"OMG! I can't take it. Not for another minute!"
I sat down and gingerly detached the strappy, silver 4-inch sandals from my red, swollen feet. I had suffered long enough. The pain in my feet was bad enough that I finally gave in and changed into the ballet slippers I had stashed in my bag.
There comes a point in our lives when the pain of staying where we are, doing what we're doing becomes so great that we must do something to change it. Before we get to that pain point though, we will wallow in a place I call being comfortably uncomfortable. We may stay there for weeks, months, years, or decades. While we're here, we stack up excuses, shrink our world, and "recognize our limitations." This sounds like, "That's ok, you go ahead; I'll stay here," or, "I wouldn't dream of doing that."
We don't think of this as acknowledging our limits. We call it "being realistic."
We Can Spend Our Entire Lives Being Comfortably Uncomfortable.
It's a place where we recognize that things aren't the way we want them to be, but we're not so uncomfortable yet that we're compelled to change things. We suffer here for years, frustrated, unhappy, and comfortable because that's the way it's always been. We will continue to stay here in this mediocre existence until the pain gets so bad that we are compelled to change.
I like to compare this with wearing high-heeled shoes. Ladies, we know they're bad for our bodies, but we LOVE the way they look. The right shoes can complete an outfit. We can look and feel like a super-model, exuding confidence and soaking up the "Wow! You look amazing!"
After a while, the shoes start to hurt our feet. We can suffer through this for quite some time. Maybe hours, maybe decades. We make accommodations for our shoes. At a party, we may sit down for a while. We may leave the party early because we just can't stand any longer.
Over the years, we suffer from back issues, foot issues, hip issues. We may take some anti-inflammatories and keep moving. Some even have surgery (foot surgery, back surgery) to address the pain. All of these things keep us comfortably uncomfortable.
We think we recognize the source of the pain (the shoes). We know we need to make a change. (i.e., stop wearing them). We talk about it. We research new looks. We fantasize about a life without pain. But then we put them on just one more time, just for this special occasion. We recognize the source of our pain and suffering, but we don't take them off, change our style, or do what's right for our bodies and our long-term health.
The shoes aren't the problem. Until the pain gets so bad that we have to dig deep and figure out what the problem is, we will continue to wear the shoes.
The same happens with our health. With over 70% of the US population being overweight or obese, you are very likely comfortably uncomfortable yourself. You also believe that if you could just lose weight, find the right diet or exercise program, or magic bullet, everything would be perfect.
You Would Be Wrong.
You know this. How many times have you joined a gym and not shown up?
How many diets have you started and stopped?
How often have you said, "I'll start Monday," only to wake up Tuesday morning to the same old, same old?
You're frustrated with yourself, and you're probably angry and disgusted.
You've been here so long and gone through the motions so many times there seems to be no way out. You're doomed to be stuck where you are, no matter what you do.
This is usually where I meet my clients. The pain of being stuck, failing again, and not knowing what to do about it sends them searching for answers.
Here's what you need to know about your health. Our beliefs dictate our behavior.
Being overweight, obese, or otherwise unhealthy (barring unexplained medical issues) is a symptom of what we believe about ourselves. Sometimes, simple ignorance of what healthy lifestyle choices are the root of the problem. When that's the case, simple education can fix obesity. We don't know what we don't know, and learning about healthy lifestyle choices may be the answer.
If you've been down the weight-loss road many times before, it's likely there's a more significant issue sabotaging your efforts.
The real problem is what we believe about ourselves, our self-image, and our ability to solve our problems. Until you address the underlying issues, you will continue to struggle with your weight and your health.
If I believe that "I'm meant to be fat, it's genetic," or "I can't lose weight, everyone in my family is fat," this belief will make sure I act in a way that causes me to fail.
If I believe that "I can't eat that, I'm not a health nut," I won't make any changes to my eating habits, and my health won't improve.
Similarly, if I don't believe I'm beautiful because of who I am, I won't stop wearing high-heeled shoes, and I'll do everything I can to make sure I wear them no matter how much damage they are causing.
You have to do some internal work to fix the external problem. You may want to journal to uncover how you feel about your weight. You may need to dig into why you use food as an emotional soother.
Indeed, it means changing what you believe about yourself and your ability to solve your problems.
When we believe we are helpless or hopeless, we are. This kind of self-image can come from all different places, and not all of them are necessarily bad. Well-meaning parents who do everything for us as children accidentally rob us of our belief that we can do things for ourselves. The same goes for boyfriends or significant others who put us on a pedestal and do everything for us. It sounds like the princess dream-come-true, but in reality, it makes us dependent and unable to make a change.
What can you do about it?
Start small. As you work through figuring out your beliefs, take small, seemingly insignificant action to make a change. Maybe that's drinking one glass of water. Maybe that's adding one piece of fruit or one serving of vegetables to your day. Maybe only once a week.
Be kind to yourself. The words we use, the things we say to ourselves when we start moving towards change, are brutal. From the simple, "you can't do this," to "I'm such a f***ing idiot," to worse, these conversations can completely derail us. And we say them to ourselves. Try to be aware of these conversations and turn them around. Here's an example. "I don't know anything about being healthy. If I did, I wouldn't be fat," can be repositioned as, "I don't know anything about being healthy right now. I can find information at the library or right here on my phone. I can make changes to my weight and my health."
Find help. Maybe you will engage a friend to help you. Perhaps you'll find a coach or a counselor. It may mean keeping a diary and becoming your own best friend. There is power in working with others. Together we always accomplish more than we can alone.
If you're stuck on the weight-loss roller coaster or struggling to be healthier, more energetic and comfortable in your own skin, join me in The Women's Wellness Academy.