Sunday, May 10, 2009

Reader Question: How did you get started on your weight loss journey?

A reader named Jen wrote to me this week and asked me how I "got the inspiration to start or was there an event that happened that made you say 'I am tired of being fat and I am going to stick with WW this time?'" I thought it was a great question. If you know me in real life or have been reading a while, you are probably familiar with the story; but I thought it was worth re-posting my thoughts for everyone...

I wrote a blog about my last straw moment, which ultimately made me return to Weight Watchers in September of 2006 and start this blog. What triggered that trip was a combination of things:
  • I was back over 200 pounds again - for the 3rd time in my life; something I swore would never happen again.
  • I had recently turned 35 and was having an early mid life crisis. I wanted to enjoy whatever youth I had left.
  • I was once again at the point where I was so unhappy that I was ready to try again.
But what else really inspired and motivated me was that I finally had thoughts beyond "I'm fat and gross and want to look better", it was deeper than that this time. Something about turning 35 made me even more aware of my own mortality. I thought "If I don't do this now, WHEN am I going to do this? When I'm 80?" Assuming I even live that long, and make it to goal at that time, what good is that? It would mean I lost 40+ years of my life. A life that could have been better. At that age, I certainly won't be able to enjoy my life the ways I can now, in my 30's. And if I really wait any longer, the problem is only going to get worse. I would likely continue to gain weight, becoming even more unhappy. The bad habits will become further ingrained and I will slowly be taking years off my life by living so unhealthily, so what was I waiting for? I knew I had to seize the moment, my youth, and get my life back.

The more I thought about it, I realized I had wasted way too much time being fat, unhappy and uncomfortable and for what? Really? So I could eat whatever I felt like? When I thought that far into it, I realized how ridiculous it was. Just because pizza/candy/whatever tastes good, I am willing to suffer in the myriad negative ways my gluttonous eating was affecting me?

When I thought about it that way, it was so obvious that the food was holding me back from my life - my one life! - time I could never get back. I was not going to let food do that to me any longer. I was not going to allow it to have that much power over me ever again. I wasted years - decades - being unhappy, self conscious, uncomfortable and sad. And I didn't want to waste any more time like that.

As for the second half of her question - what made me know I was going to stick with it this time - I'll be honest, I didn't feel that way when I joined. My leader, Carolyn, used to remind us that the reason you JOIN WW is usually different than the reason you STAY with WW. And this is so true. What got me there is not what kept me there - My immediate desire was simply to lose some weight and feel less gross. But over months, and now years, my attitude and goals have changed - I've evolved while on program:
Those are all such important lessons and positive things. And without evolving in those ways, I really don't think I *would* still be here, nearly 3 years later, determined to keep my healthy new lifestyle forever. Getting to each of those points came along in time, and if you stick with it long enough you will have your own revelations and notice yourself evolving too.

Thank you, Jen, for writing. I hope that answers your question and that you, and anyone else reading, can take something away from my response and perhaps think of some things in a new way; a way that might inspire you to get started or get re-focused. The changes might be slow and even a little difficult at times, but I assure you they are worth it.

Now get out there and reclaim your life while you still have time!


  1. Thank you for posting this Sheryl - I had forgotten why I do this - we only get one life, time to focus again for me!!
    Thank you so much...
    You are such an inspiration!!

  2. You're welcome! I'm glad it got through to you, it's so rewarding for me to hear that.

  3. Hi Sheryl, I've been reading your blog for the past little while and you truly are an inspiration. This post reinforces that for me even further, keep up the amazing work!

  4. Thuseybelle, thank you so much. Really, that means so much to me when people tell me that. I'm just glad to help others going through the same thing.

  5. the blog and your reflections inspire me. and encourage me to make better choices. my weight has gone up and down and my mood with it. we have only one life and dammit, i want to look fabulous. and keep on looking fabulous.

  6. Thanks Rowan! I just remembered that you emailed me recently and I never replied, I'm sorry. I wanted to congratulate you on your recent success.

    I agree - I know first hand that as my weight fluctuates, so does my mood. When my food and healthful habits are steady and in control, so is my mood and most other areas of my life. It's worth making the right decisions when the payoff is looking *and* feeling fabulous. :)

  7. Found your blog a few weeks ago and have been reading through the old posts- I'm sure you get tired of hearing this, but you really are an inspiration- and you look fabulous! Just wondering, how tall are you?

  8. Thanks for sharing that Sheryl...just what I needed. :) I'll be 35 yrs old in December and know that I need more motivation than to just "lose some weight and feel less gross".

  9. Thank you for another inspiring post!! I needed a reminder about why I am on this journey - it is so easy to forget and old habits seem easy.

    South Africa

  10. Love stumbling across honest and thought provoking blogs like yours. Just what I needed to read tonight. Bless ya!

  11. When I woke this morning - before I got out of bed. I prayed to God to give me the strength and determination to start my diet today. I am over 200 lbs and I need to do something NOW.. Glad I found your blog.. I look forward to reading about your journey.

  12. Sheryl, I got introduced to your blog by my best friend after I realized I was hurting myself by eating away my emotions... After reading this blog I know now that I can stick with this and make it happen too! Thank you so much for the encouragment and for inspiring me to push that much harder... good luck in the future... and thanks again!

  13. Thank you! Thank you so much!

  14. This is great and so true. Something in me snapped a couple of years ago too, funny cause we didn't know each other then, were both pretty new to Greenpoint, and both made a commitment in our own ways to make a change...and both of us have kept to it! :) I've been counting the weeks of my routine (especially with the weightlifting) and I'm on week 98. Haven't missed a week yet where I don't do my full body weight training at least once, even weeks I've been sick, traveling, etc. A few more weeks and it will be the 2 year mark. :)

  15. I can relate in ways. I'm 36, and had an early mid-life crisis myself, last year, only it started over something else. You made me feel a bit better, just reading that. I've been thinking, "what's the point?" over things, rather than feeling motivated to do better, and that has to change.