Control Your Mind, Control Your Life

control your mind control your lifeWhen we think of success stories, we often think that the people who achieve great things must be special in a certain way. Thoughts like “she can do it because she is more flexible”, “he has money to invest in a business”, “he’s more creative”, or “he’s stronger than me” often come to mind. However, the truth is that we are all capable of achieving the same things. Successful people are ordinary individuals just like us. They start with little to no experience at all. It’s important to know that the only difference between someone who achieves their goals and someone who doesn’t is that they know how to control their mind. That, along with a combination of self-control, perseverance, and discipline is what leads to major success.

There was a time that I was overweight. I weighed 90 kilos (around 198 pounds). Tired of being a subject of bullying in high school and feeling uncomfortable with my body, I decided to make a change. It was then that I started Beach Body’s Insanity work-at-home program, and in just 60 days I lost 10 kilos (22 pounds). In the past I tried it all: running, zumba, pilates, yoga, and even taekwondo. And I must say that Insanity was the hardest and the most challenging workout I’ve ever tried. Yet it was also the one that was the most rewarding and the one that gave me the best results. If you’re wondering what Insanity is like, here’s a short video.

If I had conditioned my mind to think “I can’t do this” or “this is so hard,” I probably wouldn’t have tried this program. But like Henry Ford said,

“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”

So I believed I could do it.

After I completed one round of Insanity, I was feeling stronger than I have ever felt. Moreover, I was no longer ashamed of my body. The days of thinking “one day I will lose weight” were over. I then completed another round, and then another one, until I reached my weight goal of 70 kilos (154 pounds). Here are my before and after Insanity pictures.

before and after insanity results

You see, it all starts with the mindset. When challenges arise, you can either accept the challenge and experience results, or you cannot try at all and continue with the same lifestyle. I went for the first one. When I was doing insanity I was 100% focused. I had a burning desire to change my lifestyle, and that kept me going. It was hard, no doubt about it, but the feeling of satisfaction after completing each workout outweighed any feeling of discomfort during the process. I controlled my mind when thoughts of quitting appeared.

A few years later, I encountered another challenge.  I didn’t have a job when I moved to the Netherlands and I knew getting a “real” job would take me weeks, or even months. But I wanted to start earning money right away and I just couldn’t afford to sit and wait until I would find my dream job. I was hungry, not just for food, but for financial freedom. I wanted to go on weekend trips, get on the train and get to know other cities. So I advertised my cleaning services on social media and got to work.

There were again two options. I could have told myself “You have a bachelor’s degree, you are better than this” while waiting for better opportunities to come…

woman waiting for the train

Or I could say to myself “this job is temporary. Girl, you got this.”

I opted for the latter and just did the job. I realized that I was eventually happier than many of my friends who remained unemployed. I have always thought being unemployed is a choice. You can spend months (or even years) looking for the perfect job, or you can find a temporary job that pays the bills. There is an unlimited number of jobs you can do, and in this media age you can even make money from home.

At the end of the day, I had money to buy lots of food. And not just any food, but my favorite food! I could buy food that many consider expensive, like avocados and blueberries. And this was all because I did a job that was “hard” and pushed my limits. Some people find it difficult to clean their own house when it only takes 3 hours a week. Well, I used to clean three houses a day, working 8 to 9 hours at a time. I’m not going to lie, cleaning is one of the most arduous jobs, especially when you have to clean a three-floor house and carry around a heavy vacuum cleaner. The sweat is real.

One thing that helped me do this job was the idea of taking it one house at a time. When I was cleaning a house, it was all about that house. I wasn’t thinking of going to the next house. I focused on one single room and getting that room done. Once I was done with that one room, I would move to the next one and so on.

Avoiding thinking about what I had to do next helped me avoid anxiety. I could have made my life miserable thinking thoughts such as “this job sucks” or “others have better jobs”, but instead I chose to enjoy the moment. My ten-minute coffee breaks were heaven, and I made the most of them. I played my favorite music whenever was possible, and cleaned the shit out of those houses. If I wanted to think of the future, I would imagine being on holiday in Italy, or on a Mexican beach.

Once again, I had a burning desire to stop being broke, save money and travel the world. And for my 30th birthday I went to Venice! I made this trip with the money I earned cleaning, and this will forever be one of my most beautiful memories. Here’s my story if you want to read it.

Because of Insanity and because I’ve worked very hard, I now know what my limits are and what I’m capable of. But most importantly, I am no longer afraid of trying new things. If I get a flat tire in the middle of the road, I don’t panic. This is because I am comfortable with the uncomfortable. I always like to think “I’ve done better than this”, or “I’ve been trhough worse.”

I always joke with my friends, who I try to get into doing Insanity “If you complete this workout, you can survive extreme temperatures, or give birth” (I’m not even joking).

Wim Hof "The Iceman"
Wim Hof “The Iceman.” Image via

I know it sounds like I am bragging, but the message I want to pass on is that if I could lose weight, work in a temporary job, and start a new life abroad, you can too.

The only limits are the ones you set to yourself. Click To Tweet

However, because I changed jobs and started working from home, my life became sedentary. This and a change in my eating habits caused me to regain some of the weight I had lost. I gained almost 10 kilos since I moved to the Netherlands.

This does not mean I do not love and accept my body with the extra weight. It just means I love myself enough to work for my health and physical appearance. And this is one of the reasons I wrote this post, so that you can keep me accountable. I recently started a new round of Insanity, and I’d like to share my progress (and results) with you at the end of the program (two months from now).  My boyfriend encouraged me by telling me that if I complete this round he will take me on a getaway to a surprise beach. How’s that for motivation?

paradise beach

Finally, I’m not here to tell you what to do with your life. I’m just here to share my story with you. I’m hoping it will motivate you to challenge yourself to whatever degree you can. Whether it is by exercising, eating better, running a mile, or going for a walk, my hope is you make changes that will help you improve the quality of your life. I guarantee that those tries, challenges, and struggles will turn into something amazing.

I truly believe that the human body can do whatever you set your mind to. So what story are you going to tell yourself? Is it “I can’t” or is it “I’ve got this”?

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Author: Jessica Araus

My name is Jessica. I’m a writer and illustrator living in the Netherlands. I write stories based on my life experiences and I also create colorful illustrations that entertain and inspire many. It’s my hope that this blog serves you as a simple reminder of the power you have to choose, create, and live a life that you love.

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