What a Mystery Illness Taught One Man About Weight-Loss Success

By , Jim Curtis
At 20, most people are midway through college, exploring the world, discovering what it means to be on their own or starting their first "real" job. At 20, I became ill with an illness doctors could not diagnose. One night I went to sleep healthy and the next day I woke up with numbness and pain that soon led to paralysis in my right leg, overall weakness and weight problems. The onset of my illness was so quick and severe that my family and I thought we could find a cure just as quickly as it appeared.
My family and I started on a quest to find an answer, but after visits to top hospitals and institutions across the country, the mystery remained. While some offered conditions like multiple sclerosis or Lyme disease as a possible cause, the only certainty was that it was chronic and it not only affected my body, but was starting to affect my spirit, as well. Living with the illness and the uncertainty left me feeling stressed, afraid anxious and, well, fat.
After making the decision to leave college and move in with my sister in New York City to be closer to my doctors, though, my life began to change. As it turns out, everyone in the city has "a guy." "Oh, you should really see so and so," they would say. I made it a point to keep an open mind to the possibility of healing, challenging myself to say "yes" every time someone referred me to another potential answer to the only question I had been asking for years.
Thus began years of interacting with hundreds of nontraditional and traditional healers all around the world, a group of people whom I now refer to as my "Stimulati." By saying "yes" and visiting these men and women, I opened a door to possibility, doors which then revealed more and more doors and opportunities. Although they looked at things from different angles, each member of my assembled Stimulati expressed similarities in creating positive change in the mind and body. From a grand master in eastern healing practices to the head of psychology at Johns Hopkins and various experts in between, I curated these similarities into skills featured in my book, "The Stimulati Experience," which were ultimately able to help me regain a powerful mindset, better health and a weight loss of 45 pounds.

Stimulate Your Own Success

Those same lessons learned from my experiences with the Stimulati can be applied to any weight-loss journey. Work to incorporate these five steps into your life over the next month and you'll see a difference in both your mind and your waistline.
  1. Accept, Embrace, Forgive. Face it, you are not at your ideal weight. Whether you are 10 or 100 pounds away from your ideal weight, accepting yourself as you are right now is important. You might not be walking on the beach with washboard abs or perfect buns, but so what? You're not a bad person. That fact alone doesn't make you lazy. You can read into the subtext of your weight issue, but for this step, let's not. Embrace that you have more of you to love, that there is more of you to give love and that your lifestyle is that it is at this moment. Acceptance is the key to moving forward, almost as much as forgiveness. Who should you forgive? Your mama for giving you your specific gene sequence or the ex-boyfriend who helped develop an emotional eating habit? No! Forgive yourself for thinking you are bad for being overweight and for shaming yourself. When you're ready to accept and love the perfection of you right now in this moment, it's time to move to step two.
  2. What's your story? Ever heard the saying that you are what you eat? The same is true about who you say you are to yourself and to others. That nagging, mean, disgruntled voice in your head that says you can't lose weight or you don't deserve to lose weight has got to go. Does the little voice in your head tell you that you were not meant to wear that bikini? That you are big boned or just not good enough? You are the story you tell, so be aware of what you are telling yourself and other people. If it doesn't advance your goals, change it. Dress for success, fake it until you make it and change your story to one that says I am slim and trim inside and it's only a matter of time before that shows on the outside.
  3. Meditate to your ideal weight. Binge eating and overeating are often tied to stress, boredom or emotional eating. Meditation helps lower stress and bring about awareness of what emotions are affecting you at any given time. Meditation is a practice that makes you feel calm and happy. When you are calm, happy and aware of your emotions, it is much easier to make good choices for your body.
  4. Surround yourself with healthy people with similar goals. Just by interacting with others who understand and can relate to your mission, you can start to experience a little "monkey see, money do." Those people are also more likely to support you and keep you from falling back on old routines that led to your weight gain in the first place. If most of your friends socialize by going to the bar after work for half-price appetizers and beers, try to see if they'll join you for a spin class and juice instead. If they're resistant, look to others who you can bring in as a new friend. I'm not saying you need to abandon those people, just add others to the mix or convince them that a change of pace would be good for everyone.
  5. Create an incentive and a vision. Awareness of where you are now, acceptance of it and a vision for the future is key for any journey. Do you avoid the scale like you avoid looking at your credit card bill after a shopping spree? Well, don't—just being aware of your weight by looking at it a few times a week can help keep you on track. Take care to notice the non-scale victories like an old shirt fitting again or accomplishing a new exercise goal, as well. Consider creating a vision board for when you are at your ideal weight. Why do you want to be there? Is it for your kids? Do you want to strut your stuff on the beach? Create that board, buy that bikini and look to the end result. Make it your own and eventually, with some work and dedication, you will get there.
The road to success starts with one step. These five tips will inspire you to set your sights on weight loss, happiness and success.