Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Why We Fail

January, 2007 – Well, I’ve been preparing myself for this, and here it is. Just weighed in at 293.6. Pants are tight as can be. Exercise at an almost all-time low. Eating completely out of control. Let’s see if I’ve got what it takes to do right.

April, 2007 – Okay, this is a matter of life and death now. A person in the office upstairs died in their car from a stroke, a result of high blood pressure (my bp was crazy high when I went to doc for my foot). She was 48. Throw in my high level of stress and poor eating habits and I’m ripe to go down early. Yuck. Feel bad.

December, 2007 – Last night of the year. I’m at home with a wrenched back from playing ball yesterday. This is it. I’m really not doing very well. Feeling crappy. Eating terribly. Not exercising much. Not accomplishing much. I’m ready to get it going again. I’ve got to. It’s now or never.

July, 2008 – It’s on like a chicken bone.

April, 2008Been doing decent enough job keeping after it, but still eating (and drinking) too much. Think I’m ready to have a go at doing better.

January, 2009 So I’m starting over…

Starting… and then starting over.

Again and again and again.

People accuse me of making this weight-loss business look easy, but that’s because they don’t know that I’ve rammed my head into that brick wall more times than I care to admit. The dated blurbs above are some of my journal entries from a couple of year’s worth of failed attempts at losing my weight. I start with such fervor and focus and somewhere along the line, I simply lose my way…

Over and over, I’ve gotten a nice running start… and gone nowhere.

I’ve gone back to Square One so many times that I started listing it as my primary address.

I’ve overdone it with the do-overs, absolutely worn out the “reset” button.

I’ve committed myself and re-committed myself, but more often than not I’ve fallen flat on my face.

Believe me, I know what it’s like… but I also understand something else: there’s no shame in tripping up, no disgrace in falling down. It’s just something that happens to the best of us, to all of us.

And even if you mess it up a dozen times, a hundred times… even if you start each Monday with freshly minted determination and end each Saturday night with your arm elbow deep into an order of chili cheese fries… I encourage you to keep trying, to keep fighting the good fight.

Because one day that spark is going to ignite, and a rampant wildfire of inspiration and dedication will spontaneously embrace you, engulf you, consume you. It will singe your bad habits and scorch your doubts, and it will blaze a path to a better place.

I can’t for the life of me distinguish the catalyst that makes one weight-loss journey successful when so many before it had failed so spectacularly. I wish I could isolate and identify it when it goes missing, awake and arouse it when it lies dormant.

But I can’t. All I can do is keep trying, and hold on for all I’m worth when that spark does catch. Try to ride that lightning bolt all the way home…

I hope you’re on a solid path today, your bags packed with persistence and purpose. I hope you’ve got your heels dug in and your mind firmly wrapped around what you need to do in order to achieve your goals. I hope you find strength in your heart, hope and support from those around you and a plan that gives you every opportunity to succeed beyond your wildest dreams.

I’ve seen enough lost causes and dashed dreams to last a lifetime; I want to see you make this happen.


  1. Thanks Jack! You are a great way to start my day.


  2. You've been reading other blogs this morning, haven't you? I was just about to post on a similar topic: that you only fail when you stop trying... when I saw yours pop up.

  3. Yep. I can't remember who said it, but failure is not what happens when you fall down; it's what happens when you stop trying to get up.

    Great post - and one almost all of us can relate to, because most of us have been there.

  4. I don't know why, but I think I really needed you to post this. I just did my first weigh in and even in a week I started feeling helpless.

    Thanks for sharing your story Jack, from all of us.

  5. I love the way you word things.

    It's so easy to throw in the towel, wave the white flag and consider yourself beaten. It's much more difficult to pick up the gauntlet and continue sludging through the muck.

  6. "Just keep swimming...just keep swimming...just keep swimming!" Thanks, Jack! I needed that one. Today more than ever.

  7. Oh, when you've done the recommitment thing over and over again without actually doing any of the things you committed to, then one day you will finally say, "I've had enough!" And that's when the progress begins. Hopefully, it doesn't take too long for you to get moving and making healthy choices.

  8. Jack there is no way you could ever fail, you just keep fighting and that's what I admire about you the most!

    Oh and if you were to ever stop there would be alot of people knocking down your door :-)

  9. Thank you Jack. Really. Thank you.

    Bearfriend xx

  10. You are what I need to start every new day!!

  11. Tenacity



    ROCK ON!

  12. Thanks Jack - I needed this today. You rock, and I appreciate the little window into the struggles you've encountered over the years.

  13. I'm making it happen, Jack. I'll beat this. :)
    I recnetly revisited my old journal. It was kind of sad. So much depression. I know I've changed so much since then. It's like a different person. And things are only getting better!

    You've done fantastic. Did you ever take progression photos? Those are very inspirational to folks trying to lose the bulge.

  14. Inspirational. I cross posted it on my blog. Check it out here: http://losingweightafter45isabitch.blogspot.com/

  15. woah, great post, thank you Jack... it is all about getting up time and time and time again, never giving up no matter how hard or hopeless it seems....

    I guess, "fake it till you make it" rings true..


  16. I agree, dont give up.
    I too diet a hundred times and failed and I only had a few pounds to lose, I struggled, and cant imagine what it must be like to have 100 pounds to lose.
    For me something *clicked* this time round in my head and I got it off...now am working as hard to keep it off...and know i will.

  17. Good timing. I was starting to feel discouraged about my (so-called) progress.
    My goal is to find new and interesting mistakes to make. I'm tired of making the same old ones.

  18. Hey Jack, you been reading my journals from the past years???
    Good thing this one is different then :)

  19. To be honest, when I first starting reading your blog (and many times since then) I was in awe of your STRENGTH. The fact that your just like ME...that you have started, stopped, started again, failed, not given up.......makes me like you even more! I believe this is my absolute fav post to date! And I didnt think you could top some of your others! lol Thanks Jack!

  20. We fail because we are bombarded with messages from all corners that say "Eat More."

    Dr. Kessler has a great book on the subject. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/26/AR2009042602711.html

    "The End of Overeating."
    It's amazing what food purveyors are doing to keep us fat!

  21. Well said.
    The starting over part is key. Don't quit, keep getting up and keep trying.
    I don't think anybody ever did anything perfectly the first try.
    It reminds me of the little engine that could!

  22. I can tell you exactly what the difference was for me....It was really seeing myself.
    I saw myself how I really was, not how I wished I was..or how I used to be.
    Man, It's like I woke up out of a coma.
    I had tried to lose weight before, but there was always some exterior reason for doing it.
    A family reunion, a dance or something.
    This time, I just didn't want to be THAT PERSON anymore.
    I wanted to be someone I could admire, and be proud of.
    That's the difference.
    A deliberate life

  23. And that is why no one is ever a lost cause.

  24. you're a great inspiration! thank you for all you do and write about for others to see :)

  25. That was an incredible time for you, Jack January 2007. The moment of truth.


  26. Thank you so much for this post! I needed it today. You're an inspiration.

  27. Thank you so much for posting this - I am yet again "starting again" -- your words are the greatest encouragement. Finding weight loss blogs have been the best thing for me during this journey.

    This is so awesome!!!

  28. It's been 7 years since I started trying to lose weight. I've made great progress but never quite managed to hit goal. Restarted and restarted and I think the key is never giving up.

  29. Wow, this is a great post. Fine work, Jack, fine work (read in a fake British accent). :o)

    I feel like I need to print this out and stick it on my fridge. Unfortunately, printers hate me.

  30. I got nothing snarky to say. That was a really good post.

  31. Keep trying... means a lot! I managed to shave off 150 lbs and then gain close to 40 back over 18 months, but even then I felt so much better over 100 lbs down that I can see what another 100 lbs will eventually be... even better health and lifestyle wise. It made it much easier to recommit. Every day is a new day to get up and eat right and workout all over again!

  32. I swear you know what I'm thinking and feeling or I'd like to think that you've read my blog because your past posts are what I was feeling this past week. Thankfully, I have picked myself up (from my negative thinking slump) and these past two days are back on track. Your blog really helps to motivate me!
    Thanks so much! I look forward to reading it each day!

  33. Jack, just what I needed to hear. I mean I tell myself these things but sometimes I think I'm just bullshitting myself and making excuses but then I read yours and other and it just isn't easy. We just gotta keep pushing and trying. Just no other option. I'm not willing to accept the alternative.

    Thanks so much Jack!!!

  34. Amen! I don't know why this time is different for me; I just know it is. And I am SO all about grabbing on and taking it for a ride!

  35. No. My bags weren't packed. ANd I was getting ready to hop of the train for a while. Just while it was in the station you know.

    Thanks. I can live with that kind of advice. I still don't want to wake up one day with 30 pounds of medical weight gain that acts like I ate every twinkie in town. But, hopefully that will never happen again.

    Keep swimming Jack.

  36. Amen Jack. I don't know what causes the spark to finally catch either. I'm just thankful that it did after so many failures. As long as you keep trying there's a chance it will finally catch.

  37. I lost about 5 years going backwards and forwards in the process. Finally I'm ready physically, mentally and emotionally and it's working!

    fantastic post Jack; as long as we don't give up completely we can not FAIL!

  38. This is why you're "the Sh*t".

    Thank you -- I needed that today.

  39. Another awesome post. I'm glad you finally caught that spark.

  40. There's a passage about going after your dreams in Barbara Sher's "Live the Life you Love:

    "Most change experts sincerely feel that they have the answer. A tough coach barking that you’re the lowest for of life on this planet, or a gentle, soothing guru telling you to fill your mind with only the most healing thoughts honestly believe that their method will help everybody. Well, those methods may help some people some of the time but they leave many of us behind – because they were developed by experts who left out what’s most important: who we are.

    "You see, there is no one “right” method for motivating people to change.

    "It’s a funny thing, when the shoe doesn’t fit, we think we’re supposed to wear it anyway...

    "...If you tried in the past to go after your dreams – and you failed – there’s an excellent chance that it wasn’t your fault. You probably were using techniques that were designed for someone else."

    Pam Anderson (the cookbook author) quoted that in her book "The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Eating Great:" “Diets are like trying to sell everyone the same style and size shoe. If this way of eating is forced and not really you, you’ll revert to your old patterns every time. Better to find a way to eat for life.”

    No one program or way of eating is going to work for everyone. Until you find or create the one that will work for you, you'll repeatedly go nowhere and start over at square one over and over again. Even after you find what works for you, it may not be smooth sailing, but it will be smoother than trying to do what works for someone else.

  41. Great post. I'm back on my solid path after a weekend of unwise choices but I'm still in it to win it!

  42. Wow Jack. Thanks for the reminder that you're one of us, although you're in maintenance now. We all start at the same place.

    A few months ago, I was tired of counting calories and drove to Golden Corral. I've emailed you about this place a few times now. :) I sat in the car for 10-15 mins, thinking about going in and eating everything I could hold. As I was sitting there pondering feeding at the hog trough, I started noticing the size of the people walking in the door. Most of them were huge. I don't do it right every day....but that day, I decided that I no longer wanted to be one of the huge people that waddle into a place like that. I want to be different....and I drove home and ate healthy. I think this time I'm going to get it right. It's taken me longer to get there than I originally planned, but by golly, I'm still in there duking it out! Thanks again. :)

  43. Jack, you sure said it right! And reading all the comments from your followers really reinforces it. Saw a similar comment on Band Groupie's The Sweet Spot about plateau's, it is a message filled day! Here's hers if you'd like to check it out. http://bandgroupiethesweetspot.blogspot.com/2010/02/2210-groundhog-day.html
    Great work!

  44. I had lots of false starts ... successes followed by failures, too. I think this time is different because I actually changed my day-in and day-out life. It's not temporary. It's everyday forever. Two years gone and counting. :)

  45. SO true! This is the fourth (and hopefully final) time that I have started this long bloody journey. I don't want to start again.

    Great post!

  46. Thanks Jack. Thirty years of starting and stopping and re-starting, for me. My spark now lives inside me, literally. I had to get more help than you, but my spark is burning bright!

    So proud of what you've done!

  47. I want it too, Jack.
    More than you could know, or ever understand.
    I want it, too!

  48. Thanks Jack. I am glad to hear you are not a "perfect" loser.

    It is definitely not easy, but it certainly can be done.

  49. You're the best. Just thought that you should know that...

  50. having a really rough couple of days here, Jack, needed to hear this. Emotional eating SUCKS. :-/

    Thanks for always being the inspiration, even if I don't always follow through.

  51. Thank you for this post. I really needed to read it.

  52. I've just spent the last 5 days getting back in the saddle again after a nasty spill. dessert bar, business trip, and anxiety driven eating... ugh!)
    I was giving myself the daily pep-talk and reminded myself that when you are learning to walk away from a bad behavior, it often takes "practice" before you can really leave it behind you. We can all do this!!
    Thanks again for helping me on this journey, Jack!

  53. Oh thank the gods for you! I got a little teary eyed when I read this post. I'm so happy I found your corner of the interwebz!

  54. Once on a Fatty Blog, I tried to write "Big Hugs"
    But instead it came out "Big Hogs to you."
    So many of these bloggers just don't have a sense of humour!
    True story!

  55. Very powerful post, Jack. I know that feeling of starting over, and over and over again. I think you captured it perfectly!

    Alison :)



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