As I write this, it’s Inauguration Day. Every Inauguration symbolizes a new day and serves as a sign of hope for America. No matter what, we can always create a feeling of hope for ourselves and our country. What is a thought that creates a feeling of hope for you?
I love the word hope. Though my favorite word is wonder.
Last night I had a moment of wonder. It didn’t start that way. I was complaining and grumbling that no one took out the trash, so I did it. Who better than me? When I went to the garage, I saw that my husband had already taken it out. I live in cold Nebraska. It was a crisp and very cold evening. It was around 10pm. I ran to the end of the driveway, opened the trash bin lid and dropped the trash bag in, and turned to run back into my warm house, when suddenly I looked up. I looked up to the night sky to see the most beautiful stars twinkling in their places, standing at attention, each one a little gift for my eyes to unwrap, set in their constellations, doing what they do. They took my breath away. I soaked them up and thanked the stars and ran back into my house with the excitement and wonder of a kid on Christmas morning. What did Santa bring? The best present ever! A whole sky of twinkling stars. The stars weren’t the gift. The gift was the reminder to look up and to be in wonder of the moments that can take your breath away.
So, don’t forget to look up, to be in wonder and to create a feeling of hope for yourself and for our country. We can do this! We can create wonder and we can always look up with hope!
When I talk about choosing what works, what I mean is always choosing the more compassionate approach for yourself. Compassion always works. First, I want to tell you that you are perfect as you are and don’t need to change and don’t need any fixing. In our society, we are always looking for things outside of ourselves to solve and fix us and our problems. We chase these things and try a lot of them or don’t try anything because we think the last thing didn’t work, so why try this one? We use our last attempt at trying something to create evidence for ourselves that there is something wrong with us. That thinking creates more judgement for us and typically isn’t helpful. I’m offering a different way forward from energy depleting thinking.
My amazing life and well-being coach, Kristin, helped me with this when I was confused that while I was working so hard, I just felt like I was creating more self-judgement and the harder I worked, the harder things got for me. It was all related to my self-judgement thinking and not whether or not I was checking tasks off my list. She said, “Karla, you are a little kid with a scraped-up knee. You don’t need punishment. You need a nurturing hug and care.”
In our society we are often taught that being hard on ourselves is what works and will get us to where we think we want to be. It’s the opposite.
All you have to do is notice you’re being hard on yourself, then you can pause and create compassion and soften, rather than getting rigid and critical. To make a change and take action in your life you don’t have to have all the answers at the start. You just have to get curious and create more self-awareness along the way.
You can also create self-trust to choose what works for you. When you operate with self-compassion you build up self-trust along the way. You learn to trust yourself to figure it out, to not make it mean anything about you when things don’t turn out as you expected, and you learn to trust that you will not be so hard on yourself and judge and shame yourself along the way. All you have to do is notice when you are being hard on yourself, which may come up in different ways.
Someone else’s plan may not be what works for you. Sometimes we even use our relationship with food to restrict and be rigid with ourselves or swing the other way (I’ve done both a lot) and eat to numb out our emotions. We don’t even know we’re doing this most of the time. We just feel stuck and it’s a pattern. The good news is you’re never stuck. When you’re being hard on yourself, just recognize it and pause and instead of piling on yourself, be compassionate with yourself.
No matter what, being hard on ourselves, judging and shaming ourselves simply doesn’t work and can even cause harm. It takes practice to learn to be compassionate with ourselves and sometimes can feel hard to break that cycle of being hard on ourselves. It seems like we should be born with self-love and compassion and maybe we are. Who knows? What I do know is that being hard on yourself doesn’t work.
Sometimes, we double down on the shame, self-blame and judgement and think that will get us to where we need to be. We get nervous that if we let up on that negative self-talk, that inner critic, everything will break loose and things will get even worse than they are now. It’s simply not true. Just increasing your self-awareness around when you’re being hard on yourself, and say to yourself, even out loud, and no, you are not going to look strange talking to yourself, “This is hard. I don’t have to be hard on myself. I will be kind to myself. I will be softer and take it easy on myself.” Figure out what works for you.
When you are willing to recognize that being hard on yourself, judging yourself, and all the negative self-talk doesn’t help getting you to where you want to be and actually causes unnecessary pain and definitely less fun in our lives, then you can start to create more compassion for yourself. Another way to look at it is, “Is your current thinking working for you?” You can start to create a feeling and thought that will help you. Learning to have your own back is the best skill you will ever learn, is part of self-love, and makes you an invincible goal slayer.
Welcome to IME Community. I’m the most excited I’ve ever been in my career to launch IME Community. Over the last 17 years of my career as a community pediatrician, I’ve worked diligently to address the childhood obesity epidemic on every level. The whole time my vision has been “creating community solutions for children’s health”. It wasn’t until I went through my personal weight loss journey in 2017 and discovered the transformational power of life coaching that I started to think about how to get that power to teens.
I’m proud of the work in the community and love so much of it, especially the partners, but when I reflect on it and the data, it’s clear that I still hadn’t moved that close to my original vision. I’ve been willing to throw out what doesn’t work for teens and choose what works and build IME Community with you.
What makes a community? As soon as I stopped thinking of community as limited by a geography and decided to move my vision to focus on working with teens and creating a virtual community, I started having a blast creating IME Community.
Teens have very limited opportunities for effective treatment and certainly very limited or no opportunities that are fun. When I left my pediatric practice to start my non-profit Teach a Kid to Fish, in 2008, 4% of U.S. teens were severely obese. When I founded and led a treatment clinic in 2015, 6% of U.S. teens were severely obese. The latest data shows 9% of U.S. teens are severely obese. Data also shows that 80% of teens who are overweight or obese will become obese adults. So, you may say the data isn’t on our side. I suggest thinking of it in a different way. We are quick and lazy to blame the individual when we know we have generations of Americans who have now grown up in obesogenic America. Teens are seen as a commodity, a marketing target at every turn, and when we look at disparities, access to healthy foods, safe physical activity opportunities, it seems almost absurd to blame the individual. It’s even harder for teens who are marginalized and in poverty to transform their health. I believe the problem is we just haven’t given teens anything that works.
I don’t like to waste my time and teens don’t either, especially on something that seems restrictive and rigid and non-sustainable.
IME Community is where self-love is your superpower to achieve your weight and life goals and make your mark in the world. It’s where teens get to choose what works and get all of the life coaching skills and tools they will need to create any result they want. Teens get to measure their own success. I believe in the power of the individual and the power of building a strong community of support with other teens who are on the same journey. I’m excited to bring everything I had to revolutionize my health and follow my dreams to create IME Community for teens. We get to co-create and build this city, IME Community, together.