There's a common pattern of narrative called the Hero's Journey. Its recognized in stories that span all cultures, regions and time. Its a story of a common person who is called to an adventure - typically this person is a reluctant type but goes along with it like fine, why not, let's get this done and over with. He then crosses the threshold into the unknown where he completes a series of challenging tasks or tests sometimes alone and other times with assistance. He makes allies and he makes enemies. After he is tested, he is met with an ordeal unlike anything he's ever experienced - the central crisis of the adventure. He overcomes with heroic strength and is handsomely rewarded in the end. Then, he returns to the ordinary world transformed.
At the beginning of our weight loss journey, we're reluctant and skeptical. We think: I've tried every diet known to man or seriously? exercise? I can't run to save my life. We convince ourselves that nothing works and we're destined to remain the same forever. Often we look to other sources to inspire us to make this journey.
Of course my journey beckoned me during the most inconvenient time of my life. I'm heartbroken af, lonely and miserably depressed. And of course, I'm reluctant. No way I'm running a marathon and fad dieting is so not my thing. I just quit smoking so like can I please have like five minutes to just eat my emotions? Nope. It was my time and like it or not, I had to be ready.
So I found myself searching for inspiration on Pinterest. One little pin stuck out to me for whatever reason. This pin is like "blah, blah, blah... it takes six weeks for other people to notice the weight loss". We've all seen it. I thought to myself: just wait until these six weeks are up - everyone will notice, I'll be happy and my ex will want me back. (Yep, I'm totally serious - I thought that shit.) Anyways, motivated for all the wrong reasons by Pinterest, I go for it.
Six weeks into my journey and even though I put in hours at the gym, no one noticed. The scale barely moved. I definitely wasn't any happier. And surprise, surprise... my ex was not on my front lawn with a boom box held high above his head in attempts to win my heart back. Pinterest lied to me. It took me about six months and a lot of crying to realize that I was doing this whole thing for all the wrong reasons. It's not for other people, its definitely not for my ex and its not for the acceptance either. Its for me. Its the simple fact that I deserve to be healthy and happy.
That's when the true transformation began.
I was suddenly surrounded with positive, uplifting people - people who encouraged and challenged me to succeed. And above all else, they believed in me. I worked hard at the gym, hired a nutritionist and the weight came off steadily. My philosophies on food and exercise significantly changed over the course of these two years - I went from being a vegetarian to a more carnivorous diet for example (we can talk about that later). I also started to see a therapist (yep, we'll talk about that too at some point) who worked with me extensively to develop a healthier self-esteem and outlook on life.
Stephen King says, "No one can tell what goes on in between the person you were and the person you become. No one can chart that blue and lonely section of hell. There are no maps of the change. You just come out the other side or you don't."
And he's right. There's in fact a blue and lonely section of hell during this journey. There were days when all I wanted to do was say "fuck it, I'm done, I give up". There were days when I truly messed up. I went off the rails and devoured a pint of Ben & Jerry's or a whole pack of Sour Patch Kids. It was moments like this when I felt like I failed and it tortured me. Hell, I still have these moments.
Here's how you come out the other side though. You become your own hero. This is, after all, the hero's journey. Stop telling yourself that you're a failure - it's not true. You get to choose who you are at any moment. That's the beauty of being human. You can either choose to tell yourself that same old crappy failure narrative or you can choose to be brave and courageous. So what if you fucked up? That was so two minutes ago and you're not that person anymore. Begin again.
Build a team of positive, inspiring people who will cheer you on, who motivate and inspire you along the journey. Educate yourself, read books and ask for help when you need it. Don't let the little tests along the way stop you. Keep going. Every single challenge is an important lesson learned. Put that shit under your belt or in your cute, little journey backpack. Fight that crazy insane battle at the end whether its tackling a marathon or losing that last twenty pounds. The rewards will be amazing whatever the end goal may be.
On the other side, you'll be an entirely different person who went through hell without a map, fucked up a couple times, learned some tough lessons and made some really cool friends. Or maybe you made some enemies, but that just makes you even cooler. The biggest reward and most cherished treasure though is learning how badass and capable you truly are.
I only hope that when you return from your journey to the ordinary world that you inspire other people to find that courageous badass within themselves. Pay it forward. Cheer someone else on. Be a hero.