Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Snakes and Ladders

For way too many of us, this weight-loss journey is a two steps forward, one step back kind of deal. It’s a game of “Snakes and Ladders” where one misstep seems to send us spiraling downward (and not the good kind of downward, if you know what I mean).

You’ll score a solid week, feel like you’re dialed in and doing great, and then comes a little slip-up. A night out. A lunchtime celebration. A slice of pizza that turns into half a pie.

Weeks that make you feel like a weight-loss rock star.

Days that make you feel like this weight is going to be a burden forever.

But there’s something you need to understand and understand well: falling isn’t failing.

Slipping isn’t stopping.

Giving in isn’t giving up.

This game is a difficult one, a tricky one. One minute, you’ll think you’ve got a handle on things, maybe even feel that it’s easy-squeezy; the next minute, you’ll find yourself straining and struggling, hungry for something that you know won’t fill you up, won’t make you happy, won’t be what you need.

People have told me that I make this losing weight business look easy, and it’s a statement that I’m never really sure how to take. I’ll admit that my weight-loss numbers have been pretty steady. But from the very beginning, I came to the realization that this isn’t a game of luck, a game of chance.

That’s what “Snakes and Ladders” is, you see: a game of chance. You roll the dice and you takes your chances. Sometimes you’re safe, sometimes you get to climb up… and sometimes you fall. It takes a lot of luck to run through the gauntlet of snaky slopes with suffering a setback or two.

I’m here to tell you that as much as it may seem like it, this weight-loss journey isn’t a game of “Snakes and Ladders”, isn’t really a game of chance.

A roll of the dice doesn’t cause you to suffer a setback.

It’s me and you.

It’s on us.

The setbacks are just us, doing what we know in our hearts we shouldn’t be doing. We can make excuses, but at the end of the day we know exactly what rings the bell on that scale. We know how to lose this weight. We know it.

We either choose to do it, or we choose not to, and even though sometimes it doesn’t feel like a choice, I’m here to tell you that it most definitely is.

The rules are simple: get the eating under control and work a little exercise into your day. Make good choices most days and the best ones available to you on the other days. Find what motivates you and use it to steel yourself to do what it takes… whatever it takes… to get your house of cards in order.

Yesterday, a guy in the locker room expressed concern about me: “You okay? You look like you’re about to pass out.”

“I didn’t leave a lot in the tank,” I smiled back, sweat still dripping from my forehead into a puddle on the cool tile.

My point? If you saw me in the gym these days, my shirt wringing wet with hard-earned sweat, I don’t think you’d be remarking how I’m making this look easy.

It’s not easy, and it’s not a game. It’s your life and a roll of the dice isn’t what gets you moving. It’s just you.

If you’re looking for me, you’ll find me on a ladder.

After all, climbing ladders is great exercise.

59 comments:

  1. Read your blog all the time. This was one of my favorites. I even saved it to re read for motivation. I work my ass off at the gym and my thinner friends just don't get it...this losing weight stuff is HARD work and if we slack off we wont see the success on the scales. I've lost 60 with 20 to go and your blog is a great motivator...thanks

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  2. I've never thought you made this look easy - I've thought that you must have ridiculously strong willpower and a hell of a drive and determination to do this, but I haven't thought it was somehow easier for you than it is for me. In fact, you've made it pretty hard for yourself, when I've chosen to take the easier detours - probably why you've lost twice the weight I have in the same period of time!

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  3. Whooo hooo! Now that was one great motivational speech if I ever heard one!

    True that - to everything!

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  4. Very well said, Jack! I am trying to get back into the swing of things and this really helped. It's a great outlook. Keep up the good work!

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  5. I really like how you can totally bring on the humor, but also make us think. If this was easy, we wouldn't have gotten overweight in the first place. This is some of the hardest work we will ever do, regardless of how "easy" it looks. Thank you Mr. Sh*t :)

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  6. Brilliant Entry...I've passed this on for others to read as I think its something everyone who is on this journey can relate to.
    Thanks!!

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  7. I think this is possibly my favourite post you have written, possibly because I know how it feels to have people think what I have achieved is easy. I get asked all the time "what's your secret?" Most of them don't like it when I answer "Damn hard work". The people that think it's easy are the people constantly seeking out that quick fix.

    So, I applaud you Jack and your efforts - you work hard and it is paying off :)

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  8. Another winner. and another reason I consider you a Superior Scribbler. Stop by my place today and feel the love, Jack.

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  9. I like this post, I hate the game.

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  10. I have been following your blog for only a few weeks and this was your most motivating post for me! A group of us are trying to drop 10 pounds before year-end (and much more after that), but I weighed this morning and have fallen backward! Thanks for the kick in the pants!

    Big Clyde

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  11. you don't make it seem easy Jack, we all know how hard you work, but you can't argue that you have made it fun!I love your posts, they are funny, they are wise, they keep me going.
    thank you!

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  12. You don't make losing weight look easy, you make losing weight look do-able. And thank you for that.
    You're right that it takes work. You're right that some days are easier than others.
    You're right that I know how to do it. You're right I get in my own way.
    Thanks for reminding me to get the hell out of my way!

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  13. Thanks for saying it like it is!

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  14. It's something I know deep inside but it's always good to read it. It helps me to refocus and remember why I do what I do. For me, at times, it's just one small step at a time. Sometimes it's a struggle and sometimes it's easy. But always it's worth it.

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  15. You've taken charge. You're responsible for your outcomes. What a big lesson! Good for you and good for your readers! Thanks for this post.

    Pat Barone, CPCC, PCC
    "America's Weight Loss Catalyst"
    www.stoprentingweightloss.com

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  16. Yep pretty much exactly what I needed to hear today. I've been having a rough couple of weeks, and have seemed to be forgetting everything I knew, but you reminded me. Thanks.

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  17. Such a good post, so motivating, well done Jack keep it up.

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  18. You have an uncanny knack to know exactly what to write when people exactly need it. Humor when they need to laugh and blow off steam and posts like this that ring so true that it is astounding.
    Thank you for being Jack...because I won't ever accept a substitute!!!

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  19. This post oozed with motivation! I had Chutes and Ladders as a kid no snakes- thank god! That would have been scary!!! lol

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  20. I've only read your blog a handful of times but I feel this is worth an "Amen". Everything is so true. Thanks for this entry!

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  21. Great post as always, Jack! Thanks for the continued inspiration!

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  22. Perfect timing - although I should have read it before I went and ate 6 biscuits (not feeling well and am at home feeling sorry for myself...!) As the others have said - you have proven that there is no quick fix, it is hard work, and it's worth the effort.

    What does frustrate me is how my slim friends (and family) don't seem to appreciate just how hard it is and are always trying to persuade me that "one of such and such won't hurt"...

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  23. Love the whole concept of snakes and ladders as a weight loss image. I fell down the big snake recently but I'm still in the game!

    Thanks for your motivation.

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  24. Exactly! Your posts are always spot-on and timely! I've been trying to say the same things to other people who feel they're 'failures' (their word, not mine!) for enjoying a day of treat food over Thanksgiving.... Hello? What do you think slim(mer) people who aren't dieting will be eating on that day and over the festive period? The difference is, they don't have the propensity to pull out all the stops and over-indulge their way to a BMI of 35+ just because they had - god forbid! - pumpkin pie and cream one day...

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  25. As they say 'get your head in the game'. People say that you make it look easy. However, it's not and it's about discipline a staying focused. Thank you for reminding us all of this.

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  26. Hi Jack. Brilliantly put. I think you've always been clear that you don't find this easy and that success involves constant effort over time and for the rest of your life. But that is true for the vast majority of people who have ever been overweight. The difference is that you have stuck at it whatever. The more I read in blogland the more I realise we all need to do *whatever it takes* to achieve a healthy body and positive mental state.

    Best wishes,
    Bearfriend xx

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  27. Again...another great read!

    Thanks!

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  28. Jack,
    You are so freakin smart. Seriously.

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  29. RIGHT ON!!! Loved this: The rules are simple: get the eating under control and work a little exercise into your day. Make good choices most days and the best ones available to you on the other days. Find what motivates you and use it to steel yourself to do what it takes… whatever it takes… to get your house of cards in order.

    So true! Something is always better than nothing!!!! Only you can do it for yourself! Make all your tomorrows today!

    I am like you too, I look like something the cat drug in after my workouts! That is a good thing in my book!

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  30. As I read this post, I found myself thinking that everything you wrote applies to anything in life that is worth having. You have to be in it for the long haul, you have to pick yourself up when you fall, and most of all, you have to keep going. Thanks for an awesome post!

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  31. Great post. I don't think it's ever easy for anyone, some people are just more determined than others. I guess it makes it easy to stick to a goal if it's what you really want.

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  32. Fantastic post. Either do it or don't. You're doing it. It isn't effortless by any measure, for any of us. But it is possible for all of us, if we make the choice to do it, and not let backslides turn into avalanches. I'm working on it!

    You need to be a weightloss coach. Preferably mine.

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  33. Thank you for commenting on my blog. You are right it is not easy and climbing that ladder is the way to go!!! I love the way you used snakes and ladders to make your point. Thank you it really made me think.

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  34. And it's like chutes and adders.

    Like Life. Er, life.

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  35. Did they reinvent Chutes & Ladders, or did you do that? Us old peeps are easily confused. LOL

    Great analogy.

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  36. This couldn't have come at a better time. I'm sure many out there are struggling with the choices we've made over the last few days and this just hits home!

    I have that same reaction to people when they ask me how I'm doing it - losing the weight - and when I tell them, they think, "Oh, that's simple enough. Even I can do it." Well it is and it isn't. On one hand, I've grown so much, learned so much about myself and have turned into a different person - more confident, more excited about life, happier - but on the other hand, I've never hated myself more for the times I've screwed up.

    Anyway, thank you for always posting something we can all relate to.

    LOVE IT!

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  37. Actualy, "Snakes and Ladders" is the older version of "Chutes and Ladders" (the Americanized version). I learned this at a toy museum at London that has a ginormous "Snakes and Ladders" game painted on the floor. How cool is that? I want one of those.

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  38. Good reminder. It's not chance, it's putting in the effort. And sometimes if the effort isn't enough, putting in more effort. Sucks, but it's reality sometimes. :) Things look a lot more effortless when a) a bunch of time has passed and you look back at it or b) it's not you.

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  39. Is there room for me on that ladder? I'm climbing up, Baby!

    That is very cool about the Snakes and Ladders painted on the floor!

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  40. Jack, you always know just what to say. It is just that simple. Make the choice.

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  41. Don't ever let anyone tell you that you aren't really smart. Sure a lot of your posts are funny, but even within the fun there is a lot of truth.

    This post nailed it.

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  42. Snakes and Ladders...more like the game SORRY! Remember that game? One false move and you're sent all the way back to start. I feel like my Thanksgiving indiscretions sent me back to start. Love your perspective on things.

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  43. Awesome post. I'm bookmarking it for future reference-just what I needed to hear. Thanks!!!!! ^_^

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  44. Wow , your post is so true ! So well written ,thank you !

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  45. You speak the truth. It really is all up to us. It's up to me.

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  46. Awesome post. Going to bookmark this one. Thank you!

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  47. No matter how much or how little weight a person needs to lose, it's so hard...I'm such an "all or nothing" person, I need to remember that "falling isn't failing." Thank you so much for the reminder.

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  48. You're speaking to my soul! Great, honest, and empathetic writing. Look forward to following!

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  49. First time reader here, sent by another blog. Thanks for writing this. I guess there are some fundamental truths, and what you write is one of them. And I've been there, in that place, knowing what it took to be successful. One hundred pounds worth! And now 40 pounds away from that, trust me when I say, treasure this time when you are in that zone. It is a tricky place to remain in. Thanks for the reminder, and I'll keep tuning in.

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  50. love this post. truely.

    sometimes i feel like its one step forward 10 steps back but its not the end of it. just slow progress.

    wise words. as usual. tsk tsk.

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  51. What a great post! It was something I needed to read at the point I am on my own weight loss journey. Thanks!

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  52. This is actually the first time I've read an entry about not falling off the wagon. Or how there isn't such a thing as falling off the wagon. Very motivational!

    -Denise

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