Why I Do It
I have been presented with the question about how I came to open my business numerous times since we have opened. It’s a pretty logical question and I would probably ask it of another person if they had opened a business as well. It’s a pretty easy question to answer, generally. Quite often, in the rush of daily life, there is a scripted version of the answer I can follow. I’ve given it a bunch of times. And while rushing seems to be the norm these days, it seems to be nicer when the answer can come from my heart rather than my script. So, why do I do it?
For quite a while now, if you were to ask me how I felt, on a general basis, I would probably say I was fine. If I was being honest, or just wasn’t giving a stock response, I’d say that I really don’t feel good. There are many symptoms that I tend to deal with on a regular basis, and for a long time, I just ignored them and plowed through my day. I don’t usually like to complain or talk about myself, ironically. But when I compared “how I felt” to “why do I feel that way”, I felt more confusion than any kind of answers.
I did go to different doctors to try to find the answers that my body was requesting. The short of it was the doctors didn’t really find anything wrong that was obvious. And surprisingly to me, there wasn’t a lot of additional testing offered or direction as to how I could feel better. So, I kept plowing through the days, expecting to wake up one day and just feel better.
Well, that day didn’t magically happen. But the more I continued to experience the not feeling good, the why behind it kept hanging out there. I started to think that maybe this was just normal and how I should expect to feel forever. After a while of that, I decided that was a silly thing to think. That it wasn’t ok that I should just accept that I would never feel good again.
So at the same time I’m thinking this, I’m seeing people around me, people close to me, my husband, my best friend, my parents, and I’m seeing a similar trend with them as well. There is a pattern of people not feeling good and not knowing why and not finding answers. How can this be? Isn’t that what happens at the doctors? We keep digging until we figure it out? Not all the time.
It turns out that there were several things wrong with me, one of them being a chronic auto-immune condition where my body is fighting itself when it shouldn’t be. If there hadn’t been a time when I turned to holistic approach and started investigating on my own, I wonder if I would have discovered what was wrong with me by now.
If I’m seeing this pattern with people that are close to me, I thought, there must be many other people out there that are feeling the same way. Lost, not sure where to turn next, expecting to wake up not feeling good every day, not to mention it sets a negative tone for the rest of that day. It doesn’t seem right that this is more the norm than not. And then, on the vision of my best friend, the idea of the wellness center was born. A center that could offer people an alternative to something traditional. A place they could come to for help, or for direction, or for relaxation, or for information. It became important to me, my mission, to be able to offer services to people that centered on health and wellness, in a holistic atmosphere. I want to help people feel the way they are meant to feel. I want people to feel outstanding and if there is something I can do for them, then I want to do that.
So when asked why do I do what I do, it’s simply, I want to help.
Of course it did. Who has a chronic illness that hasn't affected every facet of their being?? For those of you that know me, you know that I have a crazy health story. I’ve talked about it, blogged about it, and I’ve been pretty open about it. As a quick recap – I have PCOS, lost over a 100lbs, ran a couple of marathons, did a few mud runs, got bite by a stupid tick, contracted lymes disease, Epstein Barr, and a whole host of gross stuff that goes with all that.
For a long time, I struggled in silence, secretly scolding myself for my body’s chemistry, biology, or whatever you want to call it. You see, I’m a “mind” person, and while I don’t have a degree in psych, every job I have ever had pretty much says I do. I don’t mean that do downplay the importance of a degree, please, I have enough of them to go around (“You get a degree, and you get a degree, and you get… oh wait, this one is a certification” ;)), but as a teacher, college advisor, personal trainer, health coach, I’ve heard a lot of stuff and worked with a lot of people. I should just add bartender or hair stylist to my name, and I’d be all set!
In working with people, my role has traditionally been to help folks achieve a goal; or at the bare minimum, get them somewhere they currently are not. I’ve long since come to accept my role as a behavior change specialist (oh, yeah, I have a certificate in that too… somewhere…in a pile). What does that even mean?? Well, it means that I’m fascinated with people’s behavior, their choices, and the decisions they make – and WHY they make them. In most instances, once you identify triggering behaviors, and are willing to change them in some way, you’ll illicit a different result. You have to really dig in to find out what makes people tick, what motivates them, what drives their impulsive (or not so impulsive) decisions. Deep down, what’s important to them? In other words, I like to meddle in your head. Just kidding. Maybe…
So, how did chronic illness change my life? Well, I’m a results driven person, and, as I stated above, I’m really connected to the idea that if you change behavior, you change results. Therefore, I’m not afraid of changing things up a bit. I realized long ago, I could always change back if I wanted to. Few decisions are really un-doable. The “undo” button really exists in your brain just as much as the “send” button.
Well, chronic illness really scrambled the message when I hit “send”. What used to work, suddenly didn’t. What should have worked (behavior change), doesn’t. What all those courses in science taught me as far as how everyone’s body works… well, they just don’t add up! Super frustrating! This rocked my entire world of understanding the certainty of behavior modification.
I spent a long time really beating myself up. I felt terrible physically (and mentally). I was gaining weight. I was changing everything upside down and inside out trying to make it stop. I wasn’t letting this happen! I could control it all with my voodoo mind powers! Mind over matter!! No pain, no gain!! I can do it!!! I’m a walk the walk, talk the talk type of person!
Augh. I felt like a hypocrite. What was going on?? No matter my behavior, I couldn’t “will” myself better. That doesn’t mean I should just go off the rails, be reckless with my health, and do whatever I wanted, either. I still have to work and try and move in the “right” direction (and we all know what direction that is… I’m not buying the ignorance of “oh I didn’t know cake wasn’t good for me…” No, no, no.).
The truth is, I’m still figuring it out – figuring out how to live in my own chronically ill body. I still haven’t developed a formula that sure fire works for this shell I live in. I secretly think my body wants a permanent vacation on the beach in Hawaii, but who’s doesn’t??
So chronic illness changed it all for me. What I thought I could “control” with food, hitting it hard at the gym, and my ability to change my choices and behaviors, I really can’t. All those things I knew oh-so-well were all back firing on me, and in some cases, making me worse! While I can control my behavior, I cannot quite control what crazy stuff is happening on the inside. You see, the illnesses and pathogens themselves have their own mission, and we while we live in the same body, we are not on the same page.
I’m learning that maybe it’s okay that I can’t control “it”. I don’t have to enable it, but I don’t have to feel like a loser because I can’t get my body to do things that other healthy bodies can do. I’m opening up to all different avenues of healing. I’ve grown leaps and bounds in understanding the metaphysical world that’s actually not tied to physical bodies at all. I’ve opened up my mind to new ideas, new perspectives, and new realms that are more than just focusing on what I eat when and what weight I lift. Don’t get me wrong, I still “like” that stuff, but I see myself as more than that now.
So, while chronic illness is a total bummer, it’s actually been pretty enlightening. No way would I have ever gone on this particular journey of health and wellness if my body functioned like “normal”. Why would I have even bothered? I was perfectly content in my pre-lymes (non) spiritual life, lifting weights and eating salad.
While most days, I just wish my body felt great, I have to remember that I’m grateful for all other things this experience has brought into my life. It’s shaped me in all new ways, personally, professional, and spiritually.
It’s easy to get down on yourself. Trust me, I do. But, life isn’t really about being down. The vibration is really low down there. It’s about elevating yourself. Learn, grow, expand, live, breathe. Great things happen at the top! And while I’m not ready to settle in and say I’m okay with how I look or feel, I am okay with the journey I’m on to feeling, and being, outstanding!
-Sometimes the start is the hard part. I always find myself feeling judged when I start something new…but typically I am the one holding the gavel! If you had to start something for yourself today that you have always wanted to but you think is silly or unattainable what would you start?
As you start things in life, especially if they are for yourself or your personal gain it’s so easy to talk yourself out of it. I always wonder if I have eaten a very small negative woman as I gained this weight. I hear her voice echo so often throughout every ounce of my body. She often says “what makes you think things will be different now?”, “You really think this is going to work?”, “Would you look at yourself, you can’t do that!”. I have let her win so many of my inner arguments because despite knowing that she is misinformed and knowing my spirit is stronger than that, I am just tired when it comes to proving her wrong just for my benefit. She can’t tell me anything about my husband, my kids, my family, my students or my friends without me sending her blessings as I pray her away and speak positivity over every situation that comes our way. But as soon as I attempt doing something for myself it seems as if this fake voice becomes amplified and I am suddenly comfortably submissive.
She’s really the best manipulator I have ever known. She even turns triumphs into question if you don’t keep her in check. Weighing over 300lbs I signed up for the Disney Half Marathon, almost on a whim. A few close friends were going down for a marathon and I thought “I want to run”. I was actually working on a project at the time for weight loss with a reality show and working with two trainers. One of the trainers felt very strongly about me not training at all for the run because of risk of injury. So I never ran prior to getting to the start line that morning. It seems ridiculous to even say that right? All of my training for the run was walking with my kids in a double stroller and visualization. I got to that start line that morning and couldn’t help but feel intimidated. I very vividly remember thinking that Nike wouldn’t make running pants in my size if people my size could not in fact run! I had no faith in my competitive nature or natural athletic ability; I was very in the natural that morning. If the pants fit I must be a runner!
I ran for five miles without ever breaking stride. When I got to mile marker five I felt like I really needed water so I sort of tiptoe ran through a water station (talk about something you need to practice, the first cup landed all over my chest, I slowed down and became a little more purposeful with cup number two). I remember thinking that I needed to just keep moving forward. I didn’t care if I was the last one to cross the finish line; I just wanted to cross it. So move I did. But around mile marker seven I saw the women with the balloons. They were the people I needed to keep up with if I wanted to keep running, if they got out of Magic Kingdom before me that meant I could no longer run.
I watched them pass me and I felt so crushed. In crept that voice “Ha, I told you so!”; I wanted to lay down and cry. I kept moving though because I thought I had a chance that maybe they would let me go past the check point if I looked like I was still going for it. Well I crossed mile marker eight and there were buses and vans waiting for us to get on so they could drive us to the end. It was the only time in my life I didn’t want a ride and here it was flashing at me while security blocked the road forcing me to get on. I was so sad. My husband, who ran by my side the entire time, kept saying that he couldn’t believe I ran five miles without stopping for anything. I believed him that it was a great accomplishment, so on the outside I was faux proud of myself. On the inside that voice was killing all my half attempts at finding joy. When we got back to the hotel I showered and cried myself to sleep, woke up and cried again because I felt like I wasn’t good enough. I am not sure who I wasn’t good enough for; I was the only one who suggested that I run in the first place.
In hindsight, who the F starts their relationship with running by attempting a half marathon anyway? The truth is that voice was wrong. She was quiet for the whole race until I was convinced I wasn’t going to be allowed to finish. Up until that point she was scared and intimidated. I was proving her wrong with every step I took that day. She easily flipped the script and fed off of the steps I didn’t take and used them to chip away at my joy.
Sadly I have never run any measurable distance that day. I really just gave up and tucked that experience away as a loss. It’s been 6 years which seems like an incredible amount of time to have passed. I have learned to harness my thoughts and command them to the positive. I have also learned that it’s really okay to pray for myself and ask for things that I have no reason in the natural to believe that I can achieve. When I look back now think of all the steps I took! I haven’t met too many people my size that know without a doubt that they can run five miles without hesitation. I know I can. I am lacing up my sneakers again with purpose and learning that every step I take is a meaningful one.
What are you going to start doing for yourself to silence that voice today?
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.