This Is What I Know

This is what I want to say…

I want to be fit and lean while being in control. Always.

Getting fit and lean isn’t the hard part.  Being in control is.

But first, why is this such a big goal of mine?  Why am I so centered on being in control of the shape of my body?

I’ll go into the answer a lot more deeply in a later blog post, but for now, all I need to say is I want to do this because I know it’s possible and, to me, it signifies a level of accomplishment that tastes sweeter than anything I can imagine right now.  And I have a vivid imagination, so I’ve explored where else I could direct my eagerness and desire, BELIEVE me!  Any other venture would be easier compared to what I have my sight set on for my body and my mental wellbeing.

I’ve always been drawn to the human body and how each body can be so different.  What’s most fascinating to me is that our physical bodies aren’t that different chemically and biomechanically, even from other species… but what we do with our bodies is extremely unique.  

And I want to see how unique I am.  

Not by being different from other people, but by achieving what I believe my body is capable of.  That’s on me, not on anyone else.  

EVERYTHING I have learned in the past decade about health, physiology, and neuroscience has convinced me of a couple of simple truths:

  1. Your body will literally shape itself by following your decisions.
  2. Your brain has the capacity to control anything it wants to visualize.

You are in control of the images you visualize. 

You get good at what you practice.

Here’s what I was getting good at before I nearly killed myself:

  • I was good at over-exercising.
  • I was good at undereating.
  • I was good at bingeing and rationalizing (“I’ll do more cardio next week”).
  • I was good at denying how much pain I was in.
  • I was good at convincing myself that being in pain and confused meant I earned my body… and that others who weren’t in an equal or similar amount of pain meant they didn’t want it badly enough.
  • I was very good at judging myself for how badly I wanted (or didn’t want) my body goals. 

“Nearly killed myself” seems too strong, but it felt true.  And I know there are others out there who feel the same way I used to. 

Things weren’t making sense to me, so I started questioning and seeking.

What I was doing wasn’t working.  I was following a meal plan, I was following a workout plan (lifting weights and cardio), I was having cheat meals on the weekends, which turned into cheat days, sometimes whole cheat weekends.  I was making time to get my workouts in and making time to prep my meals.  I was doing everything by the book and then taking some time to de-stress on the weekends by eating whatever I wanted.  I thought this was normal, allowed, expected, and okay.

Thanks to the Internet and to my curiosity, I started to dive into the science and latest research on nutrition and the human body.  I noticed other people were achieving the same success, if not better success, than I was when it came to the weight and figure I was aiming for.  What intrigued me the most was that it seemed that being flexible in your eating approach (what is commonly known as flexible dieting) was just as promising of success as following a strict meal plan.

But… BUT! Even the people who were flexible with their food choices in their diet STILL had eating behaviors that looked like mine.

They would follow their plan during the week, then go out to dinner on the weekend, or brunch, and eat until they felt so guilty that they would beat themselves up by doing more cardio during the week.  

I was confused.

Which method was the best?  

And then I got mad because the more I read about other diet approaches, the more I realized that there is NO diet or way of eating that will create the results I really wanted.  

The results I wanted were to be lean and athletic and wear a sports bra and tiny shorts while hiking with my husband in the summer.  I wanted to go on runs with him without jiggling all over my body, from my neck down to the back of my knees… because I wanted to run in front of him because I was faster than him.

What I imagined was possible was exhilarating, and I was terrified that these images would only remain in my mind.

So, I faced the hard truth and asked the hard question…

The hard truth was this: I was the common denominator behind my successes and my setbacks.

I didn’t know how to get out of it.

And the first hard question was, “Who can help me?”

That was the only hard question directed toward someone else.  Every hard question after that I directed inward toward me since I was the only one, the only denominator, that could create what I had visualized in my mind.  

Now, this might be easy and obvious for many, many people, but it sure as heck wasn’t for me.  But I’m so glad I went down this road because it got me out of the hell I was in and it helped make it easy to help others.  I now ask them the hard questions… and teach them how to ask themselves hard questions… because it’s the way I made it through.  

And that’s the thing…. The only way to get what you want is through.

Enter neuroscience – and cognitive behavior therapy, positive psychology, and life coaching (specifically from my mentor, friend, and guardian angel, Martha Ayim).

Remember when I said that “Getting fit and lean isn’t the hard part.  Being in control is”?

I had been exercising every muscle in my body except for the most important one: my brain.  

Technically, your brain is an organ, but when you exercise it, you can physically change it.  The neural pathways in your brain can physically be undone and new ones can be built that create new patterns, or habits.  I am so going to get into ALL of this later, I promise, because it’s so fascinating to me. 

And that was the missing piece I needed to be in control… to literally, physically, create the images I was seeing in my brain into a reality I would experience.  

And it was – and still is – HARD.  But the hard got easier, and new “hards” are now expected, not surprising or shocking.  

Control wasn’t about controlling what was outside of me like I had been doing, like trying to control the meal plan I was eating from, or the type of workouts I was doing, or controlling what events or dinners I would attend with my husband or friends.  

Control was about controlling what I was believing about what I would see outside of me.  Then, by being in control of what I was believing, I was more in control of how I was feeling, and that literally changed the shape of my brain.  It changed the shape of my body, too, but that was automatic and almost effortless.  

Like I said, it’s true… Your body will literally shape itself by following your decisions.

What you choose to believe is a decision.

What you choose to believe is an image in your mind.

You control what you choose, and what you’ve chosen in your mind, will reflect in your body.

It took me many, many months to:

  1. Learn this intellectually.
  2. To witness it playing out in real time (to my body’s dismay).
  3. To question it ALL.
  4. To be willing to try what I wanted to believe even though I had very little evidence to prove that my way was at least a right way.
  5. To be willing to try, only to not make it, then be willing to try again… over and over and over again.  
  6. To trust myself to count the small wins as quickly as I was counting my failures.
  7. To trust and fully believe that the images I was visualizing could be made possible.

I have such a deep respect for the human brain, for the human body, and for the power of direction.

I firmly believe that the trifecta to optimal health is:

  1. Using your brain with purpose (not letting it run on its default programming)
  2. Wholesome nutrition
  3. Exercise  

To me, optimal health means feeling and being fit. Like, deciding to go on a hike and planning how much water you’ll need to take instead of planning how long you won’t last before you run out of breath.  

Now, looking fit, lean and athletic is a supportive, compelling reason to complement the goal of optimal health.  I’m pursuing that, too, and I want others to know they can believe that looking fit, lean and athletic can be true for them as well.

Also, I think inspiration goes a lot farther than we give it credit for.

What inspires me to pursue this seemingly impossible goal of being fit and lean for the rest of my life (cellulite-free, might I add?) is the goal that one of my mentors set for herself.

Brooke Castillo, my coach instructor and industry leader, has a goal to earn $100 million dollars per year in 10 years.  As of right now, that’s an impossibility for life coaches.  Except, within two years, she’s already $27 million dollars in.

She’s believing in her vision and following through on it.  And if she can do something impossible like that, then why can’t I do something as equally “impossible”?  

Well, I can.  And I am.

I want to achieve a “$100 million dollar” body.  To me, for some reason, this is a much easier goal to achieve than $100 million actual dollars in my bank account.  I know how to achieve this goal because I understand the human body and nutrition extremely well.

But the brain piece… the part where you are in control of how you achieve the outcome… is where the real work lies.

Intellectually, I understand how the brain works.  Putting what I know into action takes a little more effort.  I want to make the images I see in my mind my reality.  And I want to help others do the same for the images they see in their mind.

If it’s possible, and it feels amazing, why not do it?  

You can call me vain… I used to call myself that for years.  But I think vain is a misinterpreted word sometimes, it just depends on how you use it.  I used to use I incorrectly.

I believe that being vain means exactly what Google says it means: having or showing an excessively high opinion of one’s appearance, abilities, or worth.

I want to have a very high opinion of my appearance, abilities, and worth.  Do you know why?  Because it ties closely to leadership. 

Having a high opinion of yourself means you believe in what you’re capable of.  And when your abilities (what you’re capable of) are directed toward something that can help others, then you’re leading the way.

You serve, as leaders do, as inspiration of what’s possible.

And I’m dying to see what I’m capable of because it will enable me to help others do the same for themselves.  

I hope you’ll stick with me on this journey.  I’m going to connect the nutrition and the physiology with the mental, or cognitive, component to our body goals, which is what’s missing from EVERY diet plan you could possibly find.  Because it’s YOUR plan… because it’s YOUR body.  And also, how incredible would it be if more and more of us felt physically, emotionally, and mentally amazing more than we do now?  

Not by denying realities, such as death, disease, and destruction (like the devastating Australian bushfires), but by choosing to believe, on purpose, and pursue what is possible for each one of us in this world and in our lifetime.

It’s seems like a huge task to take on, but when you take it on just one day at a time, it ends up happening.