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It's What You Can't See That Matters

My clients are primarily women. More specifically, my clients are women in their 30's and 40's who juggle being wives, mothers, and career women. That's no coincidence. I can relate.

When a client says that she just cannot keep up with her housework or that her budget is blown by the 2nd week of the month, I totally get it. I've absolutely been there. I know what it feels like to be consumed by clutter. I have experience that sinking feeling upon realizing that I have $100 in my checking account and $350 worth of expenses between now and the next pay day.

So, when my clients express frustration over the fact that they have been trying to lose weight since their youngest child was born (5, 8, 10 years ago), I can absolutely relate. It's a struggle I know all too well. A battle that I've fought countless times- thinking that I'd succeeded one too many times- only to find myself right back where I started, plus another 10 or 15 pounds!

Recently, I found myself, once again, starting over. But, given my training as a coach, my approach and my perspective on the experience were vastly different. I realized that if I wanted a different result than I'd ever achieved before, I was going to have to do something different. I wasn't 100% certain what that "something" was going to be, but I knew that my old stand by of tracking calories and forcing myself to work out wasn't going to cut it. I needed to dig deeper. I needed to be clear from the get go, what it was that I wanted to accomplish, why I wanted to accomplish it, and how who I was would help or hurt that my ability to be successful.

Earlier in the year, I had set out with the mission to treat myself with kindness and compassion. When I set that intention, I was really focused on talking less harshly to myself and moving my body in ways that didn't feel like torture, but reflected things that I actually enjoyed. Over the first few months of the year, my level of conviction waxed and waned. Some weeks I was really good at one but not so good at the other, but rarely could I be kind to myself and keep up with the exercise.

At some point in May, I started to really get frustrated with myself. Part of the frustration was reignited when I downloaded our family vacation photos and I got a good long look at myself. My actions were not reflecting the way that I wanted to live, to look, or to model for my three children. Something absolutely had to change and it needed to happen relatively soon.

I started to pay more attention to how I was feeling physically. In truth, I was sluggish, I was always tired. I felt like I was hauling around a tremendous amount of weight. I had random aches and pains. My sleep was horrible. I felt puffy all of the time, too. And that's when I started to investigate the relationship between food and and mental and physical health. Because, it wasn't JUST about weight. In fact, it wasn't really about my weight- which really is just a number on a scale. It was about how I was feeling. It was about the messages I was telling myself about my worth. It was about feeling like I was completely out of control.

On June 27th, I started the Whole30. The Whole30 is a "nutritional program designed to change your life in 30 days." It's a "nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to the unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system." (source: Whole30 website). Because certain food groups can have a negative impact on your body, the plan requires that you eliminate, sugar, grains, dairy and legumes for the entire 30 days.

Okay, okay! I'm sure I'm losing some of you right this minute, and let me tell you two things right this moment: 1) This is not an endorsement for Whole30. I just want to be honest about what I did. 2) As I said earlier, I knew that if I really wanted to created a change, I had to do something different, and there was no doubt- this was different!

It wasn't easy, but it wasn't as hard as most people (including myself) think it will be. There is a lot of planning involved because you most definitely aren't hitting up fast food or a restaurant on the daily. However, once you get into the swing of things and understand exactly what you can and cannot eat, you get into a rhythm and it's totally doable. In the beginning it was hard to not to grab a nightly snack right before bed. It was hard watching my family enjoy a host of treats and snacks when we went to an amusement park, but it wasn't unbearable. And taking a trip with my college friends to a winery (followed by a trip for ice cream) was entertaining, but not debilitating.

Honestly, there will never be 30 days of your life where you can put everything on hold and do this. Furthermore, why would you want to. Life happens and the point was to learn how food affects my body, right? The further along I got into the program, the more I began to see, just how in control I was and that's a pretty powerful feeling.

Yesterday, marked Day 30- the last day of the Whole30 elimination. Many of my friends followed my journey on Facebook and I received many compliments about my resolve, my commitment, my willpower, and so on. But, another way to look at it is that those people were saying "I could NEVER do that." There is NO WAY I could go 30 days without x, y, or z." But, it wasn't about the things I couldn't have. It wasn't about the things I could. It was about the lessons that I learned about myself. I needed those 30 days to help me appreciate the fact that my body is indeed a machine and that when I treat it well and fuel it well, it runs much better. Around Day 20 or so my energy started pick up and earlier than that my sleep dramatically improved. My skin is healthier and I feel dramatically better than I did in the 3-6 months before I started. Beyond the physical changes, are those things that you can't see. My new appreciation for choice. My recognition that I am in control of my life. The newfound understanding that "I can't" is not the same as "I won't".

I have no idea how much weight I've lost, because I didn't weigh myself before I started, but based upon the photo comparison I took (pic on left was taken about a week before I started), I know I lost something. I also don't have any intention of weighing myself now that I'm done. Knowing that number will do nothing for me. It does not empower me in anyway, and in fact, it could have the opposite effect if I let it. So, I won't. That's the power of choice!

So many of us lose sight of the fact, that the power to make a change truly lies within us. It's invisible, but ever so strong. Many of us fall victim to temptation. We forget that we can make better choices. We are quick to blame others for "putting the food out" or "not supporting us in our decision", but at the end of the day, the choice is 100% ours. I don't say that as a judgement, simply as a fact. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with not being at the point that you just aren't ready to move away from being victim- trust me it serves you in some way.

I implore you, if you've made it this far, to think long and hard about the power of choice in your own life. Whether it be your health, your career, the relationship you have with your spouse or partner or something else, think about how often you make conscious choices vs. going through the motions. And if you are tired of the status quo, imagine what would happen if you started to shift your thinking and lived a life that was based in the power of choice.

I'm no expert. But I know exactly where you are and I know what it feels like to be there. If you need help, I'm here.

What choices will you make today?

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