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I recently had the great honor of speaking at the Ziglar Edge Conference in Mount Pleasant, Texas. The video is posted here, but if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, scroll down for the highlights:

When my husband and I first met, we were fat and happy. We went out to eat a lot. We also enjoyed his amazing cooking (he’s a trained chef, though he doesn’t work in that industry now).

One year, we took his son to Disney World. On the airplane, I couldn’t get my seat belt to lock. I kept trying, but I finally realized I needed a belt extender. It was humiliating.

It was the same thing on some of the rides: I needed an extender because I was too large.

This wasn’t a new development, mind you. I have been overweight my entire life. I’ve tried all the diets: Weight Watchers, South Beach, Atkins, you name it. They might work for a while, but none made a life-changing difference.

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I broke down and decided that killing myself would be better than living like this. When my husband saw how desperate I was, he said, “Michelle, I love you the way you are, no matter your size. We will do this together. We are Team O’Neil.”

I know, right? He’s definitely a keeper.

Unfortunately, having a teammate wasn’t the solution I needed either, though it was more fun to have someone to do it with. We tried a ton of diets and none of them were long-term solutions.

Finally, I had weight loss surgery. Although it was more successful than any diet I had been on, I realized that the surgery was just a tool.

The Wheel of Life

In order to be truly healthy, I had to commit. So, I turned to Zig Ziglar’s Wheel of Life. It has seven spokes that represent different areas of your life, and if one of those spokes is weak, the wheel won’t turn correctly. If you want to change your life, you need to evaluate, on a scale of 1-10, which ones are weak.

My weak spoke was the Physical one.

In order to fix that, I had to make some big changes. The biggest change was that I had to find a new best friend. You seem, Food was my BFF. It got me through stress, happiness, break-ups, boredom, depression, you name it. Food never let me down. It was there at 3 a.m. at Whataburger the night I broke up with my college boyfriend. And it’s been there for so, so many other milestones, good and bad.

But food, though necessary, wasn’t always the friend I needed. So I needed to change my relationship with it or it was going to be the death of me.

It wasn’t enough to have weight loss surgery and cut back on food. I also had to become something that I had never imagined myself to be: I had to become an athlete.

From Couch to Marathon

How do you do that? I asked myself the same question.

The first thing you have to do is envision it. What does it look like? How do they get out of bed? What do they eat? I found role models and asked them questions. I used Zig Ziglar’s’ BAM method of a “block and a mailbox,” where you walk or run every day a little more. Run a block and a mailbox; the next day, run a block and two mailboxes, and so on.

I started training for a half marathon around White Rock Lake here in Dallas. Because I had never done anything so physically ambitious, I had to do the walk-and-run method starting out. I gained small distances every day.

I trained around White Rock, which is pretty and fun to run around. But the marathon was on a dusty, hot trail in Ft. Worth. I wanted to give up at mile 10. But my trainer saw me and said, “I’ll finish with you,” and kept me going by saying, “Put one foot in front of the other, don’t look at the finish line, just look down at your feet.” You know what? I was almost last but I did it!

You see, I wasn’t in it to win it; I was in it to finish it. It changed my life. I became an athlete!

But the battle, the wheel of my life, didn’t stop there. It actually starts there. When you accomplish that goal and you change your life on that spoke of the wheel, then you move on to another spoke and make that one better.

It is possible to change your life. It’s a constant process of starting over and over and over again.

Reimagine yourself, visualize it, dream it. Dream big. Dream wild.

What do you want to be? You can be anything you want to be. Once you’ve got it figured out, you have to do daily affirmations and take MASSIVE ACTION toward that goal every day. You keep taking massive action until you achieve that goal, and then you take massive action every day until you achieve the next goal, and so on.

And don’t ever quit.

Michelle May O’Neil is an entrepreneur, lawyer, and motivational speaker. Her most recent book, “Wisdom from Momma,” is a guidebook from, and homage to, her mother, Sandra Verdene Crouch May. It contains life advice from Momma, whose spirit and tenacity guided her and her family through their most trying times.

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