C h a p t e r 1 Old Habits Are Hard to Break Let's Make Better Habits ThatAre Hard to Break Too… Since we all are creatures of habit, is the person who habitually fails doomed to keep on failing? Even if she wants to change her life, is change impossible?
If you think the answer is yes, I have two more questions for you: Deep down, do you believe you'll always struggle with your weight? Is being overweight your destiny?
It's time to look inside. Have you formed a habit of thinking that contentment and happiness are feelings other people have but you will never experience? Or that success is something only others can achieve? If you've made a habit of thinking this way, then you know that old habits are hard to break—mostly because you've tried for years. But while breaking a habit may be hard, it's not impossible.
I know from experience that counterproductive habits keep us from achieving what we want in life. Like many overweight people, I struggled to improve my life. I'd get on a program and even lose some weight. But as I'd begin to see my body changing, I'd suddenly experience a series of slip-ups. I'm talking a few weekends of wrongdoing, such as indulging in Vegas-style buffet eating while ditching my workouts.
I felt defeated when it came to losing weight. It seemed I couldn't break free from my addiction to food. For as long as I could remember, every time I attempted to overcome the habits that kept me overweight and unhappy, it would end in discouragement and failure. Then I would commit once again to making the necessary changes. I would start getting results, but then I'd let down my guard, pick up a fork, and throw my sneakers in the closet. Not only would I regain the weight I had lost, but I'd also pile on a new load of self-hatred.
Back then, winning never felt possible. In my heart I knew it was just a matter of time before I'd destroy all the progress I'd made. And when that day would inevitably arrive, it felt as if my hard work had been erased. All I would have to show for my efforts were a few more cracks in my already-broken heart. Beyond the pain I felt utterly exhausted thinking about how to regain enough strength to go back to Start.
It's not surprising that I would go months, sometimes years, before trying again to pursue the life I desired. DESPERATE FOR CHANGE
As I've said, nearly nine years ago my life took a major turn, and I finally won.
Truthfully, it required more determination and work than I'd ever devoted to anything else. However, I had reached a point where I could no longer keep living the same way. I was desperate to change, and once I reached that point, I made the commitments necessary to stick with it. After I lost two hundred pounds and became a personal trainer, I knew I had found my new life. And I had to share my experience with the world. I want to convince you that just as I was able to turn my life around after twenty-nine years of constant defeat, so can you.
I can tell you how it happened for me, and I can teach you a nutrition and exercise program that will enable you to lose weight, get healthy, grow strong, and improve your heart health. In fact, we'll do all those things in later chapters. But there is one thing I can't do for you. I can't give you a fearless attitude. And you'll need one if you're going to make permanent changes. You must find it within yourself. If your desire to change is not intense enough to push you past the point of no return, and if you don't have a fearless attitude, you will give up. I'm not being a pessimist; I'm simply speaking from experience.
You and I are the same. I get you, because I am you! I know what it feels like to cross your fingers year after year, hoping and praying that somehow you will finally accomplish this one thing you've set out to do—to lose weight. I understand what it's like to get to the end of your rope once again, so desperate to live a better life that you have trouble breathing some nights as you think about your failures.
While I know your pain, I know freedom as well. I learned things over the past several years that freed me from my prison of self-defeat and self-hate. And in this book I'm going to share them with you. But I can do only so much. You have to be willing to work. I'm not talking about just how to work out but about honest work that will take you to the depths of your soul.
In my work as a personal trainer and life coach, I've known too many people who know what they need to do to get strong and lose weight, yet they can't manage to do it when it gets too challenging. I can talk about good carbs and bad carbs until the cows come home, and it won't do a thing. I can show you new core exercises to make you stronger, but that won't make change happen either. And here's why: to end habitual failure, you have to replace it with habitual success. This means you have to experience it, then repeat the experience again and again. Successes, even small ones, can overshadow your lingering thoughts of inevitable defeat.
So our first goal will be to learn habitual success in a way that doesn't trap you in an overly restrictive program or diet system. You need the freedom to fit the program to your life, goals, and temperament. And since we're concentrating on only one day, you need to be freed from the idea that you measure your success against a pyramid of past triumphs or failures. Most people who are trying to lose weight live in dread of the day they will drop the ball and fail to meet their goals. With the One-Day Way, the only day that counts is today. Keep your past defeats in the past, where they belong.
KEEPING PAST FAILURES AT A SAFE DISTANCE
I was trying to help a woman change her life when I became inspired to create the One-Day Way system. I remember our conversation as if it were yesterday. We sat on a white wicker couch overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. I had counseled and coached this woman, who battled not only a weight problem but also longtime drug addiction. I was so proud of her—she had been living clean, sober, and healthy for 144 days!
But as we sat looking at the ocean, she couldn't see the beauty. All she saw was her pain. She confessed that she had "fallen off the wagon." She was drowning in her failures as she spoke. During our long conversation that afternoon, this tormented soul poured out her heart.
Only days before, she had truly believed she was on the road to freedom, finally. It had been several months since she had stopped letting food and drugs control her life. As she recounted her downward spiral, the details were overshadowed by a question she was desperate to ask: How could I have blown 144 days of staying clean, my longest stretch ever, just to end up back in the prison of my addictions? And truthfully, I was angry and disappointed as well. How could she have screwed up again in such a big way? Confessing her failure to me magnified her pain, because it meant admitting that she had been concealing her condition, compounding her defeat by hiding it.
After she finished her tragic confession, she asked, "Chantel, am I meant to be like this forever? Can I be fixed, or will I always stay this way?"
For once I had nothing to say. This is not how I roll. I love to hear myself talk, especially when I think I can motivate someone. Yet I found myself thinking, Stay this way and do what? Live the rest of your life as an addict? This was basically what she was implying. Quickly, Chantel, say something valuable. At least say something to soothe her sadness. But I had nothing.
For a moment I wondered if she might be right. Perhaps she was going to stay this way. Perhaps she was beyond hope. No. No one is beyond hope. I know firsthand the indescribable feeling of losing weight, reclaiming my life, and breaking free from the addictions that used to keep me trapped! I also know I have nothing that this woman doesn't have. So why did she fail again?
It hit me. She had based her confidence on past accomplishments. Her 144 days of living clean and sober were not her current reality, so dwelling on them wasn't doing her any good. Her life needed to be reconstructed, and I wanted to be the person who would help her create a blueprint for a new life. But first she needed to make her life an active construction site rather than a daily existence of looking backward. Counting up how many days she had fought off her addictions before failing again had done nothing but push her back into despair.
I spoke up and told her, "You can get started on the course of freedom, but it takes something else to stay the course." I knew the truth of the matter because of my own past struggle with addiction and defeat before finally achieving a lasting success.
We live in this world of wanting it our way, now! To our detriment, this has pushed us way off course. We think if we can't achieve tremendous levels of success overnight, then we may as well give up. Rather than giving up, however, we need to change the way we measure success. It has nothing to do with what we accomplished yesterday, even if we accomplished something big for 144 straight days. Instead of focusing on some grand achievement in the past or a distant result in the future, we need to see success as making an irrevocable commitment to live differently. And having made that commitment, we can enjoy success in small quantities while we continue moving forward.
My friend's sense of defeat was compounded by the frustration of breaking her record of 144 days of sobriety. She needed to let go of her past, even her recent past. From now on, I told her, she would have to demolish the way she had been measuring her life—both defeats and victories. She had to stop counting days. It would be great if she could repeat and then exceed her 144 days of sobriety. But having done it once, and even repeating it in the future, would not help her do what she had to do today to change her life. She needed to stop worrying about the future, and she needed to let go of the defeat of giving in to her addiction. She needed to realize that what really matters is today.
Someday, somehow, we all are going to fail. The question is whether we will choose to succeed this day, because tomorrow is irrelevant. And our success from yesterday won't change the outcome of what happens today. There is no magical number of successful days that will guarantee a lifetime of success. But if we remove the pressure of trying to make it for a certain length of time and focus instead on living out our commitment for one day, we can reconstruct our lives.
If you want to break an addiction to food, drugs, television, work, a destructive relationship—whatever is keeping you in prison—you will achieve success only by doing it today. This is the basis of the One-Day Way system. You measure success one good decision at a time, one pound at a time, one day at a time as you meet one bite-size goal at a time. A NEW WAY TO MEASURE SUCCESS
Success has nothing to do with someone else's expectations or your getting into the same size jeans as your best friend wears. The truth is this: success is personal. No one else can dictate how you have to measure your own success. For the woman who has been eating Oreo cookies and potato chips every afternoon for as long as she can remember, going one day without either is a huge deal! That day is a success. Whether or not anyone else struggles with cookies and chips doesn't matter. You'll be amazed how far your small steps, taken consistently, will get you.
The reconstruction of your life starts today. And it will continue in the same way, day by day. One day at a time. Most everything about our lives is broken down into days: our calendars, our work schedules, how long the fish we bought at the grocery store will last before it spoils.
You will build your new life starting with a day. And every day after that you will continue building. At the beginning we'll work together to do a little demolition. We need to clear away the old ways of thinking that have brought you to the point of feeling like a failure. Next we'll create a blueprint, a vision for what you want to look like on the exterior and the interior. From there, we will reconstruct your life on three main levels: faith, food, and fitness. You'll learn how to use each one for the best results. And once you have a handle on the One-Day Way system, we'll discuss maintenance and planning for disasters.
The process of taking something that exists and making it better is awesome.
Let's get started by building your new mind-set.