This past Thursday, I shared my transformation story on live TV on Speak Your Mind, a half-hour program on PBS (channel 8) in Duluth-Superior. The show is sponsored by the Human Development Center, a nonprofit mental health center that provides integrated mental health and addiction services fostering hope, self-determination, and recovery.
The topic of our show was: Stress Reduction and Self Care, and you can watch it here.
I was invited to be a guest on the show by host Carolyn Phelps, Ph.D., L.P., after she read my transformation story in Duluth Superior Magazine. Speak Your Mind is a call-in program designed to jumpstart the conversation in our communities about mental health issues and to encourage people to ask the questions they’ve always wanted to ask. I applaud the mission and was excited to make my TV debut on a program that really, truly helps people and on a subject that changed my life.
The heart of my transformation was about self-care. Two years ago, I was not practicing self-care – at all! I was not even in the equation of my own life. Working 12-18 hours per day, seven days a week to build my marketing firm, I had ballooned to my heaviest weight on record: 381 pounds. Yes, bigger than a professional NFL linebacker.
I was so attuned to my to-do list that I had forgotten to put myself – or my health – on that list. I was living a sedentary lifestyle on a diet of processed and fast food. My stress levels were out of control. Everything, including my relationships, suffered. I was both literally and figuratively dying.
My real transformation began the day I decided to focus on self-care. About that same time, hope walked through the work door. That hope and inspiration was O’Neal Hampton who was on Season 9 of NBC’s Biggest Loser with his daughter SunShine Hampton. O’Neal helped me believe I could do this. But I still had to take those first steps myself.
How did I do it?
- I leapt despite my fear. I grabbed hold of the opportunity to change my life and grew stronger by pushing past the fear and accomplishing that of which I was most afraid. Yes, there is fear in doing anything transformational or big, but the strength, the courage and empowerment you feel when you push past it and succeed – well, WOW, it can’t be topped!
- I set myself up for success by finding the right team of experts and support and developing a plan. That plan included a list of non-negotiables that would allow me to consistently be in the center of my equation and provide self-care, bar nothing.
- My commitment and focus was 100% all in. I mean, I decided I would not quit – no matter what! And, most importantly, I learned to reset my mindset and restart when I slipped and had a bad day. Too often we beat ourselves up and throw in the towel when it gets really hard. I told myself, this time that was not an option.
- Set short-term goals, milestones and challenges along the way and celebrated when I achieved them. And this time, I rewarded myself without food!
When you put yourself in the equation, everything else is better…
Self care for me was learning the important lesson that if I don’t take care of myself, not only am I not going to be around long term, but I can’t be there for everyone else. There is no question that I am happier, stronger, braver, more creative, more strategic and more fun today because I live life by taking care of myself first.
I am a better business owner, consultant, partner, daughter, sibling and friend because of it. I guarantee you that when you practice self-care — as Ann discusses in the piece and I am a living example — everything is better. Not just you, but everything around you. And this is an awesome gift to yourself and others!
Where to start…
My number one tip for those of you wondering how to begin is exactly what we discussed on the show.
Start by becoming mindful of where you are today. What are you practicing that serves you or not? What is standing in your way of making the time and commitment to put yourself first? What stories are you telling yourself about that?
Just notice. Maybe journal about it. Or, better, let’s start a dialogue here on my blog.
For me, it was lack of self-love and acceptance. Fear of inadequacy. Fear of failure. And yes, to some degree, even fear of success and a very different life that would result. Well, I am living that very different life right now and I have to say, it is awesome! 🙂
Now is the time…
The holidays are a tough time for many of us when it comes to stress levels and self-care. The expectations and the pressures are high. I encourage to just become aware of where you fit in the equation of your life and think about what you are practicing. Are you practicing self-care? And what one thing might you do for yourself this holiday season to ensure that you are taking care of yourself.
Let me know where you are on this topic and how you practicing self-care, or not. Where do you need help? How can I inspire and support you?
Let me know what you think…
If you care to post a comment on the Speak Your Mind blog about our show on self-care and stress reduction, please click here. I would love your feedback and/or questions.
P.S. I am a huge fan of the Human Development Center and their work on mental health issues. If you are interested in learning more about work, please check them out here. You can also support them by providing a donation. Special thanks to Speak Your Mind host Dr. Carolyn Phelps, Ph.D, LP and Kim Matteen, Foundation Director. And finally, thanks to Jeanne Carpenter and Sue Bott who helped me prepare for my first ever live TV appearance. You ladies rock! 🙂