I feel pretty lucky I have a husband who is genuinely interested in what I’m trying to do with my business…he is always aware of what I’m doing and is peripherally thinking of ways to help me. He talks about me…what I do…and has connected many people to me and me to them.
This new TNTT interview came about because my husband shared a Medium article a colleague of his wrote. An article about amazing personal health changes that didn’t begin with a goal of weight loss and also didn’t focus on weight loss as the most exciting change she made. This was captivating to me and I knew I needed to be connected with this woman! Her story was EXACTLY the thing I’d been wanting to convey via TNTT. It was exactly what I’m trying to educate people (women in particular) about: focus on treating your body well, improving your health, improving your daily life, and striving to feel good and be happy…do those things and your weight may change in a way that surprises you.
(The original article she wrote on Medium to spark this interview can be found here. You might want to read it first, so you can get the gist of the TNTT questions and what Chris did to create a healthy life that she loves! )
As I already mentioned, I met Chris through my husband. She is not a client of mine, nor do I know her in real life. We’ve only “spoken” via email. Nonetheless, her story and experience is one I absolutely want you all to know about!
Without further adieu, please meet Chris!
Can you describe what prompted you to do this “simplifying experiment?” What was going on in your life?
I work on Trailhead, the fun way to learn Salesforce. It’s free online Salesforce training that’s gamified and interactive. I love working on Trailhead and I’m good at my job. At the time I wrote this, we had just finished Dreamforce, which is Salesforce’s annual user conference, and Trailhead had been a huge hit at the 2014 event. We had gone from 11 badges to 75 in just 1 year, and had just hit a milestone of 165,000 badges earned. It was very exciting!
But when we came back from Dreamforce, I had over 1,000 emails in my inbox. It seemed like everyone had discovered Trailhead at the same time. And next thing I knew, I was working too many hours, not spending enough time with my family, and not getting enough rest. I was tired and overwhelmed. Generally, I wasn’t feeling like myself. I knew I needed a change.
Why did you choose what you did to work on? Why not food and exercise focused? Did you have a specific end result in mind…did you want a specific outcome or were you content to “try it and see what happens?”
Eating poorly, not getting enough sleep, and not getting exercise were just symptoms of the underlying problem – saying yes to too many things, and overcommitting myself. What I needed to do was say no to things that weren’t important to me, and focus my energy on the things that were.
Quick sidebar: Notice that I said “energy” and not “time” there? This is something I’ve learned, to manage my energy rather than my time. If I have back-to-back meetings all day, I might still have time to get to spin class, but I won’t have the energy. So I block portions of my calendar to get work done, take breaks, and meditate. That way I’ll still have energy at the end of the day.
Back to your original question: Did I want a specific outcome? Mostly, I just wanted to feel better, and to focus on things that mattered to me. In my case, that meant taking care of myself, spending time with my family, and doing volunteer work.
I don’t know you personally, only as an acquaintance via my husband. That being said, I don’t get the sense from your article that you are body obsessed or have a poor body image…meaning, I feel like you didn’t do any of these things to look better or get sexy or to change your body. Rather, I get the sense you pretty much like how you look and this experiment wasn’t aesthetics based. Is that accurate? How would you describe your relationship with your body? Is it different now versus before your experiment? Why or why not?
I didn’t do any of these things to change my body. The weight loss was a result of simplifying my life and focusing on what was important to me.
As far as my relationship with my body, I try to focus on the positive. So while I’ve noticed that I’m starting to look older, I think I’m pretty lucky to be relatively injury free. My knee is sometimes a little stiff, but really, I’m pretty healthy. I’m grateful for that.
Here’s another example of me focusing on the positive: I just did a marathon and I noticed that afterward, I got three new gray hairs. At first I was stunned, but then I changed my perspective, and thought about it like a badge of honor. I felt like I had worked out so hard that I had really earned those three gray hairs.
I love that your experiment is nearly the exact opposite of what mainstream health and fitness advocates. The mainstream says to focus on food to lose weight and feel better. But what you did was to actually focus on feeling better and then your body “fell into line” so to speak. Yes? Can you explain in a little more detail what was happening during this few month span? Was it hard? And by hard, I mean did it suck? So many people think the process of changing your health/life and even weight loss is total drudgery. Did you find this process to be that?
Lifestyle changes are the hardest kind to make. If you’re used to getting home, getting in your PJs, and watching movies with a glass of wine, it’s really hard to start a new routine of getting home, putting on your running shoes and gear, and going out for a run. And it’s especially hard if you’re not getting the results you want, and most people want to see results right away, which isn’t realistic. In my experience, it typically takes 2-3 months to see consistent results when you make a lifestyle change.
I was focused on trying to feel rested and have more energy. That meant I had to eat good food, get enough sleep, and regularly exercise. And it’s really important to pick exercise that you find fun. I like running a lot, and I enjoy good group exercise classes with good music. So signing up for a marathon and going to Soulcycle was a great fit for me. If you find exercise you love, it’s not hard. It’s fun.
What did you learn from your experiment relative to busyness…staying in the hustle all the time and ignoring self-care?
Meditation really helps you find clarity on what’s important. I can’t recommend it enough. Once I started meditating, I found that it was easier to let go of things that didn’t matter. Once I started doing that, I found more time for things that did.
What impact did more sleep have on your body? Did you notice things like less negative thoughts, less cravings for sugar/deep fried/starchy food, the ability to navigate food without so much anxiety, less joint aches, etc?
When I got enough sleep, I made better decisions. Those included decisions about what to eat and making sure I left my desk in time to get to spin class, but also work-related decisions throughout the day.
If you’re interested in reading more about the value of sleep, you should check out Thrive by Arianna Huffington.
Many of my clients are professional women…like you, they are quite busy with their careers and are in what I guess I’ll call “power positions” (they hold managerial and leadership positions). What advice might you have for professional women who work a lot and often find they put themselves and their personal health at the bottom of the list and don’t prioritize self-care?
Everything catches up to you eventually. You’ll have to focus on it at some point. Your body has a way of forcing you to pay attention.
Was the 30 pound weight loss the transformation in your experiment? Was the 30 pound weight loss what brought you the most joy and/or what taught you the most during your experiment? Yes/no? What brought you the most joy, taught you the most, and was the most transformative part?
The best thing has been how much better I feel. It’s not about the weight. It’s about feeling better, feeling happy.
Any final thoughts to add or a particular nugget to share that might help women struggling with living a contented, happy life?
Find exercise you love, and it won’t be a chore. It will be fun!
🙂 🙂 🙂
Cool, right?!? You can read more of Chris’ writing on Medium (bonus for you if you are into SalesForce!) and you can also connect with her via Twitter @TheChrisDuarte.
As I’ve said in the other TNTT interviews, the weight loss isn’t the transformation. Not. Even. Close! It’s the realigning your life, it’s the taking action to feel better and be healthier, it’s the doing what feels right and good to you that makes for a happy “after.”
Stop looking at those #TransformationTuesday stories! Just stop!! I can understand they are meant to be motivational…and perhaps they are. But they are also selling you a vision and an end result that simply isn’t accurate. Most of us start off our weight loss journeys as a means to earn self-worth and self-confidence. The reality is, a body that weighs less and is a smaller size DOES NOT equate to being happier or more confident. And you don’t have to take my word for it…just ask Melanie, my friend V, and now Chris and they will tell you the same!
If you are tired of diets and of thinking incessantly about food and movement, and are ready to tackle your health from a perspective of feeling good, living well, and living healthy in all the facets of your life, I sincerely hope you’ll become a part of the Head In The Game Fitness crew! Being healthy can be a part of your life…it doesn’t have to consume your life. I share all sorts of information, strategies, tools, and personal experiences with my crew. I want so much for you to realize you CAN live a life differently than you are now. Why not join my crew by enrolling for my free newsletter or joining my free FB group called Project You and see what I have to offer? I’d love to have you! 🙂