If you’ve met with Lauren Zander in the last year, you’ve met me, too. My name is Kiki, and I’m Lauren’s Executive Assistant. I found Handel Group through coaches Laurie Gerber and Will Craig, whose kids I nannied when I first moved to New York City 9 years ago. By day I manage the details of Lauren’s world and at night I perform on stages around the city as an improviser and actor. Finding and working at The Handel Method has completely changed my life by teaching me to finally trust myself and believe in my own ability to shape my reality.
A few years ago, this reality was completely different. I was deeply unhappy and unfulfilled, residing in the city of my dreams but living none of them. I was 100 pounds heavier than I am today, working as a part-time nanny, desperately single/singularly desperate, taking absolutely whatever I could get (which all sucked), and aimless in my artistic pursuits. I was having a quarter-life crisis, but not in a cute, manic pixie travel-the-world way…more like in a eat-a-whole-pizza-plus-cinnamon-sticks… while-texting-someone-who-ghosted-me-and-cry kinda way.
That’s when I found one of the core principles of The Handel Method that helped me the most: making promises and consequences. It’s a relatively small tweak to my thinking that made a HUGE impact on my life. Making promises to myself and paying consequences when I didn’t keep them turned out to be the secret sauce I was missing in my quest for a better self. In just a few years I lost 100 pounds, became a marathon runner, dated happily until I met my current partner (who just moved in with me – my quarantine valentine!).
Losing weight is one of those things that is simple but not easy. It’s a basic equation, right? Calories in, calories out. Move your butt, butt gets smaller. But (butt)…I had 20 years of failed diets and exercise plans haunting me. The fancy juicer collecting dust in the back of the cabinet, the resistance bands tangled under the bed, the unused Planet Fitness membership taking money out of my account every month all sang the world’s ugliest siren song of repeated failure.
I didn’t trust myself – and why on earth would I? Every time I said I was going to do something, I wouldn’t. If another person failed me as many times as I failed myself, I wouldn’t trust them either. I’d subtweet them and call them names on a group text. Kidding – I’d kick ‘em to the curb and certainly not let them run my one wild and precious life!
Learning how to make promises and consequences saved that life of mine. I started small, the teeniest tiniest little stretch promises I could imagine.
- One dessert daily. (Instead of one after every meal.)
- Only order delivery twice a week.
- Get off the subway a stop earlier and walk a few blocks home.
I gave myself consequences and paid them when I didn’t follow through on my promises.
- Donate 20 dollars to a conservative politician for extra dessert.
- No TV for 48 hours for extra Seamless.
- 10 burpees for not meeting my step count promise.
Over time, something magical started to happen. Not only did I start losing weight in a sustained and healthy way, but I started to actually believe myself – and believe IN myself – when I said I would do something.
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As my trust in myself grew, my promises and consequences changed, too. I was able to promise bigger things and get bigger results. I completed a Whole30 challenge and lost 18 pounds in a month. I started working with a trainer and for the first time in my life had a consistent exercise routine. After a year, I was down about 70 pounds. Then my trainer challenged me to run a mile on the treadmill. I didn’t think I could do it, but I thought back on the lessons I had learned because of my promises and consequences. I am trustworthy. I am strong. I can do hard things. I ran that mile. The next day I ran 2, and a few days later I ran 3. I kept making promises (and dutifully paying consequences when I didn’t keep them) all the way up to the New York City Marathon, which I ran 11 months after that first mile.
It’s wild to me how simple it is to make promises and consequences…and how well it works. For literally everything. Even dating! The old promise-free me would run hot-and-cold on dating apps, rush into sex (the unsatisfying kind), and spend way too much time on people who didn’t really light me up. So I got clear on my dream partner and I made some (more!) promises:
- 30 mins a day on dating apps.
- No sex on the first date.
- No second date unless the first one really rocked my 3Hs!
I credit making and keeping these promises with finally giving me a sense of control over an area of my life that had previously felt totally out of my hands and up to fate. I cleaned up my messy dating life, figured out what integrity in love means to me, and met my girlfriend, who fits perfectly into my wacky, wonderful world. I designed my life to include a great partner, and I kept my promises to myself until I met her.
And it’s not all discipline and hard work. There’s magic in keeping promises, too. Synchronicities start to happen all around when you’re in your integrity. I feel so unbelievably lucky to have met my person just before a global pandemic hit. Of all the people I’ve ever dated, she’s the only one I could stand to be quarantined in a small one-bedroom apartment with. Had I broken my dating promises and been out of alignment with my dream, who knows what kind of person I would have called in and been stuck with. I’m grateful to myself for sticking to my promises and holding out for the right person.
Things are crazy in the world right now, but I feel confident that the changes I’ve made in my life are the ones that will stick, through rain or shine or pandemic, simply because I’ve promised myself that they will. A whole pizza and cinnamon sticks just doesn’t sound appealing anymore (and texting someone who ghosted me and crying never did). By learning to make and keep promises, I deeply trust and know I can rely on the most important person in my life: me.