“Transforming your mind is just as important as transforming your body”
I was in fifth grade when Mother Nature decided to bless me with my first visit from Aunt Flo, about a year or two earlier than the rest of my friends. I was getting boobs, hips and wearing a size-3 woman’s jeans, when my friends were still in training bras.
Rather than looking at me like 16-year-old boys look at 16 year old girls, the boys were 11 and didn’t understand that in a few years they would think boobs and hips would be “cool”. Instead they were cruel and called me fat.
Thus, began the beginning of my body image issues that lead to years of constant dieting, calorie counting, bulimia, excessive exercise, and comparing my body to everyone else’s.
I spent years trying to transform myself to fit what other people expected me to look like so I would be accepted. It was exhausting!
The month my divorce was final I went from going days without eating to then binging on an entire bag of potato chips. I was in survival mode and figured chips were better than eating nothing. I stopped exercising, I was depressed and barely had enough motivation to shower every few days.
One morning after eating too much pizza and drinking a bottle of wine the night before, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and did a double take. I put my glasses on and I saw not only the weight I had gained, but I saw the look in my eyes of complete sadness.
Of course it’s to be expected I was sad going through a divorce, and it wasn’t just the weight gain, but the sadness in my face made me not even recognize who I was.
I put on my workout clothes and told myself I was going to go for a run. But before I went, I snapped a photo in the mirror to capture this person I no longer recognized.
That day, not only was I determined to transform my body again [for me – one one else], it was the day I decided I was ready to put in the work to start transforming my mind, my soul, my heart and to work hard on taking those steps to start living a happy life again.
Transformation and real change take TIME. Transforming your body doesn’t happen overnight and neither does transforming your mindset.
Transforming yourself after a challenging life transition or transforming your body are similar, they both take consistency and patience.
What are the obstacles standing in the way?
• Lack of self-belief: If you don’t believe you can do it, you won’t. You have to change the way you talk to yourself, change the way you look at yourself and change the way you think about yourself. If you don’t believe you can do it, it won’t happen. Even if you have doubts, SAY IT OUT LOUD, once you start hearing yourself say it, over and over, it’s easier to start believing in yourself.
• Comparison: STOP IT! I have said this time and time again, stop comparing yourself. Stop comparing your life story, stop comparing your journey, stop comparing your body. Your metabolism is different than someone else’s, your body is different than someone else’s, your divorce is different than someone else’s, your life is different than EVERYONE else’s because it’s YOUR life! Stop comparing it to others, just stop!
• Accepting you can’t change the past: You can’t go back and change the past. So, you put on 20 pounds during COVID, ok…now what? You can either keep it or if you choose ,you can work at losing it, but you can’t change the fact you are now 20 pounds heavier. You lost your job, it happened, you can’t change it. Once you learn to accept what has happened, you can then choose to move forward and start the next chapter, or you keep re-reading the one you’re in. It’s your choice.
• You are scared to fail: Walking into the unknown is scary! Why put in the work if you are just going to fail? Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is not easy. But who cares if you fail?! Failure is not a bad F word! You are going to learn from it, learn what to tweak and modify and then you use that knowledge to keep going.
• Patience: If you expect transformation to happen overnight, you are going to be disappointed. Change takes time. You see results after you put in the work. Sometimes results take weeks, months or years. If you do go on a juice cleanse and see quick results, the chance of gaining weight back quickly is pretty probable. Sustainable change comes from putting in the work each day, consistence. (Disclaimer, I’m probably the most impatient person I know…this one has been a challenge for me but take it from me, it’s the truth)!
I am 5’2 and I weigh 150 pounds. I’m never going to be a size 2 and I am FINALLY (at 42) ok with that. I’m proud of the physical transformation I’ve made after my divorce to get my body back to a place where I feel good physically.
Could I be a smaller size, yep! But I like to have balance in my life and pizza is too important for me to eliminate forever! I do have some personal physical goals I’m still working towards, but they are for me, no one else.
I actually don’t hate that first before photo of me because of my body. I might have weighed a bit more than the government says I should, but if I was truly happy in this picture, then who gives a fuck if I’m a little squishy. The problem was, I was not happy. It was not just with my body, it was with what was going on inside my head.
Even though I’m proud of the transformation above, I’m even more proud of this photo below. The transformation that you can’t see because it’s on the inside.
The first photo here was taken on my 40th birthday, one month before my divorce was final. If you look at this photo, you probably wouldn’t think that I was extremely depressed and had just spent the entire morning crying. However, if you knew me, you would recognize the forced smile and the sadness in my eyes.
The second photo is ME! This was taken on my birthday this year, two years after the first picture. This is the person who has worked her ass of to transform her mindset after facing some really difficult shit in life.
The person who is STILL transforming herself because transformation doesn’t ever stop. She is the person who figured out how to take those steps to start her internal transformation. A person who knows that practicing self-care (physically, mentally, emotionally and spirituality) is the first step in transforming any other part of your life.
I’m happier when I am consistently exercising, when I balance my pizza with salads and fruits. But I’m really, really happier when I’m not constantly beating myself up for choices I have made in my life, when I’m being kind to myself and others, when I give myself grace when I have a “bad day”, and when I’m practicing self-care.
The process to transform yourself (your body or your mind) is not an overnight process and there are going to be slip ups and setbacks, steps forward and steps backwards. But that is part of it. When you are ready to make that commitment to transform, sure you can go all in, but you might have more success if you start with baby steps.
If you are trying to transform your body and you tell yourself you are going to:
• Start working out 7 days a week
• Cut out all carbs
• Only drink water, no booze
• Go to bed at 9:00 PM every night
There are chances of you slipping up and then feeling like a failure. Not saying you can’t do all of these at once and succeed, but it can be daunting if you haven’t been eating well or exercising in awhile.
When you are working on transforming your mindset and personal growth, if you tell yourself you are going to:
• Journal every day
• Work out every morning
• Mediate for 30 minutes every night
• Call a different friend each day to check in
Once again, you can set yourself up for feeling as if you failed if you don’t achieve each of these things. Overwhelming yourself with too much, too quick, can either stop you from starting or make you beat yourself up when you don’t achieve it all.
I’m not suggesting you can’t go all in, it works great for some people. But if you are a little fragile because life has thrown unexpected challenges your way, maybe take things a bit slower. Give yourself grace when you need to slip into survival mode, baby steps are ok.
You get to create your own life recipe; your transformation is your own.
1. Believe you can do it.
2. Stop comparing your story or your successes to others.
3. Accept you can’t change the past, what’s done is done.
4. It’s ok to fail. Don’t be scared to embrace the unknown. If you fail, you pick yourself up and you keep going. Be willing to let your Plan A have a Plan B.
5. Patience. I know you want the transformation to happen overnight. But it’s kind of like when you create something that you could have bought and yours turns out better! The immediate gratification of the store-bought version, or the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction when you look at your amazing creation, which took a little longer get?
Remember, You Got This!