Monday, September 20, 2010

Failure Is Not An Option (Just a Vaguely Unsettling Possibility)

This journey can be exhilarating, can be galvanizing, can be life-affirming, but I sometimes forget the flip side of that coin…

This journey can be disconcerting, can be heart-wrenching , can be more than any rational person can be expected to even hope to endure.

Kevin at Jogging Clydesdale and I just recently discovered each other’s blogs, and he’s apparently hit a really rough patch of road

Yeah, I've been avoiding this for some time. My blog is bullshit. My "lifestyle change" is bullshit. The words I write here are as much to convinice myself as it is to convince you that I desire change. I've worked with a group of friends, my Warriors, who helped me be accountable. But in a brief insight of honesty, I realized I was trying to convince them as well rather than really put myself in their hands. I've thought I've hit bottom many times and decide from here on out it's gonna be by the book. But.... I like to eat. I like to find comfort in food. When I am stressing, it hits the spot. I've not really found the bottom.

You know, while I was thinking about writing this today, I ate 5 oreo cookies, two slices of pizza, a "snack sized" bag of chips and two halves of a cinnamon roll? Did I mention I am supposedly on a low carb diet? I have put back on 50 of the 62 pounds I lost in 2008-2009. Yes, my life is a mess--you'll have to trust me on that one. Stress is a factor. But it is also a cop out.

Somehow I thought this blog might help inspire me to run and gain back that health I've lost since last summer. And it has, in a way. But who really wants to read about a 40 year old man who struggles with negative self talk? How many ways can I describe the beauty of asphalt and concrete lined with perfect green lawns through suburbia?


What's more, I finally came across the blog I wish I had made. Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit is the blog I wish I could have realized. But I couldn't have because I am not Jack Sh*t. He says what needs to be said. He pulls no punches with himself or with his audience, but he does it with humor and incredible support for those with whom he is sharing his journey. In particular, one of his older posts, Just Means Well or Well, Just Mean? just really hit me over the head like a tonne of bricks. Like the blogger he is dialoging with in that post, I find it very easy to rationalize or ignore just how much I am working against myself in trying to lose this weight. Jack doesn't give him any squirm room, but is nonetheless 100% supportive of his online fitness buddy.

I need to decide soon if I really am committed or if I'm just playing games. One of Jack's regular features is to have his reader's write down why they are trying to get fit or lose weight on a note card, take a pic of them holding it, and sending it in.

I've been doing this for more than two years now. I don't know what I'd write.

Clydesdale Jog will be taking a brief intermission as I grow a pair and get my headspace right.

Reading his heart-felt words, what ran through my mind was this: there but for the grace of God go I.

I mean it. I realize how lucky I am that the stars lined up in order for me to enjoy a great deal of success on both the weight loss and blogging fronts. I got some support early in the game, and that kept my enthusiasm high for both my diet/exercise plan and building up this site.

I like to think I would have achieved success under any circumstances, but I can't say with any certainty that's the truth.

Here’s the comment I left at Jogging Clydesdale:

CJ, before I started this blogging adventure 18 months ago, I was as lost as you seem to be right now. It seemed as though I'd start a new diet every Monday morning and would be elbow deep in a plate of nachos by the weekend. I was out of control and nearly out of my mind. I've got a few years on you, so I understand just how hard it is to get the ball rolling.

What did it for me was a long weekend home all by my lonesome. I found a weight-loss blog called Steve version 4.6 that really resonated with me. It was a guy roughly my size, roughly my age, roughly my weight, who had lost a tremendous amount of weight doing nothing more than eating a little better and exercising a little more. Best of all, he blogged every day about his experience. 

That was the blog I wanted to write, but we're each different. We each bring our own gifts, our own personalities to the party. Early on, I found myself gravitating to using humor to get through my everyday blogging, because if I had blogged about what I was eating, what I was doing, I'd have about six readers today. 

Most of all, I embraced the fact that this is a lifetime commitment. I've yoyo'd too many times in my life, and just don't know if I've got any more big losses left in the tank. 

Take a break and recharge, if you think that's what's best, but I'd tell you that turning my back on blogging would lead me back to my old ways pretty quickly. I have a blogging buddy who got down to goal weight, closed up his blogging shop and promptly gained 50 lbs in about three months. 

But you're right about one thing: you really DO need to identify WHY you want to do this, WHAT exactly you're willing to sacrifice in order to achieve it.

It isn't easy and it won't happen overnight, but it will change your life in a real and profound way. 

Email me anytime you want ( if you have any questions or just need a sounding board. 

Take care, my friend.

I hope Kevin finds his missing mojo, and I pray you find the support and encouragement you need along the way as well.

We all, each of us, need all the help we can get along the way.

Note: If this was just entirely too much of a Debbie Downer for you on this fine Monday morning, you can skip over to Eating Journey for a little Jack Sh*t kookiness. Mmmmm... kookies.


  1. Cutting that negative self-talk back to a manageable level was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Mostly, it was just a habit with me and if berating myself had actually worked, I'd have been Pixie Stick thin for most of my life - because that's how long I've been beating myself down. Being honest is one thing, being mean to yourself is something else.

    Treat yourself well. That includes honesty, good for you food, a little self-examination and some exercise. And just keep at it.

  2. I'm with you on this. Blogging helps me be accountable but I have to be honest with the good and the bad that comes along in order for it to work. If I sink to writing fiction, I'll lose myself again.

  3. Jack...THIS is SO RIGHT ON! Blogging whether we are struggling, losing, focused or off in la-la-la land is one of the important keys. YOU my friend encourage the secret of all of it.. Funny, as you started to waiver, I started to find success...the scale is moving and so am I. It takes a commitment and a dedication to self..each and every day. I will never FORGET some important words of wisdom written early on..that got me going..I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt..that I would not be here TODAY at this place...approaching a number on the scale that I have not seen in 15 years..without BLOGS and the wonderful people that write them!

  4. I admit, most of the time I'm trying to psyche myself up on my blog. Breaking these habits and negative self thoughts etc is HARD. I'm trying, but I'm not trying as hard as I make it sound like I'm trying on my blog. And that makes me feel guilty on top of everything else.

    I guess the inner toddler in me still feels like I'm being punished when I tell her she can't have cookies and ice cream with hot fudge before bed.

  5. The amount of encouragement I've found in the blogging community is what made me follow through with running my first 5K. But I was ready to do it. Ready to commit. Gah. It takes so much out of you to do this thing. This commitment thing. I'm glad we can all be there for each other on those days when we just don't think we can go one more step.

  6. That describes me for the past two weeks to a tee (right down to the nachos... my favourite food that I've indulged in the past 2 weekends).

    I feel like you are in my head. It seems like every time I "fall off the wagon" (for lack of a better term) you have a post like this - a post that resonates to my core.

    I need to figure our how I can go along this path without falling into a ditch every month or two, I'm only hurting myself in the process.

    This post brought me to tears... it was like looking in a mirror (or reading in a mirror...?)

    You're right - nothing describes this journey better than "more than any rational person can be expected to even hope to endure."

  7. "... and just don't know if I've got any more big losses left in the tank."

    Yep. That's me. I know that this is my last ditch, do-or-die (literally) effort. Happy to report that I'm alive, infinitely better than the alternative.

    For me, the big difference this time is giving up on perfect and embracing persistence, acknowledging that every bite I put in my mouth and every ounce I work off my a$$ adds up.

  8. OUTSTANDING!!! This could not have been said any better!

    This is NOT a downer at all. I was just reading over at Art's Blog about struggles that he is going through..... I feel the same way. It is just part of the deal.

    We all need to step back and recharge from time to time. Oh.... and also, this is not a perfect linear journey. Sometimes it is one step forward, two back. Sh*t happens!

    Thanks for the encouraging words Jack. These could have just as easily been addressed to me.

  9. Thanks for this Jack. I paid JC a visit and left him a comment. You rock for supporting him while he's down. We've all been there.

  10. Thank you Jack for posting this and bringing me into the fold. Yes, I am in a rough spot--a holding pattern might be a less negative way to put it. I am honored that you posted this and have been humbled by the vistors I've received over at Clydesdale Jog.


  11. Helpful as ever. HELLOOOOOO to the CJ there. Some words I can definitely relate too. *nods*

    but i need this weight off so its just keep trucking from me.

  12. I dunno what I'd do without my blog either. It's even better than journalling. I've gleaned so much from so many people here. Thanks for always cheering us onward and upward, Jack! You're definitely one of the good guys!

  13. I've had negative self-talk all of my life. I struggle with it all the time. I love foot, I love eating, and I hate exercising. That's why I'm amazed that I'm actually dropping weight, or have a periodic moment when I just don't want to eat. Vee at

  14. That negative self-talk extends to other things we claim about ourselves, such as: "I hate exercising"! I used to say that, too, but as I started working out regularly, I discovered that I actually DON'T hate exercising -- it was just something I kept telling myself as a way to justify avoiding it.

    Anyway, I'm just jumping in here to say that every negative thing we tell ourselves is worth challenging because it can instantly derail our best efforts, and it's an ongoing effort for me. I've read in different places about questions we should ask when we get going with the negative self-talk (or even "advice" to others) as a way to challenge its truthfulness:

    1) Is it true?
    2) Is it helpful?
    3) Is it kind?

    If you answer "no" to ANY of these, you gotta shut it down!

    Thanks, JS, for such an AWESOME blog! -- CK

  15. CJ is being honest and telling us how it can be. A lifetime of bad habits IS hard to erase. Life can drive us to eat for all sorts of reasons, one being that food tastes GOOD! When we are down we want to feel good..and there is our old friend ( name your poison here) waving at us and inviting us over! Jack, your thoughts always hit the spot, but CJ, yours do too! I suspect many of us have been there and give up on ourselves!

    I work on this one day at a time. That's all I can give it but the future is looking brighter.

  16. Amen to that, for the grace of God go us all. The blessings that some of us have that just the right things happened on the right day to enable our butts to be smaller and blogs bigger. I can't explain but no matter, we have to keep going. There's only forwards and backwards in this.

  17. yes. yes yes yes yes yes. You've got the best spirit in the world, Jack.
    I like it when you're not funny.

  18. This really hit the spot Jack - both reminding me that this journey can be hard, but I'm not alone in my struggles, but also your kindness in bringing this blog to light - I'm heading over there now and I'm sure plenty others have too.

  19. This is how many feel & it is good of you to write about it & take time to help him Jack.. e have all been at bad places & sometimes just one person makes the difference.

    I had that happen to me not too long ago. A lady I had not seen since the mid to late 1990's! She told me I had made a difference for he.

    You are doing good jack!

  20. I'm usually a scrappy, sassy beyotch. But this one tugged hard and I didn't fight back. Instead I just cried, felt hugged, and grateful.

    Hey Jack, you got mentioned in my post today too. I kinda committed you before I came over here and saw that you were already being a good-deed do-er. Ooops. ((Big Charming Smile))

  21. Thanks for posting this... It's good to know that I'm not always alone.

  22. Besides liking to have our egos stroked, this is why we blog, right Jack? Nice work!



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