The Three P’s of Change

Last year at this time, I was preparing to undergo a full hysterectomy. I came through the surgery beautifully, and thought I would share some of what helped make that challenge such a wonderful opportunity.


I was thinking this morning about what it will take for me to rebound from my surgery next week.

What it boils down to is Persistence, Practice, and Patience.

These 3 P’s of Change are true regardless of whether you’re recovering from surgery or illness, working to lose weight, or making some other life change.


When you’re finally ready to make a change, you may want it to happen right now.

That impatience makes the process very frustrating and fraught with ups and downs. At the very least, this can make the journey unpleasant, and worse can cause you to get so discouraged that you give up on achieving your goal.

Being Persistent is key.

Persistence is mostly a mind thing. It’s being determined in the moment to make the decision that will move you towards your goal, rather than choosing the option that will maintain you where you are, or even set you back.

After my surgery, I will need to consistently make the decision to eat healthy foods to give my body the nutrients it needs to heal and recover—and not fall into comforting myself with holiday treats. And I will need to move as much as I can. Not only does the doctor say that walking will speed my recovery, but consistently doing what I can will help keep me in the exercise habit so as I am feeling better it will be easier to motivate myself to get moving.


There are typically some routine actions that have to be Practiced consistently to facilitate making a change.

For instance, if you’re losing weight, you have to practice eating healthy foods in moderate amounts and moving your body.

There are things you can do to facilitate these regular practices.

If you’re dieting, you can plan your meals for the week so that you have the right food on hand, stick to a schedule of regular eating, and stay on track with calories.

The actions that I want to practice to facilitate my recovery include meditating, eating nutritious meals, walking, and resting.

To facilitate these, I intend to maintain my practice of meditating upon waking. For the past several weeks, my husband and I have made big batches of healthy soups and frozen much of it so that we’ll have easy, nutritious meals on hand. This weekend I also plan to lay in lots of fruit, fat-free Greek yogurt, and other healthy snacks that don’t require any preparation.

Apparently they will get me up for my first walk while I am in the hospital, so I have set some minimum goals for myself for walking on the treadmill when I get home. And certainly I plan to enjoy a lot of naps, reading, and movies.


The biggest gift you can give yourself when making changes is Patience.

You need to make peace with the fact that change will not happen overnight. And you may make decisions in the moment that aren’t the best, or you may miss an opportunity to practice some of the actions you set for yourself.

This is normal!

One of Bill Phillips’ mantras in his book, “Transformation,” is “progress not perfection.”

Change is about consistency, not being perfect. The quicker you can forgive yourself, the faster you can get back on track.

There are a lot of unknowns about how I’m going to feel after my surgery next Wednesday. Perhaps Thursday I’ll need to sleep all day and I won’t get my planned walk in, or the only thing I’ll feel like eating is toast. That’s OK. While I want to push myself to do those things that will help me recovery quickly, I’m also going to be sensible about it and listen to my body.

Over the weeks of my recovery, I plan to eat some of the lasagna a friend has promised to bring over and I will allow myself to enjoy some holiday treats—in moderation—and I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I am going to strive for consistency, not perfection. By not holding myself to an impossible standard, I’m much more likely to be successful in the long run.

Where could the changes you’re making—or plan to make—stand to have some Persistence, Practice, or Patience?

How could using the three P’s make a difference in your success?

Together we can do it!


Look for an Excuse to Workout

I had my first post-surgery appointment with the doctor yesterday and he confirmed that I am recovering remarkably well. He gave me permission to slowly go back to my regular workouts, and assured me that my body will let me know if I am doing too much.

It’s gratifying to me that I have missed my workouts for the past two weeks, and am looking forward to getting back to them.

In the past when life got stressful, the first thing to go would be my energy for workouts. That would be closely tied with my eating for comfort rather than wellness. Pretty quickly, even the idea of working out would be emotionally and physically draining. This would often be the beginning of my wellness spinning out of control, resulting in my regaining the weight I had recently lost—and then some.

The first time I really saw this change was in the summer of 2010 when my husband was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. It was an incredibly scary time when my vibrant and active husband suddenly became so pain-ridden he couldn’t get out of bed without assistance. It was several weeks before we got a diagnosis, and several more before treatment gave him some pain relief.

Instead of using that incredibly stressful time as an excuse to stop my personal care, if anything it motivated me to take care of myself even more because I knew if I wasn’t feeling good, I wouldn’t be able to take care of David. The best way I could help him, was to take care of myself.

That doesn’t mean it was easy. There were days I had to make myself go workout, even if it was for 10 minutes. Fortunately, getting started was often the hardest part and once I did my 10 minutes, I usually was able to keep going and get in my full workout.

And I reached out for a lot of support. Not only were my friends and family incredible during this time, but I also leaned on the community—a free on-line support site focused on physical, mental, and emotional fitness. (I still participate in the Fabulous Friends accountability group, and would love to have you join us if you are looking for support in meeting your wellness goals.)

As a result, I not only survived this extremely stressful situation, but I thrived and used that time as an opportunity to move towards who I am truly meant to be.

This time, it was me who was facing the medical challenge—fortunately a much-less serious one than my husband continues to face with remarkable aplomb. In addition, because it was happening to me, I found it much easier because I was more in control and could tap into my inner confidence in my personal wellness and wellbeing. It was easier to be focused on what I could do to speed my recovery—following the doctor’s orders to take it easy, and getting in four walks a day and drinking lots of water. I also know the benefit of eating healthy foods and the impact that has on how I feel.

I also have the personal experience that exercise relieves stress, and now I use stress as an excuse to workout rather than a reason to avoid it.

While it may feel like the very last thing you want to do, focus on the stress-relieving benefits of exercise and how much better you’ll feel afterwards. And when you do the workout and are in that better-feeling place, notice it, focus on it, and celebrate it so that you can remember it the next time you are trying to convince yourself to go workout.

Figure out the minimum that you can do that will make you feel like you’re making progress. Even a walk around the block has benefits and will help clear your mind, and it’s a lot easier to convince yourself to at least get that walk in. And if you really can’t motivate yourself to get a workout in today, forgive yourself and focus on doing what you can do to take care of you, even if it’s putting away the bag of potato chips, or saying “No” to the cookies.

The results will be worth it.

Together we can do it!


Photo by Danilo Rizzuti /


Look for the Garbled Message of Your Gremlin

Our thoughts are often our worst enemies. We hear the negative messages offered up by our inner critic and we accept them as true. And we feel bad.

Stop yourself right there!

Engage your logical side and ask yourself, “How true is this?” Chances are those flimsy arguments offered up by your inner Gremlin will begin to cave-in and collapse. Search through this mental rubble with the bright light of Truth—those Universal Truths that are true no matter what—and you will discover the issue the Gremlin was trying to lead you away from.

Now you can choose a different—better feeling—thought that creates an entirely new path.

I was surprised to encounter my Gremlin during the night Saturday. My first tipoff was negative emotion—which always means negative underlying thoughts.

What I was feeling was . . . guilty! There was also lazy. Where were these emotions coming from?

My recovery from a full hysterectomy on Wednesday is going so well that I’m having to sit on myself not to do too much. (Do you know how hard it is not to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk? And I’m going to have to do this for four to six weeks?!)

My Gremlin was speaking up because I feel good enough to help out around the house more, but I’m not. There’s also part of me that feels like if I do too well I won’t have the “excuse” to be lazy and I’ll have to do more than I want, which was swinging me back to guilt.

Geez! The nonsense we can put ourselves through. Fortunately I know this is not the voice of reason speaking, so I’m thanking my Gremlin for its input, but am disregarding its message.

The Universal Truth here is it’s OK to slow down, relax, and let my body heal.

I’m trying to remind myself that the bruises on my stomach are a pretty good indication that healing is going on. And wouldn’t I rather heal while I’m feeling good then have to be in pain?

I’ve talked to my husband about it and asked him to remind me of when I need to rest (he reminded me before he left for work this morning not to take the dogs for a walk, which I was absolutely planning to do), but I’ve also asked him to encourage me to do more when that seems reasonable. (He let me know that I didn’t even have a toe on the side of not doing enough.)

My follow-up appointment with the doctor is next week and I am hopeful that I will be doing so well that I can get early release to get back to my usual activities.

So my new thoughts are to celebrate that I feel good, and to allow myself to relax and take it easy. That’s what this time that I’m taking off is for. I am having a wonderful recovery, and by taking some time now, I will be back to my full activities more quickly. All is well and everything is unfolding just as it should.

This new mantra gives me a feeling of well-being—and that good feeling lets me know I’m on the right track.

When you catch yourself feeling a negative emotion, use that as a cue to look at your thinking. If you think it’s your Gremlin talking, reason your way through its messages looking for Truth. Then choose a new better-feeling thought that moves you forward.

Together we can do it!

Do What You Can Do

I just finished up the first of four (doctor ordered) walks today. Walking and drinking plenty of water are the two things my doctor recommended to speed my recovery from surgery, so my commitment to doing them is unshakable.

There are other things I can do, too. I can rest in-between treadmill sessions, eat healthy foods that are easy on my stomach, and resist the temptation to lift anything heavier than a carton of milk (for the next four to six weeks!).

I can also focus my thoughts on how well I am doing instead of fretting about the things I won’t be able to do for a while. This recovery period is temporary and I will be back to my regular workouts–and strength and energy–before I know it!

Beyond doing these and a few others things, my wellness is beyond my control. I can support my immune system and healing process, but I can’t control it. Regardless of whether anyone else would see me right now and think “optimal wellness,” I can maintain my knowing that wellness is absolutely and completely mine. But I can’t dictate how quickly it will come or when others will acknowledge that reality.

The absolute best thing I can do is spend the majority of my time feeling good—and doing what I can do—and letting go of all those things I can’t control.

Too often we wrap our mind and results around the things over which we have absolutely no influence and ignore the things that we actually can do.

One way to shift this dynamic is to draw a line down the middle of a sheet of paper and on the left-hand side, write down all the things that you can actually do to meet your goal—and then do them. On the right hand side, write down all the things that are outside of your control. Those are the things you have to turn over to the Universe (God, Source Energy, Higher Self, All-That-Is—whatever works for you)—and then let those things go.

Whenever you catch yourself worrying or stressing about those things that are outside of your control, shift your thoughts back to what you can do and celebrate what you are doing.

The key to optimal wellness—and living the life of your dreams—is to look for more ways to feel good everyday and let go of what you can’t control.

Together we can do it!


Thank You for All the Support!

I am doing amazingly well after having a full hysterectomy on Wednesday. Even the doctor’s and nurses commented on how well I was doing before they sent me home yesterday. Other than being very sore, I feel good. And the soreness is no worse than how I have felt after a really intense workout.

The doctor’s orders are to walk 4 times a day, and I have already completed my first 10 minutes on the treadmill, am showered, and feel like getting in a short blog. My big plans for the rest of the day include watching at least one Christmas movie, doing some light reading, and napping. Even though I’m feeling good, I don’t plan to overdo it.

While I think being in good physical shape before the surgery and positively focusing on wellness have a lot to do with my recovery, I also believe the incredible support I have gotten from family, friends, and my fabulous readers has made a huge difference.

Seriously, I have been blown away by the positive thoughts, prayers, and messages coming my way. Thank you all so much. I can’t tell you how much it has meant to me.

Not only is this positive support a boost mentally, but there have been studies showing the power of prayer and intent. (If you are curious, check out The Intention Experiment: Using Your Thoughts to Change Your Life and the World by Lynne McTaggart)

I have no doubt that the gifts you all have been giving me have made a huge difference to my wellness and wellbeing.

One of the things I’ve run into as a coach is that many people are really good at giving, but they have a hard time receiving.

How we receive gifts is a pretty good indication of how well we allow the Universe (God, Source, All-That-Is–whatever works for you) to work in our lives. If we won’t let others support us, we often are not letting the Universe support us, either.

Open your heart and mind to allowing yourself to receive the gifts that others want to give you. And then watch as other blessings flow into your life.

Together we can do it!


The Road to Recovery

I’m heading home from the hospital today after undergoing a hysterectomy yesterday. This is the interesting part for me—the part where I will want to forgive myself for not being able to jump right up and to do what I could just a few days ago.

I will need to remind myself that I am where I am, and that where I am is OK.

Recovery will be a process that may last a few days or a couple of weeks. I am determined to do what I can do, but will also allow myself rest and recovery. It will be interesting to see how quickly I bounce back, but whatever I do won’t be good or bad—it will just be what I do.

When we can take judgment out of the equation—particularly negative judgment—it gives us the opportunity to be more present and experience where we are on the journey. Being present gives us clarity and helps us move forward on the right path.

Where do you need to allow yourself to be exactly where you are?

Together we can do it!


Catching the Wave

At 4:45 a.m. this morning, my husband David drove me to the hospital to get spade. We are to arrived at 5:30 a.m., with surgery to begin at 7:30 a.m.

Surgery was scheduled to last three hours and I will spend another hour in recovery. By lunch time, I should be settled in my room, where I will spend the next 20 hours or so. By Thursday morning, I will be heading home.

My goal today is to surrender to the process. To surrender and allow all the well-trained and skilled doctors and nurses do their jobs and see to my care. To surrender and allow Source (God, the Universe, All-That-Is—whatever works for you) to facilitate this experience on my behalf. And while I am surrendering, to consciously choose how I react and perceive what is happening.

Really, this is a wonderful opportunity to focus on success!

federico stevanin's portfolio is: know that surrendering and focusing on what I want will build positive momentum that will be like a tidal wave moving me towards my goal of optimal wellness

Where do you need to surrender control of the uncontrollable to better meet your goals?

Together we can do it!


Photo by federico stevanin


You Have the Answers for You

I’m still excited about getting spade on Wednesday. My positive feelings range from anticipating having two-and-a-half weeks off work and how awesome I am going to feel once I have recovered, to looking forward to meeting the nurses and support staff at the hospital and seeing my doctor in a new way.

It is with 100 percent certainty that I feel I am taking an action that will move me forward on my quest for optimal wellness.

But just because having a hysterectomy is the right step for me does not meant that I am advocating that surgery—or anything else—is the solution for you.

When we feel like we are moving forward on our life journey, it’s easy to suppose that everyone else needs to do the same things to have the same results.

I am as guilty of this as anyone. From taking the “right” supplements, to doing the “right” exercise, to eating the “right” diet, I’m sure I have driven my friends and family mad with my absolute certainty that “this” was THE solution and they were idiots if they didn’t do it, too.

All I can say to them now is, “I’m sorry, and hopefully I won’t do it again.”

What I have come to know is that there is no one “right” way to do anything or to get anywhere. Being certain in my path in no way enlightens me to the path that other’s “should” take.

But at the same time, what I have learned and what I am doing may provide a valuable piece of the puzzle for someone else.

There is a fine line between sharing what is working for you—and providing a positive example—and pushing your agenda onto others.

My intention is to demonstrate that a healthy and happy life is possible, and inspire others to seek it for themselves—but to let them find their own way.

This is how I work with my clients. I believe that each and every person has their own answers—they just may need a little help finding them.

Often, people I work with will ask how they can get those closest to them to do the same things they are doing. There is genuine frustration, anxiety, and even anger over their partner or spouse, children, and friends not immediately joining them on their diet or exercise program, or whatever else they are doing to transform their lives.

My response is always that your wellness journey is your journey. Nobody’s journey looks the same, or follows the same path. How you do it will be as unique as you are. And that’s also true for your husband, best friend, and everyone else who you believe isn’t where you think they should be.

Be passionate about what works for you and let others figure out what works for them. When they are ready to change they will find the way.

Together we can do it!





A Fabulous New View of Surgery

I had an energy shift yesterday. The situation didn’t change, and there was no specific thing that happened, or that anybody said or did. I can’t pinpoint the cause, or the exact moment the shift happened. It was an internal change—a change in my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.

It was a sudden awareness that I wasn’t just focused on the all the reasons the hysterectomy I’m having next week is going to be beneficial, or my plan to rebound as quickly as possible, or even how much humor I can find in the situation. It was a feeling of genuine excitement about the opportunities this surgery is presenting not only for my physical wellbeing—but for me.

I am actually looking forward to the new situation, new sensations, new environment, and new people I am going to encounter—regardless of how pleasant or not I might judge them. My view of the surgery and hospital stay has shifted to an adventure rather than something I know I can endure for 24 hours. And there is an eagerness to see how determined I can be, how focused, and how well I can use the skills I’ve learned to aid my recovery. It almost feels like a game, or an experiment where I get to see what works best in the moment.

What was interesting was the limiting belief this new feeling made me aware of—that you’re not “supposed” to be excited about experiencing something as “bad” as surgery. It made me reluctant to want to share this new perspective. It brought up my fearful Gremlin, who pointed out that things can happen in even minor surgeries that can result in death, or that the benign fibroid tumors being removed could really be cancer.

Yep, that’s all true. And it doesn’t matter. My spiritual beliefs help me see death as a positive experience. (It’s the folks left behind that have the hard time.) And should there be something else that comes of this, I know I can handle it because everything is always working out for me.

This life we are living is a miracle. There is no guarantee that we have anything but this very moment in which to be present and alive, and to enjoy the incredible colors, sights, sounds, and textures all around us.

I’m not sure how long this new perspective will last. My energy around this may bounce up and down. But for now, I’m going to enjoy this space. I’m going to bask in how much this constructive anabolic energy is aiding every cell in my body. I’m going to think about all the new things I will experience and how much about life I can appreciate from this new vantage point. I’m going to revel in my knowing that well-being is the dominate basis of All-That-Is.

Should my energy drop back down to anxiety, I’m going to remind myself that I was here—and that I can be here again. That I can allow myself to feel this good about something that so many judge as “bad.” I’m going to look for as many ways to have fun as possible.

And I am going to be grateful for the miracle of this moment. This fleeting time and space that will never be again. It is a miracle that the sun comes up every day and that the rain falls from the sky. It is a miracle to be able to see how each moment is unique and utterly new—the clouds in the sky will never be the same again. The birds and animals will never be in the exact same place. The cars and people moving around in their day are in totally new perspectives and positions from one another. The people we see and talk too are different, and even the words that we say to the people who are most consistent in our lives will be different. This is truly a new day and it is a gift for which I am so grateful.

Every situation is an opportunity to learn, grow, and live life to the fullest. How good you allow yourself to feel is up to you.

Together we can do it!

Look for the Solution

Do you focus more on what you want, or what you don’t? What you like, or hate? What you judge good, or bad?

Often we look for the solution by studying the problem. While we need to have a clear understanding of the problem, we then need to shift our attention to the solution. It’s looking at what will be rather than what is, or was. It’s focusing on what’s working, what’s right, and what’s the answer.

The reason for this lies in the underlying energy. Focusing on the problem creates catabolic (destructive) energy, while focusing on the solution generates anabolic (constructive) energy.

Just think about the feelings you have when you are looking at a problem. Let’s say you are in an animal shelter and you see a puppy in a cage that will be euthanized if it isn’t adopted. For most people, that can generate some pretty negative (catabolic) emotions, such as fear, distress, and even anger. Let’s say you see a family walk in the door and adopt that puppy. That probably changes how you’re feeling and generates positive (anabolic) emotions, such as satisfaction, peace, and even joy.

When we’re in a catabolic emotional state, our body is generating harmful chemicals and hormones and other physical reactions, which actually impacts our minds making it harder to think creatively, generate ideas, or even recognize solutions.

We literally need to release the problem and shift our focus to the solution, like turning a coin from heads to tails. The problem, however, is often so compelling and distressing, that we get stuck in it. It’s almost as if we’re afraid to take our eyes off of it because it might get worse, or it somehow means we aren’t compassionate or concerned, or it just upsets us so much.

If you think about it in the context of the principle Energy Attracts Like Energy (also known as the Law of Attraction), you can see that focusing exclusively on the problem generates more problem energy. By shifting our focus to the solution, we then begin attracting solution-energy.

For a while now, I’ve been paying attention to where I focus more on the problem then the solution, and trying to shift my energy on those topics. What I find interesting is how subtle those thoughts can be. It’s like I’m so used to thinking those thoughts and feeling those catabolic emotions that they’re almost invisible to me.

When we ignore catabolic emotions over a long time, our bodies begin to register the destructive internal processes as illness. Headaches, back pains, and other physical problems often begin to appear. We may associate these with stress, which is basically just an umbrella-term for all the catabolic physical processes generated by a variety of negative thoughts and emotions. When these thoughts and emotions continue to be left unchecked, those catabolic physical reactions can escalate to bigger problems, such as heart attacks.

Of course things like diet and exercise play a role, but there is scientific research that associates heart attacks and strokes with episodes of extreme anger, and other stress.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about my female problems and where chronic catabolic thoughts and emotions have played a role. It’s definitely a bit of a Gordian knot that probably started at my absolute shock and horror when I started my period at age 11. I truly thought I was dying. And I never came to peace with that particular aspect of being female.

But it’s even shown up in my resistance to surgery. Doctor’s had been telling me I would need to have a hysterectomy for about six years and I was pretty determined to avoid it. I definitely had some catabolic thoughts and emotions about surgery.

When the doctor told me in August that it was truly time, my first fear-based reaction was total panic. I came home and meditated on it and during that hour I somehow was able to accept it and come to peace with it.

As soon as I did, the solutions began to fall into place. I had one day—December 14—that I could do the surgery where it would have the least impact on my busy schedule. When the nurse called to schedule the operation, she said the doctor wanted to do it December 14. Incredible solutions also appeared in my work schedule and in our finances.

When we release catabolic energy and shift to a more anabolic state, we truly allow All-That-Is (God, the Universe, Source, Higher power—whatever works for you) to provide the solutions we could never create on our own—and often couldn’t even imagine.

Where is your focus stuck in the problem? What can you do to accept it, and shift your focus to the solution? What difference does that make in your life?

Together we can do it!