Fast forwarding to today, 20 years later, very few people know that I was ever that big or that I wasn’t always a natural athlete. I made a commitment to myself after losing the weight to make exercise an integral part of my life. I began searching out bike paths in whatever city I found myself in, and sprinting up them for fun. However, as I reflect this morning, I have come to realize that despite 20 years of maintaining the weight loss, I haven’t changed my identity. Deep down, my inner voice is still that of the big, overweight kid. I am always piling pressure on myself not to revert to old habits. Over 20 years after losing the weight, I still haven’t changed my underlying beliefs. I still sometimes view myself as the overweight guy that doesn’t have control over his destiny. I still tell myself I’m lazy, not tough enough, not organized enough, not disciplined enough which still leads me down the path of comfort eating when stressed or overwhelmed. I revert to type.
As I write this, I’m reminded of a recent conversation with a good friend. He was explaining why one of his athletes trains so hard and concluded, “He’s a fat boy trying to get out”. We both laughed but it made me reflect. The athlete runs so many miles and trains every day to cover up the fat kid inside that still taunts him.
I have realized you have to change your identity and beliefs, as well as what’s on the outside. You have to go to the source and find out where the belief comes from. You are lazy, not tough enough, not organized, or whatever the crap the inner voice is telling you—take all of this and and rebuild, reshape your beliefs and learn how to reengage with your inner voice. This idea has been crystallized for me after recently reading “Atomic Habits,” a book that I highly recommend.
The good friend that highlighted the inner fat kid struggling to get out also shared an additional insight during our drink. When I told him of my fear of public speaking, he asked me why. I said I fear not measuring up to my Dad’s level of public speaking. My friend took a sip of his drink and said, “Your dad had opportunities which he made the most off, and you will get opportunities which you will make the most of. You are already good enough; you don’t need any more degrees. Go out and express yourself.” Those words somehow created a shift, reshaping and rebuilding the way I engage with my inner voice until today.