When people I haven’t seen in a years notice I’ve lost weight, the inevitable question I get asked is, “What’s your secret?” When I say, truthfully, “There is no secret; I gave up everything I craved and walk three to five miles a day. It made me cranky and I wasn’t always nice.” I get skeptical looks. “But what is your secret?” they repeat. There should be a smoothie, a pill, a piece of equipment, a girdle, or a new exercise behind significant weight loss.
If I’m feeling brave, I’ll say, “Self discipline. Self control. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done so consistently. I still mess up.” That doesn’t work, either. “You have to treat yourself sometime, or you will quit,” they assure me. “You need to eat a little bit of the foods you love.” “It’s not good to have all that discipline.”
I try to change the subject. I’m uncomfortable talking about discipline and success. It’s not the answer for everybody. But it has worked consistently for me–not just in changing my relationship with food, but for most things in life that I have
been pig-headedly stubborn about relentlessly pursued.
It reminds me of how often I was told, after I landed a book contract, that I was “lucky.” Well, perhaps, but it also involved a lot of hard work and, ummm, discipline. I experimented with concepts, ideas, projects. A lot of concepts weren’t strong enough, ideas were half-baked and projects failed. Real creativity is what happens after you fail and before you succeed.
I wrote the book proposal over at least six times, I changed the idea of the book
slightly when it wasn’t focused enough, spent hours doing research to find a publisher who specialized in the kind of book I wanted to write.
The need for “luck” and “secrets” comes because discipline and hard work are not fast and easy. And no one (except the Little Red Hen) wants to say, “I worked really hard for this and I made it work.” It sounds conceited and self-satisfied. But I don’t know a single soul who has lost a lot of weight and kept it off who had an easy secret. Same goes for people who have accomplished something big in their lives. They seemed to have given up a lot of what they would have liked to do instead and worked hard for a long time to make the big dream come true.
Thomas Edison had it right when he said, “The reason too many people miss opportunity is because is goes around dressed in overalls and looking like work.” Followed by another good quote from Thomas Jefferson, “The harder I work the more luck I seem to have.”
Don’t be afraid to dream big. Don’t ever doubt that pushing a dream into reality isn’t hard work. It always is. Don’t be afraid to work hard for that big dream. It’s worth it, and you will learn a lot along the way.
—Quinn McDonald is still struggling to keep the weight off. But she gets to walk in the beautiful light that comes at daybreak.