"Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life" (Sandra Carey).

So how did I release 6 sizes and about 90 plus pounds in 1.5 years? As difficult as it is for me to make myself this vulnerable, I decided to use this opportunity and share that experience.

Literally, I move toward my preferred outcome one choice at a time. What do I mean?

I was one of those coaches that didn't do as I coached. That is to say, I made a living supporting clients as they learned to make healthier behavior choices. Yet, even with my academically-sound and evidence-based approach, I didn't apply that knowledge to wisely make my own life better. Instead, I took care of everyone else and let myself slip further and further into unhealthy and self-destructive choices.

Then it happened. There I sat in size XL stretchy pants amidst a tangle of wires in the emergency room of a hospital being tested, poked, and prodded after a cardiac event. I suppose that you could say that moment was my awakening.

I found my motivation. I wanted to live. Yet, I didn't want to live like I had before. The first step was to comprehend the tools that I needed to make a change and finally use them.

The second step was to honestly learn about my current behavior and begin experiencing new choices one at a time. What I learned was that I managed stress with highly-refined carbs. What I chose was managing stress without refined carbs for 1-2 times per day. Pretty simple in theory, right?

One of my moments was to set a new tone for my day by going for a walk. As the length of my walks increased from a few minutes to a half hour and more, I discovered several sets of stairs along the steep hill behind us.

One of those sets is the Carroll-Street stairs. They are about 1.5 miles from my house and extend for 253 steps up a steep bank to a breathtaking view of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.

At first I needed to stop every 50 steps as I re-learned how to manage my breathing in concert with my exertion. Having danced, ran, played woodwinds, and done yoga and singing, for many years prior, I slowly recovered my circular-breathing ability as I added more and more steps between stops.

Then the moment happened. I climbed those steps without stopping. My legs were wobbly and I felt light headed, but I did it! Then I did it again and again and climbed even more of the hill afterward.

Today, there is something quite profound for me about the experience of these steps in relation to finally coming to terms with my own self-care and well being. While there are other success choices that I made to reach this point, for me the Carroll-Street steps have a unique meaning. They mean that I allow myself the opportunity success one choice at a time. As I chose to take one step after another, I chose to live. Literally, one step at a time, as I chose to live, I believe that I am capable of learning and experiencing and living even more. One step at a time for 1.5 years, that belief now totals 6 sizes and around 90 plus pounds of weight released and more.

So what moments can increase your success? Once you learn about your behavior and assess your readiness to make a change, you can pick a success date and literally transition your choices one moment at a time as you move toward your preferred outcome.

Take-Action Exercise - Picking Your Success Date

Pick a date that fits your readiness assessment (see exercise 4) and allows time for self-care without undue added stress such as a special event.

Make your date visible and well known.

Begin making healthier choices by practicing success moments.

Take-Action Exercise - Success Moments

After you understand your choices, pick 1-2 times to make a success choice each day. You can pick a different time each day to learn more about and experience your change. These ideas are neither exhaustive nor prescriptive. Please use these ideas instead as a starting point to adapt your experience to your preferred learning style.

After meals, for example, do something that motivates you.

Go for a walk.

Spend time with loved ones.

Play a game.

Work on a hobby, etc.

Develop your what's-in-it-for-you list.

Reward yourself and/or work on your reward list.

Start a bean, penny, dime, etc. accumulation that represents each of your success moments so that you can see your development. Then cash out your accumulation at the end of each week and reward yourself with something that you enjoy: hand lotion, new stockings, a new cap, etc.

Change your regular routines to be less comfortable.

Change relaxing areas to new locations, experiences, people, etc.

Find healthier substitutes for stimulating serotonin.

In the morning, get up 10 minutes earlier and make breakfast so that you have time to eat well and set a more successful tone for your day.

Practice new ways to manage stress.

Laughter & fun,


Enjoyable activities alone and with others (hobbies, exercise, reading, dining with friends, attending food-free events, dancing, singing, etc.),

Reflection & relaxation (deep breathing, writing, picture taking, listening to music, getting a massage, etc.), and

Distractions (paper clips, straws, toothpicks, using a straw with water, puzzles, worry stone, etc.).

Add to a list of what you would do with the money that you are spending on the behavior that you want to change.

Continue to track how you feel and what motivates and builds your confidence.

Gratitude and/or venting journal,

Notes, texts, and/or emails to yourself and/or friends, and

Vision board, etc.

Add to your list of things to do during a success moment.

Begin asking for more support from friends, family, and acquaintances.

Author's Bio: 

Using a pragmatic approach to business and life, Deone Benninghoven, MSM is known as The Be-Clear Gal. She is a sought after coach, speaker, consultant, and author that facilitates the performance development of individuals, teams, and organizations using a strength-based and systemic approach. Her clients consistently indicate that Benninghoven's approach to change management is practical, useful, and sustainable. Individuals, and groups such as Microsoft, Accenture, Symbol Technologies, sovereign nations, local and regional municipalities, leave her Be-Clear keynotes with academically-sound and evidence-based information shared in a fun and easy-to-understand and apply format.

Benninghoven holds a BS and MSM from Antioch University Seattle in Organizational Design & Leadership Development and Management and lives in Seattle, WA. Believing that one step at a time the sculpture, dance, and song of life emerges, she is involved in multiple coaching and organizational-development associations, Toastmasters, the Seattle Writer's Guild, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, City of Seattle Youth Services, and sports, art, dance, and singing groups.

"Be clear on who you are and then be it" (Be True, Be Happy, Hanns-Oskar Porr).