Yesterday was a 5-star day: I maintained the integrity of my calorie budget, I remained refined sugar-free, I exceeded my daily water goals, I enjoyed a great workout on the elliptical at the RecPlex, and I stayed well connected with exceptional support.
Mom did feel like getting out last night. She's getting stronger and healthier--didn't even need oxygen with us! We enjoyed a wonderful dinner and conversation at our favorite Mexican restaurant just a couple blocks from my apartment. We enjoyed a nice drive after dinner, too. I employed the same strategy at the Mexican restaurant I always do... ordered ala carte and assembled exactly what I needed right there at the table. My sour cream chicken fajita tacos are truly a treat to me!
Here's an abrupt left-hand turn...
I received an email the other day asking if living at a healthy body has made me happy. The short answer is: No.
One of the most important lessons I've learned in the past decade has everything to do with this question. Wanna dive into it? Keep reading!
What is the secret to happiness?
I don't have all the answers and I'm certainly not a "happiness expert," but I can share with you what I've experienced along this transformation road. During my initial weight loss, I was absolutely convinced that reaching a healthy body-weight would magically fix everything in my life. My pursuit of happiness or simply contentment was focused on everything external. Learning from and experiencing some tough lessons helped me understand something very powerful.
Everything I needed to feel true happiness and contentment was already inside me-- even at my heaviest weight, over 500 pounds, it was there, but I couldn't see it because I wasn't looking within. I was constantly looking outward for something to fix me.
Reorganizing expectations changed things. Lifting the expectation of "everything will be fixed and happy" from the weight loss category helped change my perspective and pursuit. Suddenly, the daily practice and resulting weight loss weren't responsible for "fixing" me, it was simply a means to help keep me well. I'd proven to myself that I could be horribly unhappy well below my initial goal weight. If that wasn't the solution, then what?
In order to answer that question, I had to get in touch with the core elements of me.
I highly recommend taking an inventory of your "core elements." What do you like? What are your talents? What are those core qualities you know about yourself; your compassion, empathy, service to others, your sense of humor, your spirituality, your loyalty...what makes you tick? More on that in a few paragraphs...
The thing about loving and caring for the constants within us, the things that can't ever be taken from us, the elements making us who we are deep down no matter what comes or goes in this life is a key to a certain measure of freedom.
I think about the man in India who lives with his wife and kids in what can best be described as a tent. He gets up every day and walks for miles into the city where he pulls a rickshaw, transporting tourist and business people for 8-12 hours a day. Then he walks home and has dinner (usually white rice and anything else they can afford) with the family he loves. He's one of the happiest people you'll ever meet.
I think about the person who was able-bodied their entire life before a drunk driver rendered them a quadriplegic. Yet, some of these people who have had so much taken away from them, are transformed into some of the most inspirational, positive and fascinatingly happy people in this world.
I believe that people who find and live their happiness are doing so because they're connected to the core qualities within them that can never be taken away. Whoever first said "happiness must come from within," this is what they meant.
If we tether our identity, self-worth, the definition of our success and happiness to anything that naturally fluctuates or can change dramatically, (weight, money, relationship status, social status, job status, etc.) then we're in for a roller coaster ride of emotional unrest and certain unhappiness.
I attached my self-worth to my weight my entire life until this powerful epiphany made itself perfectly clear.
I've often talked about potential and not living up to potential. It's something that's haunted me always.
But here's the thing: Potential is tied directly to the constant qualities within us and if our focus is on the pursuit of happiness in every other direction except within, then those qualities aren't allowed to flourish and grow, thereby giving and bringing life to the potential within us all.
What is genuinely needed emotionally, mentally, and spiritually for real happiness isn't really affected by weight loss or weight gain. Losing weight doesn't make me a better person and gaining weight doesn't make me worse of a person. Understanding and embracing this can provide a nice inner calm, a peace.
The question to determine these inner qualities needing attention and love is: What are the qualities in me that remain regardless of my weight, regardless of my financial situation, regardless of my relationship status, regardless of my professional success--what about me stays the same when all of these other things can and do change? My heart, soul, sense of humor, natural compassion for others, likes and dislikes, pride in parenting, artistic talents, selflessness, humility, etc.
Have you made your list?
And when these constants are cared for and loved, watered, so to speak--they grow, they flourish--and they give us what we need to experience a measure of freedom, the freedom and ability to claim our happiness come what may.
The list should be things that existed at your heaviest and healthiest weight. These things have been within you throughout your most prosperous times and your times of financial struggle. These things have lived in you when you were single, in a relationship or married. These things are what make you, you.
Here's the rub:
Simply acknowledging these things doesn't mean "we're fixed." It takes a daily practice in perspective to remain aligned with what is true.
I hope and pray I never stop practicing.
View this post on Instagram#sundaybrunch Steak & Eggs! The other half of last night's dinner steak- 4.5oz New York Strip with two whole eggs prepared over-medium, refined flour-free/refined sugar-free Ezekiel toast topped with 53g avocado, seasoned simply with salt & pepper, 89g strawberries and 1.75oz Pink Lady apple slices. #dailypractice #foodplan #simplecooking 650 cal.
View this post on Instagram#breakfast Refined flour-free/refined sugar-free sprouted grain Ezekiel toasts. One with three egg whites, one whole egg, and 14g triple cheddar blended cheese. One with 72g avocado. 1.2oz Pink Lady apple slices, 3.2oz fresh peach slices, and 132g fresh strawberries. #dailypractice #foodplan 545 cal.
View this post on Instagram#whatsforlunch Spicy Bean&Cheese Burrito with a side of watermelon to put out the fire!! 164g fat-free refined sugar-free (yes-some brands contain sugar!) refried beans, 1 tbs salsa, 16g roasted Hatch Chili pepper, 1 tbs sour cream, and 28g fiesta blend shredded cheese- all rolled up in a 50 cal. Ole brand whole wheat and flax seed tortilla. So good! 258g watermelon on the side. #dailypractice #foodplan #yumtastic 404 cal.
The next session of my support group starts Wednesday and we are full! Our next session and the next opportunity to join comes in early October. If we have space available, I'll make sure I write about it in advance of the October 9th start of the fall session! I do, however, have one spot open for a new private one on one client. If you're interested in those details, email me: email@example.com
I can't wait to unveil my brand new website! It'll be coming VERY soon. Stay tuned, please!
Do you own an "I'm Choosing Change" wristband? This wristband can serve as a powerful awareness/mindfulness tool! It certainly does for me. I wear mine proudly, daily, and more and more people are joining me in this movement! Email me and let me know if you want one. I'll send you a secure $15 PayPal invoice and personally ship it to you right away! firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for reading and your continued support,
Practice, peace, and calm,
If you're interested in connecting via social media:
I accept friend requests on MyFitnessPal. My daily food logging diary is set to public.
MFP Username: SeanAAnderson
My Twitter: SeanAAnderson
Also--I'd love you to subscribe to my podcast Transformation Planet! You can find it in Apple Podcasts, in the Google Play store for Android, and listed wherever you find your favorite podcasts! If you haven't listened before, you'll find 20 episodes waiting for you!
Questions or comments? Send an email! email@example.com