I Knew Things Had to Change

By: Dana Morgan-Barnes | Physical Health | Personal Stories

The end of August 2013 found me worn out from two back to back week long conferences, lots of flight time and late nights, along with early mornings.  I ended up getting sick and then getting really sick.  I could see the “Welcome” sign on the hospital door.  I knew something had to change.  I was still young: mid 50’s. I had a speaking and coaching business ready to take off.  I had so many things I wanted to do and places I wanted to go. I truly didn’t know if I could ever do any of them because my body was just too heavy and I was so unwell. 

As I lay in my recliner for the second week with pneumonia, I knew things had to change.  I finally drug myself into the shower, “knowing” it would make me feel better.  Standing under the hot water, I had a revelation, literally.  I swear there was a light through the ceiling, birds sang and flowers bloomed. Ok, maybe it was the fever. The point is: my mind was opened to a new way of thinking.  All my life, food had been my friend.  It comforted me when I was down, I celebrated with it and it kept me company when no one else was around.  As the hot water engulfed me, I came to the realization that all that was a lie.  Food was my demon.  You can call it whatever you want, I call it a demon.  There was no “friend” in food.  In fact, I could see how “it” had mocked me over the years and kept me from reaching my full potential.  I was ready to make a real lifestyle change.

That afternoon, I was reading my husband’s AARP magazine.  There was an article about Bill Clinton’s “Power Diet”.  He had become pretty much Vegan and that resonated with me.  It had been over 25 years since I had stopped eating beef and pork.  This was something I could do.

My eating changed immediately and my exercise routine actually became a routine.  At first I could only walk 1 mile, but I walked it.  I added distance and increased my pace every week.  I live in Wyoming, where outside exercise is limited during the winter.  I find indoor ways of keeping fit when the wind & snow is blowing.  When the weather is remotely friendly, I head outside!  During the outdoor season, I walk 20+ miles a weekend.  I am now a licensed Zumba instructor and teach 4 classes a week. 

Having made a decision to take charge of my life, I wanted to be held accountable.  I was truly at a loss for connecting with someone who understood what I was going through.

I have had several accountability partners over the years.  Some of them have truly come along side of me and lifted me to a level I didn’t know was possible.  Others tried to guilt me into doing what I had committed to.  Some were absentee partners, they just didn’t know how to do what I needed from them.

So, in September of 2013, I unknowingly took a different route.  I was on a journey to get my health back and without really knowing it, I found hundreds of accountability partners. 

I started my unconventional path by posting almost daily my exercise and food intake on Facebook.  Not every crumb, just that I was focused on my nutrition.  I also noted a tidbit about the weather or some other noteworthy observation: I saw an owl.  I received some “likes” and an encouraging comment at first.  About a month into my journey to health, wellness and ability I posted “I am posting daily because you, my friends on Facebook, are keeping me accountable.”

I became more deliberate about posting daily. I also, started posting something encouraging. My “observations” became more about something I was learning on this path I was on.  One day, after about 5 months of posting daily, I missed a day.  I got home late from Zumba, had an appointment and the day got away from me.  No big deal, I thought.  When I checked Facebook the next morning, I had more than 10 messages asking if I was ok or what happened to me.

Other things started to happen.  People were commenting that they too were becoming more mindful about their nutrition or that they started parking on the far side of the parking lot, to get a walk into their day.  They were becoming accountable for their well-being.  I would run into people that I had not seen in months and they would tell me how reading my posts every day, kept them aware of their own habits. I had no idea they read any of my posts since they never “liked” or commented.  But they were reading!

I don’t believe Facebook can replace the traditional Accountability Partner. I do believe that each of us must find a path for works for us. Follow that path to success and then take our turn in stretching out a hand to lift others up. 

My life is completely different than it was in September of 2013.  Today I am a licensed Zumba Instructor, a certified Health & Wellness Coach, a motivational speaker and life coach.  I now look forward to doing so many things and enjoying a healthy life.