Everyone has a story.  It shapes who we are, where we go, and how we get there.  My vision for Force of Well is for it to be more than just a blog, but a community where we all come together to share our stories and help one another.

Today I want to focus on storytelling, and take some time to share some of my story.  I hope that it will inspire you to share your story with me and everyone else.  Although it can seem odd to talk about ourselves, there is such power in our experiences.  It is the heartfelt emotion behind our experiences that inspire others to go out and not only change their life, but change the world.

The Beginning of a New Life

To date, my most significant achievement is my experience with my own physical wellness.  It completely changed how I live my life and how I view the world.

It all started when I was in college at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  I remember being in my 5th floor dorm room that is best described as a glorified walk-in closet.  Every day I had low back pain and was winded after climbing just one or two flights of stairs.  I was also eating a steady diet of Krispy Kreme donuts, bacon cheeseburgers, and chocolate milkshakes; among other things.  A diet that only Pauly Shore in Encino Man would endorse.

My appearance didn’t bother me.  l was always the fat kid in school and learned to not care about what other people thought, although certain family members never hesitated to point out how fat I was.  I loved to eat (and I still do), so I never gave a second thought to changing my diet.  This day, however, I had an epiphany.  I realized that I was on track to be a young adult with high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and a myriad of other issues.

It was time for a change, but how?  The thought of dieting seemed overwhelming.  Where do you even start?  Would I never be able to enjoy another piece of the rhubarb pie I loved so much without feeling guilty?  Everything about it sounded terrible.

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The Journey

Over the following 18 months later I lost over 130 pounds, which I have kept off for over a decade.  Although I was able to consistently meet my goals, it was by no means an easy journey.  To this day my eyes are still far bigger than my stomach, and I rarely come out of the holiday season without a few extra pounds.  Even this far out, staying healthy still takes work every day.  Like anything in life, it is all about balance and holding yourself accountable.

The solution I came to was logging my meals.  Having a proclivity towards details, this was my way of approaching such an overwhelming undertaking.  I never set out to lose weight, but to be healthier.  Logging meals allowed me to learn how often and how much of those less nutritious foods I could eat.

The question I often get from people is “How did you do it?”  It really is all about going in with the right mindset.  I knew whatever I did had to be a lifestyle change.  I saw so many people try fad diets only to re-gain weight later.  It was important to me that I had the right attitude to make a lasting change.  My philosophy was to strike a balance of eating healthy most of the time, but integrating the not so healthy foods that I enjoy.  I knew going in that my old diet was gone forever, and that I now had to embrace a healthy lifestyle.

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The Takeaway

Going through such a massive change taught me many things.  I will cover some of those in future blogs, but the most important was a massive boost in my self-confidence.  Being able to set and achieve such a large goal made me feel there was nothing I could not accomplish.

I was successful academically most of my life, but learning was something that came naturally to me.  The reason I mention this is because I struggled with my diet, my weight, and my health throughout my life.  Being healthy was not and still is not easy for me, and because of that it was immensely empowering to set and achieve a health related goal.  You cannot put a price on the ability to believe in yourself and your abilities, especially when other people are challenging you.

Although nobody would ever discourage someone from being healthy, a big challenge in living a healthy lifestyle is other people.  There are many mixed messages.  This happened to me a great deal when I would go home for the holidays.  My family had always pushed me to lose weight, but when I would decline desserts or elect to eat healthier foods it was often met with a passive aggressive “So, our food isn’t good enough anymore?” or “You used to like this.”  While people voice support, their actions often send a very different message.

My weight loss brought with it many other observations, difficulties, and realizations.  I am excited to share them with you in future posts.  In the meantime, I hope you will share your stories with me, and share this story with anyone that may find it inspiring.

Can I help you reach your wellness, fitness, or weight loss goals?  Check out my coaching page here: http://forceofwell.com/coaching/

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