How do our habits shape who we are? This was the topic I sat down (over Skype) to talk to Susan Gibson about. Six years ago she made the first in several shifts that would completely change how she presented herself – and how she felt – in her life.
“I had gone to a reunion, and I saw pictures of myself. I realized that I didn’t recognize myself anymore. How I felt on the inside wasn’t what was being presented to the world. It was quite an awakening in me. I’d been telling myself this story that I had healthy habits, when in reality I didn’t.”
She decided it was time to make some changes.
She started with fitness.
“There was no reason I couldn’t find time to go to the gym. Every hotel I stayed in had access to a gym facility of some kind. So I made a commitment to myself that I would start a workout routine. I had dabbled with it in the past, so I had an idea of how to get started but it was a really slow start. I could literally do maybe a minute and a half on an elliptical at first, but I just kept at it. I was really determined.”
She didn’t tell anybody. She just gently allowed the habit to form. She also set goals for herself.
“Every couple of weeks I would evaluate the time I was spending, and see what I could do to increase that. And I did. I was able to sustain it as a habit. I did that very intentionally before I introduced any other changes.”
The next change was with nutrition.
“I’d told myself that I was a healthy eater. I didn’t snack. I didn’t have much of a sweet tooth, and I didn’t drink sodas. But in reality, that was just the story I was telling myself. I had a lot of trouble – still do – controlling the amount that I ate. I couldn’t just eat half of anything. I had to really look seriously at my eating habits, and I had to make a radical shift. It also had to be something I could support while being on the road.”
The first change she made was introducing breakfast. Coffee used to be her meal substitute first thing in the morning. But before making this shift, she read everything she could about healthy eating. “I wanted to form my own opinion about what I should do.”
Next she decided that for lunch and dinner she would eat only salad. It didn’t matter what she put on the salad, but it had to be salad.
“I stuck with that for four years total. It took that long for me to get it set in my mind that I could manage the food I was taking in. The time also helped me to understand the impact what I ate had on my body.”
Susan lost 50 pounds during that time.
“I had to get into a mental space of deciding that I wasn’t actually leaving anything behind. I was starting something new. I decided I had to look at it that way. This was an important part of the thought process.”
And then came the subtractions.
When Susan first decided to make all of these changes, she explains that she always had in the back of her mind that the changes would all have to fit into her current lifestyle. She wasn’t subtracting anything… until she did.
One healthy habit does seem to be a gateway for more.
Coffee was the first thing to go.
“I had been a daily consumer since I was in my late teens. It was an obsession for me – I was a black coffee drinker pretty much from the get go.
First, she decided to make a restriction. She told herself that she was only allowed to drink coffee until noon every day.
“That served me for awhile, and then I realized that I was drinking as much coffee as I could possibly consume from the time I woke up in the morning, to about noon.”
Her next shift was to cut back to just one cup a day. “That only lasted for a short period of time. My mindset was: why even bother? I’m giving it up totally!” She tells me she hasn’t missed it.
Alcohol followed behind.
“It was a very big part of my life and my lifestyle. I grew up in an environment where we had access to alcohol at a young age. I’ve been pretty much a daily drinker of alcohol for my entire adult life.”
After eliminating coffee, she found that – after having a drink in the evening – she was waking up groggy. “I didn’t like that being unclear of mind.” So she gave that up too.
“I don’t miss it from the social point of view at all, and I’m absolutely loving the natural lifestyle that I have now without the cycle of stimulants and depressants every day.”
The further she got into her transformation, the less she was messing around.
There was one more change (addition) that Susan made: Gratitude
“My day starts and ends with gratitude… My mind, my body, my interactions, my introspection are all very precious, and I need to be grateful everyday for my mental and physical capacity to do the things that I do.”
Through this whole six year experimentation/ transformation, Susan says:
“I’ve discovered whole new habits about myself that I think were always there, but that I’d masked or buried in this artificial cycle that I’d allowed myself to be in.
I love to get up early. I love to write and journal and do all these things that I didn’t find the space for before. I was sort of caught up in this physical cycle that was impacting my mental cycle.
I love that I’ve learned these new things about myself by taking away these habits. It excites me and energizes me, and raises this whole other world of curiosity about who I am. I’m curious about what the world has to bring.”
What do you CRAVE most about your life right now? I asked her at the end of our conversation.
“Oh my goodness. I just feel like there is endless possibilities, and I am open now to receiving the gifts of the universe. And I absolutely believe in serendipity. I’m in this huge receiving mode. I CRAVE that.”
Follow this CRAVER
Founder, Susan Gibson, LLC, and The Susan Gibson Mary Tupper Foundation.
Susan crave’s transformation! Whether she’s transforming herself or others, personal or professional, community or commercial, she WILL change the world!
Visit her at her website: www.meetsusangibson.com