This post was written by Victoriah Knarr.
Transformation suggests a comprehensive change that has both a definitive and measurable beginning and ending. When we hear someone has “transformed” his or her life in any way, the expectation is that the work is finished and the lessons learned, while helpful in the moment, will be forgotten. I would counter that true transformation is a journey and the learning never quite ends. Whereas a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly but once in its lifetime, we as humans have the unique opportunity to change, grow, and transform at any given moment. The ability is within all of us — within, not outside. Others may be able to assist you, motivate you to change certain aspects of your life, give you tips and tricks that have helped them, validate, or maybe even inspire you, but it is entirely up to you to dive into yourself to find the “what” and the “why” that will drive you to change the parts of yourself that leave you craving improvement. True transformation cannot be driven by external factors. Comparison, jealousy, and judgement, while they may fuel your work at times, will never produce the results you desire. A loved one pushing you to lose weight or to see a therapist is not going to produce enough power within you to push you where you need to be, and the work you do will primarily take place within your own mind. That is where your power lies.
When I began my health journey, I started from scratch with the belief that self-hatred, cruelty, and outright bullying myself into submission would propel me to the body of my dreams. Armed with the belief that once I reached this goal of physical perfection, all of my problems would magically disappear and I would be free to live the life I had envisioned for myself; I started crushing weight loss and fitness goals. Things such as fasting, cutting carbs, restricting food intake, overworking my body, and grasping for control in all areas were on my daily list, and instead of celebrating my wins, I berated myself as motivation to keep moving forward. After losing roughly 50 pounds, I hit a plateau. I couldn’t understand why, but my instinct, naturally, was to tear myself apart instead of celebrating how far I had come. I fell into a shame spiral, which felt similar to the shame spirals I found myself in prior to losing any weight after binge eating chocolate chip cookies or not moving from my couch for days at a time. It was around this time I discovered the actual concepts I needed to master if I aspired to achieve my goal of “total health.”
Self-love was the beginning of my actual transformation. Learning this, when I was used to castigating myself, was the most difficult lesson I had been presented with and one that I am still learning today. Offering myself grace, compassion, and rest were more difficult than losing a significant amount of weight or working up to running my first half marathon. Conscious eating, setting boundaries, meditation, inner child work, gratitude practice, and spending time in nature did more to enhance my health than any diet or exercise program ever could. It was when I began looking at the total picture of health that I discovered so much of what makes us healthy begins and ends in the mind. This is where I could focus my attention. This is where I could build from.
This newfound mindset catapulted me past most of the physical goals I set for myself; this newfound mindset helped me truly like myself for who I was and what I had to offer the world. I began to perceive my self-worth had nothing to do with my physical body; but, in discovering my own worth, my physical body began to represent what was happening in my mind.
Incorporating daily movement in forms I enjoyed and choosing foods that both nourished my body and tasted delicious encouraged me to take on movement and nutrition as characteristics of myself. I shifted my mindset from working toward a goal to incorporating sustainable lifestyle changes that would support my mental and physical health. I embraced the process over perfection, and my body became a reflection.
After losing roughly 80 pounds, my transformation is largely visible in my outward appearance; however, I would argue that much of my transformation took place and continues to occur in my mind. The opportunity for growth is a gift that we are presented each morning when we open our eyes. What we do with this opportunity is entirely up to us, but I can tell you from experience, the work we do is worth every bit of our time and attention and the results will be invaluable.
Huge thank you to Victoriah for shedding some light and vulnerability into her experience and continuous journey into physical and mental health.