One Chapter Ends, Another Begins

A major season of my life, highlighted by growth and self improvement, came to a conclusion this week with a major promotion at work. What started three years ago, with a simple attempt at weight loss, sparked a major overhaul of my life…in the time since I’ve lost 95 pounds, proposed to the most beautiful woman on the planet, left one job for another, and finally accepted the previously mentioned promotion. In November of 2016, when I started my weight loss journey, I never anticipated any of these things, individually, could happen…that all three have happened is a blessing beyond measure. This new promotion, the product of an emotional, month long process has brought me to reflect on the past three years and the journey I took to get here. Here are my thoughts… 

You Are The Product of Your Actions, But Mostly Your Thoughts and Attitude

Prior to November of 2016 I was obese, unhappy with my job, and stuck in a revolving door of dead end relationships. All of this was the product of my own action or inaction: I could have been eating differently, I could have been working harder or have been applying for jobs, I could have held out, instead of settling, for better love interests. But these truths, also, were the product of my own thinking. I thought fat was all I’d ever be. I didn’t believe I was smart enough or talented enough for a better job. I didn’t feel I could attract the type of woman that would make a healthy, long term partner for me. I resigned to lifestyle choices that perpetuated the characteristics of my life that I was most unhappy with. So, yes, my actions were the driving fore of my unhappiness, but my thoughts (about myself, others, the world around me) were the driving force of those actions. 

Set Goals, Don’t Stress Over The Specifics

In November of 2016, like I mentioned, I knew what I was unhappy about. My weight however, true or not, was the only thing I felt I had control over. I initially set out to try the Paleo Diet, described to me by a buddy over beer and football one day, with the aspiration of losing 15-20 pounds. I figured, accurately, that losing even 20 pounds would be a significant improvement over the status quo, so I set out to see what was possible. The results of that journey included dramatic changes in ways that I never could have imagined – which is the joy of the process. Had I, on the other hand, tried to plan and link every step from fat, single, and unhappy to slim, married, and professionally empowered…I might never have gotten started. The point here is… Don’t worry if you don’t know how you’ll accomplish all of your goals. Get started on what you can, you’ll be amazed where the momentum of good choices can take you. For example, how much time have you spent in front of the computer chasing weight loss advice compared to how much time have you spent actually changing your diet? Not starting a diet because you’re not sure it will return positive results is like never asking someone on a date because you’re not positive you want to marry that person yet. If you want to see actual results you’ll have to take actual steps. If that doesn’t work out? Oh well, try something else. 

I resigned to lifestyle choices that perpetuated the characteristics of my life that I was most unhappy with.

Not Everyone Will Like The New You, And That’s Ok

Major, transformative life changes will, at least at times, require sacrifice, selfishness, and a dramatic change in habits. There will be some…whether family, a once best friend, or an acquaintance…who will decide not to come on your journey with you. This point has been brought up by many others and plenty has been said about it, but here’s my take: Don’t Take It Personally. Say, for example, you’ve been going out for beer and pizza every Wednesday night for a decade with the same friend. This standing appointment may be something you’ll gladly sacrifice in the name of your goals, but maybe it’s what your friend looks most forward to all week. So if this friend decides, no, he doesn’t want a “red wine and steak friend” and decides instead to replace you with a new “beer and pizza friend,” wish him luck. Additionally, your own self improvement can be seen by others as a measuring stick of their own failures, inaction, and laziness…if they cannot get over this to cheer you on, wish them luck in life as well. A variety of minute differences boil down to two types of people: People that are rooting for you and people that aren’t. Surround yourself with the former, don’t lose sleep over the latter.

Don’t Forget To Show Gratitude

I don’t know a single person who would say “I feel sufficiently appreciated, at all times, by my family, friends, peers, and superiors.” People love to feel appreciated, encouraged, and validated…do your part to help them feel that way. To the buddy that turned you on to your successful diet, thank him. To the mentor at work that spoke highly, yet fairly, on your behalf, thank her. For the parents, siblings, and friends that stuck by your side, thank them.For the spouse or significant other that puts up with your shit every day, thank him or her. Life is all about choices. The people that chose to do those things for you could have just as easily chosen not to, don’t forget that. Expand this practice of gratitude throughout your life. The teacher working the carpool lane at your kids school hasn’t been thanked enough. The dude working your favorite Eli counter hasn’t been thanked enough. The cop working traffic after a concert or football game hasn’t been thanked enough. The solider sitting on a flight next to you sure as hell hasn’t been thanked enough. Put gratitude into the universe…it’s free to do and there can never be enough of it. 

So what will the next chapter hold? Well, most importantly, there is my wedding in April. More than anything, I’ve always wanted to be a husband…I can’t wait to see what we will accomplish together. This chapter will include our honeymoon, with God’s blessing there will be adventures in home ownership and starting a family. Everything that has happened over the past three years, directly or indirectly, has lead to these moments. The past three years have taught me that when you combine a goal driven mentality with the willingness to bust your ass, great things happen. So that’s exactly what I plan to do.

Get started on what you can, you’ll be amazed where the momentum of good choices can take you.