How to: Create a Resilient Mindset

When Colette Giaramita lost 100 pounds and then regained 50 of them, she found that true resilience comes from trying again (and again).

By: Stefanie Schefter

When Colette Giaramita lost over 100 pounds in 1 year, thanks to a combination of mindfulness, balanced eating, and daily exercise, she thought she was well on her way to a healthier lifestyle. She had come far since the trauma of her childhood, where she suffered abuse and bullying that eventually led to a suicide attempt in 2015. As she healed, she picked up new, healthy habits and started loving herself (and her life) more than ever before.

Then, on a first date four years later, Colette split her knee open. She needed 19 stitches and couldn’t walk without crutches. The daily exercise that had brought her so much joy was no longer feasible with her new injury—she could hardly even walk.

Without the routine she had worked so hard to cultivate, Colette felt herself falling back into old habits— she stopped cooking healthy meals and started binge eating at night. She also slipped away from the mindfulness practice that had helped rewire her brain after decades of trauma had left her with severe anxiety and depression. Colette woke up one day in the wake of her injury and realized she had gained over 60 pounds in 5 weeks.

Colette knew she had to make a change. Below are 5 tangible ways that Colette went from feeling discouraged and defeated to building resilience and feeling like herself again. We hope Colette’s tips serve as inspiration for anyone who has found themselves struggling to stay on top of it all in the midst of this strange new world we’re in.

1. Be Mindful

Colette was first introduced to mindfulness while she was healing from her suicide attempt. During group DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), she was given an ice cube as part of a grounding exercise, and told to hold it in her mouth and note all of the physical sensations she felt. “It sounds silly,” she told me, “but it really works!” Having a laser-sharp focus on the present moment helps clear the mind and simplify the situation at hand—making whatever obstacle you’re facing feel a little less daunting.

2. Don’t wait for motivation

Motivation comes and goes, but consistency is key. Colette knows this better than anyone, and when I asked her how she motivates herself to exercise or meditate on tough days, she said she just does it—whether she’s feeling it or not. It’s a helpful reminder for anyone working on a challenging, long-term goal—just keep going for it, and you’ll get there eventually. Making a healthy habit nonnegotiable takes motivation out of the equation.

3. Put Yourself First

Resilience isn’t about working yourself to exhaustion. Instead, it’s rooted in the practice of self-care—something Colette works into her schedule each and every day. She sets daily goals for hydration, nutrition, movement, and rest, and also sets aside time to be creative, work on her art, and tend to her gardens. Colette has found that by taking care of her physical and emotional needs first, she’s better equipped to tackle whatever life throws her way.  

4. Practice Positive Self-Talk

In reading The Four Agreements by Dom Miguel Ruiz, Colette learned how to free herself from self-limiting beliefs and negative self-talk. She was able to shift her internal dialogue from “I’m doing my best and it’s not enough” to “I’m doing my best and that is all I can do.” This subtle but powerful distinction helped Colette be kinder and more compassionate towards herself, which made it easier for her to recover from setbacks and disappointments.  

5. Cultivate Authentic Community

Surround yourself with good people—virtually, if you have to. Colette built an Instagram following of 20 thousand people by simply sharing honestly about her life and struggles. Her followers are positive and supportive, and when a rogue troll wanders onto Colette’s page and leaves a nasty comment, the members of her community are quick to give ‘em the boot. It’s an amazing community built on a strong foundation of optimism and positivity. Creating a tribe of people who uplift, support, and understand you can help you get back up when life feels extra difficult.

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