Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Letting Go & Accepting Change

Experiencing the grief process is a natural reaction to losses of many kinds. Loss on any number of different levels is a part of life we all face. Most of us associate grief with the death of a loved one, but the truth is we each go through a similar process when facing any number of losses, whether it’s a job, when a relationship ends or if we receive a medical diagnosis which threatens our health.  Even events on grander scales can trigger a grieving process, including natural disasters or terrorist attacks which can instill a feeling of loss of safety and/or security. Basically, any time we feel a sense of loss of any kind, we grieve and the grieving process affects us in ways that can be confusing, complicated, and overwhelming.


Each person’s grief is unique and your grieving process will be different, even from people who are experiencing the same loss you are.  Most people who are experiencing grief go through one or more of the same general reactions including physical, emotional and behavioral changes while they’re working through a loss.  Knowing the common grief responses and what to expect may help you feel more at ease in the process as you or someone else you care about goes through it.


Normal grief symptoms span the physical, emotional and behavioral and can include things like crying, low energy, changes in sleep or eating patterns, feelings of numbness, sadness, anger, guilt or anxiety.  While in the grieving process, people sometimes become withdrawn and unproductive or fidgety and restless, concentration may be difficult and even visual or auditory hallucinations can take place. Typically, symptoms are most intense and frequent shortly after a loss is experienced and should gradually subside over time. Keep in mind that it can take anywhere from months to a couple of years before a person fully comes to terms with a loss.  If this sense of closure never happens, daily functioning can be difficult and the risk of physical and/or mental illness increases.


Working through a loss is a complex process.  Expect ups and downs and even two steps forward, one step back kinds of progress along the way toward closure.  There is no one “right” or “wrong” way to grieve, but ultimately the sense of loss and grief will subside toward resolution over time. If the road gets rocker and never seems to smooth out or if you feel stuck and despaired at any time, seeking assistance from a grief counselor or other mental health professional who is knowledgeable about grief issues can help you better understand your grief and assist you in moving forward in the healing process. 

You may be wondering what this has to do with eating right and exercise and I'm here to tell you that the main reason why so many people can't maintain a fit and healthy physique for a lifetime is because they're not willing to let go of that person in the day 1 photo. Intellectually you know that the new you is a better you, but the person you were at the beginning of this process is a dear old friend that's hard to abandon. There are memories, experiences and pleasures that make up who you were and it's hard to wrap your arms around the idea that this part of you is gone forever.

There must be a grieving period or process to break through to the other side. It's normal, it's weird and uncomfortable and it's part of life. Going from unfit & unhealthy to fit and healthy in a relatively short period of time is daunting and traumatic. Nobody talks about it because there's no clear cut way to understand it or deal with it. Some folks make the transition easily while others still see themselves as the overweight, unhappy person they were on day 1. The thoughts and memories in your mind that cause profound emotions from your past don't go away just because you lost weight and got strong. Day 90 of Power 90 and P90X is often a very sad and depressing day for many many people. While it's an amazing accomplishment it also signifies the death of an old friend and the start of a difficult new beginning. The old me is dead, now what?   

The loss of the old you can be as scary, confusing, complicated and overwhelming as the loss of a loved one. You have transformed yourself physically and with that comes emotional and behavioral changes as well. There's nothing on the website or guild book that helps you with that, so just by talking about it here is a step. Just like with any traumatic event or change it helps to know that there will be bumps in the road alone the way. A place of understanding and acceptance comes with time. This is why this community is so important. We are here to listen. We are here to understand. We are all here to help each other get through the good times and the bad. If you keep asking questions, keep pushing play and stay accountable to like-minded people in your life then the grieving period will be short and a healthy and fit lifestyle is yours forever.    


Betsey Syms said...

Wow, Tony! This is a great connector for me. I can totally see the connection between the lifestyle changes needed to be healthy and loss. That completely makes sense to me. I wonder if I worked through this for myself, if I'd be more successful in my attempts to keep up a healthy lifestyle. Thank you for helping me make this connection

Airic23 said...

wow, what a coincidence, I just updated my profile page to talk about my last few months dealing with a tough divorce. I really never looked at it as "grief", but I guess it is/was. You are 100% right Tony, community is essential is helping someone get through the process. thanks!

niko63 said...

Tony, first off, I just hope you all out there got through that earthquake safely and in one can sometimes be dangerous in paradise, right?

Letting go and acceptance of thyself...sometimes two of the hardest things in the world! We all tend to love to cling to our past lives, it's comfortable and safe. And as more time goes by, truth tends to bend, memories distort and reality fades. Sometimes I reminisce about my past athletic performance, before P90 and Beachbody, and falsely lead myself to believe that I was stronger, fitter and faster back in the good old days. But when I look at the numbers from past P90X workouts (like 4 years ago) and compare them with my numbers today, I've improved all around, big time! The numbers don't lie. Let's not confuse the facts. We can only get better as we change for the better.

When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.
~Tuli Kupferberg~

Rae said...

I was wondering about this very thing today, because it occurred to me that I will, at times, deliberately block myself from moving forward in this area because being what I am, feels safe.

I don't do this consciously, and it will cause intense frustration as habits re-emerge for no apparent reason and gains are lost. So I had to take a very hard look as to why I hit the "self-destruct" button, and *low whistle*, there's some stuff there in the back of the head to clean out. Most of it are things I thought I had already dealt with, but in changing my body, it can be a trigger for things long forgotten that resurface. Damn that mind-body connection! LOL.

Hoping this finds you and yours relatively intact, though shaken and stirred.

Christopher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christopher said...

This is funny, I actually posted something about this on my One on One Obsession thread. I was listening to Tony Robbins and he was talking about lasting change. That we often have to condition ourselves in a way that makes us remember over and over that in order to have success, we need to fine tune our thinking. In another tape he also discusses how we are so conditioned to an old way of being that in order to keep having that lasting change, we have to get leverage over ourselves.

One way I could see is to let go of that person in the past. We are constantly evolving and learning and for our bodies, it has to be the same. When I was younger, I was extremely flexible and limber from stretching and martial arts. For awhile, I wanted to get that limber again so I was pushing myself in that direction. But I'm not that same kid anymore and for me to do that is like going back in time. Even my body has to evolve along with my mentality. I can still be in the best shape of my life and not be able to do the splits. In that regard, I'm like Nick above.

When I get up in the morning, I have a very strong warmup routine. It's gotten to be more like a workout than a warmup but now I remind myself that it's a warmup, I don't have to literally do 100 pushups before I do P90X or run a whole half hour before doing Plyo Legs. Because that is how I used to be, I used to want to attain a literal number, opposed to a range.

I recently lost my step-grandparents. They both passed away literally within 3 months of each other. I wasn't very close to them but I still am sad that they are gone. On the flip side, they lived to be around 85 years old and they had a wonderful, fruitful life. There are not many people that can say that, so in their passing, I would have to say that they had the best life there is.

I'll add to Nick's quotes:

"A gem is not polished without rubbing, nor a man (or woman) perfected without trials"

-- Inscription on the temple of Everlasting Harmony (I added woman)

CT Olson said...

Tony this is pretty heavy stuff! And here I thought you just yelled at people to get them into shape ;). But I so see your point. I think letting go (of old habits or your old body) is so important to the process of personal growth. I try and look at it that "I got tired of my heavy body", I want to feel like I used to, so it's going back in years and forward at the same time. This is even more true with someone who loses a large amount of weight I think because they've literally lost a person's worth and sometimes the spouse or friends don't recognize them. Change is unsettling, and it's important to allow yourself time and energy to adjust to the dislocation and disruption this can cause. Unfortunately I have been one of those people who use food in times of stress to cope, which I have to let go of. If you understand the process I think you have a better chance of accepting and adjusting to it in a healthy way.

Anonymous said...

SO true SO true, Tony! People dont realize how much loss we actually go through in a lifetime.Losing loved ones, pets,jobs, friends,places we live,and ourselves,among other things.The grief process allows us to make the transicion from the old to the new and finally accepting it.Thanks for the food for thought! Have a good one! Cathy From Colorado :)>

aJ ("( 'o', ) said...

I've ended my 4 yr relationship just a couple of days ago and I have to thank P90X not just for the healthy benefits my body is receiving, but for the mental strength to block self sabotage and depressing thoughts. Instead of the expected reactions to grief/loss such as binge-eating and staying in a rut, I am eating clean and staying lean. Thanks for the encouraging words, Tony!

pkay said...

That was very powerful Tony. Thanks. Working out and staying healthy helps us deal with problems much better but it's true that you are peeling back the layers and dicovering a new you, a stronger you, the fighter in you. People have to learn to let go and learn from those experiences. That is what builds character. For that I am truly grateful. Loved the one-on-one. Can't wait til this month to get the next, meanwhile I am plugging away at the doubles and actually doing the nutrition plan this time.


kickobesity said...

Wow!! Tony, That was great. I have kept doing this self sabotage for the last 5yrs. Going through a divorce and now dating my ex. I have went through 5 years of depression and weight gain. I am 20pounds overweight. Which I know might seem like much to some. But, it is something that haunts me everyday. I am learning now to let go of the past and not try and re-live and bring the past back. Thanks so much for the talk it really brought tears to me. I am studying a book "Fearless Life" and between your 10 minute Trainer (3rd week), loggiing on to Beachbody and the book I am feeling much stronger physically and mentally. I love your 10 Minute Trainer is just enough for me to digest without an overload.

Thanks again and I enjoyed you chat a couple weeks ago on beachbody.

PhoenixRising said...

Hello Tony, Thanks for your inspirational words. I have been looking at my weight loss as a journey leaving behind the old me, eating habits, and sabatoging patterns. Moving toward a healthier happier me. At times along this journey some old habits/patterns might pop up and my job is to stay the course. Accept the support of my coach and friends so I can reach my goal.

Thanks again - Pam

Buffedstuff said...

Tony, it is so funny that you write on this topic because, when I huffed and puffed 60 pounds off off my body I felt like I had gone to my own funeral. The old me was dead. As my body continually transforms and my life style changes I promise I look in the mirror and I have no idea who that is staring back at me.
I am 47 years old but I promise I feel like I am growing younger. The cleaner I eat, the harder I workout..the more I feel like I am
just beginning.
Somethings need to die and the old me was one of them hello new beginnings and awesome possibilities.

Lily said...


I totally identify with this. I see where I am one of those that doesn't want to say good bye to the old self. We must never let "change" scare us. I think this is my break through here.
Thanks for the eye opener on this.

Zach McIntyre said...

Hey, Tony!
I talked to you about this in a chat room session just a few days ago. I'm going through the grieving process right now, actually. I'm almost done with the P90X Challenge and I'm thinking about exercising every day for the rest of my life. I'm still considering doing P90X+, but I don't have many plans afterward.

By the way, I ordered your Ten Minute Trainer a few days ago and expect to receive it today!

Bring it!

ShawnMarieS said...

Thank you so much for writing this Tony. It came as a great time for me just as I was ending my 90 days. It really hit home. Very helpful.

Prophet said...

Dang. I thought I was alone in this. I was looking back at my P90 day one photos (I just started phase 2 of p90x) and I had this almost overwhelming sense of sadness looking at that poor guy. I could see the frustration and discontent in my eyes in the picture. I knew how crappy I felt back then and how disappointed I was with letting myself get out of shape. Very strange. When I started P90 I had just broken up with a girl who had a lot of insecurities and it was a rough time because I was hoping she would snap out of it (never did, of course). I can't imagine even dating somebody like that right now with as good and as confident as I feel from taking control of my health and fitness. Good article, Tony.

KateFit said...

This post really struck a cord with me. I have had some problems with mild depression here & there ever since I started losing so much weight and quit drinking & smoking. My fit & healthy new lifestyle caused certain "friends" and acquaintances to stop seeing me as often and most of them were waiting for my "health kick" to pass. When it never did, I realized I was upsetting people by improving myself. It was almost enough to get me to stop exercising & start smoking again. But this blog & Tony's chats taught me that misery loves company and to surround myself with positive like-minded people. I pushed through & am getting stronger & leaner everyday. I feel healthier than I can ever remember feeling. Yet, somehow on certain days I feel that sense of loss that Tony wrote about in this post & I thought I was going crazy for having those feelings. I felt like a loser for actually missing the unhealthy things. I realized after reading this that I didn't miss cigarettes or laziness. I was feeling a sense of loss for the life I used to lead. I'm learning everyday to embrace my new freedom & healthiness. This post helped me to not feel so weird or alone. Thanks again as always Tony. You really take care of us and are a genuine caring man. Namaste :)

P90x Workout Program said...

Many of the symptoms described here could also be a result on an autoimmune disease like a thyroid disorder or celiac (gluten intolerance). Don't be so quick to judge a diet free of animal products, there may be other reasons for peoples health problems.

James Garr said...

Thank you for this post. I know it's an old one, but I was able to pass it on to others finishing up their first round of P90x and many people found it very helpful.