Updated: Dec 29, 2020
The Power of Embracing Change “Change can be uncomfortable but is rewarding when you embrace change.”
Dr. Sylvia G. Bollie, MD, circa January 2017 I wrote the above statement when I was learning to appreciate change. Honestly, prior to writing this phase I was struggling. Life was telling me change was necessary but I was still clinging to complacency even though I needed change.
Finally I realized I was tired of:
- trying to fight changes I couldn’t control
- saying “I hate change!”
I needed to learn to not only embrace change but enjoy the journey also. After all, as a child I was carefree, adventurous, and prone to getting into trouble due to my overabundance of curiosity. I welcomed new ideas and looked forward to opportunities to try something new. However, somewhere along the journey I decided change was a bad thing and fought for consistency in the form of complacency. If I am honest it probably started when my parents separated at age 11. That’s when I realized that not all change was fun and carefree. Clearly I’m not an 11-year-old girl anymore so I have had to adapt to change through the years, but often it was reluctantly.
After that experience I found, with the exception of educational transitions such as graduations or getting married, anytime I felt uncomfortable I would proclaim “I hate change!” This is how I felt when I was starting my weight journey. I was in a season of many changes: -Newish mom (son was 14 months) -New job (fresh out of Chief residency, a new attending/senior physician) -New City (moved from DC to Richmond, VA where we had few connections) -New body (40lbs overweight & overwhelmed) I realized I needed to change my relationship with my body and how I was treating myself because my weight was starting to impact how I counseled patients. I felt so guilty advising on living a healthy lifestyle and weight loss when I was doing neither. My lowest point came when my mom and I went to try on clothes one day. I picked up my “large size” clothing. As I tried to jiggle on the pants they wouldn’t even go past my thighs. All this happened right in front of my Mom, my fashion icon & beauty queen. I was so ashamed. “Just go get a bigger size” she laughed. To her it was a joke but to me it was a judgement. So much of my identity had been wrapped in my weight no longer being able to fit that size made me question “what makes me beautiful?” I decided that day to work on restoring my health...and my pant size but I did it all wrong. I tried to produce positive change with a negative mindset, which seldom works. I was beating myself up for what I should have done and didn’t do and setting unrealistic expectations. I was lamenting to a good friend, Kriss, expecting her to co-sign on my negative self talk. Instead she said “Be nice to Sylvia. I like her.” This simple switch in thinking changed my mindset. I committed to making small changes over time rather abrupt change. It took time—12 months to be exact—but eventually I: -learned to love exercise & even completed a marathon. I still run regularly today. -started to enjoy healthy food and use food as fuel rather than an emotional crutch. -returned to my pre-maternity weight before having my second child. Most importantly, I learned to embrace change & love myself throughout the whole process. If you are dealing with how to adapt to change. I recommend you address your: -FEELINGS: Feelings can occur spontaneously but usually they are connected to a thought. Rather than dwelling on the taught “I hate change!” Ask yourself “What I am really feeling?” For me change evoked fear. Fear that something bad would happen as it did when my parents divorced. However, I’ve learned not all change is bad. For instance, on my weight journey I’ve had to make many changes. Though they were uncomfortable during the transition phase they ultimately help me feel better. Remember “feelings are a great dashboard but a poor GPS”. Meaning they can tell us something is going on but can lead us in the wrong direction if not addressed properly. Most feelings are connected to a thought. Release "I hate change." Embrace "Change is a necessary and useful part of life." -FRIENDSHIPS: Find people who can loving support you through the uncomfortable stage of change. If you don’t have people in your immediate circle, look for support groups and seek professional support. I always say every woman needs 3 things outside of their Faith: a hairstylist, manicurist and a therapist. Psychology Today is a great source to find local therapist. For weight management you can even hire an obesity medicine physician/ specialist such as myself to offer comprehensive weight management support. You are welcome to join The Embrace You to Lasting Weight Loss Facebook Group, a growing community of women committed to wholeheartedly embracing changes on their weight loss journey. Release toxic relationships. Embrace supportive community. -FOCUS: Focus on small changes at a time rather than being consumed by the big change. One of my favorite quotes by Arthur Ashes says “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Even the pyramids started with one grain of sand. All you have to do is make one small positive change each day. I’ve learned first hand we have the power to use change to our advantage. It depends on our willingness to choose to embrace the changes we face rather than fight them or feel forced into then. Say “I am powerful. I choose to embrace change” Now go, conquer your weight journey one small change at a time.