Change is Hard, But You Can Do It With the Right Incentive... and the Rewards Rock!
Making a radical life change is hard, whether it is career-, relationship-, or health-related. There are no shortage of articles out there for why and how you should make one. It’s brutally hard. You have to change everything from your mindset to your habits. You have to start from within.
Apparently, even when our lives are on the line, people won’t make the necessary changes. It was shocking to read that only about 10% of people would change their lifestyle if it was the only way to survive. Are people really that wedded to their bad habits that they’d rather die than give up a cigarette or a piece of fried chicken? I guess so.
Maybe this was shocking because I just made a huge change in my life.
For almost two decades, I’ve suffered from debilitating migraines, sometimes as many as 3-5 per week. I’d be in extreme pain, be nauseated, and be sensitive to light and sound. I almost never got a good night’s sleep and was prone to bouts of insomnia.
I remember vividly the first migraine I had that sent me to the hospital. I was sitting in my rocking chair in the middle of the night because I couldn’t lie down. It hurt to have my head touch anything. I wanted to cry, but couldn’t because that hurt too. It occurred to me that if I stabbed myself in the leg, that might hurt more than my head and I would feel better. I actually stood up to head to the kitchen top get a knife when a brief moment of lucidity hit me and I decided that stabbing myself was a bad idea and the emergency room was a far better option.
I was living a fairly miserable life. It’s hard to be happy when you function the majority of your day in chronic pain. Constant pain makes it hard to work well, live well, and love well. Many days, it was all I could do to get ready for bed every night.
Chemical smells and perfumes were a trigger for my migraines, as well as several foods. I could never pinpoint the ingredient in the foods that was the specific trigger. I’d play all sorts of process of elimination games with ingredients, but the combinations of artificial additives made it impossible to identify any one element that was a cause.
It got to the point that my doctor said I could be classified as moderately disabled. That wasn’t okay because living with the pain wasn’t worth a label I didn’t want anyway. It was time to make a change – a big change.
So I gave up processed foods. All of them. No prepared foods of any kind with any ingredient that I couldn’t pronounce. Almost all of my food comes straight off the hoof or vine. I prepare all of my own meals. Take out Chinese (a big favorite)? Gone. Oreo Cookies? Dead to me. Frozen meals? Nope.
(I do occasionally indulge in a bite of all-natural dark chocolate because chocolate is proof that there is a higher power and it loves us. Also, taking chocolate away from me is a good way to lose an appendage.)
It was hard, especially when you have to grocery shop for one. When I committed to this change, I relied heavily on a food delivery service that provides organic, fresh ingredients, menus, and recipes for meals small enough for two. I had enough for dinner and lunch the next day. Now, I shop and prep a lot of meals, but my delivery service is convenient when you have to cook after a long workday. The convenience of every fresh item needed being in one box is fantastic and there is no waste.
The nutritional value of the food I was consuming improved. Snacks are raw almonds or veggies and fruits. Meals are high-quality proteins, vegetables, and ancient grains. I use a lot more herbs and spices and don’t miss the salty, sweet additives of processed foods. It isn’t even appetizing to me now. I sat through an entire office lunch of pizza and fried chicken and wasn’t even tempted. Cookies? Not really interested. Anything out of a box? Blech.
It worked. I’ve only had seven migraines in the six months since I radically altered the way I eat. I feel a bit like I died and went to heaven. That’s a drop from about 12-20 a month to one a month. I’ve had fewer headaches in six months than I’d have in two weeks before. This is by far the greatest reward EVER. If you’ve suffered through send-you-to-the-hospital migraines, you know what I mean.
Then there is the happy accident. I replaced the batteries in my scale last week after I bought a new outfit and noticed I needed a size several sizes smaller than the last time I went shopping. I stepped on the scale to discover I’d lost 32 pounds in the last six months. That was not the goal of my lifestyle change, but I am thrilled with the results. Thrilled might be an understatement.
Other perks: I feel great. I am happier. I am doing well at work because I’m happier at my new job and with my new attitude. I’m publishing online every week (you are following me on beBee and LinkedIn, right?). I have a new man in my life who is a great guy.
The renewed energy is amazing. When I could barely climb into bed before, now I get home from work and I’m not exhausted. I walk the dog, work out, make dinner, clean up, enjoy some game time, write, get ready for work the next day, and get a good night’s sleep.
I didn’t add in any additional exercise until a few weeks ago. I did go for a lot of walks, but I’ve kicked it up with cardio and strength training. I am hoping the new exercise routine will keep the momentum going.
I decided I deserved a reward for my hard work, so I get a new profile picture. That’s my reward for succeeding. When I hit my ultimate goal weight, professional photos.
You can do anything if you commit yourself to a change. Pick the change that is right for you and make it happen. Whether it is a career change or a lifestyle change, it takes work, but nothing worth having is easy. Don’t be the 90%. If you want to change, you can do it. Hell, if I can, then anyone can!
It’s Your Turn…
Have you made an amazing change in your career, your health, your life, anywhere? Share your story and inspire others. We’d love to cheer you on!
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All thoughts and opinions are my own. They do not represent those of any current or former employers or clients.