What happens when the motivation feels stalled? Time to up your dream. I had two conversations around this topic yesterday that stand out with two clients who have felt a bit stuck this summer. And then I have a story of my own to share.
The first conversation was with a long-term client who has lost about 20 pounds and would like to lose that much more. Instead of our regular weekly check in call - she scheduled a longer conversation that I like to call "operation motivation." When I asked her why she wanted to lose 20 more pounds, she said she wanted more energy. When I asked her what she wanted more energy for, she did not know. And there in lies the problem. How much effort are you going to make toward a goal if you don't know the point of it? This is very common. So we went around the "trilogy wheel" and talked about her healthy body, mind and finances. The goal was to start painting a clear picture of what an "optimal life" looked like in her mind, not just a healthy weight. To create some energy around "now what" - to keep the motivation in tact. So she started to dream a bit about some outdoor activities such as hiking, and about a fresher space for her home office, since that is where she spends so much time and it feels pretty cluttered. Instead of starting with here's my to do list to clean out the clutter. I encouraged her to find some pictures in magazines or online of what that "dream" environment would look like - to have a goal to work toward. And to bring those pictures to my open house in a few weeks when we are going to put together vision boards. This may not be the conversation you would expect regarding stalled weight loss. This is not a diet. This is different. This is how do I take my life back. How do I dream. And I am willing to bet a whole lot of money that once she starts getting excited about other areas of her life, and have a reason for wanting more energy, she will lose the weight to gain that energy.
The second conversation was with a client who has lost about 35 pounds and is looking ahead to the next 35. Give or take. We don't focus on goal weights here, more so habits. Your body will settle where it is meant to settle. Again, she has been struggling with motivation this summer. Doing well for a 3, 4, 5 days, then getting a bit off track during social events for the most part. She is not gaining, but not in limbo. What we found, just during out 15 minute weekly check in call was that she is so proud of her current weight loss - and rightfully so - that her focus has been on how far she has come, rather than where she wants to go. There is a difference between healthy and healthier. She is much healthier. Half the battle is being able to pinpoint the thought pattern, creating that awareness. The key here in this situation is no different from any other - circle back to the motivation - where are you NOW and what is your dream? Not where did you start, but where are you now. Now what habits can you address? She's improved a whole lot of habits to get to her current spot, now what? What else is in that not-so-healthy column, and then what are the triggers. Motivation, habits, triggers... always. In that order. I look forward to my "operation motivation" call with her on Saturday morning to hep kick the next layer into gear so she can enjoy new momentum. And the conversation will surely involve, what do you want for your life - not just your weight.
And finally, my story. To me Labor Day kicks off a whole new season. The back 1/3 of the year. A new semester. Back about seven years ago I lost my job. Before then we had always lived within our means without having to try, before kids and with our first child. A stint on unemployment, a second child and then medical bills threw us off balance and into some debt. What I now see very clearly is we lack the habits it takes to be really intentional about our day-to-day finances. We don't spend big, but we don't keep track either. Kind of like eating relatively healthy, but not really knowing, and not losing weight. About a year and a half ago we took a Dave Ramsey class. Which created some awareness and taught a good system. Yet like a piece of exercise equipment, it only help you if you use it. At one point we received an inheritance, paid off all our debt, but it has slowly crept up again - because we didn't adopt the habits, we just got a gastric bypass. So, right now. This is it. It's not that we aren't smart. It's that it takes practice. And the right support. And the right tool. I am DONE playing small. And I'm not talking about a few tweaks here and there to get it paid off by next Fall. I am talking about massive focus and action (kind of like the de-cluttering project) that gets our credit card fully paid off by December 31. And then cuts it up. And continues to practice the habits long term - because the next question will be "now what?" But for now - I can see it, visualize making that last payment. I can feel the freedom. I can taste the relief. I want it as much as I wanted out of my maternity pants and to be done dieting almost five years ago. This is the next thing, the next piece of the puzzle toward an optimal life.
One final analogy before I close - a speaker at a national convention for health coaches like myself told a story about how she was mentoring a new health coach, trying to get a sense for a financial goal she might want to work toward. The response she got was how the woman just wanted to make enough to buy a new back door. She lived on a farm in the Midwest and the door got a bit drafty in the winter. So she said OK, let's get you that door. She got the door and started to think a bit bigger. How about new carpet. She got new carpet. Then she decided to buy her husband a new truck. He got a new truck. Her next goal was a whole new house! She went from a back door to a new house, within the space of four goals. So... you start where you are today. What do you want - and then you grow that dream, goal by goal, toward a more optimal life. For myself that has been healthy weight, free of dieting, fulfilling work, balanced life, de-cluttered house, debt free... I can't wait for what is next!! And here I thought I was just going on a diet. :)
Come to my OPTAVIA OPEN HOUSE, 2-5pm, Saturday, September 17 -- and spark your own dream. In addition to meeting good folks, yummy healthy appetizers, Optavia samples and a live 3:00pm broadcast - we will be doing vision boards, if that's your thing, because we are DONE with the standard American diet and the standard American dream -- we want the DONE playing small - healthy life dream.
Within the same span of 15 minutes on Tuesday I learned that two people, important to two people I love, passed away. One of my dad's closest friends since they were 14, and one of my husband's good friends since before we were married. One 69, the other 46. No freak accidents. No weird diseases. Preventable, health-related stuff... Diabetes. Heart disease.
I don't blame them. Stop and look around. It is everywhere. It used to be me.
You hear the acronym S.A.D. quite a bit. "Standard American Diet." Apparently, in the news anyway, it is our issue as a society with 67% of our population clinically overweight or obese. But I don't think that is it. I think our issue is the Standard American Dream, and as a result we eat the Standard American Diet. Just today I had 13 coaching calls. Over half of those clients (and I'm being conservative here) struggle with crazy work schedules, crazy life schedules and/or financial debt. The whole other layer of enjoying work, feeling fulfilled and taking time to give back, see family and friends, have a spiritual practice, have hobbies and enjoy nature is like - "yeah right." We are so crazy keeping up with life we hardly know what that second list means. It's like a foreign language.
We don't have health - because we don't have time, because we don't make time, because this is what we think life and "middle age" - being an adult - is about. Do you ever stop to look around and really ask the question - "What are we doing? What am I doing?" Am I fulfilled, am I happy, am I enjoying life? Or am I just living for retirement and the next vacation or weekend? What is your dream??? What do you want? And if you are caught in the "Standard American Dream" don't tell me this is it. Oh my gosh - we have been given these bodies and these lives to treasure and enjoy. So stop. And ask yourself, what do I want? What would my life look like if I could create it?
I was at a networking meeting this week that I really enjoy - and one of the guys said something that I quickly jotted down on the back of the agenda. "Anything of value is a lifetime pursuit."
To make the choice we first have to deem it important enough. For me, it's wanting to enjoy each day. And not live at a crazy pace. And do something I love. And be fulfilled. And take care of my body. And continue to work at my relationships - so I can be present more. And continue to de-clutter my house (which I'm almost done with by the way - you have no idea how much better it feels!) And continue to tackle my "gremlins." And continue to create better daily financial habits - to totally pay off all our debt - so we can really be free! And so I continue to peel the onion. And with each layer I feel a little bit lighter. And a little bit more on purpose. I almost had to pinch myself today I was loving life so much! :) And it all started with a small vision that continues to grow. And so you start. Take the first step.
Here is a suggestion: Think of a couple things you would love to do - and write them down. Maybe it's a big project, or an activity, or a regular addition to your day or week - time with friends, time for yourself... Then pull out your calendar and take out a really big red pen. And look at every single flipping obligation - and decide. What stays and what goes. Then schedule those couple things you want to add in. And then, shut down the fear that tries to wedge it's way in. The fear sounds like guilt, or all the reasons why it isn't possible. And if that doesn't work, give me a call. I will be more than happy to help you figure out how to make it possible. I've gotten good at it. (I'm being totally serious about that.) And then, take a hard look at your health. Because without your health you have nothing. And make some choices. Think about what and who you want to be around for - because 69 and 46 years old is not enough. STOP PLAYING SMALL!! Think about how it will feel to have, even a small ounce to start, of that live you want for yourself. And then once that feels awesome - you take the second step. And then the third.
At my OPTAVIA OPEN HOUSE coming up (the date has changed) -- from 2:00-5:00pm, Saturday, September 17 -- one of the things I decided will help a whole lot of us it to work on that dream. I just decided this today. So in addition to healthy appetizers, "fueling" samples and lots of great folks - plus a 3:00pm Live Optavia video call - we are going to put together vision boards. It may sound cheesy (I used to think so), but I'm now a big believer... so come with an open mind... and a bunch of friends. Get all inspired. And leave with a bigger dream than you even knew you had in mind! I'm so excited!!!
Last night I was watching the women's beach volleyball team on the Olympics and the commentators at one point were talking about how early in the match Kerri Walsh Jennings showed a lot of adrenaline, then midway through the first match seemed to "settle in." After weeks of being all wound up with my new "DONE Playing Small" blog, website revamp and the Optavia introduction and open house - then some stress from my "we were comfortable with status quo" gremlins - I now feel like I'm settling in... to a stronger voice, more active voice, feistier voice - my real voice really. Just with less adrenaline.
I took a walk tonight. Did about 15 minutes of a walking meditation. Are you familiar? It's where you walk and just notice everything around you - the noises, smells, scenery - and let all the other thoughts float by. Then I started to write my blog, in my head. And now here I am. At my favorite time to write... at about 9:00pm when the kids are asleep, the house is quiet and my mind is focused.
On Monday night I host a 30-minute group video call for any of my clients who want to hop on. This week the question was asked about how to move from a food plan where pre-packaged "fuelings" are used in conjunction with whole foods, to entirely or primarily whole foods. How to transition to a new normal of naturally healthy eating in other words - without continuing to diet or forever walk on what feels like a tightrope. I don't exactly remember what I said, but whatever it was it lacked the benefit of my being able to mull it around first. Because it is not a straight forward answer. Yet I know it is a very popular question. So here is what I would say, after having mulled it around a bit... for everyone to hear, beyond the handful of people on the call.
When that question gets asked, I think the desired response is about food. How do you eat? Yet I think the real response is way more than food. My first reaction - and this I know I did somewhat say - is to understand that to gain control you have to give up control. What I mean by that, is as you add a broader array of whole foods back in - you want to get really clear about who is in charge. Your body. Not your mind and certainly not you. Remember - you and your mind are the ones that got you where you were. You need to fire them. Seriously. If your CPA continued to advise you down a bad path, you would not keep them around. This is no different. So, now that you are at a healthy weight and have a healthy eating rhythm and the knowledge and habits to make at least one healthy meal per day - as you add, you listen. How does my body feel. Does it feel good, or do I feel gross? Or did it kick in serious unhealthy cravings? Note the reaction. Give each food the thumbs up or thumbs down, then move on to the next, knowing that your new normal may not include some thing you want it to include. And you deal with that and revel in how it feels to be free of all the cravings and frustration - or you don't, and you justify things that lead you down a slippery path, because you refuse to let go of control, because you are determined to continue to eat certain foods, and you miss out on how amazing it feels to be free. That's honestly what it looks like. Which may not be what you want to hear. This journey is much less about food and much more about personal growth. How you continue to challenge yourself about what you want for your life versus what you want right now. And when you dig in and prevail, it starts to become habit. But that re-entry doesn't happen in two weeks. You push through - with the right support, and the right food plan and the right tools.
That's the first step. The first layer of the onion so to speak. Once you make peace with some of the crap food you think you can't live without, then you get to the cool stuff. I say that lightly - about making peace - when it can be far from it. I used to have a love affair with bread. It was seriously my friend. My comfort, my stress relief, my happy place. And my body did not agree. I could do all the self management, tap into all my tools and still I couldn't have one piece without having four. It was a drug. I was in denial, then pissed off, then a bit depressed about it I think. Then I tried to negotiate - "what if I try sprouted grain bread?" Nope. And so I had a very hard decision to make. And now as I say that is seems ridiculous. Who cares? It's bread. I haven't had bread in about four years and haven't missed it at all. Again, not what you want to hear I know. But it's the truth. Or at least it was for me. Every body is different. But it does take that level of willingness to let go of control, to gain control. Remember - DONE playing small. It's food for crying out loud. Not your life. Not your loved ones. Food. Unhealthy food. What is it seriously worth? Get over it. Move on.
So, back to what it takes once you get past that conversation. It then becomes about what else you want for your life. All of a sudden you realize you are capable of so much more than you thought. I tried to lose that weight for 27 years. And I did it. And not only did I reach a number on the scale, but I broke through my bread prison!!! And now I'm FREE!! Free to dream. Free to be DONE. Now what? How can I make my life even "more better" as my four-year-old would say? Because the food is no longer in charge. I am in charge.
The more you continue to peel the onion, the more you expand how you care for yourself, the more you stay on your healthy path. The more you continue to peel the onion, the more you experiment with new foods, the more you stay on your healthy path. The more you continue to peel the onion, the more you surround yourself with healthy people and healthy activities, the more you stay on your healthy path. The more you continue to peel the onion, the more you stop saying stupid things like "my goal is to maintain," the more you stay on a healthy path. (The word "maintenance" is no longer in my vocabulary - right behind "diet" and "cheat." If you want to know why, watch my video on motivation and a rubber band.) In other words, you keep going. You get DONE playing small all over the place. What you are not done with - is this program. This program is for life!!! Which is why it's called Take Shape For Life. Not Take Shape For A Little While.
My husband is the one who knew our coach, and found this program. We both thought we were starting a diet. And here I am 4 1/2 years later - cleaning out the clutter from my house, and getting our finances better organized - dreaming about being totally debt free, not just good for retirement. I go to yoga twice a week and take walks and be present with my kids and work from home without a commute and help other people and think about what hobbies I want to start (I want to study French I think) and what books I want to read and what friends I want to see - and when during my "work week" I am going to grocery shop and clean the house and pay the bills and exercise - so I'm not running around chasing life with my head chopped off (which I still do some days). I'm still on the program. I'm still committed to my health. I'm still working on new recipes. And wanting to write a book. And whatever else I have yet to dream up. This is how it's done. Of which the "transition" to whole foods is just a small part - kind of like pregnancy is a small part of your child's life. And becomes smaller with every year that goes by. Does this make sense? So when someone asks about the transition - I do my best to contain myself and meet them where they are at with the food plan - but this is all the stuff I want to get wound up and start yelling about!! Nicely of course. :) You don't lose weight, then transition to maintenance, then end the program. You live the program.
Or you can go try some weight loss plan that uses words like diet, cheat and maintenance - that will tell you what you want to hear - that you can eat whatever you want and still lose weight as long as you do it in "moderation"... but I think they are not getting the big picture. I think they are not DONE playing small yet.
On that note - have a wonderful weekend, as usual. And if you have not done so already - take 60 seconds now to RSVP for my Optavia Open House, 5:30-8:30pm, Monday, September 12. There will be product samples, healthy appetizers and lots of great folks in the same boat - rowing toward your healthy path!
There are athletes and spectators. Olympians, and people who sit on the couch and watch. I am an Olympics junkie. I LOVE to watch. Fortunately the Olympics only come every two years because my already-teetering healthy sleep habit has taken a nose dive. Until this year I haven't given much thought to what separates the person who works so hard, and sacrifices so much, to pursue that size of a dream. I've always just thought they were spectacular athletes. But it occurs to me, they weren't born with those big muscles. Or those skills. Sure there has to be some innate coordination and competitive drive - but even greater yet I hugely suspect is their superpower ability to push through the four-letter word that begins with an "F." Fear. (Not what you were thinking, I know.) Because don't tell me they don't ever have moments where they get scared; when they doubt their ability to do it. To put down a faster speed, nail a landing or ace a serve. It's not that they don't ever feel fear - it's that they feel it, and do it anyway. You see them - the swimmers and gymnasts in particular, before they compete, sometimes with headphones on, in that zone... according to the commentators, their job in that moment in to visualize exactly how it will go. There is no doubt in my mind 100 percent of that zone is about shoving back the fear. The gremlin vying for the slightest of footholds.
Here's what I've learned in the past week about deciding to be DONE playing small. My comfort zone has an opinion. A big one actually. It's not loving how I'm calling the eight ball in the corner pocket these days. It would rather I just take a random shot and hope something goes in. I've been a bit more testy, and stressed. It took a few days to understand what I'm feeling is unease; fear. It makes me think back to when I initially became a health coach - with a six-year old, five-month old, full-time job, hour-long commute and NO idea what I was doing. I was totally excited, then totally freaked out. Can I do this? What if I don't know what to say? What if no one has success? Yet I don't feel that fear when I write this blog each week. Honestly as I am writing this right now, I have no idea how the blog will end or where I'm going with this thought. I never do. I just write and let it play out. So what's the difference then? Why not just coach that way too? That's what I finally came to, but it took a while to develop those sea legs. To trust my gut enough to simply lead from a place of intuition and confidence - rather than fear and doubt.
I did an exercise Monday night about narrowing in on how I really want to show up. But it wasn't me thinking it through. It was the opposite. It was where you do some breathing stuff, then answer a dozen questions in a brain-dump fashion, then let a paragraph just flow out, unfiltered. It was really weird actually, and cool. As my pen wrote, I was just as curious as anyone to see what it had to say. And keep in mind my middle name is overthink. Yet as it wrote, I had so much energy and confidence and power I barely recognized myself.
What's inside me I now know, is an evolved, kicking butt Gretchen who "writes on a big stage" and empowers women to take back their lives and health and achieve their awesome potential - and bust through all the practical reasons why not. I have no idea where it all leads - or what a "big stage" even means, but it was that energy and confidence I felt in that zone for those few minutes that I cannot un-feel. And that is what I am sure drives an Olympian. How is feels. It reminds me of a framed quote I've had in my bedroom for about seven years: "If what's in your dreams wasn't already inside of you, how could you even dream it."
So -- here is my question to you, because I am not just "doing this for my own health." :) What do you want? Where do you play small? What's that thing you want that you don't let yourself think about too hard, because somewhere deep down inside you know if you let yourself go there - you won't be able to go back. You won't be able to un-think it. And that scares you. Because then you will have to put yourself out there. Or know you are settling. And what if you fail. What if you don't have what it takes. It's what keeps people from moving forward when they want to choose health. It sounds something like "I can't afford it" or "I'm too busy" or "I don't want to eat that kind of food." All just code for "I'm afraid I will fail." Because if you knew you couldn't fail you'd be ALL IN in a New York minute.
I am DONE playing small, as you may have heard. And I'm not doing it alone. So enough. Enough with all the reasons. All the tomorrows and maybe-somedays. We are doing this NOW. Today. Because life is too short - and we were not put on this earth, and given these amazing bodies and amazing minds to futz them away chasing each day into the next - tired and crazy and stressed. And if that thought freaks you out a little bit - good. Join the club. That's your litmus test. Because if you don't feel a little scared, and if how you crave to feel doesn't bring tears to your eyes, you haven't hit it yet. Keep going!! Right now I want you to hit reply and tell me your dream. Put it out there - what do you sincerely want, for yourself, for your life? How do you want to feel? It may be the strength and confidence of a really healthy body, Or the calm and fulfillment of a totally balanced life. Or the freedom and adventure of a financially secure future. Or the energy and power of knowing you inspire and provoke others to dream big, "on a big stage." Dare to feel the thing you can't un-feel. And if you need some help - here is my "fight song" for you to borrow.
Then, after you get all uncomfortable and amazing, your second move is to RSVP for my open house on September 12. Step into a community of people who are DONE playing small too. Because as my gremlin would like to stay all cozy with my initial goal of having 25 people attend - my new G 10.0 won't let me call my eight ball in that pocket. The number that keeps coming to mind is 100. (It's kind of like when I ask someone how much weight they want to lose. They tell me a goal. And then I ask them how much weight they really want to lose. Because I know that first goal, is the "what I think I can maybe achieve goal. Not the what I really want goal.") And tight on the heels of that big scary goal, are all the reasons why it isn't possible. And not even not possible, but down right silly. Where will people park? I can't fit a big crowd in my house? What if only five people show? And so I put on my headphones, get in my zone, and drowned it out. Because this is bigger than me. Because I'm am not the only person out there who needs support, and community and something to shoot for. So, join me. Let's get healthy together. Have an awesome weekend.