[New Year, New You] Day 2: Why Big Changes Take Little Steps
Welcome to the supplementary blog article to accompany our 21-Day New Year, New You Challenge! I big chunk of this article was originally published in February 2009 and it was called, “Coming Out of the Cooked Food Closet.” It was published as part of a FREE 90-day detox that I posted on the blog. (Venture at your own risk through the archives, but it gets pretty wild and off-leash!)
At the time I ran that program, my work and my life were heavily focused around diet, and in particular raw food and detox programs for women. I loved that field because you can learn about a woman by observing her relationship with food.
One of the things that I noticed while working in that area was the fact that the more women put their attention on food, or weight or their body, and what was wrong with it, the worse things got! So many women put enormous negative pressure on themselves for their “food and body failures” and the more they worry and resent themselves for what goes wrong, the worse they feel and sometimes the worse things get.
Diet and body changes are a great example of how big lifestyle changes should be addressed and improved on a gentle, consistent gradient if you really want to make your changes last! I hope you find this article helpful:
But Your Damn Smile Down Because Sometimes Life Just Sucks!
While it’s fine and dandy to have things upbeat and bubbly, because sometimes that’s how life is, sometimes things suck and you feel stuck and the hard work you’re trying to do and good things you were making progress with suddenly feel like they’re falling apart! When that happens, it’s easy to lose hope, get discouraged, frustrated with ourselves or just lost and confused along the way to making life better.
I wanted to take a few minutes to address some of the tools we can use to help us get through tough moments of life. It’s fair to acknowledge that fact that not everyone feels like “Little Miss Sparkle Puff of Positivity” all the time!!
I thought I’d share a longer email I received from someone who was reaching out with a plea for help as one of our participants on the FREE 90-day detox I did way the heck back in 2009!! In this letter, this participant shares how she’s feeling regarding her ongoing struggles in her relationship to food. This letter is completely unedited and epitomizes some of the self-sabotaging struggles many of us have dealt with over the years. Maybe it’s not always about “raw food,” but most of us have had a crisis or two beating ourselves up for failures about pretty minor things, in the scheme of life.
(This is a long one, if you want to just skip it and get to the solutions, scroll down. If you have more time, dive in and bond with this brave sister by reading her plea for help. Chances are good you’ll be able to relate to her struggles.)
I know your time is probably very limited to reading and responding to emails from people you don’t know. From reading your blog, you are super busy. So I am very grateful to you for reading this email and I hope you can help me. I have been reading your blog and I just signed up to be a part of the 90 day detox. Let me start off by telling you that I have read and researched TONS of info on eating healthy and I know the importance of a raw food diet. I was eating at least 50% raw food last summer and I felt and looked amazing. As of today, it’s a whole different story. I can’t seem to get back on track with the healthy eating and I am continually gaining weight. I’m only 5 ft. tall and I weight 134. That’s just too darn much. I am extremely disappointed with myself, burnt out and discouraged. I even took up running 3 weeks and have been doing awesome with that. But I’m not losing weight because I can’t stop eating. On my first day of doing your detox, I felt lost and unprepared. I knew I couldn’t have dairy or gluten, but I wasn’t ready to do just fruits, veggies, beans and rice. I had my green smoothie, which I do at least 3 times a week, but then around lunch time I got hungry. I looked in my cupboards and could not find anything that sounded good.
I didn’t want a piece of fruit or a carrot. Here is my problem. It’s my thinking, which I am having a hard time changing. I have to be FULLY prepared and everything perfect and in order before starting something. I am really struggling coming aboard the 90 day detox program because I started late. It just feels wrong…or like I won’t succeed because I didn’t start from day one.
I considered going to my local Whole Foods (which I do a couple of times a week already) and buying a bunch of things that are gluten free and sitting down and writing out meal plans and getting myself prepared. But, you know what, I’m too tired and too broke. I have already spent over budget this month on my groceries, and physically I feel horrible. I just want to sleep; not take on a huge project like preparing my mind, body and home to not eat gluten or dairy anymore.
To give you an example of how out of control my diet is, yesterday I ate nothing but carbs. I was trying eat healthy. I even passed up my husband’s Papa John’s pizza. I didn’t even eat dinner and I gave my 4 year old daughter some lentil soup instead of nasty pizza. But, for breakfast I had a half of a blueberry muffin from Whole Foods. For lunch, whole wheat pasta with homemade tomato sauce. For late night snack with the movie, popcorn (no butter) with peanut M&M’s. Ughhh! I feel fat, tired and horrible today. It just feels hopeless.
For every accomplishment or victory I have, it seems like I have to do something to sabotage it. Yesterday I ran longer than I have ever run, but then look how I ate. I thought about buying your detox program that would give me more support and tell me what to eat, but I just can’t afford it! (sigh!)
I am so sorry to be rambling on. I’m just so down. I came to your blog today to try and pick myself up by reading the different entries and some of the testimonies. I don’t feel better. I feel worse. I’m reminded of how much I have been messing up and that I’m too far out from the time everybody else has started this detox. It’s also discouraging to see how so many people are doing so well and I’m not.
The reason why I am writing to you and asking you for help is because I believe so strongly in what you are doing. Again, I have read TONS of books and blogs on raw eating, healthy eating, green living, etc. Probably the same ones you have read. The tone of your blog is different. It’s very catchy and uplifting. Not preachy or wordy.
Your personality shines through your writing and it’s very invigorating. I want so badly to be a success story on your blog and even help others along the way. It’s funny, so many of my friends come to me for advice on what they should eat or what they should give their kids to eat. It’s a whole lot easier to tell someone how to live their life than to tell yourself. I am hoping and praying you can give me the advice or direction I am needing.
Again, thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to read this email. Bless you!
Asking For Help Isn’t Optional, It’s Mathematically Essential.
I’ve had emails like this hundreds, if not thousands, of times. The degree of overwhelm and frustration for what can be considered to be “small potatoes” in the relative scheme of things, can be pretty all-consuming when it strikes. But letters like these come from the people who DID have the courage to actually write and communicate about what was happening, and if we’re talking about taking little steps to achieve big goals, that’s one of the most important ones–the ability to reach out, state what’s happening (no matter how crappy it feels) and ask for help.
Life deals a harsh blow and some of us struggle more than others to get our ducks in a row. Now that I’ve spent the last ten years studying the obstacles and challenges of life a little more thoroughly, I’m amazed any of us get through it. You have to be a real dynamo with a golden halo and impenetrable spiritual forcefield NOT to get you butt kicked a few times by life!
But, but, but, but, buuuuuuuuut… (and you can quote me on this one!) more than another e-book, miracle supplement, doctor’s visit, detox diet, workout program, expert guru, or gluten-free food, the thing you most need to get to the other side of any obstacle is someone who believes in you just a little more than you believe in yourself.
And if you need someone like that, sign me up!!
The idea that we need help isn’t just a feel good philosophical thing to say, it’s really true that the weight on one person’s shoulders takes two people to carry, and finally get rid of. It’s just like there are certain parts of your back you can’t scratch, and you can’t see the back of your own head.
The things that dragged YOU down, didn’t necessarily drag me down. And the things that caused me confusion, you may understand completely. Either way, when the two of us come together we are stronger and bigger and better than any of our problems. If you don’t have a person, let us know. We have lots of kick butt cheerleaders who can boost you up when you need it!
Big Changes Are Best Made With Little Steps
I’ve seen people overcome all kinds of difficult situations they could never have solved on their own, but finally overcome because there was someone else there helping them and they just focused on one. thing. at. a time.
One next decision. One small improvement. One step forward.
Whatever your problem or challenge, solutions exist and that there is a way out of the hole you’re in, no matter how deep it feels.
Whatever it is you need to confront or want to change and improve about your life, you have to START. You have to pick yourself up where you are RIGHT NOW and take the first step. It doesn’t matter if you’ve already tried in the past 100 times. Today is a new day and a new chance to understand something you didn’t understand in the past, to be someone you weren’t and to improve.
Depending on where you’re at and how you’re managing everything on your plate, it’s best to anticipate and plan for how you will make change on a gentle, but consistent gradient. If you keep setting yourself ultimatums and impossible to reach goals, then the disappointment of failing at them will win out over the joy of achievement and you will find yourself back where you started. Maybe even a little further behind where you were when you first started on the path.
Wherever you’re trying to go, focus on the next step. Find the next comfortable part of your situation that you can handle and control that one little piece well. Nobody climbs tall staircases in a single bound. It’s one step at a time.
So go easy on yourself. Handle one little piece of your problem/situation, and then move on to the next.
If it’s food, try controlling the time you eat. Try controlling where you eat, or one aspect of your eating habits. Don’t go from bingeing on peanut M&Ms to fasting on green juice and expect to feel good or sustain that kind of change. The patterns and habits and behaviours and viewpoints that shape your life have established themselves over YEARS!! Give yourself a more realistic time span to address the changes you want to make and then allow them to happen gently, celebrating the little improvements along the way.
Congratulations for being here and thank you for your courage. It does take guts, and sometimes even a few peanut M&M meltdowns, to get through it all. Stay connected, speak up, trust your gut and it’s all going to turn out happily ever after for you.
Love and a hero cape for your courage,
p.s. You can sign up for the FREE 21-Day New Year, New You Challenge any time to make sure you access the free planner and attitude cards which were created to help accompany the materials and content in this course!! HAVE FUN and thanks for being here!