Success Starts with Self-Mastery


The Physical

Why is it important for us to become masters of ourselves physically in order to reach success? I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Tony Robbins? He has this acronym called CANI. It stands for constant and never-ending improvement. I love that! My personal mission statement is, “empowering you for consistent growth and development.” I definitely see a similarity between the two statements.

So, when we talk about the importance of reaching success in self-mastery and the physical part of that, we’re talking about your health, and your wellness. So here are some questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Do you take care of yourself and your health?
  • Are you responsible with the amount of sleep that you have every night?
  • Are you shorting yourself on the sleep that you should be having?
  • How about nutrition?
  • How about fitness?
  • Do you have the energy levels to produce optimum productivity?
  • What are you doing physically to relieve the stress in your life?
  • What are you doing that’s helpful not harmful?

I want to touch on the physical part of self-mastery because I believe as entrepreneurs and business owners, no matter what you’re doing, if you want to be successful in life I believe you have to work on self-mastery first. We’re going to talk about all the different elements: physical, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, environmental, but I do want to start with the physical. This really hits home for me.


My Experiences

Here’s a bit of my background story. I was a food addict at the age of five years old. I did not realize it at the time; I didn’t even know what was happening. All I knew is Grandma and Grandpa started watching me a lot more because my siblings are seven and nine years older than I am. By the time I hit kindergarten my siblings were playing sports and my parents were attending so many different events with my brother and sister, that they needed help with their kindergarten child who came much later in life. So my grandparents would watch me a lot, and they showered me with gifts. Many of those gifts were food. They’d take me grocery shopping and allow me to get whatever I wanted. By the age of five I could sit down and have what would seem normal to an adult size dinner, drink a ton of milk, followed with ice cream for dessert. About an hour after dinner, my grandma and I would watch the Golden Girls or Matlock...or Perry Mason (who remembers these?). All the while we’d be sharing a bag of popped popcorn and we would dip the popcorn in butter while we would watch TV together.

I’ll say this: thank God I was in sports. I grew up playing basketball, softball, volleyball, and golf. Had it not been for my activity level, I would’ve definitely been even worse off. So there’s this crazy shift between my four-year-old photos and my five and six-year-old photos. The change was drastic. I would play sports and I remember becoming so red and overheated that my parents were a little concerned about my oxygen because it was clear that I was struggling. But I still had these natural athletic talents. Again, thank the Lord. But still, my physical health at that time was going downhill.

At that point I had built a very unhealthy relationship with food. I became ravenous so often and was very ashamed of it. Here’s another example of that. When I was in high school, my mom would make a pan of brownies. I would have some with everyone else when it was served after dinner. And then by the next day maybe a half a pan was left. I’d get so crazy in my mind thinking about how I didn’t want them to be gone by the next time I’d want some, so I would wait until no one was around and eat the rest of the pan. I wasn’t ashamed of what I was doing, though I didn’t want people to know. It was more that I was secretly ashamed of myself.

By the time I hit my twenties, I tipped the scale at 276 pounds. I felt awful about myself and I felt awful about my life. And I had this moment - this significant moment - where I hit rock bottom. Anybody who struggled with an addiction of any kind knows that this moment happens. But I believe it was meant to be. I believe God saved me from myself. I don’t know why this was the moment, but I finally realized that this wasn’t who I was supposed to be.

Sugar Shock

I remember seeing a nutritionist speak about sugar, and how it can be as addictive as cocaine. It affects the brain, it affects your insulin levels, and your pancreas has to pump out insulin so you don’t go into an actual coma. So we joke about these food comas but it’s actually not a joke. However, your body is so amazing that it protects you from what would really happen if you didn’t have all of the inner processes working on your behalf.

At this point in the nutritionist’s talk, I realized this is what had such a hold on me. I am addicted to sugar. I am a food addict.

Side note! If you haven't heard of or seen the documentary called Fed Up, it’s a more recent documentary with no agenda other than to expose the way food is processed and manufactured. It’s not one of those documentaries that says, “Don’t eat this because we want you to eat this instead.”  It’s intended to ask, “Do you realize this is what’s going on with the food in our country?” I would highly recommend you watch the documentary if this is an issue for you or something you’re interested in.


At first, I tried to manipulate my way around having to really change. I’d try anything out there to lose weight fast. My goal was to get skinny so I could let loose and eat what I really wanted again. It was no surprise that as a result, I became a yo-yo dieter. Maybe you’ve heard of HCG; that was one of the diets I attempted, and it was a terrible idea. You take these little drops that are supposedly synthetic HCG hormones that help satisfy the body so you only take in 500 calories a day. I lost 25 pounds. But I’m sure you’re wondering what happened when I finally ate like a “normal” person again? I gained all the weight back. It was so disheartening. I didn’t want this to be the one thing that I would eternally struggle with! I was desperate for change. Real change. I was ready.


A friend and I joined a support group. This group was kind of like AA, but specifically for people with food problems (though it was not Overeaters Anonymous). We showed up, we held each other accountable, we exposed our emotions, we were very vulnerable and transparent, and we would speak with one another about the struggles that we were facing. At the same time, we were exercising. As you might imagine, because I played sports and was an athlete growing up, the physical fitness part of this “journey” was never much of an issue. What is and always will be an issue, is food.

By having the support of this group, it was the first time in my life that I stood in front of people and these words came out of my mouth: “I am a food addict.” There was such a release from admitting this. It was still hard to say out loud, but it was true and necessary for healing.

Food Addiction

Most nutritionists would tell you that moderation is okay. You can have a little bit of what you want, and that’s okay because it’s just unrealistic not too. But I have never met a nutritionist that was a former food addict.

Try thinking about it this way: if you have a friend that’s an alcoholic, you probably wouldn’t say, “Hey let’s go to the bar” or “C’mon dude, can’t you have just one beer and be okay?”

I’m not saying that food addiction is exactly like alcoholism for everyone, but for me, when it comes to food, I cannot have just one. If I were an alcoholic, I wouldn’t be able to have a shot of alcohol and expect not to plummet deep into a pit.

Moderation doesn’t work for everyone. I didn’t totally accept this until I read these two books: The Secrets from a Former Fat Girl and Better than Before. These were books about women just like me, who couldn’t just have a sliver of cheesecake and then be okay. I can tell you honestly, if I had a sliver of cheesecake all I would be able to think about is that frickin’ cheesecake. It would consume my mind!

Be Honest with Yourself

Consider honestly: Can you handle moderation with boundaries, or would you be better off abstaining completely from certain things?

Once I acknowledged my struggle and sought support and accountability for those challenges, I finally found freedom and personal acceptance. I asked myself, would I rather be healthy or would I rather be constantly struggling? Would I miss out on trying that amazing pizza that they’re serving right now? Maybe. But what feels better, eating that pizza right now or feeling awesome tomorrow? Because I know, if I eat a slice of that pizza right now, tomorrow I’ll feel awful. My skin will break out, I’ll feel like I have a food hangover, and I’ll totally regret it. I don’t want my tomorrow to be terrible because of one food decision today.

So that’s a deep look into what I’ve gone through. Most of you out there don’t have the same challenges as I do, and that’s awesome. I wouldn’t wish this struggle on anyone.

Accept Your Challenges and Rise Above Them

Maybe for you it’s getting the right amount of sleep each night or sleeping more consistently. If you want to be a proactive entrepreneur who’s optimizing their productivity, then consider setting boundaries for yourself. Decide you’ll get to bed by 10 pm and get up by 6 or 7 am. Create consistency in your life that will benefit you. Every day, create as many positive habits as you can, that will lead to enhanced success. You want your personal life to run as efficiently as your business runs. You’re mirroring the success of your business and how you run your business.

Maybe you don’t handle stress well or you’re drinking every night after work. Possibly you’ve had a smoking habit forever and that’s your release. What if you replaced that with yoga, meditation, or cycling? Any of these would produce endorphins, which will make you feel great rather than regretful. And you’re getting that same neurological payoff. Fitness really is a great method to self-mastery. Maybe you’d even benefit from taking a nap once in a while.

Find out what works for you, ask yourself, “What can I do that’s helpful instead of harmful?”

Typically what you don’t want to do is what your body actually needs. If you take care of yourself physically and master this area of your life, you will be more proficient and efficient in your professional life. What action will you take today?


Emily Kelly