We often go through that cycle of being really psyched about making a big change. In the beginning we are motivated, we see the end goal, we’re ready to charge ahead. Then we get into it, realize it’s really going to take more effort and we get deflated. Suddenly we’re not sailing through. Some days are a bitch. Wind out of our sails. We stop. Or we justify our way out of it.
So what creates success? Is it some special genetic predisposition to living the fabulous life, with all the riches life has to offer? Is it about being a perfectionist? Plain dumb luck?
No. Are you ready?
The key to success is the willingness to be uncomfortable.
Success in weight loss is no different. But notice I said uncomfortable, not miserable. Humans feel discomfort doing anything new, like being in a different environment or meeting new people. Some of us manage the discomfort better than others, but in the end, it’s about being OK with a little discomfort.
Discomfort can show up in lots of ways. It can manifest as fear, or fatigue. It really comes down to what you tell yourself in the moment. Fear and excitement illicit the same physiological response. There’s an adrenaline rush, elevated blood pressure, heart beating a little faster. But in that response you are uncomfortable because it is the opposite of a calm peaceful state. You are alert, you’re at the ready. Sometimes it manifests as pure anxiety. We humans don’t like to guess what happens next without a fair amount of anxiety. As much as some may relish change, we are much more comfortable knowing what will happen next. We don’t like being outside the comfort zone. And yet, to accomplish anything worthwhile, we have to make the leap outside of it and push through some things that don’t always feel so wonderful. Ask anyone you admire, anyone who has accomplished something awesome. If they’re being honest, they’ll talk about the very real struggle it took to get to the other side.
I spent a lot of time in my early life wishing I was naturally thin. From a young age, I was never the waif-like creature. All that wishing never bore fruit. The serenity prayer (which nowadays is mostly associated with 12 step programs) is all about moving out of wishing. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Whether or not you’re religious, that prayer is really a mantra. And it’s a powerful one. Because in the end, you are declaring your power over your circumstances. You are connecting with the Divine, or the Universe or your inner being, and declaring your power.
We can’t change the weather, but we can bring an umbrella. We can’t change other people, but we can choose how we respond to others’ behavior. And I can’t change my DNA to being naturally thin, but I can change how I manage the body I have and manifest getting to a better place with it. You and I have the power to respond with habits and behavior that support our goals, no matter what the circumstance. But there’s no way around it, we have to be willing to be at least a little uncomfortable.
Think about any of the things in your life that have brought you real, powerful, lasting joy. I guarantee, if you really think about it, those joyful moments came by way of some (or many!) uncomfortable moments. Giving birth, graduating from college, getting married, scoring the dream job. All of the big moments in life come as a result of our willingness to step outside our comfort zone, declare our goal, and push through the tough stuff. We recognize the effort it will take, and the prize waiting for us at the finish line.
If you have a lot of weight to lose, the thought of being uncomfortable for a longer period of time might get you down. If you’re on the Luminous journey, I’m not going to tell you it’s a joy ride each and every day. But there is a lot of joy along the way. And in your weaker moments, there are some things you can do to move past it, renew your determination and push forward.
- Identify a few people you admire, and learn about their journey. You don’t have to personally know them. Read biographies of those who have accomplished awesomeness during their lifetime. Listen to podcasts that chronicle success stories. One of my favorites is NPR’s How I Built This.
- Have a plan for the weak moments. Instead of caving, take action in a different direction. Decide ahead of time how you’ll handle it when you’re about to go off the rails. Pick three things you can do instead and post them somewhere visible. Make it very specific like, “I will take a warm bath.” Or “I will write for 15 minutes.” Or “I will stop and listen to my favorite piece of music.”
- Ask for support. There is not one successful person on this good planet, who accomplished anything all by themselves. The really successful people know it’s imperative to get support. If you’re running late at work and there won’t be time for you to prepare dinner, have some go-to’s for take-out or ask your significant other to pick up some Luminous options. Or take the leap and join the A-Team where you’ll find a group on the same journey. And most importantly, be bold and take a few things off your to do list by either hiring someone to do those things or enrolling a colleague, or friend or family member to handle it. Delegation isn’t the lazy way out, it’s the smart way to manage your time and psyche.
Being uncomfortable doesn’t mean being miserable. Change your perspective around the word comfort in general. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be comfortable. But if you’re not reaching your personal goals, if you’re struggling in a sea of mental anguish around not achieving what you want, you are definitely not in a state of comfort or peace. Be willing to challenge what’s really going on in your head and how you really feel approaching anything that requires effort or discomfort. Success is learning what needs to change and the willingness to power through those moments of uncertainty or intensity. And know, above all, you have the power to change. And discomfort is not your enemy.