Apparently I need more of an assurance that ‘change happens’ beyond night turning into day every 24 hours. In fact, there are many times when circumstances seem so bleak that I can’t imagine them eventually becoming history and being replaced by happier, more hope-filled times. Or even by some additional challenges. And yet, no matter what kind of changes are ahead of us, we can bank on them occurring. Even though many of us often fail to acknowledge change as a constant.
People who follow me on Instagram know that one of my weekend rituals is getting up pre-dawn and taking a power walk through my neighborhood. It’s usually just me, a few feral cats, the occasional (and literal) early bird, the moon and a whole lot of trees. It was during the winter months that I took a picture of a favorite tree as the last of its autumn-y leaves clung to it (just before falling). I was able to capture its beauty lit by a nearby streetlight with my phone camera.
But on a recent morning, when passing said tree, I noticed that its branches were “suddenly” covered in thick greenery. It seemed like only yesterday this tree was sitting in the dark, practically naked. And yet here it was on this day, crying out to the world that summer was imminent. I was as astounded by this change as I was grateful for it. It seemed like such a short period between this tree’s two states of being. Change occurred. And it was beautiful. And this change courtesy of Mother Nature reminded me of other times in my life that I didn’t think change (real and lasting change) was even possible.
I remember weighing over 450 pounds during my college years. Despite going to school in sunny Florida, I lived life as if I were a vampire—venturing into daylight only when necessary (usually to attend classes at Florida State University), while relegating everything else to nighttime hours. I was terrified to let people see I was morbidly obese and had become convinced that doing most things at nighttime would cloak me in a way similar to a vampire who might otherwise combust should he or she move about during daylight hours.
These nighttime errands included grocery shopping, which (lucky for me) could be done 24 hours a day thanks to a nearby chain store. There were others who deemed it necessary to shop during late hours as well. So I was still forced to encounter the general public. My mission was clear. Get in, fill my grocery cart, pay and get out—without making any eye contact or letting anyone get a good look at the 450-pound man I’d become.
One such night I was in the breakfast cereal aisle, which was unfortunately very crowded despite the late hour. As I quickly scooted by other shoppers with my cart (grabbing the nearest high-fat, sugar-soaked cereal I could reach), a little girl (who was shopping with her mom) looked at me, pointed, and screamed out, “Mommy, mommy! Why does that man have boobs?”
Everyone in the aisle turned and stared—in what seemed like slow motion fashion. I could swear the muzak playing over the loud speakers even screeched to a halt. There I stood, facing the general public in the same way Quasimodo might have when coming down from the bell tower. The little girl wasn’t wrong. I was a man and I did, indeed, have “boobs.” They were what some might refer to as man boobs, but still…
To say I was mortified is an understatement. I felt so “less than” and would have scurried under the closest shelving unit like a cockroach had I been able to. I was so angry at the little girl for calling attention to me. And even angrier at her mom for not turning it into a teachable moment and helping the little girl understand that men with boobs have feelings, too.
I abandoned my grocery cart, fled for my car and hurried home as quickly as possible. I remember sitting in the dark of my apartment, barely able to catch my breath (being at that excess weight wasn’t any better for me physiologically than it was for me physically) and wishing for change. But as much as I wished for it, I couldn’t comprehend it. I just couldn’t visualize me weighing less than 450 pounds. Much less 300 pounds. Or anything below that number. This kind of change wasn’t fathomable. And, I was just as sure, wasn’t reachable.
Even though I vowed to stay in my college apartment for the rest of my life, I eventually left my self-imposed fortress of solitude. And guess what? Soon after I discovered that all the crash diets I’d been on didn’t hold the key to getting healthy. Soon after that revelation I was eating more natural foods in healthier portions. Shortly afterward, I added an exercise routine to my new way of eating—along with proper hydration (drinking enough water) and healthy amounts of sleep. It was a four-pronged approach (without any gimmicks, pills or surgery) that eventually led to… (Wait for it…) Change.
Even with my own dramatic change and this recent change demonstrated to me by my neighborhood tree, there are still times in my life that I feel trapped. That I feel like change can’t possibly occur. Even when I know in my heart of hearts it can. And will. This occurrence of change will be as true for hard times as it will be for joyful times. It’s constant. And there’s a real gift in knowing and remembering this if we’ll allow ourselves to.
So if you’re going through a happy period in your life at this moment, embrace it. Soak it in. Hold it in your heart so tightly that it will always be a part of you—even when circumstances change. And the same edict is true for anyone who’s in a dark moment at this time, convinced that there is no way things could get better. They can. We can’t see around the virtual corners ahead of us. But all sorts of possibility—and change—lie just beyond them. Of this, we can all be sure. Just look to your favorite tree for proof.
Guest Post by Lisa Goldberg, Certified Dietician & Nutrition Specialist
Do you find yourself repeating negative habits and behaviors when it comes to emotional eating and yo-yo dieting? Do you find you set an intention to get healthy and by the end of the day or week you always “do yourself in?” This is self-sabotage showing up.
What is Self-Sabotage?
Self- Sabotage is any behavior, thought, emotion or action that holds you back from getting what you consciously want – as well as the conflict that exists between conscious desires and unconscious wants that manifest in self-limiting patterns of behavior. It’s usually rooted in lack of self-esteem and self-worth.
All of us sabotage ourselves at some point . We say we want something and then we do the opposite that prevents us from getting what we want. Not only can self-sabotage prevent you from getting what you want but its also a safety mechanism from disappointment. This safety mechanism keeps you in your comfort zone. This can be especially true for those of us with a dieter’s mentality. We talk about wanting to initiate positive change that will lead to a healthier body weight. The only problem is that we are sometimes talking about this while bingeing on fries or other foods in portion sizes that don’t serve the goals we’re saying we want to achieve.
We usually sabotage ourselves because we have trouble mastering our emotions. So if you are an emotional eater, you use food as a coping mechanism to deal with your emotions.
What does self-sabotage look like?
- Succumbing to fear of failure
- Not taking action if we think we can’t do it perfectly
- Not planning ahead
- Not considering the consequences of your actions
- Incessant worrying
- Allowing your inner critic to take charge
- Always complaining or being the victim
- Focusing on what’s not working vs what is
- Always making excuses
Do any of these examples of self-sabotage resonate with you?
Can you overcome self-sabotage?
Good news… The answer is yes! The whole reason I created The MindShift Method was to help lifelong dieters stop self-sabotage, lose their excess weight for good and change their lives for the better. After all, what good is looking great if we’re not feeling great?
If you’ve been telling yourself “I should be able to lose weight on my own” but you haven’t been able to, self-sabotage might be getting in the way. Or, if you keep beating yourself up because you promised yourself that your latest food binge was going to be the last one ever, but it never really is the last one, this is another example of self-sabotage that might be creating mental roadblocks on your wellness journey.
Getting past self-sabotage comes down to changing your mindset. Instead of being your own worst enemy, you want to become your very best friend. This might sound like it’s simplifying things. In a way it is. But I also understand that beating the negative voice (along with the negative habits) isn’t always easy. This is why I work with my clients to create tools that they can turn to any time self-sabotage threatens their goals.
Because self-sabotage can vary greatly by individual, I’d be happy to discuss your “mental roadblocks” to help find ways to get past them once and for all. To find out more, I invite Just Stop! readers to schedule a complimentary call with me today.
The only thing that stands between you and your weight loss, the body and the life that you want is your self-sabotage and the emotional relationship you have with food. If you have spent too many years trying to change it on your own but haven’t been able to, you can click here to find out more about The MindShift Method Online Program I’m starting very shortly.
About the Guest Blogger:
Lisa Goldberg is a nutritionist with a Masters degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. In addition, her certifications and Licenses include: Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Dietician/Nutritionist licensed by New York State, Certified in Adult Weight Management by the ADA. Lisa is also a personal trainer certified by the American Counsel on Exercise since 1994. She was the Nutritionist at the New York Stock Exchange from 2003-2007 and for 10 years served as the nutritionist to traders on Wall Street. Anyone who would like to discuss their weight loss goals with Lisa can schedule a free 30-minute weight loss consultation with her by clicking here. (Simply let Lisa know you found out about her on the Just Stop! blog.)
A Note from Gregg:
As some of you Just Stoppers might remember, I have been lucky enough to be a guest in nutrition rockstar Lisa Goldberg’s recent weight loss summits not once, but several times. I love Lisa’s total approach to wellness, which not only includes getting to a healthy weight, but also enjoying life and learning to love and appreciate yourself in the process. Any Just Stopper who wants to find out more information (without any obligation), can click here to schedule a free 30-minute Discovery Session with Lisa herself to find out more about the upcoming online group weight loss program.
Top Photo Credit: Grace Filled Plate
One only has to tune in to see the exhausted look on virtually every TV weatherperson’s face to know that Mother Nature has many of us on a weather-related rollercoaster ride. This is just as true here in Southern California. While we are always in need of rain, the precipitation has been fast and furious this year—often arriving in torrential downpours that have lasted hours or even days at a time. Because this region is normally so dry and also due to recent fires, these storms have caused quite a bit of havoc.
One recent, very rainy Saturday, I was doing my best to not let the heavy downpours impede my normal routine. I know that may read as silly to those of you swamped by snow, but trust me when I assure you the streets were flooding and you could even spot mini tidal waves crossing the roads whenever heavier vehicles passed by.
It was while stopped at a traffic light that I noticed what seemed like a calamity unfolding across the intersection. A mother and her young daughter, both outfitted with umbrellas, were trying to safely cross the street. While there were no nearby vehicles inhibiting their journey, the rain was excessive. So exaggerated in fact, that accompanying wind caused the little girl’s umbrella to invert and immediately begin filling with rainwater (since it was now a virtual bowl aimed toward the storm clouds).
I watched with concern from my car as the little girl called out for her mom, who immediately turned around and tried to help the little girl navigate the mini swimming pool that the girl’s umbrella had become. Mom and daughter were trying to dump the water from the inverted umbrella without splashing it all over themselves. Then, suddenly, another gust of ferocious wind swept the mother’s umbrella from her hands, onto a nearby grassy embankment.
Concerned for them both, my Superman instinct took over and I immediately looked for a way to park and get across the street to help them (even though my traffic light was still red). I then looked back to the mother and daughter—finally realizing that they were both laughing with delight in the midst of their soggy adventure.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. But sure enough, they were both positively giddy as they (eventually) gave up on un-inverting the daughter’s umbrella, then scurried to the side of the street they’d originally been on to retrieve the mom’s umbrella. At this point, the traffic light changed to green—meaning that mom and daughter would have to wait for another cycle before they could attempt to cross the street again.
As my car passed by them, I was able to see not only their laughter and smiles up close, but also their palpable bond. While keeping a careful eye on the road (AKA mini lake at this point), I offered a quick smile and wave from the conveniently dry interior of my vehicle. The little girl looked at me with glee and waved back. And this was when I offered them both a silent “Thank you” for reminding me that nothing in life has the power to ruin our day—unless we let it.
This mom and daughter would have had every reason to get angry or to throw a temper-tantrum as the rain changed the course of their morning. In fact, I was initially a little nervous the mom might get angry with the little girl for lollygagging behind and accidentally getting her umbrella inverted. But no. Instead, the mom chose to smile despite the odds—surely reemphasizing lessons she must have previously taught her daughter about adversity. Because this little girl was clearly on board with the age-old edict to “Let a smile be your umbrella.”
There will be those who read this that roll their eyes. But I never want to be one of them. I really do consider the mother and daughter’s cheerful attitude to be a gift. A gift that has the potential to remind us all that no matter what we’re going through, there is a joy to be had—if we allow it. It’s all about getting out of our own way and accepting whatever so-called roadblock (or inclement weather) might be thwarting our intentions.
There will always be surprises in life after all. And Mother Nature will often have the upper hand. So trust me when I acknowledge that this reminder to find joy doesn’t mean we won’t be challenged by hardships. But we have the potential to make better, smarter and more informed decisions if we do so from a place of resolve and—if we so choose—a place of amusement.
No inverted umbrella required.
Photo Credit: Flickr