“We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.” ~ Frank Tibolt
“‘Excellence’ is not a gift, but a skill that takes practice. We do not act ‘rightly’ because we are ‘excellent’, in fact we achieve ‘excellence’ by acting ‘rightly.'” ~ Plato
“Fake it ’til you make it.” ~ Attributed to Alcoholics Anonymous
This is probably the most important thing I’ll ever write.
I don’t know how I made the connection – it was one of those so-called ‘Aha! Moments’ that so many people talk about. I had a bona fide epiphany one day as I was sitting in my living room, crying and feeling sorry for myself. Here is the story, and I hope you find it meaningful to you.
Once I had lost about 90 pounds, and I was no longer in what I kindly refer to as “the 200 Club,” meaning I no longer weighed over 200 pounds, I hit the mother of all plateaus. I couldn’t seem to get out of the 190s no matter what I tried. Everything I had done to lose 90 pounds just wasn’t working for me any more – or so it seemed. And so, I did what any normal human being would – I had a break down. I was so angry, so frustrated, so desperate I just didn’t know what to do with myself. And suddenly, it became very apparent that I had reached a fork in the road on my journey. What should I do?
I had two clear choices:
1) I could quit or…
2) I could forge ahead.
Where would quitting get me?
Well, I could go back to my old habits and slowly but surely undo all of my hard work. “But,” I argued, “at least I wouldn’t have to think about eating healthy and making sure I had time to exercise everyday. In fact, I would never have to think about ‘dieting’ ever again.” It was a happy thought until I realized that it wasn’t true. Just as I had old eating and exercising habits, I had old thought habits too. I knew it wouldn’t be long before I started beating myself up for being fat and lazy (my apologies to myself, but this is the kind of self-talk I regularly engaged in before I decided to change it) and that I would start feeling miserable and guilty like I did when I weighed 287 pounds. Then I remembered how physically painful it was to carry around those extra 90 pounds. So, it didn’t take me long to decide that all quitting would buy me was a ticket right back to Square One.
So where exactly could I go if I forged ahead?
At the time, it seemed all I could do was spin my wheels and go no where. “I’m really trying here, and I’m not making any progress!” I angrily told myself. But, I suddenly thought that perhaps there was something I was missing. I asked myself, “How do thin people live?” And I honestly didn’t know the answer. The only time I was ever thin was in college, and I wasn’t a healthy person then. I could go days without eating a bite. It’s very easy to be thin when you’re starving yourself. I never had a healthy relationship with food or my own self-image. How could I know how “normal” people behaved? There was no way for me to know.
I had turned on the TV, just to drown out the sounds of my own misery, and I heard him tell someone, “You gotta fake it ’til you make it.” It was like a lightening bolt hit me square between the eyes.
“Yeah,” I told myself, “I’ll pretend to be normal until I figure out what that really means.” And I set out to do just that. I read books like The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, 50 Habits of “Naturally Thin” People, and French Women Don’t Get Fat. I watched my thin friends, and asked questions. And I started to pretend to be thin. Honest to God I did. I’d sit down at a restaurant with my family and as I silently perused the menu, I’d ask myself, “What would a skinny person eat?” And that’s what I’d order. When I was asked if I wanted to try a free week at a Boot Camp class, and my first instinct was fear, I told myself that a person who was really in shape would try it. I ended up taking the class for 15 months. The first time I was going to run more than a mile, I told myself, “A skinny girl could do it.” And I did it. And slowly, but surely, I became the thing I was pretending to be. I turned living like a skinny person into being a skinny person. It is now my lifestyle – these are now my habits.
See, the epiphany wasn’t that I could be a big phony for the rest of my life. The epiphany was that I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I had to DO something, I had to DO ANYTHING that would help me get further toward my goals. If I had continued to sit in my living room and cry and say to myself, “This is impossible! I just can’t do it,” then that would have become my reality. So I chose to do something else.
I’m begging you to give it a try. When you’re feeling stuck or stymied, just do something that you think will get you closer to your goal. Through that one action, you’ll be moved to do something else, and then something else until you find you’re moving down the road, journeying away from the place where you were stuck. When you look at that place in your proverbial rear-view mirror, you’ll see it isn’t as terrible a place as you thought it was. And if you get stuck again, chose to DO something – don’t plan, don’t think, just DO. And if you don’t know what to do, fake it. Pretend you are the person you dream of being. Next thing you know, you will be.
My best wishes to you. More soon…
About the Author: JennyJem is a Health Educator, wife, and mother of two currently living the in Central Valley of California. She has achieved her goal of losing over 100 pounds. Her current goals include running a half-marathon and enjoying every minute she has left on Earth. You can go directly to her blog by following this link or by clicking on her name on the right sidebar of this blog that lists “TTIMI’s Writers.” You can read her other posts on this site by clicking on her name at the top of this post.