This is a story of boy meets tennis ball.
It was November 2010 and my life was at rock bottom. My marriage was in its death throes, I was burnt out personally, professionally, spirtually and I didn’t know if I would be alive the next year and frankly I didn’t care. It was a tennis ball of all things, that I came face to face with and couldn’t handle (see my TEDx talk at TinierTim.com/TED for more on this).
This neon green symbol was something I was angry with at first, but eventually became a beacon of hope that told me the most important message an obese kid who is about to give up could hear:
“YOU CAN DO THIS.”
And so I started with baby steps, finding a way to make small changes that yielded small results. I met with personal trainers and nutritional coaches who helped me devise a plan that I was able to stick to. Most importantly, they told me something and these plans showed me the one thing that I needed to hear over and over.
“YOU CAN DO THIS.”
And so it goes. I managed to lose one pound and then another. Like Michelangelo said about the Statue of David, once I chipped away the excess, the physical TinierTim was inside the whole time. I dealt with the mental issues, seeking out the best counselors and overcoming a lifetime of learned helplessness until all that was left was the message that I share every single day when I tell my story:
“YOU CAN DO THIS.”
The BS excuses you’ve been telling yourself are kindle for the fire of your passion and dreams. Use them. Don’t have time? Focus on shorter, harder workouts. Don’t have money to eat healthy? Learn to grocery shop on a budget and save money by cutting out dessert. Slow metabolism? Start exercising and watch that metabolism take care of itself.
Once you dump all the weight and all the excuses, you’ll prove me right and join your voice with the thousands of other successful Transformation Tuesday stories screaming all over the internet today:
“YOU CAN DO THIS!”
Do you love yourself? I don’t mean this in a #feelinmaself instagram kind of way where you “love” yourself enough to post one of the 1000 selfies you took in a “good enough” kind of way.
Do you love yourself the way you love your kids, your parents, your siblings and your best friends? Imagine that you had a best friend who was allowing a romantic partner to abuse them mentally and physically to the point where they were chronically depressed and struggling to find peace in a troubled world? Would you step in and help? Of course you would.
Yet for many of us, we are in an abusive relationship like this with ourselves. Not only do we not love ourselves as much or as well as we love others, but we are harming ourselves daily with negative self talk, a low image of ourselves and practices that are not designed to be good for us.
What you are willing to accept for your life is inevitably what you will receive. So you don’t like where you’re at? Quit settling for that place. Start with a declaration (to your self, your partner, your loved ones and friends) that you deserve better followed by a burning desire to change your circumstances and with the faith that you can change.
Stop settling. Raise your standards. Then let the desire burn inside you until it burns your old world down. What will be left? A fresh start, love in your heart and a lifetime of possibilities.
You’ve got this!
I have a confession: I hate losing (except fat 😜).
I was raised by a strict, German perfectionist who worked more than anyone I’ve ever known. He was the kind of father (and my first boss) who tolerated nothing short maximum efforts and maximum results. Failure was not only unacceptable, it was shameful. In Weight Loss counseling, I learned that one of my earlier memories of him involved his reaction to a mistake I’d made: he closed my bedroom window before punishing me to muffle screaming so “the neighbors won’t know what a terrible child I have.”
This type of messaging runs deep in many of us who struggle with obesity. We get laughed at when we start our weight loss journeys so we’re afraid to try and call attention to ourselves. We know the road is impossible so we give up the second we misstep. We are prone to self sabotage after a lifetime of abuse (much of which is self inflicted).
The thing I want to tell you is that there is help out there. Sure, there are trainers and meal plan experts, but if information was all we needed, we’d all have six packs and 🍑 bottoms. I don’t know about you, but I needed to retrain my mind. I worked with counselors, coaches and mentors to pull myself out of the habit loops that kept me obese. I took one step and lost one pound at a time.
I learned to forgive myself. I’m still learning how to love myself every day. That’s why we call this crazy thing a journey.
It’s worth it. You’re worth it. You can’t fail unless you give up. I believe in the power of the human spirit. I believe in you.
This weekend I found myself back in front of a TEDx audience but this time as a host instead of a speaker. I had the opportunity to share my story and met two incredible gentlemen who were also victorious in their own battles against obesity. Another person shared with me how she used my talk last year to help inspire her sister to lose weight.
I saw people leave with tennis balls to remind them that any journey can be completed one step at a time. Oftentimes the first step is forgiving yourself and believing that no one thing, decision or mistake defines you. Maybe you haven’t lived with intention or mindfulness. Maybe you’ve “let yourself go”. Those small missteps do not change what You are.
A blank tennis ball reminded me: You are a miracle of unlimited potential. You are capable of greatness even if you don’t believe it. Start with one meal. With one workout. By losing one pound.
That’s all I did: I didn’t lose 225 pounds. I lost one pound 225 Times.
Seven Years ago Sunday, I hit what I thought was rock bottom. I was morbidly obese at almost 450 pounds. I struggled with depression and felt like a failure and a hypocrite. Not even my closest friends and family knew the struggles I was enduring and covering up with a food addiction. I had a moment that resulted in a desire to change and to live my best life. It started with two realizations:
1) I deserved a better life.
2) I had the power to get that better life.
I started with small changes: no white flour, no sugar, zero processed foods. The pounds started to come off and as I learned more about myself, nutrition and fat loss, I adopted the #paleo diet. After one year, I was down 200 pounds and eventually shed obesity and built that better life.
The journey didn’t end the day I hit my goal weight, that was just the first act. Losing my weight wasn’t the only or even the last goal, it was one on a path to self mastery and true joy. It eliminated so many limitations and proved to myself that nothing would hold me down or back anymore. If you struggle with obesity, you can do this too. Live your best life. Don’t be overwhelmed. Start with one pound and then go for another. You’ve got this.
Losing weight this year doesn’t have to be as hard as you’re making it.
A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. In most cases, that step isn’t taken with the intention of walking 1,000 miles. After all, we are easily overwhelmed and unlikely to welcome such a lengthy journey.
How did you get to the place you’re in right now? Geographically, you may have left home to pursue school or a job or a relationship. Professionally, you ended up getting a job offer somewhere and that took you from one place to the next. Romantically, you walked into that one place (or logged into that one site) and just happened to meet your one. It’s a series of seemingly small decisions that create ripples of momentum that become tidal waves of change.
My journey of nearly 250 pounds of weight loss started off with a walk of 212 steps that ended in me huffing and puffing for nearly half an hour. But eventually, I saw a pound come off so I did it again. Another pound and another.
One pound times 200 in a year. One more pound 28 times only to be stalled by loose skin. Surgery, swelling and recovery. Toning, exercising, eating right. One workout, one meal, one pound, One pound, one, one, one.
And so it goes until eventually we turn around and find ourselves 1,000 miles or 250 pounds from the place we started. And let me tell you, looking back at the journey swells my heart with delight. I know that unless you learn to find joy in that journey, you’ll never find fulfillment at the finish line.
I’m not there yet— we’re barely getting started. But I’m going to have a blast over the next 1,000 miles and beyond. BRING ON 2017!