Matt and I have been watching a lot of Chopped lately on Netflix. The other day we were watching an episode in which two out of the four contestants were recovered alcoholics/substance abusers. It was pretty beautiful to hear their stories -- both of them were using and abusing for a long time. And it wasn't until they hit their "rock bottom" that they felt truly empowered to move in the opposite direction.
I don't struggle with substance abuse, but I still thought that I could empathize with their stories. All of us struggle with different things, and sometimes it takes something really shocking to shake us out of our nasty habits/patterns and choose something better for our lives.
2015 felt like a rock bottom for me in a lot of ways. In January, I went to my doctor telling her that I thought I was having a severe food allergy reaction that was causing all sorts of weird symptoms. After doing the full allergy panel and an EKG to check my heart, she told me that she believed I was actually having panic attacks, not allergy attacks. I spent the year struggling through all kinds of mental health stuff, which impacted my health and fitness routine, and honestly my intimacy with God. I was left feeling frustrated, defeated, and a little angry.
I could just wallow. That would probably be easy. OR, I could use the setback of 2015 to motivate me to choose better for my life in the ways that I can. Let's talk about how something like this might work.
1. Find Your Reason
Whether you feel like you've hit rock bottom with your relationship status or with your overall fitness level, getting to a really low place crystalizes your "why." In goal-setting workshops, speakers often say that the first step is finding your "why." If you don't have a reason to move towards a new goal, you're less likely to get there.
If you're in a place where you're really unhappy with something, you probably are pretty desperate for change. Your understanding of your "why" is probably more clear than it might have been before you got to this place. That's something to be thankful for!
2. Paint a Very Clear Picture of Your "Before"
The guys on Chopped have very clear "before" images. One guy's picture involved a lot of alcohol and his car wrapped around a tree. Whether your experience is near-death or simply not being able to fit in your favorite pair of jeans, paint yourself a clear picture in your mind of where you are now. This "before" image will help to motivate you towards a better life.
3. Something Has to Change
It's super natural for us to seek comfort. When you've found yourself in a really low place, you know with full confidence that something's gotta give. You can't keep on this way.
4. Little Triumphs
As you take steps towards your new life, take note of little triumphs -- maybe start to keep a journal to track things you're thankful for or track your food in an app or create a new instagram account to track your fitness progress. Find a healthy way to celebrate these moments. Here's an idea: if you have a fitness-related goal, you could reward yourself at the end of January with a new workout top if you complete 90% of your workouts (or something like that).
Obviously, if you have a weight loss goal, you shouldn't reward yourself with pizza. And if you have a sobriety goal, you shouldn't reward yourself with booze.
I'm really praying for great things this year for all of us. If 2015 was a rough one, let's rejoice in the fact that we can use a setback as fuel to propel us forward!