One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

ASK RONI Q&A

Why isn’t my unhappiness motivation enough? – A Follow Up

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I’m going to let this correspondence speak for itself. It’s long, but if I felt that way and she feels that way there have to be more young women out there struggling with these same issues. How do we stop the cycle?

Dear Roni,

Your website has been such a helpful tool and your story is very inspiring to me. Unfortunately, I guess it hasn’t been inspiring enough. Let’s see…let me kind of sum up where I’m coming from here.

I’m 22 years old, 5 ft 8 inches and my highest weight is 180. This time last year I had lost 17 pounds and was well on my way to losing more. It was great! But fast forward a year and I’m back up to 178 and my motivation has completely left me. It doesn’t make any sense to me because I always thought in order to get motivation, you had to want something very badly. Well, Roni…I want this VERY badly! I’m sick of being overweight and uncomfortable in my own skin. I’m constantly depressed about it and it’s affecting my every day life. I don’t want to participate in certain activities (swimming only being ONE of them) because I’m worried about how I’ll look.

I guess my question to you is…why isn’t my unhappiness motivation enough? What can I do to motivate myself more (and for GOOD)?

~Barbara

I tried to respond to Barbara in this video post and I emailed her…

Barbara,

I FINALLY got to your question and you really touched me…
http://ronisweigh.com/2008/07/ask-roni-video-_v04-session-2.html

Please let me know how you are doing. I’d love to chat with you in
email if you want. You remind me SO much of ME!

I hope to here from you.

-Roni

Hey, Roni! Wow…I can’t believe I actually got an email from you. I
feel like I got an email from a celebrity or something! :)

Thank you SO much for answering my question in the video. When you
were recapping about how you tried low carb diets, pills and this and
that and the other…it was crazy, because it just felt like you were
watching me or something. That’s exactly where I’m at right now. I
actually just got some diet pills the other week hoping for a quick
fix. I’m not an idiot though, I know that the only way to weight loss
that sticks is through a healthy diet and exercise. Only…it’s better
if you don’t think of it as a “diet.” But I just keep getting to this
point where I’m so unhappy that I want it to be solved instantly.

When I was in high school, I weighed 145 pounds and I thought I was a
whale. I was uncomfortable in my own skin (just like now) and I
thought everyone was always looking at my flaws. Now I’m like 180
pounds and I would give ANYTHING to be back where I was. Or I at least
wish that I could go back in time and tell myself that I looked great.
I really did and I didn’t appreciate it. I think that’s another thing
that scares me about losing the weight. If/When I get back down to
145, will I really be happy with my body? I mean, I wasn’t before…

So, on to YOUR question…you asked me how I was doing. Well, at the
moment, I’m actually doing okay. I haven’t lost any weight and I
haven’t been dieting, but on Sunday I had a big moment – I went
swimming. I was in a one piece with shorts over the bottom, but it was
a BIG step for me. I’m also going to the beach this week and I’ll be
donning my bathing suit once again. Actually, it’s sad, because I
don’t even have a bathing suit…I had to borrow my mom’s. I only had
some from high school because I’m so hesitant to buy stuff at this
weight…I don’t want it to be real, you know? If I have a closet full
of “fat” clothes, then I really am fat. If I just wear some of the
stuff that was baggy on me before and is now fitting pretty snug, then
I don’t have to worry about that. Does that make any sense? I have a
stack of about 10 pairs of pants that don’t fit me anymore, but I
can’t bring myself to get rid of them (or even move them from in front
of my dresser). I want them to be my motivation. Ugh…I don’t know
what to do anymore. I mean, I KNOW what to do, but I don’t.

I think I really need to get to the place where you were at when you
found your motivation…I need to just accept myself for what I am and
start making improvements to be healthier. When I started my blog on
weightwatchen.com, the whole reason was to be healtheir, not skinnier
(I mean, that was a bonus). My dad passed away in January of last year
because he didn’t make healthy decisions (he was only 58) and I don’t
want that to happen to me. I want to learn from him being gone.

Anywho…I really appreciate you answering my email and I’m sorry that
I’ve just blabbed on and on in this email, it’s just that I don’t
really ever talk about this because I don’t want to call attention to
my flaws. I already feel like everyone sees them all the time. I hope
you’re doing well and I look forward to hearing back from you!

~Babs

Babs,

Oh MY GOD! Seriously, are you my younger self?? You sound exactly
like me. I mean EXACTLY! The swimming, the not having a bathing suit,
the wishing I was the weight I was in high school, the keeping clothes
that don’t fit, all of it.

I just want shake you (or should I say the former me) and say…

“SNAP OUT OF IT” you are a beautiful, young women and you are causing
your weight issues. Yes, YOU!. Yes, you let yourself go a little. Yes,
you have a few pounds you want to get rid of. It’s ok. Life happens!
Now, take it one day at a time. One DAY! That fact that you ate a
burger and fries for lunch doesn’t give you permission to down 1/2 of
pizza for dinner. And that “start tomorrow’ concept is a cop out and
you know it! START NOW. Chose the grilled chicken over the burger. Get
a side of veggies instead of fries. It’s those little things that will
make the difference. Eating out is not an excuse to pig out. If you
want to accomplish this weight loss thing you will have to sacrifice a
little. Don’t worry it’s not forever, but you need to re-learn how to
eat, what a portion is and that’s it’s ok not to clean your plate.

“As for the exercise thing, don’t worry about it. Focus on learning
how to eat healthy and healing that dysfunctional relationship you
have with food. That is key but you need to stay active. Get moving by
taking walks, taking the stairs, dancing, hiking, SWIMMING, doing FUN
things that you like to do!

“Now that scale. Ohhh that scale. You know what, if you make these
changes, then forget it. You may not be in the right state of mind to
handle that number on the scale in the beginning and that is also OK.
It’s a love/hate with the scale but I’m telling you, it’s about how
you FEEL! If you want to use the scale as tool then so be it but don’t
let it effect you emotionally.

“Finally, time is moving on. Before you know it, you’ll be a
30-something looking back on your 20s wondering where the time went.
When you get there age, maturity and life experience may give you the
kick in the but you need to accept yourself and to boost your
motivation but why wait! It’s not ‘all or nothing’ it’s small changes
that will snowball and start building you confidence that you can do
it! AND YOU CAN!”

Babs, I hope you aren’t insulted, but this was really a message to my
younger self. It really is and you brought a lot of old feelings and
memories back to the surface. I just hope that I have helped you in a
at least a small way to realize that you are worth the healthy
decisions. That your size in no way defines who you are and that our
happiness is what really matters.

-Roni

Don’t worry, I’m not insulted by any of that. I’m really glad that I
remind you of your younger self, because it means that you really can
identify with what I’m going through and what you’re telling me is the
truth. I fully intend to start trying to put this advice to good use.

I have a friend that’s been trying to do the healthy thing as well and
while it’s great that I have a partner in this, she doesn’t have the
same weaknesses that I do and so it’s a little difficult to relate.
First of all, she’s a vegetarian, so there’s a big difference. And
second, when she’s upset she exercises. I WISH I had that habit! When
I’m upset I eat and then I get upset that I ate and so I eat some
more…quite the vicious cycle I have going on there.

In your video response, you mentioned how you always felt like you
were in somebody else’s body, I can’t tell you just how much I
identify with that. Sometimes I’ll feel so great about myself because
I think I look the way that I feel and then a quick glance in the
mirror changes all of that. It’s such a strange feeling. I guess it’s
because I never thought I would gain this much weight. I know that I’m
far from obese and there are plenty of people in my life (my boyfriend
included) that think I’m absolutely beautiful, but I just don’t see
it. I’ve been writing music recently (myspace.com/misswright7) if you
want to check it out) and my latest song is about that. It’s so
strange for someone else to look at me and see beauty when all I see
is flaws. What’s wrong with me?

Well, I believe that’s it for the moment. I can’t tell you how much it
means to me that you emailed me personally AND gave me a video
response. Thank you SO much! I have no problem with you sharing this
with your readers, so share away! I only hope it will help some of
them that are going through the same thing that I’m going through.

I’ll try to keep you posted as to what’s going on with me and weight
loss journey. And thank you, thank you, thank you!
:)

-Babs

Babs,

Again EVERYTHING you said I said 10 years ago! I have tears streaming
down my face. We are so much alike.

Your music is beautiful! I always wished I had a voice, I LOVE music
and my Dad and Brother are both talented on the guitar, but the gene
skipped me. :~( So I just admire musicians from afar. :~)

Just try to accept that you are beautiful, no matter your size. Your “man” is right, just as mine was (again I would never accept the
husbands compliment back then either.

There is nothing “wrong” with you. You are a very normal young women.
Life is a journey and every day you live it you will grow and learn
more about yourself. You are on the earth for such a short time, and I
wished I learned this lesson earlier, it’s not worth your energy being
unhappy with yourself!

Thank you so much for reaching out to me and I hope in some small way
I have helped you.

-Roni




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Discussion

There are 20 comments so far.

    MizFit

    August 4, 2008

    speechless.

    over all of it.

    THANK YOU FOR SHARING THIS.

    life is INDEED a journey and a tough one some days.

    Crystal

    August 4, 2008

    This was great. Thanks for sharing, Babs & Roni.

    Arlene

    August 4, 2008

    Wow. I needed to read that. It’s been a tough morning, and I’m not looking forward to WI at noon (since my own scale didn’t say what I wanted it to).

    Eating out is not an excuse to pig out (I only like to think it is).

    coral

    August 4, 2008

    Thank you so much for sharing. I have also been dealing with motivation issues for quite some time now. This is my second time on WW, and I’ve been doing it for 39 weeks, along with my husband. He has lost substantially more than me, and I got so depressed about it, I just didn’t want to exercise, I was making poor food choices, and was losing and gaining the same five pounds for almost THREE months. It was so frustrating.

    But something in me clicked when I talked to a coworker of mine, who I hadn’t seen in a while (we work different shifts). She was heavy like me, and started working out like crazy, and has dropped a ton of weight. I knew then, that even though I (sorta) had my food under control, that I needed to step up the exercise. My 15 minutes of cardio and lazy weight training a couple days a week just wasn’t cutting it. Some people, like Roni, are able to lose weight by diet alone. Some have to exercise, and I fell into that category.

    It helped that the weather started getting nice, and I just began to move a lot more. Long walks, doing stairs at the park, and getting back on my bike, which I love to ride. I keep an exercise log on my blog now, which is something to keep me accountable! This is week 6 for me, upping my exercise, and while I didn’t lose much the first couple weeks, I’ve showed a loss on the scale the last three weeks. Not to mention that my body is really responding to the exercise, I’m looking much more fit, my legs look awesome! I actually enjoy exercise now, but I still hate the gym. I’m going to be in some trouble when winter comes back around. I’ll need to be more creative, or invest in some rain gear!

    My husband is very supportive, but I just really couldn’t find the motivation I needed to get losing again until I saw that girl at work. It really was an eye opening experience for me, and I thought “well, if she can do it, I can do it” and I’ve been able to keep it up. And you know? I still have cravings for bad food, and even indulge in them every Saturday after weigh in. But I’m also burning over 3000 calories every week, over 5 days of exercise. Buy yourself a heart rate monitor and keep track of what you’re burning. It’s awesome to meet your goals and then try and beat them. I started off with a goal of 400 calories/day, and now I try to do 600 calories/day. And I’m having fun doing so. It’s all about finding what you like.

    Good luck to you Babs, you can do it!! You just really have to make that decision to change, and follow through.

    Tanya

    August 4, 2008

    Babs & Roni – thanks so much for sharing…I am speechless right now and totally moved by your discussions…thanks again…it takes really strong and special people to open up and share this kind of heart wrenching information with the world. I really appreciate it…

    Annette

    August 4, 2008

    Babs, I hope you will listen to Roni and just take it one day at a time. You have all the time in the world to lose the weight so just use each day like it was a precious gift to yourself and make the best choices you can.

    Roni, you have certainly touched Babs in a very powerful way. God bless you both!

    Liz

    August 4, 2008

    I am 21 and I feel exactly the same way as Babs. My lack of self confidence led to me having to deal with bulimia for many years but I think I am finally at a better point. I’m doing WW and when reading Babs letters I felt like I was writing them myself. I understand that lack of self confidence and how hard it can be when dieting. I hope she knows that there are plently of people dealing the the same thing as she is.

    Geri

    August 4, 2008

    Thanks for sharing guys.

    I spent my teens sucking in my stomach when I was already slim. Now I’d give anything to have that body back, or like you, tell myself that I looked good!

    I just want to chime in on the twin issues of motivation and taking baby steps. I don’t think that adopting a healthy lifestyle is a one time decision, I think that we make the decision to live healthily in every small decision we make. I mean at every meal, at every shopping trip, at every moment we decide to put something in our mouths, it’s all a matter of baby steps, repeated again and again until they become habits. It’s the effect of the accumulated small efforts that makes a healthy lifestyle, and to getting rid of the excess weight. I firmly believe that and now I don’t let myself give up for the weekend if I slip up on Friday morning.

    I also think that motivation is a matter of repetition. One of my favourite quotes is “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” I’m not even sure who said it, but it’s a great one. Being desperately unhappy with your weight is something that I understand, I’ve been there, but no matter how unhappy I got, it was never enough to motivate me. I’d feel unhappy, and want that to go away. I chased away my unhappiness with a couple of chocolate bars, chips and a movie, because sorting out the real source of unhappiness didn’t have instant results.

    I think that we need to have positive motivations, things to look forward to rather than things to run and hide from, like unhappiness. For me, this often just means rethinking my unhappy motivations, even just expressing them more positively. Instead of telling myself I’d never fit into those jeans unless I did something about my weight, I tell myself that I am going to get into those jeans soon, I’m on my way. We need to take away the nevers, cants, and shouldn’ts, and turn them around. And we need to keep motivating ourselves. No matter what the motivation is that set you on your weight loss journey, it generally runs out of steam, and we need more, and positive ones!

    When I started weightwatchers, my motivation was to shop in normal stores, rather than in plus size ones. I now shop in normal stores, but I still have weight to lose. My current motivations are to get my BMI to 27, and all the health benefits this will bring, and when I get there, to get it to 25, and when I get there, it will have to change. I guess when i maintain, I will need different motivations.

    I’ve rambled a bit here, but I hope that I may have helped in some way. Think positive Babs, and take it in baby steps. It’s the only way that I’ve ever been able to get anything done!

    PS: thinking positively can be really difficult if you are unhappy, but it’s a behaviour that can be unlearned. Try this link for starters
    http://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/showthread.php?t=53390

    and then perhaps read some more on positive self talk. I worked through this with my therapist, but there are loads of really good books out there.

    Bonnie

    August 4, 2008

    Yes, there are plenty of women who go through this exact thing….probably most of us…including me. I’m 53 and until last August, I too, struggled in the exact same way, my entire adult life (so don’t wait as long as I did). My problem was that I always wanted to “better myself” for someone else, instead of for me. I always “wanted a boyfriend”, so I was only wanting to lose weight to please one I already had, or to find one. And FINALLY, I got to the point in my life, where finding a man was no longer important to me, as a matter of fact, I figured that finding one would probably just complicate my life, and I don’t want that at all any more. I just wanted to feel better, to be able to be more in control of my life, to be able to get down on the floor and play with my grandbabies and also to be able to get back up. So bottom line is….I finally did it for me, and I have never been this successful in my entire life. I’ve lost a substantial amount of weight before (14 years ago), but I starved myself. I was not doing anything at all that was healthy for me. But THIS TIME, I have lost nearly 85 pounds in 51 weeks and I am probably healthier than I have ever been in my entire life. I’ve not even focused on “how I look”, instead focusing on “how I feel”. But…..the bonus is, I look much better too, and I feel fabulous! I know that somehow, I just got my head in the right place this time. And that’s why I believe I was successful….finally.

    roni

    August 4, 2008

    WOW guys! Thank you SO much for insights and personal experience. I truly believe that by sharing our experience we can help each other.

    Christy

    August 5, 2008

    I think so many of us can relate to this situation. Many of us have these feelings every day. Babs…I am right there with you.

    Estellia

    August 5, 2008

    I would try psychotherapy because if you feel this bad about your body there tends to be a little body dismorphic disorder going on. I think changing the way you think about yourself and the negative thoughts is the way to go. Meditation, yoga also are helpful. Try and get in touch with yourself and why you feel the need to berate yourself. I have overcome this for the most part with these tools. I try to live a healthy life and be in shape..but trying to be an ideal is not worth it! You are special just the way you are, so treat yourself that way and the rest will come. Sorry, don’t mean to be preachy.

    Brianne

    August 6, 2008

    Thank you for sharing this conversation. I needed the reminder not to be so hard on myself.

    KK

    August 8, 2008

    Thank you for sharing this!

    Pubsgal

    August 8, 2008

    Wow…you know what Roni said about Babs sounding like her younger self? Both gals sound like *my* younger self, except they’ve gotten themselves back on track a lot sooner than I’m doing…I don’t advice waiting until you’re 40 like me. ;-)

    Honestly, I’m not sure what got me motivated again. I spent most of the past winter binging and then bemoaning the fact that I was fat, not to mention out of shape. Then, in late May, I decided: if not now, then when? It turned out to be a good time to get motivated, because I got a health screening a few weeks later and found out that I had Type 2 diabetes. I knew it could very well happen someday–family history and having gestational diabetes with both pregnancies–but I didn’t know it would happen so soon! Later found out that 20-50% of women who have gestational diabetes will develop it within 5-10 years after pregnancy. I’d like to think that knowing that statistic would have motivated me, but impossible to say…I know that it sure as heck is motivating me now. And I always thought I was more motivated by the carrot than the stick. I’ve started exercising most days of the week, am planning to run in a 5K in October, and have lost 28 lbs so far…I’ve got a long way to go to get to my goal of 143, but it’s a good start.

    So anyhow, if you have a family history, do take care and develop better lifestyle habits now. Reading blogs like this one can be powerfully motivating, too, to know that others *are* succeeding in spite of all the depressing statistics you read in the media.

    Siobhan

    August 11, 2008

    You know that expression, “hit the nail right on the head”? Well, HELLO. Roni and Babs, I have had that same feeling of the inside of me not matching the outside of me. I mean, I know I am at my full pregnancy weight, plus some. But I don’t really feel like that most of the time. I mean, I get out there and take a 30 minute walk, and feel like I’m moving pretty well, and feeling pretty good. Then I see a picture of myself and immediately feel like, who the H*** is that?! OMG, that is ME? Ugh. . . And it doesn’t help one bit that my DP is naturally athletic and has no food issues whatsoever. (I mean, she doesn’t have a favorite food. . . what is THAT?!) Roni, I understand (intellectually) the concept of eating to live, I just enjoy eating so much, I’m not sure how that translates in my life.

    I’ve been starting my *new plan* for months now. After my WI/meeting I get super psyched and think, OK today is my last day to drink pop, have that frappucino, eat the chile relleno, etc. I mean I just weighed in, so I deserve a little break, right? Well, my “break” after WI runs into the next day, and the next day until I feel like I’ve blown it for the week. . . And here I sit, having gained back the 12 lbs I lost at the beginning of the year.

    NO MORE! Start today, and a little at a time. Some days I know I will breeze through confidently. Some days I will have to take it one meal at a time. Now that I have stumbled on this site, I have LOTS of good ideas for breakfasts and lunches. Not to mention that that “break” I think I’m getting is really no break at all. That thinking just reinforces that “diet” mentality. MUST. GET. OFF. THIS. CRAZY. WHEEL!!!

    You all ROCK!
    Thank you so much.

    Abby

    August 13, 2008

    For Barb and others out there,

    I think a lot of times, its not about our body image, I believe its about getting out of our head.

    Barb, stop thinking about your body all the time, go and volunteer with individuals who have lost their ability to walk, whether in war, or accident, and be with them, and appreciate your legs, regardless of their size, love the fact that you have two amazing legs that will take you anywhere.

    Go visit people who are sick, adn be thankful for a working heart, liver, brain, organs.

    I have always, and still am overweight. I am working on it, and losing weight is a process that has a lot more to do with mindset, than anything else. You need to see beyond the physical, and I am 5’2 and when I was at my heaviest i was 184.
    Now I weight 157, feeling a million times better, but I did it by eating healthy, following a plan, for exercise walking with a friend 3-4 times a week, and spending my energy focusing outside myself.

    Appreciate all the beauty that you have. The human body is an incredible, amazing machine, focus on that!!!

    Kathleen

    October 6, 2008

    thank you both so much for sharing this…I too felt like she was describing me! thank you thank you thank you!

    Nina

    October 14, 2008

    Hi guys!

    I so agree with you, and it sounds like my story, too! And we feel even more guilty because despite of what we feel we cannot make ourselves go the distance. On the other hand, it might be exactly BECAUSE of those bad feelings we cannot lose weight. They stick to bad food habits like glue. Losing a lot of weight is a self-improvement and self-loving process, and motivation does not come from bad feelings but from good ones. Many dieting-books teach us deprivation and how hard it is, that we are not allowed to eat all the delicious food, etc.

    I learned an exercise on my way to weight loss by Julia Havey that I can so recommend, but you are not allowed to cheat and read this all in one go. Her program is about so much more, but this is a starting exercise, and it was an eye-opener for me. Write down ten adjectives that describe yourself. Only when you are finished, read the P.S. at the bottom of the page.

    Losing weight is not about deprivation at all. It is learning how to treat your body respectfully and lovingly and make it live a little bit longer than with many surplus pounds. And it is about taking power away from people who want to tell you that healthy food is boring and tasteless, and that you only get fun out of life eating fast food, pizza, etc. They might want our power, but they do not want our responsibility, too, they do not take care of us. They take care about themselves and their company – and their bank accounts. I do not want to start a movement against fast food producers here, but I think their basic message is not about health and not about taking care.

    And it is about replacing unhealthy food with healthier options who are just as delicious in the end, and either self-made or by producers who DO take care. The actual maths of weight-loss might be quite simple, but we all know it is not just about that.

    I also have a lot of weight to lose yet, so I am definitely not a guru about this, but there is a great motivation exercise (also by Julia Havey) I am doing if it is really bad. I write down pros and cons of weight-loss. You read correctly, there are also cons in our minds, and they might be a huge block. But if you write them down on one side of a piece of paper and the pros on the other, you can easily see that there are more pros, and seeing them makes it easier than just playing a mind game.

    Another block that might be there is that we are not patient enough, or that we do not face our feelings, especially the bad ones who eat US up and make us stay away from actually doing it. When I read Roni’s story and how she insisted how fat and ugly she was until her husband actually agreed with her because he could not stand her complaints anymore, I realized how much positive energy we waste by thinking that way about ourselves. I also told my mother a thousand times how much I hated myself for being overweight and how disgusted I am by myself, and she just wondered how I could learn to hate herself so much.

    We also waste so much knowledge, as we are all experts of weight-loss one way or another. And I think we could fuel at least one full power plant with that energy! If we all got together instead of feeling isolated and fat, imagine what could happen. We need to surround ourselves with positive people and things, otherwise we cannot change anything about ourselves, let alone other people. Roni did it, and look how much good she is doing by her blogs and other activities.

    Love,
    Nina

    P.S.: Here is the solution: How many of those adjectives are things like “fat”, “obese”, “big”, etc.? What you are describing here is not you, but your body. Being overweight is a physical condition, not a personality trait. Think again, and write down ten POSITIVE adjectives that describe what kind of person you are.

    The point is that if we see surplus weight as a personality trait, we feel like losers, but it actually hinders us from really losing weight (bad pun, but I think it fits :)). It’s our feelings about ourselves that make us feel isolated and bad. I started to cry when I first did this exercise, and I will never forget the impact, even if I have not reached my goal weight yet.

    Nina

    October 16, 2008

    Sorry, my mistake, it is “how I could hate MYself so much”!