Hard is where the change is. I have heard Jennifer say this at least a dozen times. Every time she said those words, I agreed but thought it somehow didn’t apply to me. That it was probably someone else in my group who needed to heed that advice – because I was doing just fine. I had lost about 45lbs and could just keep doing what I was doing, because it was working for me. Never mind the fact that my weight-loss had slowed to a snails pace, with no signs of recovery. And never mind that I chose not to participate in the 30 day autoimmune protocol with most of the rest of my group, because it was “too hard” (see the first sentence of this paragraph). And certainly don’t take into account that I actually have two autoimmune disorders, and could almost guarantee results and really important information that could lead to increased vitality for me. Uncovering this blind spot, for me, has been one of the most eye-opening discoveries I have made through this journey. Of course, it also highlights the idea that growth is a continuous process and that I should expect more of these “a-ha” type happenings in the future.
Hard is where the change is. This lifestyle is not a get rich quick scheme. It is a metamorphosis from living a pretty great life, to living my absolute best life. Considering that we have only got one shot on this rock, we owe it to ourselves to aim for our absolute best life. To go from point A to point B means a lot of change and a lot of hard. It also means a lot of pride, and a lot of self love. Which is in stark contrast to the amount of pride and self love I was feeling last year at this time.
Last year around this time, I was spending a lot of time thinking about what I could wear that day to look skinnier. Last year around this time, I was catching my reflection in windows and berating myself for letting myself go. Last year around this time, I was planning my next meal – and it was going to be THE BEST MEAL EVER / or I was planning my next diet – and it was going to be THE BEST DIET EVER! But if you asked me back then, I would have told you that my life was a 10/10! And not because I was lying – I actually believed my own fantasy. Last year around this time, I took a romantic overnight vacation with my husband and posted posted this photo of us. I posted it on Facebook because, at that time, it was the best that I could look. I put makeup on and tried to wear something “cute” on the golf course. I wanted my husband to be proud of me and the way that I looked – while at the same time I was pointing my fat finger in his direction over our dwindling sex life (full disclosure, that shit is still dwindling – but we are committed to getting our groove back). When Craig sent me this photo last week, I was shocked. I felt both proud of how I look and feel today, and ashamed of how I looked and felt in this photo. But my life was a 10/10, right? I look at this photo and I see sickness. I see inflammation, and I see what Jennifer meant when she told me that I was “literally fighting for my life.”
Hard is where the change is, and I am putting that to the test. 20 days ago, Jennifer urged me to give AIP another shot. As soon as she typed the words, “I still think AIP” it was like a light bulb went off, and I was suddenly confronted with the ways that I was still lying to myself. Still telling myself “I cant.” Still blaming. Still accepting something less than my very best. I told Jennifer that I thought she was right, and that I wasn’t even afraid. Failure isn’t an option, when I am practicing self love. Resistance is futile, leaning into what’s hard is where growth is, and I was ready for the next phase of my healing journey. I published a blog about it, because I find that publicly sharing my story helps keep me accountable – and has also led to others reaching out and sharing their own similar struggles and successes. The day after I hit publish, Jennifer sent me the following letter. (Note: Felicia is the name I gave to the negative-talk person inside of me)
I am writing you this note because I want you to remember this date forever. October 18th, 2017…the day you stepped up to the plate and owned your bullshit. That’s a big day lady. I know…I still remember my day…February 23rd, 2015.
Here is the thing about this day, you can never ever go back. It’s not the day you decided to get healthy. It’s not the day you discover what it means to love yourself. It’s not any of the days you chose YOU over and over again. These are all good days, and they are all progress…but today, this was your day.
The day you step entirely off the cliff and trust that the net will appear is the day you quit lying to yourself. The day you own your imperfections and fears. Perfectionists manipulate and spin things to fit into the tidy picture we have created in our own minds. We tell our story when we have the happy ending and all the chapters play out as we planned them. In other words we attempt to exert our control over everything. We hold on tight because we are scared if we let go things will get messy.
Anne Lamott wrote, “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It… is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”
I spent years looking at my feet. I only did things I knew I could succeed at and if I did something and found I wasn’t succeeding I just told a new story so my actions matched up with the narrative.
Your “When to Protocol it Quits” post was the day you hit pause on your weight loss, and your journey to healthy. Why? Because it is the day you let Felicia sell your bullshit to the entire world and your authentic self…HOLLY handed over the keys to the journey.
You knew you weren’t being authentic…deep down inside you knew…but you had to explain why you were choosing to stop being compliant, stop being coachable, you saw an out with AIP and you took it. It was an escape hatch. You rebelled. The problem? You knew it, and that left two opposing forces at work right inside of you. This made more weight loss…impossible.
“The benefits of an autoimmune protocol are not lost on me. It is made for me. I have two autoimmune disorders: hashimotos, and vitiligo. It is highly likely, if not an absolute certainty that I am reactive to nightshade vegetables and other common food sensitivities. Committing to discovering what exactly works best for my body can only improve my health. Moreover, many of the women in the group were getting amazing results, which I also wanted. And yet….”
FUCKING FELICIA! That’s what I ended that paragraph with when I was reading this…sitting up in bed…my jaw dropped open! GAH!
The last few months are still a win. You maintained. You kept your new healthy lifestyle in check. You showed up for our calls. You do your homework. You didn’t quit. But you took a giant pause and in this space you realized you want this. So owning your bullshit in the group today makes this your day.
“Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life.” This is from Brene Brown and I could not agree more. You just unzipped your shield and stepped into the rest of your AMAZINGLY HUGE MESSY UNKNOWN FABULOUS LIFE!
Today you took the keys back….kicked Felicia out of the car “Bye Felicia!!!!” and you hit the gas!!! This highway doesn’t have a speed limit so hit it lady…I am up ahead, waiting for you…the sun is shining, there are bright beautiful beach cruisers everywhere and I even have a green drink on ice for you!
See you soon beautiful person!
I cried when I read it (and re-read it), and not because I was hoping for a vodka soda with lemon instead of a green drink. I cried because Jennifer’s support reaffirms that I am on the right track, and that I am not alone. I feel like this year has been broken into three separate phases. Each one necessary before advancing to the next. January through May was the ramp up phase. I spent a lot of time learning the basics of Jennifer’s program. I also dropped a significant amount of weight during this stage. May through October was a different kind of breakthrough. One where I learned that change isn’t always easy, and that if I wanted any more success, I would have to buckle down and lean into the discomfort. Most importantly, I learned that I can’t spin and manipulate my way out of this rut. Truly being my authentic self means letting go of the perfectionism that has plagued my past. I also learned that I am good at maintaining my weight, which will come in handy later.
Hard is where the change is. It has been 20 days since giving the AIP a second chance. It has been 20 days of confronting my own limiting bullshit head on. And it has been 20 days of feeling better than I have in a very long time. In 20 days I have lost 13 pounds. My skin looks better and more radiant. I have more energy. My joints don’t hurt. I am not constantly clearing my throat. And best of all, I am not even finding it challenging to stick to the restrictions. My perception of food has changed from “event-focused” to “fuel-focused.” Instead of asking myself, “what is the best and tastiest thing I can have?”, I am asking myself, “what will nourish and fuel my body?” Total TMI, but my poop is literally green – so you can imagine how much spinach I am consuming. Honestly, I should have dressed up as Popeye for Halloween today – alas, this stripped down Pink Lady photo will have to do.
Hard is where the change is. It is also where the greatest rewards are. Hard is where growth lives. Hard is where our best most authentic and successful selves are made. This past month has been a journey from food as comfort to food as fuel. It is also the next step to figuring out who I truly am, and what living as my authentic self means. It means answering important questions like, am I using my unique gifts to the best of my ability? Perhaps that will be better answered in whatever the next phase of my transformation brings. What I know for sure is that I am changing, and that it is hard, but I couldn’t be more grateful