Interview 25 of 52: "This is not an 'all or nothing' game"

DEBBIE!!!! I am obsessed with Debbie and you’ll find out why in a few minutes. BUT before we dive in, I just want to quote one thing she said to me during our interview that I highlighted and bolded as she was saying it:  “We’re afraid to accept our current success based on what we did in the past.”  I could end the blog here quite frankly!  MIC DROP!  I mean seriously think about that!  We might be crushing our goals but we’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop.  We don’t believe we can fully realize our goals because of past failures.  Why do we do that to ourselves? Why do we do that to our future?  I really hope you enjoy this one because Debbie had a lot of amazing wisdom I want to share with you. 

I met Debbie through another interviewee, Sophie [TrackingIsTheNewBlack].  Sophie shared with me how Debbie had inspired her greatly so I absolutely had to meet her.  When we got on the phone I met an amazing woman in her early 50’s who has 2 children, a loving husband and an adorable grandson.  She lives in Connecticut and loves knitting, movies and reading.  Oh and she’s lost 210 pounds. Yup you heard me 210 POUNDS!!!  

She’s incredible!!  Now she spends her life paying it forward.  She works with Weight Watchers and helps other women begin and maintain their health journey.  Her clarity, focus and dedication to her life and the lives of others was so refreshing.  I could feel her passion through the phone.  She’s so passionate because she knows the struggle is hard and the road is long.  But with the right support and attitude you can accomplish anything.  

Debbie started her weight loss journey after her doctor told her she needed gastric bypass.  She looked into it and realized it was something she couldn’t do.  Even IF she lost all that weight with the surgery, her habits would remain the same.  “What good would it be if I didn’t learn how to eat healthy in the first place” she said.  A friend came along and asked her to join Weight Watchers with her.  She took the leap of faith and joined.  She loved it and totally ran with the program.  Before Weight Watchers she had Diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. “I cared more about food than myself” she shared. 

As she got more and more involved she started learning how to manage food choices and learning how to make it a lifestyle.  “I learned how to make all the food work together in a balanced way” she said.  One of the major lessons that clicked for her is that dieting is not an all or nothing game.  That unless you strike that balance and give yourself some credit for what you’re doing then you’ll be a self fulfilling prophecy and fail over and over. 

“We’re afraid to accept our current success based on what we did in the past.”  A wise statement that transcends diet alone. This is true in relationships, work, family, school, etc.  This was so true for me and many of the women I’ve interviewed in this series.  If a diet didn’t workout in the past then why would this diet be any different?  If I couldn’t run a mile in the past, why would I be able to now?  If my last relationship was a total bust, why would this new relationship last?  See the destructive pattern?  We let our past failures define our future successes.  Debbie tries to get people to see and handle things differently this time around.  

It took overcoming a lot of her own struggles to be able to teach such a profound lesson.  One of the biggest hurdles was learning how to listen to her own body.  “We have read so many articles and statistics, we base what we feel our results will be based on what we read” she said.  I want you to take a moment and let that sink in.  How often do you get down on yourself if you don’t achieve the same results as the girl in the magazine or workout video?  ALL THE TIME RIGHT!?  This was a very similar hurdle for me.  I would compare myself to the girls getting tremendous results and when I would compare...I was never the victor.  No matter what my success was there was always someone who did it better and I based my results on what I read or saw.  “It’s ok to not be the same as everyone else. You’re not just a statistic...you’re you.”

As Debbie was gaining a foothold in Weight Watchers she had many self-limiting beliefs rush through her head.  

“I’m too old for this.”
“I’m a couch potato.” 
“Its going to be too hard to do this.”

But she realized that all those beliefs were things that she’d been told (either by herself or others) and she actually COULD do it!  “IF I wanted to I could keep going” she said.  So she kept going.  She embraced her journey and the speed at which she wanted to go.  She stopped listening to the nay-sayers and she surrounded herself with like-minded people.  And the biggest thing she did was share. She started sharing her journey and it held her feet to the flame.  “When you start you’re often hiding it” she said.  So when you start sharing, you seal the deal and you’ve got to get to work!   

I asked Debbie what she thought the 3 most challenging things are when it comes to healthy living.  The first thing that flew out of her mouth was about the preconceived notions we have about health.  “It’s too expensive, time consuming, we’re not worth it”  she shared.  These “truths” that we’ve engrained in our heads about what healthy living is going to look like keeps us at bay.  We don’t engage in it because of all the things we “know” about it.  But just like Debbie, you have no idea how great life CAN be until you ditch the preconceived notions and take action. 

The next one is the fear of being selfish. When did it become bad to take care of yourself?  Self care it so important and the more you show up for yourself the more you can show up for others.  And the final thing she shared was being open to change.  We see ourselves one way and sometimes aren’t willing or able to see anything else.  If this is where you’re at right now, my advice is to reach out!  Reach out to someone you admire and ask for some guidance.  After all the interviews I’ve done for this blog series I’ve heard this stated in many different ways.  “That’s just the way I’m built” “I’ve always been big” “I’ve never been a runner.”  These are just a few of the things that come to mind from past blog posts.  These women could have been closed to any change but they found the strength to try.  They found the strength and grace to be open. 

Debbie is an example of persistence, openness, self care, dedication and love.  She could have held on to her “truth” of being too old to start or how hard it was going to be.  She could have rolled the dice on her health and had gastric bypass surgery.  But she didn’t.  She put one foot in front of the other and just started.  

I asked Debbie to share some of the things that kept her going during her journey and continue to serve her and her clients today.  Here is what she said:

1. Find a balance with some kind of activity.  It doesn’t have to be over the top.  It can be as simple as a walk with your family.  Incorporate things you love into the journey.

2. Plan!  It does make your life easier.  Plan your week.  If the weekend is your time to indulge then PLAN it so you’re aware and can enjoy. 

3. Bring other tools in and don’t depend on your willpower. 

4. It’s ok to accept the scale going up and down.  Learn to embrace both.  It’s a part of life.  I really feel that people should just look to their changes rather the number on the scale.  Look at all the changes you’re making and the scale will change.  

5. STOP starving yourself!!!!  Nurture your body.

6. Stop explaining your victories. DROP but or only.

I love that! DROP the "but" or the "only."  How often do we say "I ONLY lost 2 pounds" Or "I ate well BUT I had a bite of cake."  We've got to stop discrediting ourselves and our efforts.  We've got to stop minimizing all the GOOD we're doing for ourselves!!!  What I learned from Debbie is to get out of your own way, do the work and give yourself some credit already!!!  Debbie you're a total joy! Thank you for being a part of this series. 

Thank you for taking the time to engage in my 25th interview of 52 inspiring women.  Please feel free to share your comments, feelings and send this to a friend you think would benefit from reading this!  If you want me to interview someone you find incredibly inspiring, I would be truly honored to meet them. This is a journey that has no parameters or rules.  Let’s have fun with it and continue to spread the message of empowerment, love and kindness - to ourselves and others!

You can follow Debbie on Instagram @WW.Works4Me