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28: Comparison is the Thief of Joy (with Melissa Joulwan)


Have you ever felt like your life was going perfectly, only to find everything going downhill fast? Melissa Joulwan shares her story of being on the top of her game with health and weight, only to have it all come crashing down when a growth on her thyroid resulted in a complete thyroidectomy. Hear Mel's story of growth and comeback and how she learned not only to stop comparing herself to others, but to stop comparing herself to the “old Mel.”

Melissa is the author of the best-selling Well Fed cookbook series and the blog After a lifetime of yo-yo dieting and food as the enemy, Melissa found the paleo diet in 2009 and has been happily following it ever since. That year, she also underwent a thyroidectomy. In the aftermath of the surgery and recovery, she became particularly interested in how diet affects hormones, body composition, mood, and motivation.

Nuggets of Wisdom from Melissa:

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

“Comparing yourself to others is the fastest way to kind of lose your own sense of self and your sense of joy and who you are and your accomplishments.”

“It can be really difficult and damaging to yourself if you compare yourself to your previous self.”

“The world is a bountiful place, and someone else being successful does not mean that there is less room for me.”

“I think I found a little comfortable point between accepting myself and liking myself the way I am while still working on improving.”

“I kept myself on a really short leash and felt like, if I was working hard and kind of suffering a little bit then that was going to get me where I wanted to be faster and better. And I have since realized that is a ridiculous way to treat yourself. You would not treat anyone else that way, so why would we treat ourselves that way?”

“It taught me that you are going to hear terrible things in your life, and you will find a way to rebound from them and it kind of creates a new normal. And the best way to kind of embrace the new normal is to not compare yourself with the YOU you used to be. Fully embrace the YOU you are NOW and be the best version of that person that you can be.”

“Things do not have to be difficult to be accomplishments.”

“Gratitude goes a long way.”

Some of Melissa‘s Favorite Things:

Personal habit: “Meditation. Just taking a 5 minute break for deep breathing can turn your day around, and I have 30-minute Yoga Nidra meditation that is like going to mental vacation for half an hour. So meditation is the secret to a happy life.”

Easy meal: “Blueberry Pie Salad. Basically, whatever kind of salad greens you like with sliced scallions, toasted pecans, blueberries, cooked chicken, champagne vinegar and extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper. The blueberry and the pecan together tastes like pecan pie. It is so good.”

Possession: Stick Blender and Meat Hammer

Melissa's Favorite Book: Jane Eyre Novel by Charlotte Brontë and The Night Circus Novel by Erin Morgenstern

Best advice received: “Whether I had a great day, whether I had a bad day, whether we just had a fight, my dad would always end our conversations with, ‘Just enjoy yourself honey.'”

Melissa's Happiness Formula:

“Eat well. Get sound sleep. Travel or daydreaming or reading about travel.”

A Challenge from Melissa:

Food Challenge: “If you are thinking about Paleo but are not sure that you are ready to commit 100%, my challenge and advice to you would be to make your breakfast Paleo-friendly for a week and see how you feel. Because most people eat very carbohydrate-heavy breakfasts: cereal, pancakes, toasts, bagel, that kind of thing. And really, what you want to do is to start your day with a pretty good intake of protein because that will help you power through the morning. It gets your hormones set for the day. It gets you good energy, so you kind want of start with protein and fat and some carbohydrates but carbohydrates in the form of vegetables or fruit or a starchy carb or maybe a sweet potato. And, I would say go for at least 4 ounces of protein, and if you are not a person who meticulously weighs their food, which I encourage you not to be, 4-6 ounces is about the size and thickness of your palm. So, some kind of good protein, you can have eggs if that is your preference. I eat the same things for breakfast that I eat for lunch, but it will take you awhile to get to where you want to do that, so go ahead and have eggs. You can scramble eggs with some ground beef and spinach, that is a pretty awesome breakfast add some fruit and you are good to go.”

Second challenge: “If you are not a person who meditates, give that to try for a week, and you do not need anything special to do that. If you want to listen to some music, you can put in some soothing music without lyrics. Or you can just sit quietly. You know yourself so you know which one will work better for you. And sit where you can be quiet and undisturbed for 5 minutes. And all you need to do is breathe in for a count of 4, hold it for a count of 4, exhale for account for a count of 4, and then hold the breathe suspended for a count of 4. And that just slows you down, and give lots of good oxygen to your brain, and you will feel both peaceful and rested and energized after doing that for just 5 minutes.”


Get your FREE 70-page PDF of Mel's favorite recipes, tips for organizing the kitchen and getting started with Paleo here: – Get some great freebies when you order Mel's new cookbook, Well Fed Weeknights.

Jane Eyre Novel by Charlotte Brontë

The Night Circus Novel by Erin Morgenstern

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About jen

Jen Riday is a mom of 6 and life coach who loves to help women experience massive happiness as they let go of stress, sadness or other chronic emotions of negativity.

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