Change your mind, Change your life.
I have a confession to make: something’s often gotten the best of me. As a result, for years on end- I would eat my feelings. All of them. As an athlete, as a mountaineer, as a cyclist, as a mother of a daughter, I know better. That wasn’t enough. It turns out, willpower and won’t-power aren’t even a significant part of the equation unless you deal with the underlying issues that drive you.
One can have access to diet templates and the best of coaching, a full membership at the finest of training facilities, the support of friends and family, and still fail at the margins of experience. Experience in addressing that which drives us.
It wasn’t until I sat down with myself and asked, “What do I really, actually want right now?” and then listened for the brokenhearted response, that change could begin to happen. What I wanted was a hug. Reassurance. Someone to tell me that I was enough. That my best efforts as a struggling single mom, a stressed out investigator, a determined athlete and tenaciously open-hearted warrior… were understood. What I wanted was to be loved. Accepted for exactly who I am. Celebrated, not tolerated. What I wanted was to believe in myself again. To find the confidence I lost somewhere along the broken road that has been the past three decades. What I wanted was to surface. To breach. To inhale. To live again. What I wanted was to know who I am. To come home to myself.
What I reached for instinctively was carbohydrates, preferably in bread, pasta, excellent wine, microbrew beer and single malt Scotch. The result? Heavy heart, heavy stomach, heavy feet. I had become the queen of distraction: throwing all available resources at filling quiet time with activity, chasing relationship, numbing… always numbing. It occurred to me that there is not enough pizza or beer or wine or Scotch or drugs in all of the world to numb the pain of one who longs to wake up. To live.
I changed my mind. I began to slow down, to insist on asking myself what I truly, really needed. Every day. Several times each day. It turns out, I need a lot.
I need intense training sessions that turn my body inside out. I need to lift heavy weights and challenge my own power to weight ratio. I need to move. I need to climb. I need to laugh. I need hugs and affection and warmth and laughter and inside jokes and silliness. I need emotional connection with other mindful human beings. I need good conversation on every possible topic. I need to be fascinated, amazed, in awe. I need to express my thoughts, articulate hopes and dreams and ideas. I need to see that light turn on in the eyes of the person I’m talking to. I need mountains and open spaces and fresh air and alone time. I need to hear the echo of a thousand wild geese migrating. I need sunlight, oh, how I need sunlight.
Nowhere do I find the need to saturate my senses with an overabundance of carbohydrates for the purposes of numbing the pain of loneliness, loss. Ahhhhhh.
I love good food. I love to cook and bake and craft and create. I love a good process. I love wines from all over the world and a good porter, stout, lager, Kolsch… oh my. I love to step back from all of it and simply let it be for a while- sorting my relationship to food, to drink.
I have learned that I cannot hate my way to lean, but I can love myself to strong.
There is one secret to changing your mind, to changing your life, your relationship to your body: engage in the process. That’s it. If that seems too easy or too simple, you’re not giving your best effort. I make few guarantees, but I promise you this: if you bring you 100% to your own life every single day and fully engage your body, your mind, your soul in everything you choose to do- you will change.
You will hurt. You will break. You will feel like quitting. You will want to give up. You will sweat. You will bleed. You will be raw. You will get angry. You will fail repeatedly. You will feel all the feelings you’ve been ignoring. You will wake up. You will be defeated by greater and greater things. You will see all the excuses for what they truly are: a distraction from the business of living out loud. You will get tired of your own bullshit. You will stop seeking comfort and the easy road. You will find your edge. You will vacillate between highs and lows. You will find that balance is not everything. You will find yourself.
You see, it’s not about your bodyweight. It’s not about how your clothes fit or how hard it is to breathe when climbing a flight of stairs. It’s not about catching a glimpse of yourself in a full length mirror or seeing a family photo and wishing you weren’t in it. It’s not about your waist size or the triceps upside down muscles. It’s not about your body at all. It’s about your mind.
Engage in the process. Choose wisely, make a plan. Ask for help for the things you don’t know how to do. Honestly admit the things you do know and simply aren’t even attempting to do. Take the first tiny step. Whatever that is. Honor it. And take the next one. You’ll find that even before you see measurable physical progress, you will feel differently about yourself. You will respect yourself for what you’re doing. You will stand a little taller, inhale more deeply. You will not care how your clothes fit in that space after the hardest of training sessions. You will only have deep gratitude for the strength that has brought you here and the strength that will carry you forward.
Start where you are.
What do you really want?
What do you really need?
(and here it is…)
What are you willing to suffer for?
That’s the only real question.
You are not alone. There is an entire tribe of wild women and fierce men who are waking up, asking the hard questions, challenging themselves to be More.
Together, we are More.
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