Article By: Tiffany Willis
Tiffany is a Bariatric Coach, Bariatric Patient Advocate, and Co-Host of the Life After Fat Pants Podcast. After losing 349 pounds in just 18 months following bariatric surgery in 2012, Tiffany has dedicated her life's work to helping those suffering from morbid obesity disease. Follow her at @lifeafterfatpantspodcast and @tiffanyaw72.
When I first started considering weight loss surgery, it was hard to visualize my new, healthier lifestyle at some point in the future. Being at a healthy weight seemed like more of a theory than an actual prospect. So, I started cutting out pictures and quotes to help reinforce and visualize the world I wanted to create for myself. In time, I had so many cutouts that I created a vision board. It was nothing but a bulletin board with thumb tacks, but for me, it was everything. That’s because everything I hoped to embody was on that board. My vision board was a tangible, ever-growing, ever-changing compilation of my mindset in images and words.
Once I arrived at a healthier weight, my vision board began to change almost as dramatically as I did. Although it was still filled with a random assortment of inspirational quotes and images, the newer visions expanded into topics like healthy recipes, financial security tips, and travel destinations to visit in person.
Even now, nearly ten years post-op, I keep a picture or two of me at 531 pounds to remind myself of just how far I’ve come. Plus, I derive a great sense of satisfaction when I remove an item from my vision board because I’ve already exceeded that particular goal. For example, when I was training for the Tough Mudder race last year, I posted a picture of a muddy athlete crossing the finish line. It felt fabulous to replace that other unknown athlete with a picture of me doing the exact same thing. It’s like that old adage about visualizing the results you want to see in your life. This practice of having a vision for my life has helped me stay accountable to my goals and objectives while giving plenty of room for big dreams. Through my vision board I can imagine the possibilities for my life ahead up close and personal, in color or in black and white.
If creating a vision board seems like it could be beneficial for you and your journey, here are a few easy steps to get started:
1) Create a list of goals. Be sure to go beyond just health goals and also focus on topics like finances, relationships, happiness, spirituality, travel, and more.
2) Find images that represent your goals. Combining printed images from the internet along with cutouts from magazines, newspapers, and advertisements can help to ensure your board is diverse and interesting.
3) Make a collage. Whether you use a bulletin board, dry erase board, or a large poster, the concept is the same. Create a space that's large and visible so you see it every day.
4) Incorporate words and positive affirmations. It's important to include words, quotes, and phrases to describe how you want to feel in addition to static images.
5) Spend a few minutes contemplating your board each day. What good is a vision board if you don't spend dedicated time each day affirming your goals and reflecting on the journey? Schedule time, and make it happen.
6) Make continuous updates. As you achieve goals, take the cutouts off your vision board and replace them with success stories. Don't worry if your goals change! Just make adjustments as you go along!