Maggie McReynolds blog,

Lessons from a Piece of Pizza

There is a piece of my son’s leftover pizza in my refrigerator. There is half a package of his Oreos in my cupboard. There is a bottle of truly fine pinot noir and some expensive Russian vodka in my cabinet (um, those purchases would have been mine). There is chocolate in my freezer.

For probably the first time in my life, I am oblivious to all of it.

Like many of you, I’ve used eating, drinking, shopping and getting multiple mani-pedis for comfort. I didn’t know it for years, but I was doing it for the same reason most people do: to not have to feel the things I didn’t want to have to face.

So what made me stop all of it, quite literally overnight?

The obvious and true answer is that I became a life coach, and, in doing so, learned how to deal with all of those feelings and fears I was trying to stuff down with Pepperidge Farm Double-Chocolate Milanos.

But the more important and also true answer is that I found something I wanted more than the “comfort” any of these things might bring me in the moment, something I could finally believe in with all my soul:

I want 100% good health. And for the first time in my life, I believe it’s within my reach and that I deserve it.

So when my eyes land on a tray of freshly baked scones at the teahouse I frequent, they keep on moving without my giving those pastries a second thought. When a dinner party host offers to make me one of his fabulous and famous basil-lemon martinis, I go for ice water without a quiver of regret. I pass up cute shoes because I know that money I would have spent on those will buy me probiotics and another month at the recreation center where I swim.

Have I discovered new-found depths of willpower that others don’t possess? Hell, no. What I’ve got is something better:

There is something I want more than any bite of food or cocktail or shiny object, I believe that it is within my reach and I believe with all my heart that I am deserving of it.

And I am willing to sacrifice those things I thought I wanted so much in order to get it.

That last part is really important, because saying “yes” to anything means, inevitably, saying “no” to something else, whether it’s a job or a relationship or a move to another town or what fills your dinner plate.

What do you want with all your heart? Do you believe—not surface—believe, but believe deep down in your bones—that you can have it and deserve it? What are you willing to give up in order to get it?

I didn’t undertake any of this in order to lose weight; I’m saving my life by killing off what is probably a 20-year systemic mold infection within my body. That infection kept me sick for most of my adult life. And for most of that time, I didn’t believe there was anything I could do about it.

I believe it now, and I’m doing it. I’ve lost 20 pounds in 5 weeks, and I intend to lose 40 more. There is no question in my mind that this will happen, because there is absolutely no chance in the world that I am going to go snarf that piece of pizza down. I deserve better that that. Perfect health is worth it.

It turns out, willpower isn’t an issue, or even necessary. Because I promise you, when you figure out what that thing is that you want more than anything else in the world, and when you finally believe that you can have it and that you deserve it?

Nothing—not even a gourmet, three-cheese slice of pizza—will stand in your way.

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