The Hardest Transformation? My Own Health Journey

I Saved the Hardest Transformation For Myself: How I Got Healthy

I’ve built a career being an expert in transformations, but two years ago, I struggled to make one for myself. 

I was overweight and pre-diabetic. I had cardiovascular issues and bad sleep patterns. I was unhealthy. It had been my status quo for a long time. I knew I was unhealthy but, as is so often the case among women, I was too busy giving of myself, pleasing people, and holding everything together. I was an incredibly competent, high-achieving person. I didn’t let balls drop. 

Yet, there I was, letting the biggest ball of them all come crashing down.

What was any of this for if I wasn’t healthy enough to enjoy it? 

So, like the start of any mega-transformation, I decided to leave the status quo behind. 

The only problem?

Getting healthy is hard

It’s not like I hadn’t tried to lose weight before, but this time, I did what I do best: I experimented with new strategies and pathways to figure out how to make a genuine lifestyle switch this time around. In doing so, I lost 30 pounds and have never felt better. 

A few of my key strategies: 

I committed to a self-care mindset.

In the past, whenever I’d convince myself to focus on diet and exercise, I’d imagine my eventual grandchildren. “I’m doing this so I can play with my grandkids,” I’d tell myself. I was doing it for them.  

This time, I realized the importance of starting from a place of self-love. This needed to be about me loving myself, prioritizing my needs, and putting myself first for a change. I had to do it for me instead.

I started taking drugs!

Along my health journey, I’ve taken prescription drugs, appetite suppressants, and Ozempic. There’s certainly a stigma around these, but I think of it this way: I don’t see very well, so I use glasses and contact lenses. No one would expect me to struggle through life not being able to improve my vision. 

I’ve applied the same philosophy to my eating issues and my struggles with managing cravings and food noise. So, I went under the care of a medical doctor who recommended Ozempic to manage my prediabetes glucose levels. Of course, supply of this drug is never consistent, so I’ve also taken short-term, quick-acting appetite suppressants whenever I feel my willpower shrinking down amid the food noise. Of all my strategies, this one helps to turn that noise off the quickest.

I refused to feel guilty.

I work diligently to not allow myself to feel guilt or shame surrounding my health for even a moment—whether that’s in using such strategies as medication or if it’s not sticking to my nutrition plan or skipping a workout. We’re not machines (I’m an AI expert, so I should know!), and being kind to myself is necessary to stay the course. I also don’t use language like “cheating” on my diet, or say I’m being “lazy” when I don’t exercise—because I’m being intentional about choosing to both follow or not follow my health routines. 

I took a holistic approach.

Yes, I completely changed the way I ate. I cut out sugar, dairy, and most processed foods (oh, how I miss adding cheese to my Mexican food or a scoop of ice cream at the end of a meal!). I drink a lot less. I keep close track of my protein consumption. But it’s not just about food. 

In fact, along with a group of friends, I’m doing the Whole Life Challenge, which seems tailored for someone like me. It is set up so you measure your daily efforts in six lifestyle areas—nutrition, exercise, mobility, hydration, sleep, and well-being.

Sleep is my biggest issue these days, so I’m diligently monitoring my REM cycles and sleep quality with an Oura ring and the Rise Sleep app. For others, it might be prioritizing well-being practices like meditation and journaling or adding stretching to their routines to increase mobility. What this program provides, though, is a daily reminder that health isn’t just a number on a scale or a state of mind. 

At the end of the day, all of these strategies hover around the same idea: Often the hardest thing to transform is yourself, but what’s more worthwhile an endeavor than that?

— Charlene

My Latest:

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  • Would you be willing to be part of an upcoming survey on generative AI adoption? If so, please fill out this form. We are looking for executives from a mix of industries and geographies at companies of at least 500 employees or revenues greater than $100M. We will be in touch if you meet the criteria we need. Extra bonus: We’ll be using a generative AI tool to conduct the research! 

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My Upcoming Appearances:

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Charlene Li

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