Starting a health journey is hard. Those of us who have been doing this health thing for a while tend to forget how difficult it is to make those “small changes” because every change feels like a monumental task. Especially when you’re not feeling it.
Some of you may know this and some may not, but the marriage between Brittney and I isn’t my first. I was married before. It was well over ten years ago and it was short, but it still counts. That time of my life feels like a lifetime ago because I was such a different person and I had so many different goals but through the divorce, everything changed.
How My Habits Affected My Life
When I was thrust back into single life I started adopting a ton of bad habits. The kind of bad habits that weren’t bad enough to cause any real concern, but would keep me from reaching the happiness I really wanted for my life. I’d drink too much. I’d exercise my way out of a bad diet. I’d go out on weekends and try to be the man everyone wanted to be. I was hurt. I was lonely. I was using these bad habits to spark a little joy in a life I didn’t really love.
This went on for a while…like years.
I remember one January I wrote down in my journal in reference to the personal changes I wanted to make, “the past year was a complete waste of time. I accomplished none of the goals I set out for myself. I am a failure.”
I felt like giving up.
I couldn’t even complete the easiest tasks like journaling on a weekly basis. It only takes five minutes! How could I not be successful?!
It was frustrating.
It was frustrating for multiple reasons.
The feeling that I had inside me originally, which drew me to want to change, was going to require that I give up certain things i.e. habits I thought I loved.
If I use something like drinking heavily on the weekends as an example, I would drink to have fun and many times have a few too many. This was just part of the process, but as I started to really look at the why behind my actions I saw that I was drinking to mask that I wasn’t happy in my situation. I was using drinking as a way to leverage the situation into something more enjoyable. The root issue that I needed to address was that I should be able to find enjoyment from within and this journey may require me to face uncomfortable truths. I may find out that the friend group that I built up may not be as fun as I thought they were. I may not be as fun as I thought I was. I had built up a life that I thought brought me joy and that may come crumbling down. All of these thoughts would continuously run through my head. As I look back now, all that was needed was a reduction in alcohol. Enough of a reduction where I can balance the life I want to lead with the lifestyle I still wanted to live. At the moment though, it felt like two completely separate lives.
I felt all alone.
This was the root cause of all of this for me. Especially since I found myself in a divorce I wasn’t planning for. The idea of going at this healthier life all alone wasn’t ever in my dream scenario. I went from having a life partner and the world at my fingertips to being single with a ton of "friends" I could confide in, to now facing a world where I know very few people would want to go. I knew this healthy journey would require me to really look at my life and ask harder questions about who I really wanted to be and what I really wanted to stand for…and worst of all…could I stand for those values if no one else was with me? I honestly didn’t have faith I could do it on my own. That’s largely the reason it took me years to really ask the hard questions and face the demons I had. Again, in retrospect, I think I made a bigger deal out of this than it needed to be. I could’ve made small changes over time and I wouldn’t have alienated anyone because the reality is no one is watching me. No one really cares. They’re too busy worrying about their own self-growth to really notice the small changes you’re making. Will there be times when you feel all alone and you are actually all alone? Yes, definitely, and cherish this time because it’s where you’ll find your true voice. The voice that will guide you to the happiest moments in your life.
I had to have faith and lose certainty.
How Having Faith & Losing Certainty was Essential
I heard a phrase a while back and it definitely rings true here. The phrase was that “we sabotage our growth because it provides the certainty we feel we need”. When you start on your health journey you don’t know what the future looks like. You don’t know who’s going to stick around as you continue the journey. All of the things and people you value today may not be there six months or a year from now because you’re changing how you see the world and the people you’re surrounding yourself with will continue to see the world their way. There's no guarantee that this health journey will equate to the happiness and fulfillment we hope for. There are really healthy people who die of heart attacks and are all alone.
One of the biggest reasons we stop pursuing the next level in our health journey is that we don’t have faith it'll be worth it. We don’t have faith anyone will be there on the other side. We don’t have faith there’s happiness and fulfillment on the other side. This lack of faith stems from the certainty that we know the people we’re surrounding ourselves with now value us. We know the habits we have now give us a certain level of joy. Our life now gives us certainty and the life our health is asking us to become brings a lot of questions we don’t have answers to.
We are embarking on an isolating journey that'll require us to leave our comfortable surroundings in hopes a better future lies ahead...and that takes faith. Faith in the unknown and faith in our work ethic to make the future better than the past. Many times when we're faced with this decision in life we reflect on our life and either see the many wins we've accumulated or the numerous failures we've piled up. The lens we choose to see our past experiences will impact how willing we are to leave our comfortable life.
These are the battles we must face and probably the battles you're facing right now.
The key to making it through to the other side will depend on your answer to these three questions.
3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Giving Up
01: What's your WHY and is it something you'll fight for?
Early in our coaching program, we talk through the importance of having a guiding light. Having a central star which lets us know we're headed in the right direction. We call it "what's your why?". It's a phrase that asks a person to find the core reason they decided to embark on their health journey. A common phrase we hear is that a client wants to be a better mother or father. A mother or father that's able to run around with their kids when they get older and be there as long as possible. This will require them to really focus on healthy and sustainable principles. When we start to lose focus, we ask them to remember their why and the legacy they want to leave. When we bring our health journey back to the core concept of why we started it's easy to see what the right next step is.
02: What is the CORE feeling that's motivating you?
The reason why we do anything is because it originated from a feeling. We feel hungry, our brain notices the feeling and we solve for that feeling by eating. We feel excited when we're hanging out with friends, our brain notices that we're happy so we do actions that'll help that feeling stay longer like grabbing another drink. All of our actions come from thoughts that originate from feelings. Not every feeling will need a resolution or an action, but the more we ignore certain feelings the more we'll feel isolated or disconnected. So, when you're feeling down you have to recognize those feelings. You have to understand why they're there and what caused them. Sometimes it's because we have an imbalance between this healthy pursuit and the cheat days we want to incorporate into our life. The body will have its own timetable and we must listen to our body to know when to push the gas and when to coast.
03: What's the Best Next Step?
Far too often we focus on the steps which are months or years away and forget about the simple steps right in front of us. When I think back to all my failures trying to overcome my bad habits, it all stemmed from a lack of focus on the present moment, the feelings I had, and what the best next step was for me. I'd think back to my failures of the past weekend or it would be the following weekend and I wouldn't tune into my feelings to see why I did what I did. As we just noted, all of our actions stem from some feeling we're trying to solve. It's often said, many times when someone is bored they rummage through the cupboards for something to eat. The feeling of boredom was noticed and we attempt to solve it with an unrelated action. The best next step in that situation is to solve the boredom by doing something that aligns with the person you want to be, not fill that void with an unrelated resolution. And that's where we often get frustrated. We continually have poor solutions to common problems. The feeling of boredom or loneliness isn't solved by eating, so the feeling may go away for a minute but it still lingers. It's still there awaiting a better solution. Find better solutions and you'll feel more motivated to continue your health journey.
Why Your Health Journey is Worth Continuing
I can't promise that your health journey will be easy or that there won't be some people who don't make it into the next phase of your life. Just like we'll have to mourn certain phases of our own life, certain people aren't ready for the change you know you need to make. Only you know the real reason you feel like giving up. And I bet it involves some level of fear around the uncertainty of your future. All we ask as coaches is that you don't sabotage your growth because of that fear. We ask that you do the hard work of looking within to see the real reason the fear exists and talk to your coach about it. The best version of you is waiting on the other side and that alone makes it worth it.