It sucks. There’s no two ways around it. Sometimes you have a goal, you want to get healthier, lose weight, get stronger, eat better, whatever it is… and you feel alone.
If you have at least one person in your corner doing this with you, that’s amazing! But the truth is that while we usually have people who want this for us, cheer us on… we rarely have people walking the walk with us. And that can be HARD.
Especially if these people are very close to you… spouse, partner, children, parents, best friends, co-workers… the people you see every day directly influence your daily actions and making change when these people are not on board is simply not easy. I know I sound dire, but you know this already, so there’s no use me sugarcoating this for you. However…
Lack of support is not the same as the inability to achieve something.
A little background
First let’s backtrack so I can tell you where I’m coming from. I’ve been there, and I still live this every day of my life. The people closest to me are not, and have never been, in the same lane as I am when it comes to health.
In my late teens I fell in love with the weight room, I loved being at the gym, loved how it made me feel, but my family… not so much. I later ended up in a toxic relationship that turned me away from fitness and health. There was daily pressure for me to look a certain way, have a certain amount of body fat, dress a certain way, but there was no companionship in the process. After that I simply let go. Taking care of my body became associated with never being enough to please my partner.
When I met my husband I was riding the unicorn early 20’s where my work and social life burned the calories from the crappy way I ate, and exercise was banned in my mind, still in that place of a tool to fit a mold someone wanted for me. After getting married, life started changing, as it usually does. My work and social life were less active, I had more discretionary income for food, and I still carried that belief that doing anything to take care of myself would mean I was giving in to what someone else wanted me to be, even though that relationship was long gone.
Here’s a side note on toxic and abusive relationships. Sometimes the demons planted in that time are so damn strong they take a world of effort to be overcome. I had kids, moved to Canada (from Brasil), and through this process my weight kept going up, and I was increasingly unhealthy. Not only my physical body, but my anxiety was rampant, my mental health was suffering, I had a toxic relationship with the scale and the mirror, and my family was taking the brunt of it. Not a pretty picture.
I finally reached a point where enough was enough, and I began the painstaking process of getting healthy, of finding myself again. That’s a story for a different post, but for now I will tell you that it was lonely as all out. In my case, as with most people I work with, it’s not simply about weigh loss. It was about taking those demons to task and sending them packing. It was about rediscovering my love of taking care of my body for myself, not to please someone else. It was about looking into the future and figuring out who I actually wanted to be, and taking the steps to become that woman.
And here’s my point. I had cheerleaders. I had support. I had people that believed in me and wanted me to succeed. What I didn’t have was anyone doing this WITH me.
Every meal was an individual choice, regardless of what everyone else was having, and more often than not, it still is to this day. Every single walk, workout, early wake up to hit the gym was on my own. There was no one to meet me there, no one to call and motivate me… every single session was done on my own drive. Every time I journaled, made a goal, said a prayer, meditated, read my bible, read a book, took a class, earned a certificate… I was on my own. There was no one to “do it together”.
Where I had the most success is where I had a coach or counselor, someone who had been where I’d been and showed me where I could go. Because without them… I wouldn’t have moved at all. Cheering, support, wanting the best for you are all important, but if you don’t have someone that can show you the next few steps… it’s so much harder! If you don’t have someone that will say “let’s go” when you don’t want to, and vice versa, you have to learn to rely on yourself, and that’s damn hard. Having these mentors and coaches makes the walk less lonely not because they are there for every meal, prayer, workout, or decision, but because they show you what the future can look like, and that keeps you moving in the right direction.
Looking back, I’m very proud of my journey. It started over 5 years ago and the person I was honestly didn’t even imagine she could be who I have become. So what’s my suggestion for you if you’re where I was? What worked for me that might work for you? Let’s go…
1. Own your life
This was my game changer. Before I ever knew what to do, before I found a single coach, I had to look in the mirror and own that this is MY life, this is MY body, this is MY health, and while I can’t control a single outcome, while I can’t control what my body does, I can control what I do, and that was the beginning of lasting change. The truth is, if I don’t take responsibility for my life, no one else will. There are two quotes that drove me during the early stages of change, and that still drive me, years later, and here’s the first one:
We don’t drift into good directions, we discipline and prioritize ourselves there. (Andy Stanley)
2. Make a plan
This is arguably the hardest part. What to do? I had several things to tackle: my spiritual life was a mess, I was very overweight, my anxiety was rampant, my body was performing poorly, my relationships were suffering, my work was lackluster… there wasn’t a single area in my life where I felt I was winning, or at least moving in the right direction.
So where to start? I literally sat down and wrote who I wanted to be, what I wanted to change, inside and out. From there I chose what to work on first, and prioritized.
Personally, I started with my physical health (nutrition and exercise), my spiritual health and my relationships. As I became stronger in these, I started adding other aspects.
I’m not saying I’m done, because I’m not. It’s been over 5 years and I am still only starting on some of the goals I had back then, but I had to start somewhere, and that somewhere needs to be specific, it can’t be “everything”.
3. Find a mentor
This was life changing and heartbreaking at the same time. Finding coaches, teachers, counselors to work with skyrocketed my progress. At the same time, there were areas where I could never find them, and am still searching.
That being said, I cannot stress enough the importance of finding someone to hold hands with. In the areas where you find this… it makes the entire process that much easier.
This will look different for different things… It may be hiring a trainer, it may be taking classes, having a therapist, hiring a coach, investing in training… different goals need different support. The point is that finding support, working with someone who can look ahead of where you are makes all the difference in the world.
4. Be comfortable with discomfort
This is a big one. We can’t change if we’re not uncomfortable. There will be tension, there will be tears, there will be frustration, there will be slips, mistakes, plateaus, dives, mountaintops, hardships, pain, joy, celebration, anger, pride… you WILL run the gamut.
Be comfortable with discomfort. Understand that to change you simply, absolutely CANNOT stay where you are comfortable. My practical suggestion here is to lift weights. There is something incredibly empowering when you see your body doing something difficult, uncomfortable, and getting better at it, pushing through, getting through the soreness and becoming better. Lifting 8 pounds, then 10, then one day you’ve kept going and you’re at 15, 20… DAMN.
That spills into your nutrition, understanding that you can do hard things, that you can make choices that seem hard now, but that will one day be incredibly easy. It spills into your discipline, knowing that right now taking that step, saying that yes, saying that no, making that decision is so big… but one day it will simply be what you do.
Be uncomfortable. Sit with the tension. Don’t resolve it. Don’t make everything nice and cozy. Cry, scream, dance, sing, whatever you need to power through. Just keep going.
PT Barnum said it best: comfort is the enemy of progress.
5. Make the investment
This is the second quote that I carry close to my heart:
Giving up something you want now for what you want most later is not a sacrifice. It’s an investment. (Andy Stanley)
This is a hard learned lesson, and I’m going to make you uncomfortable right now. Right now what you want is:
– lose weight
– eat that candy bar
– buy that thing
– say yes to that temptation
– give in to that pressure
That is not what you want most. What you want MOST is to…
– keep the weight off
– feel in control over food and not have food control you
– have financial margin and freedom
– think for yourself
– have meaningful relationships
– leave a legacy
Saying no right now is not a sacrifice, it’s an investment.
Now I’m going strictly into my lane to tell you this: we live in a day and age when eating healthy foods and exercising is deemed “health nut”, obsessive, not fun. I call bs. If you listen to me at all you’ve heard me say you can eat ANY damn food you want, it’s about the balance of it, it’s about choosing NOW to eat 80% minimally processed foods, it’s about choosing NOW to get enough quality sleep, choosing NOW to drink mostly water, choosing NOW to work your body so it works for you later.
These choices may seem like a sacrifice now, because they go against your immediate desires, but let me tell you from my own life…
You get stronger… in mind, body, emotions and soul. And that makes all these hard things easier.
Just don’t fall in to the trap of thinking that you’re sacrificing. Keep your eye on what you want MOST, and whatever gets in the way of that… that is just temporary discomfort.
If you’re doing this on your own, I would love to be one of the people that walk with you, that look into the future and help you get there. I’ve been where you are, after the countless diets, after the endless 10 minute solutions, after the frustrations, the tears, the load that seems to be unbearable.
I want to help you through it. Get it touch, either via email at email@example.com, or go to my coaching page, or contact me on instagram. I might not see smoke signals but you can try that too 🙂 Let’s get you where you want to go, so that you can go beyond these now goals, to the big things you really want.