This is the final part of an interview with Landmark Forum Leader David Cunningham on the topic of health and well-being, conducted by Dr. Steve Wechsler on WSYR radio in Syracuse.
Dr. Steve Wechsler: So our next guest we have on today is Nina O’Neill, a communication expert for over 20 years, producing results for companies, development implementation of effective communication strategies, and she has a new blog, and I love the title here. Happy Healthy and Hot. So good morning, Nina.
Nina: Good morning, Steve. Good morning, David.
Dr. Steve Wechsler: How’d you come up with this blog title? I mean, wow! That’s putting it out there.
Nina: It really is how I live my life now – three words for me are also the integration of what I think of are the mind and the body and the spirit all working together. You know, what creates that happy, healthy, and hot, being that way, in your life.
Dr. Steve Wechsler: So the mind is happy, the body is healthy, and the spirit is hot.
Dr. Steve Wechsler: Got it. Now I understand the title. So – and what brought you to the place where that wasn’t happening in your life to focus on that now?
Nina: My journey started – two years ago I turned 40, and I was definitely not living a happy, healthy, and hot life at that time. Turning 40 for me started this – just an inquiry into what I want my life to look like now, moving forward, and what would my life look like if it were beyond myself, and I could barely get off the couch. I was tired and exhausted and overweight and had a number of health issues. I was diagnosed that year with an underactive thyroid which certainly contributed, I think, to the low energy that I was feeling, but I was really in a state of despair about it, and as MaryKay had mentioned, this probably, almost certain future I saw that was – if that was what my life was going to look like, I just was clear that I wanted it to be about something else.
And you know, David, you spoke earlier just so beautifully about the junk talk, and I started to really – people say exercise and eat right and that’s the key to losing weight, and it really – there’s that third component which really is that mental component that you’ve talked about – that junk talk and looking at what are the thoughts that you’re having? What are the beliefs that you’re having? And I had noticed, too, that I had done a triathlon in 2001 and I had had a bike accident during that race, and I ended up having surgery – I broke my arm – and about nine days after that 9/11 happened. And I was in a state of feeling so vulnerable, so frightened, and very shaken up. You know, my world took on something that I certainly didn’t expect it either way, and I noticed that there was a direct correlation to when I really started to gain weight after that time. And when I kind of looked back and traced that, that was kinda the key point for me, you know, that that was the thoughts I was having, this feeling that I needed to protect myself, that I needed to be safe, and that’s where the weight kept on.
And when I was able to make that connection and really look in that past and complete that aspect of myself and feel safe again, the weight started coming off. Now, I did a particular diet that was the structure for that, and the level of training and development that I’ve gotten through the courses that I’ve done over the years at Landmark helped me to stick with that program and to do what I said I was going to do when I was gonna do it, and to follow the plan exactly as it was designed. The weight started to shed, and also –
Dr. Steve Wechsler: And that’s the key point. The weight started to shed.
Dr. Steve Wechsler: We can try and try and try and try, but we have to change the whole energetics, and then suddenly, “Oh! The weight goes, ‘I’m not supposed to be here!’”
Nina: Right. It was like I had given myself permission to let go of it, and it came off very rapidly. I lost 67 pounds in five months. I went from a Size 16 to a Size 2, and again, I made that a very public conversation, and people visibly, obviously, started to see I was starting to look different, but I was also – who I was being in the world was different, because I was let – it wasn’t just the weight I was letting go of. It was all the conversations and all of the – just the things that were weighing me down that had me be heavy in the first place that I was letting go of, and I likened it to kind of like Michelangelo finding David in the stone. When I found – when that whole emergence of self occurred.
And the thing that has been just such a miracle and so joyous out of this whole experience for me is I took this on for myself because I knew that there were changes that I wanted. The life that I wanted to live was not living on a couch and watching Netflix movies for the rest of my life. I wanted something bigger. I wanted to make a bigger contribution, and in that desire and then taking on my own life, people became inspired by seeing what I had done, and it became something that saw for themselves that they could achieve and accomplish. And that was the thing I never would have imagined, that I would become a contribution and an inspiration to other people.
And I now have taken on coaching people who are on the same journey, and that’s the place that I coach them from, is really looking at the conversations that are in their heads, and how to change that and say something new, and move forward with that and create that future for themselves. And it’s been – you know, when I asked myself that question and what would my life look like if it were bigger than me, like, this is the answer. You know, I’ve found that, like this is now my life’s purpose and my life’s passion. You know, anyone can be happy, healthy, and hot.
Dr. Steve Wechsler: Happy, healthy, and hot. I love that. Thank you so much for that conversation. I remember early on in development seminars Tony Robbins used to say, “You know, a lot of people have great ideas, big ideas, but they can’t get out of bed in the morning.” And it sounded like you turned that around in your life.
Nina: I did. I absolutely did, and it’s been just extraordinary to be able to live this way, and things I never would have imagined. And it’s in contributing to others that I keep that goal alive for myself. Because it’s like I’m holding myself accountable because other people are looking to me as an example, and so that’s created that bigger conversation for me to continue on my journey and to always look for that next mountain to climb.
Dr. Steve Wechsler: Fantastic. So, well, it has really moved me this morning, so that was great. So thank you so much for being on, Nina.
Nina: Thank you, Steve.
Dr. Steve Wechsler: Great. So, David, in that conversation, I mean, you could feel it.
David Cunningham: That’s right.
Dr. Steve Wechsler: You could feel it happening. It doesn’t matter the distance.
David Cunningham: It doesn’t. It’s really exciting to hear people have victories like that. You know, Steve, I think as one really important thing we should say this morning, too, is that it doesn’t matter your starting point. I think one of the decisions people make is that it’s too late for them or they’re too far gone or something like that, right, like, “Oh, I’m too heavy. So I just won’t be able to get started.” No, it really doesn’t matter – people’s starting points. You can start anywhere. You know, powerful people always just start where they’re starting. You know, if you want to go someplace and you don’t know how to get there, the first question, “Well, where are you? And then I’ll give you directions from there.” So for people to be able to start at any starting point, I think it’s really important.
Dr. Steve Wechsler: Yeah, it’s like the GPS. The positioning system figures out where you are. But, you know, we have that within ourselves. You know, a lot of times, as you said, if we just write down what’s happening, we can figure out our position. We can figure out where we are, and it’s interesting. The people who sometimes accomplish the most in life sometimes are blind to why they’re not feeling fulfilled, because they’re like, “Wow. You know, I got the great job and the great family and the great this and the great that.” And they go, “But what’s missing?”
So sometimes by doing that inventory like we talked about in the first part of the show, by writing down – What are the facts? What’s happening right now in our lives, and what are the things we’re adding to that conversation? And sometimes, like, “Wow. I’m missing a whole part of myself. Why haven’t I – why don’t I have any of those facts or happenings in my life?” And then you can move forward. But then there are plenty of people that feel like, “Oh, well, I have nothing going on in life.” And then they start putting down the facts and they say, “Well, you know what? Maybe my life isn’t that bad, and I can move forward from here.”
David Cunningham: Good. I think that’s really important, and the two things you said are really important. One is we do – in the facts of our life we do have – we have a body, we can think, we can talk, right? And those are facts. We can think and we can talk, and if we can think and we can talk, then we can make a difference, right?
Dr. Steve Wechsler: Yeah, just as long as we’re above ground, this works.
David Cunningham: There you go. And then what you said was, if we’re blind to something – yes, the junk talk that we have with ourselves is something that is usually in a blind spot. It’s something where we haven’t heard it. It’s invisible to us, ‘cause when something’s constant, Steve, we stop noticing it. You know, if the air conditioning is on – we might hear it when it first kicks on but then it makes a noise all the time but we don’t quite hear it ‘cause it’s constant. And the junk talk we do with ourselves, the disempowering conversations we have with ourselves, are so constant that we stop hearing them. That doesn’t mean that they’re not there. So they move into a blind spot, and if you can move them out of the blind spot, and actually identify, “What are the conversations I’m having with myself that literally have me disempower myself and lose power?” that makes a big difference in moving them out of the blind spot into the light of day.
Dr. Steve Wechsler: You know, I was really amazed when I went through my Landmark Forum about a month ago is that at the end of the forum people bring in – people that have had changes, made changes in their lives, and it’s amazing. Some of the people’s changes – 25 years of change happen in a phone call, a conversation. They change the story about it. And that was the amazing part of when you talk about conversation. When we change the conversation, we can change literally 25 years of history. It’s not like we lost that history. It just looks so much different.
David Cunningham: It does, doesn’t it? ‘Cause what has us – what gives us our view of life, what gives us our relationship to life, is not life itself, but what we’re saying about it. And when you can identify what you’re saying about life as distinct from life itself, then you really have the power to give yourself a new life. And like you said, that is not a matter of time. That’s called transformation, by the way, and that happens in a moment.
Dr. Steve Wechsler: So do the junk talk audit. So whether it’s about weight, whether it’s about relationships, whether it’s about your job, whether it’s about your relationship with your mother – what are the facts? And I think that’s such an important thing. What really happened? So sitting around with my 12 friends from 30 years ago, there was one guy who was like a savant. He remembered everything, and some of us had like a “Wow! That’s really how it happened.” Because a lot of us have made up other stories 30 years later of what really happened, and how we were really feeling and being 30 years ago, but it had such an impact of our lives. Not what happened but the stories that we created from it. So it was a very good happening before this talk, and then, as you said, then get committed. Get committed to making some kind of change in the conversation, change in your life, and then find like-minded communities. Find someone to run with. Find someone to eat better with. Even find someone to do your list with about, “Wow!” You know, it commits you. It gets you involved. It gets someone else accountable for what’s going on in your life.
David Cunningham: And that’ll make a difference for you, and it will make a difference for them at the same time. They’ll enjoy that, too.
Dr. Steve Wechsler: Great. Great. David, this has been just a great hour together, and especially hearing from MaryKay and Nina that real people can make real transformation in their lives. And that’s the important part because, you know what, a different diet, a different exercise program, a different car, a different partner, a different – we really have to work to be more than just change to a different thing. We have to really work to be different, and do different things from that being, and then we can really have that satisfaction in our lives.
David Cunningham: Great.
Dr. Steve Wechsler: And so, David, I want to thank you a lot for being on. This was just a great – it was just a great hour. And if people want to get more in touch with what kind of conversation this is, they can go to LandmarkEducation.com. They have courses all over the country – actually all over the world – and it’s a great technology.
David Cunningham: And we love to empower people in all areas of their life. Their health, their fitness, their careers, their money, their relationships. All of it, Steve. It’s just really extraordinary to be able to do that.
Dr. Steve Wechsler: That’s great, David. So again, really important information. If you get a chance, check out their web site. And it’s amazing. You know, I was, again, with my group of 12 yesterday, and a few of the people in the group had actually taken Landmark seminars, and we actually – the conversation changed to a whole different conversation. We actually really started to talk about what was really going on in our lives. We kinda got out of the past and into the present, and it was great to hear how people are still growing and changing in their lives. So growing and changing happens at any age.
David Cunningham: It’s really important always that we always keep saying it’s all possible. Anything we want, it’s possible. It’s all possible. It’s important that we’re always saying that.
Dr. Steve Wechsler: Great. Thank you so much, David, and we’ll have this conversation another time.
David Cunningham: Thank you. Bye.
Dr. Steve Wechsler: Great. Thank you so much for listening.