the next one, and your success in reaching your health and fat loss goals will increase.  As you learn new ways to take care of yourself, your self esteem will increase.  The ultimate goal is that when you attain the level of fitness you desire, that you feel worthy of it.  Then and only then can you own it, forever.


Posted in: Sheri's Rants