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The Career Diet: Success as a Lifestyle

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“Richard Simmons once said, “You can’t buy it, you can’t rent it. You have to earn it. My formula has always been love yourself, move your body, watch your portions.”

The question I now pose to you: was he talking about his health, success, or career?

For me, it’s all of the above.

Like most women (and especially one in entertainment) I’ve always struggled with my weight. Growing up I was heavier than my peers, victim to a cycle of poor diet and exercise expected from an adolescent focused on academia & creative expression over sports & socializing. I lacked a healthy lifestyle while allowing myself to believe that “external forces” were to blame for my physical state.

In addition to dealing with the stress of school, I hinged consistent weight-gain on things like: moving back-and-forth from the US the Middle East, identifying as the black sheep, and not having “wholesome habits” engrained in my upbringing. These were “reasons” I was overweight, not as happy or confident as I wanted, and felt helpless in the battle.

So why am I bringing this up here, on a blog centered around women in the film & TV business? It’s because it was only when I chose to shift my mindset away from these “reasons I wasn’t happy” and finally acknowledge them as “excuses to be unhappy,” that was I able to take full control over my life – both personally and professionally. The parallels between our outer, physical success and our vocational ambitions are grossly overlooked and undervalued in my opinion. The key to mastering both, as I came to realize through my own journey, is realizing that we have the power to decide and eventually manifest exactly what we want – but only if we put forth the intention and dedication to do so.

On October 1st of 2013, after years of yo-yo dieting and repeat-delete accomplishments, I decided to make a change for myself. Now I know we all have those epic moments of realization of, “enough is enough,” and tell our friends, “this is it,” or post on Facebook from the heights of our soapboxes how “today’s the day.” We’re usually fired up in Retaliation Mode: the mindset of “me against the world/bullies/my boss/the system/etc.

I’d been down that road before, and definitely know the feeling – but this morning was different. Retaliation is a temporary solution to a permanent issue, but that day when I woke up, a different feeling came over me. I knew that this was the first day of the rest of my life. I hadn’t gone to bed upset about my appearance, self-conscious, or internalizing a hurtful thing someone had said. I just finally understood a concept so simple it was almost embarrassing to believe how long it took.

So what’s the secret to a perfect body? The career you want? To the promotion you deserve? Richard Simmons worded it perfectly: “you have to earn it.”

To sum it up (and spare you from the pages of deep philosophical conversations that one should avoid like deep-fried food) below are a few cardinal rules to take control of your life:

  1. Look within, do without: YOU (and only you) control your current reality – it’s not your family, your coworkers, your social status, or spouse – just YOU. Do yourself a favor and eliminate the mindset that anyone has influence over your situation—especially career-wise—and focus on arming yourself with the tools needed to accomplish this. Yes, support can be an important component of long-term success, but it’s useless without personal confidence and drive.
    • My Experience: Though I’m a perfectionist in other realms of my life, I told myself to accept the cards I’d been dealt with my metabolism/weight, since it was obviously out of my control. Once I realized that I was holding myself to a double-standard and shrugging off the blame, I was finally able to take ownership of the situation. I wouldn’t act this way at work, so why let myself do that now? That’s when things started to change.
  2.  If you’re running a race, set a finish line: don’t pursue any achievement without a clear goal. Decide what title/salary/role you want… and make it happen! We often get lost in the ambiguous if-thens, or the eventuallys. Live in the now with clear sight of the future, keeping track of where you’re going and how long it’ll take you to get there!
    • My Experience: I lived a lifetime of “wanting to lose weight,” instead of buckling down and doing it. But when I did make it work, I had to aim for a certain number to hit and maintain to gauge my efforts. All our personal & physical achievements are a direct result of the intention, effort and ultimately the work that we put into our regimens…so think of how lost we’d be if we didn’t know what our end goal was?!
  3. Deep down, you already know what to do: In the back of our minds, we understand exactly what it takes to achieve success, and at the level we want it. I’m not saying we have a treasure map to our dreams – but we do have a built-in packing list for the journey. We both know it requires research, dedication, sacrifice and commitment – what most of us already have in our 9-5’s. Research and education is essential, but instinct and common knowledge prevails.
    • My Experience: my weight was blocking me from of my happiness, and in the back of my mind I knew that it was my habits and consumption that needed to change. No more “it was just a bite,” or, “I’ll work it off later,” mentality. For 40 days, I followed a strict regimen measuring what/how much I ate, read nutrition labels, eliminated certain foods and even social situations that tested my willpower.

All in all, it’s true what they say: Diets don’t work. However, drastically changing eating habits, lifestyle, activities and your social life does.

So if I could manifest the change and perfection I wanted in my life, why can’t you empower your career the same way?

You can.

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Reem Hassani

About Reem Hassani

Though originally from Colorado, Reem spent much of her life living around the world in places including: the Kingdom of Bahrain, Spain, New York City, and has travelled to many more. Since moving to Los Angeles in 2013 to pursue a career in film, she's worked in the marketing/publicity departments of studios including: Paramount Pictures, the Walt Disney Studios, and now STX Entertainment: the first large-scale motion picture studio to open in Hollywood in over 22 years. Her second passion however lies is in film production, where she's worked on projects shot in virtual reality for Oculus Rift, several independent shorts, and is a member of Wayes Entertainment: an all-female production company exploring the parody between modern gender roles in society. In her “spare time” Reem is developing a social media app with her sister, runs a blog documenting young Hollywood lifestyle and networking (www.HauteMafioso.com), and volunteers through local organizations.