Decide the price you are willing to pay in advance

Everything in life has a price. Whether it’s losing weight, learning a new skill, writing a book, getting the promotion, starting a podcast or recording an album – we don’t get anything we want by wanting it, wishing for it or avoiding the real work. There’s a price to be paid and either we’re willing to pay the price for what we could become and what we want, or we pay a different kind of price as the result of our unwillingness to do the real work.

Everything in life comes with a price. Question is, are you willing to pay it?

“The important thing is this: to be ready at any moment to sacrifice what you are for what you could become” 

Charles Dickens

When I wanted to transition to teaching fitness full-time,I had to swallow a big proverbial shit sandwich: first, I wouldn’t be able to teach fitness full-time right away. $25 classes weren’t exactly paying the bills. Second, I’d likely have to work (i.e. a real job on the side) to make up the difference from teaching classes. And, most of all, I’d have to accept that what I wanted to do was not a lucrative career, meaning that there was a chance I wouldn’t be able to teach fitness full-time if I wanted to be finically independent.

It was a risk, but I decided the price was worth paying and as I taught my meager $25 classes and built up my teaching experience, I also worked downtown at the Athleta store. Wasn’t exactly the dream job but with 50% off clothing, the ability to teach free fitness classes in store and build my following, and the opportunity to make money to do the adulting part of life, it was a sacrifice worth making.

When the opportunity to make fitness a full-time gig became available, it wasn’t delivered in a box with a big red bow. It also came with a price. In April of 2017 I was offered the role of Studio Manager at the soon to be open Fort Washington LifeTime location. Taking the job would advance my career and afford me financial independence, but if I took the job, I’d have to commute roughly 3 hours total each day back and forth from New Jersey, where I was currently living and co-parenting my son, or, I’d have to move closer to work and be 45 minutes away from my kid. 

There was a cost either way, but I decided that the cost of not following my dreams was too high a cost to pay. More than that, I wanted my son to know the importance of following your heart and your dreams. My mother had me as she was finishing her Bachelors degree and she stopped her education to raise her kids, both myself and my two younger brothers. She didn’t finish her degree until my sister, whose 13 years younger than me, was in middle school. It was a sacrifice she made and one I’m grateful for, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t want that for Johnny. I didn’t want him to set his dreams aside or settle because of what he thought he “should” do, and so I took the position and I moved to my own apartment in Blue Bell.

“Everything you want in life has a price connected to it. There’s a price to pay if you want to make things better and a price to pay to just leave things as they are – there’s a price for everything”

Henry Browne

In that instance, as well as many others, I was given a price to pay for what I wanted and I paid it.

But, I’ve also paid the price to leave things as they are — the relationships that lingered on way past their prime, the toxic work environments and friendships that sucked the soul right out of me. There was a price to pay for not using my voice, for not standing up for myself and what I wanted, for not removing myself from the situation — or owning my role in the situation.

Perhaps the biggest price I ever paid for leaving things as they are happened a decade ago — and if I’m honest, it’s a price I’m still paying.

A decade ago, I choose my eating disorder above all else. “Thin at any cost” wasn’t just a mantra I subscribed to, it was a way of life and it informed every decision I made.

I chose my eating disorder over parenting my son, then a little over one year old.

I chose my eating disorder over socializing with family and friends.

I chose hours at the gym over moments of real connection.

I chose the amount of calories burned over memories made.

As I lost inches from my waist, I also lost friendships.

I sacrificed time and energy to working out, worrying, complaining, staring at myself in the mirror, self-sabotage, counting calories and constant weigh-ins. I sacrificed time and energy I could never get back.

It was a high price to pay — one I agreed to at the time — and in a lot of ways, it’s a price I’m still agreeing too…but at what cost?

There’s another level of happiness that you haven’t even experienced yet.” His words ring in my head as I eat another chip and contemplate what my eating disorder has cost me thus far.

My Inner Mean Girl counters: That “level” of happiness is only available to you when your thin(ner)

Me: We’ve done this before. I lost weight. I wasn’t happy.

Inner Mean Girl: Yes, you did lose weight. You were thinner. Don’t you want to be thinner?

Her words are like sweet honey to my ears. But I’ve heard it before. I shake my head…

I’m so tired of playing this game. I’m miserable in my body whether I’m engaging in self-sabotage or practicing self-acceptance. 

Inner Mean Girl: Self-acceptance will make you soft. Sure, go ahead, love yourself as you are. Can you love yourself fat?

Me: …no

Inner Mean Girl: Exactly. I’ll be over here when you’re ready

As my Inner Mean Girl sits in the back corner of my mind, I politely remind her I’m not doing this again. She only grins in response.

Over the years, my Inner Mean Girl has always been there. For quite some time she was relegated to the back corners of my mind and she hardly said a word. Other days, she’s loud and manipulative. 

Recently she’s been loud and it’s a frustrating reminder of how far I’ve come in this recovery journey, but also how deep these thought patterns go.

We all have an Inner Mean Girl or Guy — the voice in our head that makes us doubt ourselves, that tells us we aren’t enough as we are and only when we achieve or look a certain way will we be happy or feel how we want to feel. 

Our Inner Mean Girl/Guy is often the loudest when they’re scared. As soon as you make a decision that is counter to what they want you to do or believe, they get scared of losing control. Your ego will fight until the death and the minute it thinks it’s losing control, shit gets really loud.

At the end of last year, Mike’s concern for me was growing, as was my level of frustration with myself. Some days the self-loathing would be so bad it was as if I was on another planet. When I was that deep in my head, I wasn’t me and it was very difficult to be with anyone, let alone myself. After many conversations, I finally said to him through tears, “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

At first, saying those words felt like an absolution. I had finally put a stake in the ground, one that said

Not too long after, reality hit.

Mike began to make phone calls. Explore therapy options. Questions were asked. Visits were scheduled. Panic set in.

fuck. fuck. Fuck fuck. FUCKKKKK

Deep down I knew therapy was the price to pay for my healing. I had done so much on my own but there was only so much I could do as I’m not objectively able to asses my world or my body. 

Trust me, I could (and do) still argue that the habits of starving myself and obsessive working out aren’t there…so, by all definitions and technicalities, I’m “fine”. But I’m really not. I’m well aware that when I’m stressed, I still restrict. That I spend countless minutes trying to get ready in the morning obsessing over how I look. The level of “fine” that I live with, still makes living life a chore.

The result we’re seeking lies in the work we’re avoiding.

I know therapy is what will help me heal. But, I’m afraid.

Afraid I’ll get fat

Afraid I won’t heal 

Afraid that even being this transparent will cause people to change their view on me. As a mind-body coach and fitness influencer who supports body positivity and self-acceptance, I struggle and inwardly fight with the things I believe in. 

Everything is life has a price and when the cost is too great a price to pay, we’ll find ourselves resentful, caught in a wave of shame, depressed, afraid or engaging in harmful habits.

A clear sign we’re out of integrity with the person we want to be shows up in how we feel.

It’s not to say we won’t have bad days or moments of self-criticism — we’re human after all — but it’s when those things consume our lives that we need to reevaluate what price we’re paying.

There’s no magic pill or quick fix or easy solution to any of this. Your work might require therapy or life coaching or an accountability partner. It could also be as simple as shifting your commitments and daily routine so that the price you’re paying is one that is contributing to a bigger picture and vision.

Just know that, the result you want is (almost) always hidden in the work you’re avoiding.

Is there some area of your life where you’re paying a cost you no longer want to pay? Where the price is too high and the gain is too little? What fear is holding you back?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below (re: you and I are not alone).

From one human to another —

I see you

I hear you

I feel you