Elisabeth was kind enough to ask me to guest blog this week. She wanted me to share my perspective
on the process of growth and change. You see, it was something she and I initially connected over that
has strengthened our bond over the course of our relationship.
For those that don’t know, Elisabeth grew up in a household where her parents had a more involved
nutritional awareness than most typical North American families. Mine definitely fell under that
“typical” category. Although she did the best she could, my Mom (and seemingly, the majority of her
generation) didn’t have the benefit of the volumes of healthy eating literature available today. The
information simply wasn’t as omnipresent back then, and that’s understandable. Elisabeth and I help
each other relate to alternate childhood environments. It’s one of the many great ways we complement
Like most people who sought change, I realized that I wasn’t living life by my rules. I lived by scripts that
no longer served me. I was unhappy because of the beliefs and habits that had been subconsciously
instilled during my childhood. There was a point around five years ago that I set out to change that.
Luckily I didn’t have to do it alone.
As the saying goes, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear.” In my own way, I found
mentorship in my prior relationships. One friend sparked a world of change by inquiring about my life goals
for the first time – a subject that seems so familiar to me now it’s almost funny. Another past romance
was there to support me while I explored a boat-load of self-development literature; something I will
always be grateful for.
I’ve personally researched many “psychology of change” (or as I like to call them – life skills) subjects like
habit, rest, belief, and emotion. It’s another great reason Elisabeth and I complement one another so
well. She’s great with people; I kick ass at researching, and try to help her with the psychology side of
things wherever I can.
My journey started with nutrition. I can honestly say that my initial idea of a hearty/ healthy meal was
spaghetti and meat sauce, along with Pillsbury croissants and a glass of milk. Maybe a side Caesar salad
if we felt adventurous. My first stop on the way to “healthy eating” was the food pyramid I recalled from
grade school. Intuition tipped me off – something didn’t seem right about it. I actually measured the
food out one day (based on my BMI). It was excessive, more than I cared to eat anyways. After doing
some digging I discovered how utterly entrenched government food guidelines can be with major industry. I’d later learn how out to lunch all those guidelines really are. Definitely not the place you want to
be getting your nutritional guidelines. It’s sad really how many things are governed by them – school
lunch menus for example.
Luckily, I stumbled across the book “Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to
Healthy Eating.” For those that haven’t read it (and are interested in a scientific approach to nutrition),
it’s worth a skim. I was amazed at how little hardened science there actually is on the nuanced biological
interactions between our bodies and real food.
The point of my food story is that it served as a model for me to apply to the rest of my life. I could now
similarly identify, evaluate, and set goals for the other dimensions I wasn’t happy with. First, I had to
decide what areas, if any, I wanted to change. That required knowing what the other dimensions were in
the first place.
For those unfamiliar, The “Circle of Life” is a good place to start to intuitively gauge where
you stand. If you've ever worked with Elisabeth, you'll know that she uses this as a tool to measure growth with all of her clients. Existing as a human being inherently requires you find your own sense of balance in all dimensions (to the contrary of those of us who tend to be workaholics!).
Once you decide to set the bar, you then have to figure out the “what” and the “why.” How high do you
want to set it? What is it that’s truly motivating you to get there? What is your ideal in that life
dimension? Exploring these questions is something that takes time and that only you can answer. The
reason I ask them is because the reasons are just as important as the goals themselves. Not only for
motivation, but also to gauge how close you are to them. For example, looking like a figure model is all
well and good if your primary goal is aesthetics; but as any bodybuilder will tell you when they’re getting
ready for competition, that “cut” look isn’t actually a natural or even healthy bodily state.
Body image goals aside, you can further distill my story to get to the root of personal change – a subject
Elisabeth and I often talk about. Looking back prior to my exploration, I realized that a lot of people are
stuck in the mindset that they exist or identify as a static entity, limited in their ability to change and
grow. Oftentimes they hide behind that perceived “fact” to avoid the responsibility of human existence.
It really boils down to a couple of key transitions, through a series of questions:
1. Over the course of your life, what has changed?
This question reminds you that you are not just an unchanging person. That you have grown, changed,
and endured everything life’s thrown at you up to this point. You exist as a process.
2. Of the things that have changed, which of those were things that you consciously decided to
work on to better your future?
This helps you understand that you have already exercised control over your past in a way that may or
may not have helped you in the present. Cause-consequence discussions aside, answering this question
hopefully helps you understand that you can act as a self-directed process – one in which you have
control, should you choose to exercise it.
All that remains at this point is for you to put two and two together, between your Circle of Life
evaluation and your renewed understanding that life is, was, and can be a self-directed process. Your
beliefs allow for change, and now you have your first tool to help you consciously direct your life. Just
don’t get carried away in thinking that you have to consciously change/ fix everything like I did. It’s an
intuitive process. Please trust me when I say that your body already knows what it needs to work on to
make your life better.
Each life dimension comes with its own subsequent skillset and knowledge base. Figuring the rest out is
something that you can either spend years of your life researching, like I did, or enlist the help of
a good Health Coach to give you the shortcuts. I honestly wish I had met someone like Elisabeth sooner.
Then again, I’m biased!
To the journey,