Hindsight is an amazing thing. In the moment, you may have no idea your life is about to change in a big way. Sure, there can be some signs. Perhaps a shift in your core beliefs, a new opportunity appears, or you decide to take a step forward in a direction that has always seemed just out of reach. That’s where I found myself 30 years ago this week, when I took one action that would take me from obesity to a constant state of wellness.
Ever hear of the Freshman 15? I doubled that in college with drinking and midnight-pizza deliveries. After graduation I started working a demanding job, and it only got worse. By early 1992, I was fifty pounds above my natural weight. I felt bad, sluggish, and constantly tired. Going to therapy had awakened a desire to feel better and start treating myself like a friend. Right after Labor Day 1992, I decided to accompany some friends to a step aerobics class, which was the big fitness trend at the time.
Didn’t have any workout attire to wear and I was the biggest person in the class. However, those self-imposed excuses, which previously would have held me back, didn’t matter anymore. I adored the music, doing the steps in sync with everyone else and how good it felt to move my body. Joined that gym, took step classes before work, and started eating better. Slowly but surely, I got healthier, and the extra pounds came off. Most importantly, I’ve maintained my wellness throughout the ups and downs of the decades that followed
From that perspective, I wanted to focus on maintaining your trajectory after making a positive transformation. The key is paying attention to any emerging signs that things aren’t going as well as desired. Here are 4 common warning signs – sort of like a check engine light in your car – that you need to address a potential derailment and get back on track:
1. Reverting to the undesired behavior.
Let’s say that you dropped the need to behave in a way that wasn’t true to yourself and learned how to embrace your authentic self. The relief you felt initially was tremendous after spending so many years trying to conform to the expectations of others. Then, last week when you got together with a group of friends and everyone was sharing what kind of interesting vacations they were planning, you talked about the prospect of cycling through Italy with your spouse . . . even though you can’t afford a trip like that, and neither you nor your significant other would actually enjoy it. You only brought it up to fit in with what others were talking about.
2. General sense that things are off.
After you got unstuck, your desired state of being might have been peace or a general sense of happiness. Now, it feels like you aren’t quite in sync with that anymore. You might not be able to express exactly what’s different yet, but something doesn’t feel right. And your instincts or intuition—whatever you call it—is trying to alert you to find the root of the problem and fix it fast.
3. Your inner saboteur gets louder.
You know that critical voice in your head that talks trash about you to yourself? It probably chilled out to the point of being a vague whisper when you focused so much attention and effort on your transformation. But recently, you’ve been hearing the insidious thoughts of that inner critic at a higher volume. That means your positive trajectory has gotten less solid and needs to be shored up.
4. Increased stress.
Operating at a high level of stress might be your norm, and you managed to get unstuck despite that. But things got worse, and now it feels like you’re having a hard time keeping newly added positive behaviors intact. Pay attention to stress when it starts to elevate; it can throw you off your groove slowly at first, then hit you with a major unwelcome detour.
There are other warning signs that may be specific to you and your situation—lagging resolve, self-sabotaging behaviors, spikes of self-doubt, and more. When you see them start to bubble up, promptly explore the situation to ensure it doesn’t harm your hard-won resolve.
How do you maintain your positive trajectory? What warning signs signal that you may be veering away from your desired course?
Looking for a step-by-step process to help you get unstuck and stay that way for good? Check out Free and Clear: Get Unstuck and Live the Life You Want. It is chock-full of helpful tips, easy-to-use tools and inspirational stories of individuals who overcame obstacles against the odds.