I used to be afraid to acknowledge my accomplishments, fearful of how others might react, but then I realized by silencing my own voice, avoiding my vulnerability, and refusing to share my story, I was only creating an empty space where others couldn’t share theirs with me. I don’t want to be the person that hinders someone else’s growth. I want to be the person to help. Brushing the fear of judgment, ridicule, and criticism aside, I realized I shouldn’t be ashamed of my accomplishments. Because the truth is I am proud of what I have accomplished so far: 32 pounds lost, 25.5 inches total taken off, lowered body fat percentage, the ability to live medication free. I’m proud of all of it, and if someone who has struggled for years trying to create this healthy lifestyle can do it, you can find your way to accomplishing the goals you set for yourself. I posted a progress picture on my social media Tuesday showing my journey from where I was 4 months ago to now. I am humbled and flattered by the kind words and affirmations (especially since words of affirmation are one of my top receiving love languages) that flooded my post. Amongst all those wonderful comments, certain ones caught my attention and got me thinking. Many wanted to know my “how”. More details. My secret for success.
So here you go. Here it is.
- True desire to constantly improve yourself—not just saying the words, but actually believing it is something you really want to do. And this should be for you, not anyone else.
- Discipline and commitment—setting goals (achievable goals) and sticking to them is crucial.
- Being ok with sacrifice—don’t allow yourself or others to make you feel guilty for any of the sacrifices you will make. If you want to see results and want to truly change, there will be sacrifices you have to make. It’s all part of the growth and journey.
- Removal of stressful and toxic situations—I took away one of the biggest stressors in my life (unfulfilling career for me) that caused my unhealthy mindset and lifestyle, and I became more motivated.
Sounds easy, right? Yet it is so difficult for most of us. In the past I was never able to accomplish these 4 principles because of 3 factors I struggled to overcome. 3 factors, sometimes unbeknownst to us, have become established pillars in our lives, driving our every thought, action, and goal. They drive our lifestyles.
- Instant gratification mindset: We have developed a society that longs for instant gratification in everything. Our grabby-hands stretch out for what we want right away, without hesitation. We have rewired our brains that instant will be the only thing to satisfy. How would we survive without that instant gratification? Instant coffee. Instant oatmeal. Instant shakes. Microwaves. Fast Food. Drive-thru cleaners. Mobil Order. Online shopping with expediated shipment. We are incapable of just waiting. Sometimes the wait can be excruciating, and we feel like we can’t survive. I was that person. I don’t like waiting. I don’t have patience. I want results and I want them now. I was a Veruca Salt in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I’d stomp and pout if I wanted something. Why wait when I can have it instantly? Because waiting builds endurance. Builds understanding. Builds wisdom. Builds trust. Builds you. So, when it comes to physical improvement and weight loss, we notice another person’s transformation, and we want it instantly. But progress takes time. It is a process, a journey. Something that won’t happen overnight. Something that comes to us instantly doesn’t require sacrifice or discipline but taking care of our bodies and life does require that. You can’t have an instant weight loss shake then go through a fast food drive-thru a couple hours later and expect fast results for change. That’s not what the “fast” in fast food means. By releasing my concept of instant gratification, I can fully immerse myself in the process of fluctuations, gains, losses, pains, goals, and dedication required of me to seek out a healthy and happier lifestyle.
- Quick fixes: This one is the peanut butter to instant gratification’s jelly. These two go hand-in-hand. I touched base a little about quick fixes in my progress post on Instagram, but because of our lack of patience and endurance, we want a quick fix. A quick fix does the “hard” work for us, but a quick fix won’t solve the underlying issue. It won’t sustain you. You will get burned out, unable to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You’ll regress back to the spot you were in before the fix: frustrated and annoyed. Of course it didn’t. A quick fix isn’t meant to be a permanent solution. Yet, we think it should be. So, we find blame in the item, in the “fail”, in the fix instead of examining ourselves and improving our discipline and understanding how our specific situation works. A quick fix doesn’t require discipline or commitment, but true progress, true transformation does. By releasing the idea of a quick fix being the solution to my problem, I can set achievable goals for myself and learn to develop the discipline and commitment I need to thrive in maintaining the lifestyle I truly want to live.
- Entitlement mentality: When I was still teaching, one of my biggest struggles was finding grace in the sense of entitlement I noticed in many of my students when it came to their materialistic possession like cell phones and iPads and how they expected to be treated by their peers and their teachers. I struggled a lot. I took a lot of reactions and expectations personally. I allowed this mentality from a 12-13-year-old to dictate my mood. I allowed frustration to rule over me until I realized I am not any better than them. Whether we want to admit it or not, we all feel entitled to something. I felt entitled to something as well. No, it wasn’t for any of my possessions or career or expectations on how I should be treated. My sense of entitlement? A different body. Throughout the years I worked hard to live healthier and happier. I worked out regularly (at some points probably too much) because I strived to lose weight and be more toned, yet without evident results. I grew angry. I grew bitter. I grew apathetic. I grew insincere. I definitely did not grow happier. I got to the point when I looked at other people who never worked out, could stuff their faces with an entire bag of Cheetos or family size bag of chocolate and still achieved a average or skinny physique, I got pissed. I said to myself, “This isn’t fair. I deserve that.” This. Isn’t. Fair. Three words that hinder us from living a full and thriving life. Lightbulb in my head went on in that moment. I, too, felt entitled to having something. My entitlement stemmed from an insecurity of comparing myself to others. Instead I should have focused on what I had in the moment and not with what I wanted based on someone else’s experience. By releasing my sense of entitlement, I removed a toxic mindset, giving me the freedom to focus on my journey and individual progress, not someone else’s.
This summer when I decided I no longer wanted these 3 factors to be the pillars to my success, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I have had to learn discipline when it comes to eating habits, time-management, and investing in new experiences but still finding time to invest in old ones. I knew I would have critics and negative feedback, along with the outpouring support. I knew I would have days that I felt disappointed in myself for letting a goal slide. I knew I would have to sacrifice a lot: my desire to eat baked bready goodness and cheeses, time with others, old habits and passions (Guys, I have not done a puzzle in months…for those of you who know and understand my love of puzzles, this is huge), but I chose to focus on the 4 principles I believe are more important for my happiness and success instead. Because this is what living a fitter, healthier, happier life looks life for me.