I have changed a lot in the last couple of years. Like, a ton. Well, maybe a few hundred pounds less than a ton, but still an awful lot.
I lost over 100 pounds after a lifelong weight struggle.
I quit my corporate job and started a business.
I’ve moved multiple times and gone through some overwhelming personal challenges.
I’ve learned so much about myself and want to talk about one of the most significant things these changes have taught me: I can do hard things. Change requires that I do hard things.
That doesn’t mean I love doing hard things. In fact, I kinda don’t like it very much at all.
When I was obese, I feared hard things. I feared failure, discomfort, self-discipline and the unknown.
Almost every choice I made was so I didn’t have to be uncomfortable or uncertain.
You know what that resulted in?
I hated my body, I hated shopping, I hated traveling. I hated my job. I was depressed, miserable, obese, isolated and terribly uncomfortable.
All because I chose to avoid doing hard things.
In an attempt to stay “comfortable”, I created a life in which I was terribly uncomfortable & unfulfilled.
I chose a discomfort that was familiar to me to avoid the risk of a discomfort that wasn’t.
Thank God I changed my mind. Thank God I reached such lows that I was willing to do hard things in order to live a happier, easier life.
But how? How do you face fear and discomfort? How do you break the chains of habit?
By making one, small hard choice.
For me, that began by reducing my Chick-fil-A breakfast order. Seriously. I used to stop at Chick-fil-A every morning and order chicken minis, a chicken biscuit, hash browns and a large Diet Coke (no ice).
I started by skipping the chicken biscuit.
I wasn’t ready to change my whole world at once. I had tried that. But, I knew I could make on small, hard choice.
(It’s cool if you’re laughing about what represented a hard choice to me at the time. “Hard” is a relative word and you might be ready to do something bigger or you might need to do something smaller. We’re all correct in our choices.)
I didn’t know if I could lose all the weight (actually, I didn’t think I could) and I didn’t know if I could change my eating habits over the long term, but I knew I could make one hard choice one time.
I decided to make one hard choice every day.
I haven’t stopped and I don’t believe I ever will.
These days, my hard choice looks kinda different. Sometimes my hard choice is getting out of bed when I want to hit snooze. Sometimes it’s saying no to the bakery cupcakes or the glass of wine. Sometimes it’s how I handle a workout.
Recently, I was working out with my trainer & pushing a heavy, metal sled across the pavement (while running as fast as I could). I looked at him, breathless, shouted some colorful language and groaned, “I’m dying.”
His facial expression didn’t change when he calmly responded, “You’re working hard, but you’re not dying”.
I wanted to stop. It sucked. I was so beat and the idea of 3 more sprints with sled (at the end of a full workout) was beyond uncomfortable.
I reminded myself, “Elizabeth, you do hard things.”
I finished the workout with my best effort.
It happened again just the other day. Another hard workout.
Heavy front squats. Running. High rep thrusters. Hanging knee raises. I tore my hand (I do not handle even the most minor flesh wounds well). More running.
As I set off for the last run, I thought, “God, I don’t want to do this.”
I told myself, “I do hard things”.
If you want your body to change, you have to do things that will change your body.
If you want your eating habits to change, you have to make food choices that will change your eating habits.
You can do one hard thing. I know you can. Anyone can do one hard thing.
So do it every day.
Make it a goal to get uncomfortable once each day.
Maybe that means telling yourself, “Not this time” when you want to go for dessert. Maybe it means passing on the wine tonight. Maybe it’s keeping the television turned off or doing a few more reps in the gym when you want to quit.
You can do one hard thing today.