Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Whys & Wherefores

There are a few things I like about commenting on blogs. Besides the obvious good feeling of lending a little support in somebody’s weight-loss journey, you occasionally get the opportunity to make someone look at his or her own trek in a slightly different light.

Suzi at OK, Just One More Beer was recently soliciting ideas from readers on what she should write about. My comment?

The posts that I find the most interesting, the ones that I seem to get the most out of are the ones where the writer explores the why's of this whole deal: why did I get the way I was? why did I make the change? why is this time going to be different?

Everyone's got their own "how", but the "why's" always seem to be singular and unique.

Statistically, I’d say that the vast majority of us making our way through other people’s weight-loss stories aren’t looking for answers on how to lose weight. We know what we have to do, and we’re all doing it to varying level of effort, degree and success.

I said it to Suzi and I’ll say it to you: tell me “Why”…

Why do you suppose you let your life be less than you imagined it to be?

Why do you stumble so often despite all your good intentions?

Why do you sabotage yourself?

Why are you here anyway?

If you’re making it, if you’re succeeding on this weight-loss journey, tell me why this time is different than all the others.

Why are you going to make it this time when you’ve fallen short before.

Why are you going to keep it off this time when you’ve gained it back before.

Why are you a different person now than you were before?

I’m going to skim over the laundry list of food you ate today, going to gloss over what your co-worker said or your plans for the weekend, but if you’re honest and you tell me why you’re doing this, why you’re succeeding (or failing), then I can’t help but get sucked in to your story.

We all have our own “why”.

Why not tell me yours?


  1. Those are some really great questions. I had to star your entry in my google reader so I can go back to it. :)

  2. Sometimes 'whys' can just end up being excuses (in my case, anyway!) Good questions, though - why AM I going to make this time work when I've gained most of the weight back before? Because I deserve to treat myself better! :o)

  3. Why? Because for some reason that is how I cope when I am stripped down to nuts and bolts and I ain't got nothin left. Because I still can't imagine reacting differently to a extreme EXTREME stress.

    Why? Why will it be different? Because somehow someway someday, it will NOT be my only reaction. I can feel it waffling now. I'm going to break through this wall. Someday when the next crisis strikes I will exercise, then eat some broccoli, and BLOG about it. Then I will call my mom in tears.

    The Vat will no longer be an option.

  4. Lol, I had to come back to tell you, you made me think so hard. . . I wound up doing a post kind of about it. . . :)

  5. Why? WOW, that goes really deep and back really far, but I guess being fat is all I ever knew. It was/is comfortable to me. I am just now struggling to have an identity that is not about being the "fat one". I didn't think being fat was bad for me. I wanted to ignore it, and I got fatter and fatter until I was about 300 lbs. Now down to 195 I am forging a new identity and its scary, but it feels good.

  6. I can answer most of those whys with one answer. Because I am greedy and have no self control.

    Why am I going to succeed this time? I'm not actually sure that I am, or will. I've been doing this for 11 years and now I'm wondering why I bother.

    But then I know why - same answer as before, because I am greedy and have no self control - and if I did give up, then I would probably be dead in 5 years.

    So, why am I trying to lose weight? Because I don't want to be dead. I don't want to be fat. I don't want to be one of those people I look at (and I'm really sorry guys), and judge to being fat, lazy and self pitying.

    There's a nugget for you - I loathe fat people, yet I have nothing but admiration for fat people trying to get thin. I loathe myself for being fat... and I loathe myself even more for not being able to do what you have been done.

    Yet, instead of using that as fuel to push myself to do better, I sit here and feel sorry for myself and give up.

    Sorry - not in a good place today.

    Journeybeyondsurvival - if you find the answer, let me know...

  7. Why I lost weight.. I was young when I first did it & I wanted to get boys & stop being the fat friend. As I got older, things changed.

    Why I keep at it & love the weights.. it makes me feel good, I look good, it makes me healthy & man, has it made aging easier! I can do things that people my age can't or even half my age. I want to age healthy.

    It is a lot of hard work but the payoff it great!

    Always making us think, aren't you! :-)

  8. I'm going to take your question to heart and post a response. I think it will be a good reflection before heading to Fitbloggin this weekend. Thanks, Jack.

  9. "Why?" is the question I'm constantly trying to answer!

    The biggest why's I'm trying to answer are:

    Why do I eat compulsively when I don't want to?

    Why is this the LAST TIME I'm losing the weight, after yo-yo'ing for 25 years?

    Why haven't I been able to maintain my weight losses when I've hit my goals before (and I've been there a few times)?

    None of those are short answers...that's what I use my blog for...but I am 100% with you. I know HOW, and there are a million ways to do it.

    The real keys lie in the WHY. Knowing that alone makes this time different!

  10. The strongest answer to that "why" is sometimes we notice the sand going through the hourglass more quickly...

  11. ...because I valued myself as less than I really am and I forgot that me doing the best I can for me is the only thing I need to worry about. I deserve that, I really do, but I forgot that...

  12. A lot of the whys on why I got fat to begin with have been excuses for me to stay fat.

    But why this time is different... I have a 9 month old boy. When I was pregnant with him were the best 9 months of my life. Sure, I was uncomfortable but for the first time I loved my body because of what it was able to do. And it made me think about how badly I treat my body and how well it treats me in response. Aside from the awesome stuff like walking around every day, I'm able to grow a whole new person!! That's amazing!

    It made starting to exercise and eat healthy obvious. Not that it's been that easy because I have 25 years of eating poorly and not liking my body to fall back on but I get better every day. And I can't remember the last time I used an emotion to justify an entire 1 lbs bag of M&Ms. (Although I've caught myself at nearly half a bag.)

    I really like this post, Jack.

  13. Honestly? Because i didn't think i could do any better.

  14. Good grief, what a long post my answer turned out to be! Be thankful I didn't post it in your comments section, you'd still be reading it next week. Thanks for making me think about it and really take a look at my journey, though. :) Have a great week!

  15. Why? Plain and simple, because I am worth it. :) As slow as it may be I AM DOING IT! No excuses!

  16. I agree - the WHY is the most interesting part to me, too. That's WHY I do the work I do - helping others along the journey that I made myself. For me, what brought me to holistic nutrition was a major sugar addiction. I see food as a metaphor - how you feed yourself and take care of your body represents how you value yourself.
    9 weight loss

  17. I agree with you. Posts on that topic tend to be my favorite, too!

  18. Sometimes the whys consume me and other times I think, who gives a shit about the whys, just do it.

    For me, one of the most important whys is why have I never been able to keep the weight off and I *think* (and I say think because I'm not really sure of much) but I think it is because I didn't love myself enough. This is something I still struggle with. Sometimes I say, what's the point? I'm never going to be happy with myself anyway.

    I think until I decide I truly love myself, I'll never be able to consistently do the right thing for myself. And the right thing for myself (one of them anyway) would be to lose this weight once and for all, be happy and embrace whatever I have to embrace to keep it off.

  19. You and I are sympatico on this one Jack. The bloggers who go on and on about their pets make me nuts (hey, I love animals but sheeesh please no more stories about the funny thing your cat did that ALL cats do a million times a day)/blogress...) and I've actually had scary flashbacks from blogs that include photo after photo of, apparently, ABC food. (Now THAT's a novel weight loss plan!)

    So, yeah, the bloggers that answer those WHY questions, even if they're mostly stumbling around and still only TRYING to get close to the truth...those are the greats.

    My reasons? Too long for a comment here, but thanks for stirring the shit. :-D

    On the other hand, I do know a couple things that I didn't know before.

    1) I cannot have anything but kindness and compassion in my heart towards fat people or I'm setting myself up for a BIG weight gain sometime in the future.

    Speaking personally, I can achieve no long term success without humility. For without humility there is no grace. And "grace" (a complex social construct, I admit) gives me the power to live and love my life to the fullest.

    2) If you have to white knuckle the food thing every single effing day, it really ain't worth being thin and fit. I can spot the white knuckle crowd a mile away, and I feel only kindness and compassion towards them too.

    Great post Jack!

  20. Okay Jack, my WHY turned into a blog post. Go there and your questions shall be answered. Thanks for making me think about it, btw. :)

  21. Why do you suppose you let your life be less than you imagined it to be?

    That question really caught my attention. Not only in terms of weight loss, but with my entire life. I think that I am afraid of success. Now I need to figure out why.

  22. I answered your questions in my post today. Thanks for making me think Jack.

  23. You know, I've been trying to think of the "why and how I got this way" lately and I really am coming up blank. I think I just enjoyed the convenience of junky food. I mean, I'm a happy person. I have a great husband. I did lose it a little when our first house flooded and I had to live in a place without flooring or walls for a few years. I gained weight.

    This time it's different for me because it's more than the weight loss; it's about fitness. It's about trying new things and living life to the fullest. The emphasis isn't on a diet or just losing the weight. It's about having a good time and doing things I never thought I could do. I guess you'd say it's a new outlook on life in general. The weight loss is a bonus.

  24. Excellent point. I think most of us want to hear about the personal side of it.

  25. Very good post! And if I get the motivation, I may even put a why blog up for you to get sucked into.

  26. Most people who think they *finally* have this weight loss thing all figured out after losing a *ton* or even after maintaining for a mere 3-5 years better keep looking over their shoulder. Thinking you've got it all figured out is as close to a bad omen as you will ever encounter. It lurks.

  27. Because I couldn't go downstairs and kiss my kids goodnight. I was too heavy to take the stairs without hurting myself. I was tired of the pain, tired of not being able to enjoy my children, and the doctor said I'd lose my ability to walk altogether if I did not get the weight off.

    And why I will succeed? Because I refuse to give up.

  28. i've been binge-free for two years and am at my happy weight because... 1) i went to therapy to find out "why" i have been a compulsive overeater for 30+ years. 2) I also went to OA meetings for a year and still read the literature. 3) I also learned that my 'sweet tooth' was in fact an eating disorder just over two years ago. i have embraced it and have been totally honest with myself and the important people in my life because you are only as sick as your secrets.

  29. Very insightful! I find that my story turns to the 'how' (as if has more recently) when I have less time to blog. I do feel like when I have more of a chance to really think about where I am, the 'whys' tend to be much more forthcoming and, I agree, more interesting.

  30. Dear BBF(Blog-Boy-Friend) JackSh*t,

    You asked a few questions and wanted to be ‘sucked in’. So like a good BGF, I am answering.

    Your BGF forever,

  31. Why am I doing this? Cause I recently turned 30 and realised I missed my teens cause I was big, spent my 20s having babies and getting bigger and now I want to have some fun going out, wearing what I like!

    I am also doing this for my kids tho, I dont want to be the reason they get teased and I want to be able to make them proud on Sports day when we do the parents races :)

    My little boy is 6 and is autistic. We are lucky cause he is quite high functioning but chances are he is going to need a lot of support right through his life - I would want that support to me me for as long as possible!

    Why is it going to work this time? I dont know but it is, been strict for 8 weeks now and have lots 10lbs and 14.5cm. Its a lot of hard work to undo with being silly and pigging out - I am finding the longer I am continuously good the less likely I am to binge as I dont want to have wasted my time so far.

    I have never been slim but for the 1st time in my life I can see a time when I will be and I cant wait :)

  32. Nice post JS. In fact the "why" is most often the answer to all of our questions. I should have read this before I wrote today. I think it would have helped. You are a lot like the Yoda of the weight loss blogging world.

  33. because this time, I refuse to give up.

  34. It started with my divorce (my choice) 6 years ago - I really only want to lose 10 more pounds (I've lost 10 so far).

    Food was the comfort I needed, but it was a temporary fix. I need long term fixes. My mental health is a mess - so now instead of sitting on my a** and eating food (that ends up making me sick anyway) I am pushing myself to find something else. Church for the first time in years this last Sunday (that provided a 100% worry free day afterwards - it was AWESOME). Actually getting the weights out of the garage to use (I play volleyball during spring/summer but my endurance is non-existent and I feel "weak" when I play). I want my zest back too so that I screw my boyfriend more.


  35. Not only are they interesting to read... they help the person writing it too. Writing it down helps clarify it yourself. Very helpful- thanks!

  36. My Why turned into a blog post too. I think you started something. Thank you for a great post. I enjoyed yours as well as your commenters too.
    You're the best.

  37. Thank you Jack...that blog post is probably the most *heart* felt post I have written. As soon as I read your comment I immediately had to write at that very minute. It was the same kind of feeling I get when I see a beer...all else in the world stops. :-)

  38. That's easy. I've thought about this a lot.

    I'm fat because I'm more into immediate satifaction (eating junk) then longterm results (exercising and eating well for healthy weigh/healthy life results), and I really like to eat - all the time.

    Why am I changing?
    Because I've been trying to get down to 150 lbs for 5 years now - and by trying I mean REALLY trying - losing, gaining, maintaining, gaining, losing (you get the picture).

    Why is it different this time?
    I don't know that it is. I can't say for absolute certainty that "this time I will succeed, I will reach my goal" - that's what I've thought every time I've lost weight.

    But if I don't believe it every time I try, I'll never succeed.

    I have to believe that this time will be different.

    Because I truly believe that one of these times it will be different, and I will succeed.

  39. The "why" really irritates the sh*t out of me. If I could figure out the "why", and keep it clear in my mind, then maybe I could end the self-sabotage, break through the 230 lb barrier that feels like a 20 ft. thick concrete wall, and actually find myself in Onederland!! You really bugged me with this question. Thanks a lot Jack, lol.

  40. You're making my head hurt with all this thinking :) I'm still thinking about my why's. I'm thinking it will turn into a post tomorrow. Gotta think some more (and maybe take some tylenol).

  41. The Snuggie is on order. Actually, it would be if I won dat hun-dun!

  42. To be honest... I'm gonna say the thing you're not suppose to say: TO LOOK GOOD!!!

    I started my journey purely to look better. I was fortunate enough to not have health problems yet, so although I started my journey because I wanted to look good, that's not why I'm continuing to do it. I'm doing it now (and succeeding slowly but surely) because I've changed my "why" to be health and fitness oriented. This time it's working for me because I'm not just focusing on the physical aspect of weight-loss, but all the benefits of weight-loss.

    Thanks for posting this!

  43. When I started, I thought mine would be strictly a fitness blog. But I am dealing with various "isms" and I've been using blog posts to get honest about the "why's" of my addictions. I can't separate getting in shape from recovery issues. The act of "calling myself out" and not minding that readers have access to raw honesty has been very healing for me. People have private messaged me on Facebook to thank me for the honest and inspiration. This fills me with gratitude for the health and wellness I've received one day at a time.

  44. What a thoughtful post. These are the questions that I am looking for the answers to. I am reading books on the mental part of weight loss. We all know what we should be eating - I could write a book on that myself after all the times I have lost weight. So that leaves the mental part of it as having yet to be conquered.

    I am exploring these issues and writing about them on my blog as well as sharing my recipes and daily life.

    I have to change my mind as well as my body, otherwise what't the point?

  45. Great post Jack! Here are my "whys"

    Why do you suppose you let your life be less than you imagined it to be? I was lazy, that's what it was. I didn't want to put in the effort.

    Why do you stumble so often despite all your good intentions? Seriously, I love the taste and to eat food. That's why.

    Why do you sabotage yourself? See above.

    Why are you here anyway? To cheer you on in your weight-loss journey, just as you have cheered me on.

    If you’re making it, if you’re succeeding on this weight-loss journey, tell me why this time is different than all the others. I've never had another "other" times, this is the first, really. But I feel like I have the tools to succeed for life, not just temporarily.

    Why are you a different person now than you were before? Because I'm confident, and I love myself and my body for who I am and what it is.

  46. Thank you. I'm bookmarking this post, and I'm going to refer to it over the next week while writing my blog.

  47. SImply... it was easier not to care.
    This journey is hard. It is easier and less stressful to have a I DO NOT CARE ATTITUDE.

    In the end you do really care and then you end up here. Fat and miserable. Then you start a blog and it gets better.

  48. I think when we are able to fully and honestly answer the "Why", we have the tool to finally be free of the cycle. Assuming that after we answer why we get our big old butts off the couch and do something about it.

  49. I often write about the why(s)...Sometimes I'm afraid it will turn people off because I write about some pretty hard stuff (like yesterday's post about my alcoholic brother) but then I have to remind myself this isn't about people's reading pleasure, it's about my journey and it's not all rainbows and butterflies.

  50. Ok, so I came back to this one. I wasn't going to post anything, but I literally couldn't stop thinking about it, so I thought I'd tell you in case you want to take a looksy. The post is called "How and Why" if you come over to my page.

  51. "Why do you suppose you let your life be less than you imagined it to be?" DAYUM, that sums it all up for me, really.

    I'm so pleased I stumbled onto your blog :)

  52. Too much Beer and Too much Food since my late wife's Cancer came back in 2004. I've been kinda depressed. No real secret there. :)

  53. Wow. These questions are so great that I am going to make a blog post (or three) out of my answers. Thanks for bringing it back to the basics and making me think, Jack.

  54. Well, I think I'll try to answer some of those questions later! I addressed part of the "why" in my latest post, but your questions would get me examining it more closely.

  55. I used this post of yours and answered the questions over here: I'm not sure how well I answered the questions though. I'm sometimes not even sure I know the answers as to why. But I tried to answer honestly.

  56. Why is a great question. There are so many factors involved in Why. For me, I was raised fat. My family members are all either fat or unhealthy thin. Either way, there were no examples of leading healthy lifestyles in my childhood. Eat when your happy, eat when your sad, eat when you celebrate, eat when you mourn. Exercise didn't happen. "Its not fun and its hard work" my mother used to tell me. I was "The Big Girl" all of my school age years.
    I didn't get it until I became a mother. What am I doing to my kids? What am I teaching my kids? How on earth do I expect my kids to be healthy, play sports and be active while I'm sitting on my couch eating Cheetos?

    Why am I succeeding when other times I didn't? I never put the effort before this time. I was the one to complain about my weight but really deep down didnt know how to fix it. True - it doesnt take a rocket scientist to know that if I get of of the couch and put the fork down, the weight will come off. But HOW? What do I do and HOW do I do it? Through reading, researching and learning have I been able to understand how my body works and how to fix this issue. In the mean time Ive been able to show my kids HOW to live healthy and active.

  57. I think "why" is because it's easier than not overeating. Change is hard. Really really hard. But somebody else wrote that losing weight is hard, but being overweight is harder. I have to remember that, because it would sure be easy to revert back to the easy way of sticking anything and everything in my mouth just because it tastes good. That's easy, but in the long run, when you're 150 lbs. overweight, it's hard.



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