“Preparing For Change: Expectations, Hopes and Fears” guest post by Natalie Cunningham

This coming September I’ll be teaching an 8 week workshop in sustainable nutrition using an action-centered and habit-based curriculum.  If you’re interested in learning more about the workshop please check it out here.  

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about this workshop, people want to know about the structure, what they’ll be learning, how it will work, etc. To give people an inside view on what habit-based change is and how it works I asked my friend, Natalie Cunningham, to write a few guest posts for my blog about her experience as she attends the workshop.

This first post is a short introduction to Natalie, what her expectations of the workshop are, what she’ll hope to learn, what she’s concerned about.

Natalie will be writing another post half-way through her first month of the workshop, another in the middle of the second month and a follow-up once the workshop is complete to talk about what she learned and what changes she’s been able to successfully make in her nutrition habits.

I hope you enjoy reading this guest post from Natalie, and if you have any questions about the workshop, nutrition or habit-based change I’d love it if you asked them in the comments below the post.  

I don’t want to take this class. As a Taurus, change is my least favorite thing. I work hard to love every part of my life, so I have no reason to change it. I can also admit that I’m afraid. You don’t know this yet, but my logical/illogical fear is very efficient; it covers basically every option in order to keep me exactly where I am. Here are my two biggest fears about this class:

(a) What if I take this class, spend 8 weeks of my life in this, and nothing changes. We stubborn people may not like change, but we hold on to our hope that someday everything will magically fix itself. All bad habits will be no more and I will love being active and I’ll plan every meal in a healthy responsible manner. My hopes will be crushed. I would rather just leave everything the way it is than be disappointed.

(b) Conversely I fear if I take this class everything will change. The habits are instilled, my life is different – will I like it? Will it lead to any real fulfillment? Will the struggle be worth it? Will I annoy people with my new found personal power and strong dietary opinions? Okay the last one is completely silly, but you can see where I’m coming from. I’m anxious because I hate change, at the same time I want and hope that it will happen.

Now that you’ve gotten a nice introduction into my complete neurosis let me share a little of my story.
All my life I’ve been a heavy girl. I remember having a break down in middle school and deciding that I would just stop eating and sleep through the hunger. Thankfully that lasted about a week.

Fast forward to college: after a semester of overindulging on demi-baguettes, wine, cheese and the goodness of life in the South of France, I returned from my study abroad to see that my weight was 236lbs. I felt that if I didn’t do something 250 would be right around the corner.

For the first time in my adult life I did something about my weight. I worked out, I took a kickboxing class, I ate well and I graduated college the following year at 202 lbs.

Since then, my health has fluctuated on my scale of priorities. I’ve gotten up at 6am to go to the gym before work, and I’ve spent weeks binging on Netflix and delivery. This on again off again relationship with my own personal care has led to my weight being anywhere from 198-218. I know that the scale should not be our primary measurement of health or success, but damn, getting under 200 felt good.

February 2015 I was diagnosed with diabetes. Now, this should not be a surprise. My whole family is diabetic. Both maternal and paternal grandmothers, my mother, my father, and my brother are all diagnosed type two diabetics. With all of these odds stacked against me, and my personal love of bread and cake, I should have been expecting this, but I wasn’t. It scared me, and for the umpteenth time I got back on the health train. I took a diabetes nutrition course, started working out at home, and went paleo for a month.

Currently my diabetes is under control, but I hear rumors of reversal. Not that my doctor has ever given me this kind of false hope, but it would be hella awesome to not have to take 4 pills a day for my body to function properly.

I feel that I am not a novice when it comes to nutrition. I have a pretty good understanding of what my diabetic body needs to succeed. But I’m taking this class because knowledge is nothing without action and as I’ve said earlier change is hard to implement.

I’m excited to have a compassionate, and kind friend to help encourage me to stick to something for 8 weeks. I can’t tell you how many weekly coffee dates, hangouts, movie nights, and dinner parties I’ve discussed with people and have never seen through. Not to mention yoga challenges, workout regimes, and high intensity dance classes I’ve started and failed to stick with.

I’m not sure what all this class will cover, but I would really love to kick my oral fixation. I’m a smoker, a committed water bottle junkie, tea drinker, and snack queen. I always feel like I need something in my mouth. It’s not hard to see how this may influence my eating habits and weight. I got rid of bad snacks in my house years ago, but that does nothing for the constant candy, cookies, and donuts I’m faced with at work, around friends, etc. If I can get out of the habit of needing something between my lips (I know how dirty that sounds), I feel like I could really change my life. Not just my diet, but quit smoking as well.

I do not want to take this class, but I need this class. Late 20s into 30 has been a weird age, where I’ve realized more than anything else that I have many years ahead of me. Living in the now is wonderful, being mindful in the moment is a lovely place to be, but there is a future, and if I want it to be a happy, less painful, more active one, I need to start investing in myself now.

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