Have you ever felt paralyzed by fear? Felt like you didn’t belong, fit in, as if you were a fraud, or just too ashamed to try? I have. I want to tell you about last night's string of events tand how they brought me back to a time in my life when I felt like I was drowning in shame and how to overcome it in 2 minutes.
Last night after work I went for my run and then went home to make dinner. I turned the TV on and stumbled across the show, “Extreme Weight Loss” on ABC. If you haven’t watched this show, watch it. The participants on this show will change your life. The premise is simple; you have one year to lose weight and change your life. These people write in because they feel like they are at rock bottom and there are no other options. Then two trainers go in and work with them for an entire year. It isn’t some quick fix, they aren’t trying to compete and lose weight. They literally spend an entire year working to transform their lives physically and mentally. And there’s no prize, the prize is their life. And these people care so much and have so much internal baggage they have to work through. They are so incredibly brave to share their story and journey's.
So I am glued to the TV, which never happens! I’m in bed by 9 every night so I don’t watch TV, but I couldn’t pull myself away! My hands were on my heart or covering my mouth, I was crying, and I was watching this 15 year old girl Juliana shatter during a workout. It made me remember the very beginning of my weight loss journey. I was ashamed to be seen at the gym. I felt surrounded by fit people who made an hour on the elliptical look like a walk in the park while I struggled for an hour on a stationary bike. Everyone was fit, toned, and looked like they belonged in a gym. I was overweight, self conscious, and I was terrified of anyone seeing me and judging me. Just showing up was an accomplishment. But alas, my biggest struggle was convincing myself to go every day, sit next to the perfect bodies and fight, wheeze, sweat, cry, and grunt through an hour on the bike or elliptical.
I felt for Juliana. I remember exactly what that felt like. I remember what it feels like to not be able to make it five minutes on the treadmill. I remember when I too asked myself, “How did I get here?” For me weighing over 200 pounds didn’t feel gradual, it felt like it happened overnight. I woke up one day and saw this young woman I didn’t recognize in the mirror. I was always out of breath or sweating. You could see the shame in my eyes. As if my life wasn’t tragic enough, I had just lost my brother to alcohol poisoning, the weight gain coupled with my loss me feel like my identity was taken from me. I didn’t know who I was anymore and I was just so angry. I felt powerless, worthless, and sad. I was lost. It took a lot of work to get to where I am today and I didn’t just undergo a physical transformation. I got into therapy, I learned to love myself, and I had to learn how to care again.
I finished the show and I felt really overwhelmed. I was lying in bed and couldn’t fall asleep. I couldn’t stop thinking about how I, just like 15 year old Juliana, set these goal weights and then not reaching them. Or that feeling you have when you do reach it. Or that feeling when a month later seeing that you gained weight again. Then I remembered a Ted Talk my best friend Irene had told me about when I was home last week. I was with Irene and our best friend Stephy and we were reminiscing about the Disneyland Half Marathon we had all run together a few days prior. For Stephy this race was huge. It was something she convinced herself she couldn’t do. And she was telling me about this exchange she had with her boyfriend who had also run the half with her. (Her boyfriend is one of those guys that you think why can’t have one of those? He’s wonderful.) And she told him, “Thank you for believing in me when I didn’t. I know it’s frustrating to see someone’s potential and watch them try to extinguish it.” And that is the struggle. That is everything I went through. I still to this day spend so much time worrying about failing. And failing is ambiguous! I couldn’t define failure to you if I tried!
And then Irene shared this Ted Talk by Social Scientist Amy Cuddy called “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are.” The entire premise of the talk is don’t fake it til’ you make it, fake it til’ you become it because our minds can change our bodies and our bodies can change our minds. WATCH. THIS. VIDEO. Watch this video! It’s 20 minutes long. AT LEAST read the transcript. You can find both by CLICKING HERE.
Cuddy and her colleagues studied how your body language (nonverbal behavior or nonverbals as the social scientists call it) affects your brain. They found that if you sit or stand in a powerful position for two full minutes your body will undergo a hormonal change meaning your testosterone levels will rise while your cortisol levels will drop leading you to feel more assertive, confident, and optimistic. You feel powerful. So how does this apply to weight loss?
For me my weight loss journey was like swimming in the ocean and being caught in a rip tide. If you are caught in a rip tide you are supposed to just swim parallel until you can swim easily into shore. Sounds easy enough but more often than not you panic. You start to feel the quick pull out to sea. You try to fight the rip current and then you think you are going to drown. Then the lifeguard has to come save you because you are thrashing and fighting and soon you will become so exhausted you may drown. During those first few months, I was ashamed to be seen but even more worried I couldn’t lose the weight. I wanted people to see I was happy and confident with myself no matter what I looked like, even though I was embarrassed and miserable. But it's not something to be shamed of! DON’T EVER LET SHAME BE A FACTOR OF YOUR WORLD! There is nothing to be ashamed of EVER. An alcoholic parent? An abusive partner? Overweight? You can’t find a job? You made a bad decision? You went down the wrong road? Struggle with addiction yourself? None of these things are things to be ashamed of. Life happens. All you can do is put one foot in front of the other, ask for help, and go forward. And if you are unhappy, unhealthy, or in danger make the change. That is something to be incredibly proud of.
So here is what you do, ready? It’s incredibly simple. Just assume one of these positions for 2 minutes. Our demonstrator is none other than Beyonce who you will find very few un-powerful pictures of. She radiates confidence. Just find a space, public or private. Find a bathroom stall, a car, your room, do it while you sit on the couch, or at your desk at work, in a park, at the beach, in a restaurant, at the starting line of a race. Just make yourself huge, occupy space, and stay in that powerful position for at least two minutes.
Life is made for participating. You are doing the world a disservice by succumbing to your fear or your shame. Throw it away. FAKE IT UNTIL YOU BECOME IT because the “you’re not good enough”, "you don’t belong”, “you’re not pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough, powerful enough, strong enough, or good enough's” are all bullshit. They are your inner critic who is A BIG FAT LIAR. The second you feel like you can’t do it, make yourself big. Before a job interview, before you give a presentation, before you go grocery sopping, before you run a race, before you get broken up with, when you wake up in the morning, before you go jeans shopping, throw your arms up and out, spread your legs out, plant your feet, lift your chin up, stick out your chest, and feel the sun radiate off your chest. Stay there for 2 minutes. Hell, stay there for 20 minutes! Stay there until you remember that you are enough! Stay there until you feel powerful because you are more than enough! You are worth it. You have all the power. Take risks, dare to fail, and change the outcome of your life. And tell everyone you know about Amy Cuddy and fake it until you become it.
You are so beautiful and so powerful. Until tomorrow, #RunSelfieRepeat.