Next Level Me

Don’t you just love a New Year? A fresh start, a new beginning, a time when it feels like the future is ripe with possibility and we have the opportunity to leave everything we don’t want behind. Intellectually, we all know that every waking minute of every day offers this – there is no reason to wait for a New Year or a birthday or a Monday or whatever arbitrary starting line we designate. But I love the magic and promise of a New Year and this year is no different. 

In mid-December I discovered a new-to-me podcast: Bad Bitches Losing Weight with Melissa Ronda. I began binge-listening, furiously taking notes, and thinking, “damn, this woman totally gets me.” I’m sure the podcast will feature in future entries, but I wanted to talk about one episode in particular today. “WWNLMD?!?” The title is a play on the WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?) bumper sticker phenomenon and the acronym stands for “What Would Next Level Me Do?!” The episode talks about getting a clear picture of what the evolved version of yourself looks like, how she thinks and acts, how she shows up, what she will and won’t tolerate and then checking in with yourself when the need arises, asking yourself what would next level me do in this situation? For instance, maybe you want to eat something counterproductive to your goals, you ask “would next level me eat this?” 

Over the next few weeks, I did a lot of contemplation and journaling defining the next level version of myself. I was all-in. I could see her in my mind’s eye: I knew what she looked like, how she did hair, what she wore, what she listened to, how she would act in situations. I got a crystal-fucking-clear picture of wo I wanted to be. As a New Year’s Resolution, I created a list of 13 defining qualities of next level me (fully anticipating this list will grow and evolve over time). On January 1, I hung my nifty, designy “Next Level Me” sheet on the refrigerator and, at first, I was on it. Bam-bam-bam, check-check-check, checking off these qualities and focusing on being this version of myself. Of course, over the following weeks I started slowly taking my foot off the gas and emotionally detaching from wanting the things on the list. This is kind of crazy, right? Why would I not want this? These are really awesome qualities on this list. Why grow complacent about those desires? Why would they stop feeling less important than having king cake and chocolate parfaits? At first, I didn’t really realize how much I had detached from the wants on this list and when I did finally realize I had detached, I didn’t really ask myself why.

I think, intuitively, my focus had shifted. Instead of spending my afternoon “clarity walks” (I’ll touch base on what a clarity walk is another post) having these detailed conversations with myself about “next level me”, I had started deep-diving into my emotional issues. The conversations with myself were really difficult but liberating ones about core trauma and core beliefs, about my relationship with food and how it was defined by those traumas and beliefs. As I was having these conversations, the desires to partake in behaviors that didn’t serve me subsided – I stopped being tempted by things in the house like cookies or cupcakes. It wasn’t about strengthening resolve or will-power, I simply stopped needing to eat to soothe emotions. This feels like a very clear, very strong indicator that I was right to trust my intuition on shifting focus, that this work is healing my heart. As I work through all this, I think – and I am theorizing here – this is going to allow me to circle back to the “Next Level Me” list in a more sustainable way. It is as if something in me knew I wasn’t fully ready for that list until I cleared some clutter, some stumbling blocks out of the way. 

As I tackle these emotional issues, I think the best route forward is to look at the list more deeply. When I first discovered I had strayed from the list, my solution was, “well, maybe I should journal about each item on the list and define it more clearly.” I don’t think that’s what I need to do – I think I know the definition of each item on the list, I had a very clear picture of it when I put it on the list. The best path forward is to journal on why I put each item on the list. There has to be a reason, a damned good reason. I don’t have to define “clean eating” for myself, it’s not a new or confusing concept. But why is “clean eating” so important to the vision I have of the best version of my future self… so important that it’s the first item on the list? Why is leaving my comfort zone and handling my shit so important? This is something worth some seriously peeling back of the onion. That next level version of myself is not at the bottom of a list, she’s at the end of a long, arduous road of introspection, understanding, accountability and work.

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