A Letter To My Past Self

Hindsight being 20/20, this is what I would have told my past self a few weeks prior to tackling the biggest goal I set for myself in 2016 and a letter to those of you who are still working toward tackling yours. 

Dear Past Self,

The weeks ahead are going to be very hard, stressful, and scary yet exciting. You will reap the reward of facing your fears, but you will continue to have ups and downs until the very end. However, on the bright side, you will make it. And even more importantly... The journey will end up teaching you some very important life lessons.

I've compiled a list of 10 things you should know.

  1. Your attitude and willingness to focus on finding a solution than fretting about the problem itself will help keep you in the race. Like others, you will likely face obstacles and road blocks. It will exhaust you physically and mentally, and your progress will at times be slow at best. Instead of falling into a pit of despair, giving up, or spending more than a evening throwing a pity party... Continue to wake up each day, making note of what didn't work and try again. Stay committed to giving it your best even when the outcome looks bleak and stay committed to the one promise you made to yourself, that you will not give up no matter what. Learn this important lesson and you will bring newfound strength and problem solving skills with you in other aspects of your life when it's all over. 
  2. What's easy to do is also easy not to do. Doing small, seemingly easy, invisible tasks (not the big ones done occasionally) day in and day out will produce the most significant results. There are a lot of mundane things you can do (or choose not to do) that will support your goals like start the day with simple breakfast, drink a glass of water before and after a meal, walk during your lunch break, avoid the handful of candy in the break-room, cut dairy from your diet, go gluten free, forego flavoring your food with unnecessary condiments, workout when you don't feel like it or pass on a good glass of wine at a social event, say no to peer pressure and holding your ground while being scrutinized for your new lifestyle and etc. While you might feel tempted to deviate from the path, I must tell you that with every choice you make (even the easier ones) matters and compounds on itself either adding to your success or taking away from it.
  3. There are no short cuts. There is no way around the suffering and no way around having to work hard to get the results you want. Realize sooner rather than later that if you are willing to do only what’s easy now, life will be hard. But if you are willing to do what’s hard now, life will be easy.
  4. Tracking progress will revolutionize your life, but the outcome does not define your worth. Although I don't recommend living and dying by the scale, it's just one of many tools used to monitor progress. And the more you track and measure your progress in any form, the more you will realize that your choices produce a result which provides an OPPORTUNITY to make adjustments. The results are a product of your choices, but not a product of who you are as a person. Keep making adjustments and fine tuning your plan without getting your ego or self-esteem tangled up with it.
  5. You need to sleep at least 6-8 hours a day. Lack of sleep comes at the cost at your ability to focus, manage emotions and make smart decisions. My advice is that you make it a priority since sleep is critical to operating at your best self.
  6. Your body is an amazing machine and the way you fuel it will impact how efficiently it runs. With a clean diet, you will become aware of how every bite of food effects your mood, energy level and concentration. If you take the time to observe it and adjust accordingly, this will bring you a sense of personal empowerment and a healthier relationship with food.
  7. Remember where you started. It's easy to mismanage expectations, forget how far you have come and question if all the work is worth the trouble. Don't forget to reflect back and celebrate all the small victories along the way.
  8. What people think of you is none of your business. Prepare yourself for eye-rolling, scoffing, and enough passive aggressive comments that will make your ears bleed. Stand tall. Smile. Be gracious. Walk away knowing you are on the right path because if your dreams and goals don't make others laugh, they aren't big enough.
  9. It's a waste of time to compare yourself to others. You will see peers who are far more advanced than you, doing different programs and plans. That's fine. Be open minded and learn from them and also take into consideration that what works for them may not work for you. Every body is different, don't be afraid to be uniquely you.
  10. When you reach your goals, it isn't a battle you win alone. You are a product of the people you surround yourself with. Fortunately for you, you have supportive partner and mentor, a coach, peers with years of experience who are willing to offer up advice, forgiving friends who support your path when it means spending less time together, an affectionate dog who sacrifices longer walks and cuddle time, a number of co-workers and family members who endure conversations at length in regards to your newfound obsession. For the number of adversaries you face, you have a very large community who have your back. Be grateful for your blessings and remember to acknowledge those who help you along the way.

Above all, believe in yourself a little bit more. You are capable of great things if you set your heart and mind to the task at hand.

I'm so proud of you.

Your future self

Natalie BarnardComment