I need to be completely honest. I haven’t been 100% transparent with you this last year.
Yes, I shared some details about my previous life as a chubby kid, overweight teen and obese young adult. I previously explained what triggered me to reinvent my life entirely and what efforts yielded the wanted results.
I shared all that with you because I thought it would help my community learn from my experience and make changes in their lives too. While I had the best intentions, I don’t think it was enough.
See, there is a huge problem in our culture. We celebrate wins left and right. We share data and screenshots of our good runs and keep our slow or poor performances to ourselves.
When we try something to lose weight, gain muscle, loosen up our back, get healthier, we don’t share the processes that failed. Some will document and share the process, but will stop when they see it’s not working.
I wanted everyday people like me to relate to my health journey.
I thought that sharing my rise to a healthy lifestyle would make my clients, friends and community understand that they have an unlimited source of energy within them and that they can tap into it as well.
But I am afraid I have been guilty of “showing off” my short moments of bright success without sharing the darkness out of which those emerged.
I haven’t been sharing my past and current failures for two reasons:
- I thought they were irrelevant : I always thought no one needed to hear about all the things I tried that didn’t work. What use is there in that?
Turns out there might be use in that for myself, and for you as well. In a society where we are taught to highlight our successes and erase failures out of our CVs, it’s counterintuitive to say : “Look at me! I have failed more times than I have succeeded! Hire me!”
- I have forgotten: in the process of creating good lifestyle habits, taking a hold of my health and focusing on what I am grateful for, I found myself completely obliterating my “old self”. You know the old adage : “Out with the old. In with the new”? While it may sound great when you’re trying to become a better version of yourself, it suggests that we should pack our old habits, personality traits and behaviors in a little box, put it on a shelf in the closet and not look at it unless absolutely necessary. At a certain point in my life, I was so tired of being miserable that as I transformed my life, I mentally put most of those painful memories in a trash bag and let them pile up, unorganized, in my backyard shed. There are still huge pans of the last decade I simply can’t remember because of that.
When a friend shares their success story with us, and we’re at the bottom of the barrel, feeling down and hopeless about our own shortcomings and plateaus, hearing about their achievements can create a psychological gap where you think :
“They tried and succeeded. Good for them. But I keep trying and am not succeeding. There must be something wrong with me. How are they doing it? Why am I not getting the same results?”
We know for a fact that no great success was achieve without failure. The classic example of Thomas Edison and his 10,000 attempts to invent a lightbulb speaks volumes:
I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work. – Thomas Edison
No one wants to hear about those 9,999 times he tried to invent the lightbulb. But somehow, those attempts were necessary to his brilliant (pun intended) invention.
When I was at my lowest, I would regularly watch motivational videos and read about successful people who started off with nothing in life – people who had much less than I had and who managed to create empires. I loved hearing about their failures. I still love hearing stories that focus on the struggle, and especially the callused mind, tools and determination that emerge from the struggle.
During the holidays, I re-read Can’t Hurt Me from David Goggins, and I realized that unlike the author, I had never really done a live autopsy of my shortcomings, my dark moments and epic fails.
I know within myself that I am doing myself and my community a disservice by not doing it.
I have been so happy to be “on the other side” of obesity and unhealthy lifestyle that I thought I could just ride the wave and continue on improving. While I don’t believe it’s healthy to dwell on the past, I a huge believer in failing better, in the idea that we are a work in progress.
I believe that there is great wisdom to be extracted from my failures. My intuition is that I need to write my own “book” for dummies titled something like : “How to Fail at Losing Weight and Becoming Healthy”. I’m joking… but it would look something like this:
I feel like by being an open book about my past failures, I hope to share a few things with my community:
- I am just like you : I want to show you how although we don’t share genetics traits, you and I are very similar – I have no superhero blood in me. I am a very regular human being who experiences joy, pain, suffering, happiness, discouragement, hope and all the same emotions you do. Therefore, you can apply some of the tools I have developed with the years to better yourself. I wasn’t born in an athletic family. I didn’t grow up to play in the school team. I didn’t grow up with a healthy relationship to food.
- I want to be entirely truthful: I don’t want to hide behind a facade, always beaming as the local coach who always feels good about her body, makes wise decisions at the grocery store, never makes mistakes and shamefully hides her candy wrapper before heading out to class while promoting healthy lifestyle choices. You deserve to know that there is no “getting there” and that again, I am just a human who strives to get better and who wants to enable people around her to do and be better.
- No more dissociation: With the years, I have experienced weird feelings related to dissociation. Dissociation is an experience in which people feel disconnected from their sensory experience, sense of self, or personal history. To a certain extend, I feel like I am and will always be the fat kid in the family. While I know this is not “true” anymore, the experience still rings true in my heart and that brings anxiety and shame when I indulge in foods I love or skip a workout. At the same time, part of me feels like I am not that person anymore. I have evolved and this person is not me. I feel like I have changed so much over the years that I have split lives and personalities. I hope that by going back in time and looking deeply into my failures, I will find a better connection between the different phases of my life and accept the past as part of my story, especially the darker moments.
I can hear you say : well, that’s all great (and thank you for the self psychological analysis), but how does that relate to me?
The last few days, I have seen multiple friends share their 2010-2020 Decade Highlights and Memories on social media. I wanted to do the same, but I realized I simply couldn’t do it in one post. There is way too much to unpack (and remember, I packed that stuff up way way in the back of the shed, under piles of clothes that don’t fit anymore, metaphorically speaking, of course)!
So here is what I am going to do…
Failure & Forensics – My 2020 Plan
Each month, I will go back in time and study a single year in the last decade. I will consult emails, medical records, photos, family, friends, everything I can.
I will make an effort to document as many failures, as many struggles as possible. Try to remember how it felt, what I did about it, how many attempts or how much time it took me to emerge victorious or get better.
Then I will write about it, post about it and make videos to share all that with you.
At the end of the year, I am expecting to have enough material to show you all the easy ways to NOT get healthy, create discussions around them, break down the image of perfect coach I am supposed to be and personally be at ease with the old and the new me.
In February, I will cover 2010, in March I will cover 2011, in April I will cover 2012, etc.
What do you think of my plan? Have you done anything like this in the past? I want to hear about your failures and what you have learned from them!
“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” – Henry Ford