The Emotional Side of Transformations

The Emotional Side of Transformations
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Have you started and stopped a transformational journey you were on? How many times have you started a diet on a Monday only to have given up by the weekend? Is it willpower or something more deep-rooted? Every transformation is rooted in our emotions, which leads us to situations and places in our lives. In the case of health, emotions plays a large part. If we all know what we need to eat in order to be healthy, why are we not all at our most optimal health?

I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with a man who knows a bit about transformations, Joe Cross. He is the founder of Reboot with Joe and the man behind the well-known documentary Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead. During the filming of his documentary, Joe was 100 pounds overweight, suffering from a debilitating autoimmune disease that ravaged his steroid-filled body. Armed with a Breville juicer, he embarked on a 60-day, 3,000-mile trek across the United States finding his salvation in fasting only on fresh fruit and vegetable juice. Juicing, as it is termed, helped him shed all the weight and gain his new and pain free life. His fast was supervised by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, a leading expert in nutrition. In his documentary, Joe touched upon the emotional aspect of his journey as well as that of one of his new friends he met along his travels. I wanted to learn more about what emotions were triggered for him during this transformative time. His documentary reminded me of a quote, "Teach what you want to learn for yourself," and that he did. So when we spoke, I asked him what was the most difficult thing emotionally he had to deal with during his transformation. He told me:

And I think also what tends to happen is when one person in the group decides to sorta say "no, I'm not going down that path," it can also provide a bit of a reflection in the mirror. You become a mirror to a lot of other people because you are doing something and are leading by example and they then -- whether they do or not -- it's sort of thrusting some of them to maybe reassess things in their own life. And that can be a positive and a negative in people because sometimes people just don't want to do that.

... I think that your emotions are excitement, then its pain and isolation, and loneliness and boredom. But then eventually after like the 72-hour period, you sort of get a new lease on life. And you get a different perspective. And you're still gonna have some boredom because you're not eating and you feel a bit isolated.

I think that for many transformations of any kind, whether food or non-food related, can bring on a fear of the unknown and a multitude of questions. Will I lose some friends? Will I be accepted? What if I fail? What if I succeed? These fears lead us to continue the bad habits that keep us from breaking through and completing our transformation. As Joe Cross said to me, "One of the first steps to breaking a habit is having consciousness and being aware in the moment that it is a habit that you are doing."

In her book, A Course in Weight Loss -- 21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight Forever, Marianne Williamson writes that "overeating is not a food issue, but a relationship issue." While we may want to be closer to others the catch-22 is that subconsciously we use our weight to be a barrier of self-protection from others. It is not until we decide for ourselves that we are ready to connect with others, we will never be successful at losing the weight no matter what diet plan we embark on.

So what can you do to help break through that wall which keeps you from realizing your dreams?

  1. Identify your subconscious wall. In what ways and for what reasons are you protecting yourself?

  • Pinpoint a habit that needs changing. As Joe says, be conscious and aware of this habit. Find positive ways to redirect your attention from this habit. It may be as simple as calling a friend to talk and distract your attention or going a different way home that bypasses your triggers.
  • Be understanding that those who pull away from you are afraid of their own "reflection" and truth. They may or may not come back into your life but that has no bearing on you.
  • Find people who are where you want to be. If you dream to complete a triathlon, then join a triathlon group. You want to be surrounded by those already at the finish line of your dream to help fuel your success.
  • Journal your fears and emotions. Through writing, you may discover the source of your "wall" and be able to slowly dismantle the bricks that keep you from your goal.
  • Jack Canfield, best known for his Chicken Soup for the Soul books, once said, "Everything you want is on the other side of fear." What is it that you want and what is stopping you? Never give up on your dreams, just find your way through or around your emotional wall.

    "When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she always had been. But she had wings." -- Dean Jackson

    Adapted from Elizabeth Gavino's upcoming book set to be released this winter.

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