Monday, August 8, 2011

The Switch

"What finally flipped the switch for you?"

I cannot tell you how many times I've been asked this question in the last few years.  In person, by doctors, friends and acquaintances, via email by readers of this blog.  And to this day, I still don't have a good answer.  I mean, in May of 2008 I was definitely ready to give dieting one last try.  But I'd been ready many, many times before.  So why did it take?  What was different?

Beats me.

And I know that some of you want to strangle me for saying that.

I hear you.  I know the desperation.  I know that you see my before and after pictures, and want that for yourself.  I did, too.  I wanted a cure.  I wanted what those newly thin people had.  I wanted to BE one of them.  I wanted to be rid of not only the weight, but the entanglement that comes from food.  And yet, there were so many times when I started out a diet, only to throw in the towel, so to speak...the old "I blew it, what's the use, I'll start again on Monday, it's taking too long, there's a big celebration coming up, I'll start over after that..."

I know the desperation.  I know the failure.  I know the completely crap feeling of starting the day on plan, only to let myself be derailed by lunchtime.  I am quite familiar with all of the bad aspects of dieting.

Luckily, I'm also familiar with the good parts of dieting.  The successful day.  The surprise realization that an item of clothing is too big, even fresh out of the dryer.  The time when, out of the blue, someone says "you've lost weight" - and the time when you glance at a reflection in a store window and are startled to realize the stranger staring back is you.  The time when you go shopping for new clothes and fit into everything you try on.  I could go on and on, but you get the drift.

I guess the only thing I can come up with is that when I started dieting, the scale started to move downward - granted, it was a tiny drop in the bucket compared to what I needed to lose, but it was enough to give me hope that if I kept on doing the next right thing - eating on plan, drinking tons of water, exercising even when I didn't really feel like it - if I kept on doing all of that, I would, eventually, become one of those people.  And to this day, I hang onto that idea.  So even when I have a day of excess (hey, Saturday was the Day of Debauchery and Gluttony), it's easy enough to set that day aside and move forward into my normal way of living.  Because I still want it.


  1. I love this post. Usually I don't remember either why I started doing something different. One day you wake up and you're ready and just do it. At least that's how it works with me.

    And actually it doesn't really matter how you made the switch right? Because we are all different people and what works for one doesn't have to work for someone else. As long as your approach works for you. That's how Sue euh Fran sees it.

    And by the way: yes am still a total Gleek LOL

  2. what you said and what fran said.
    for me it really was just that.
    I woke up one morning and was ready---and didnt even realize it until Id been DOING for a month or so.


  3. The last sentence is why you're successful... you've figured out what you want and you act on that. Also, our posts tie in once again. Twin powers activated even though we didn't even talk all weekend long!

  4. Thank you for this post. Many blogs including my own have gotten so full of the nuts and bolts ... which yogurt to eat ... which diet to follow? ... low carb? ... low fat? ... how many miles to run ....

    The most useful posts are the ones that write about the mind-set. They are also the toughest ones to write - so much inner turmoil and so many secrets to reveal. Thanks for reminding me why we're all here.

  5. Thank you for this honest post. It just shows it is an individual thing and you just get there when its time.

  6. Just what I needed and wanted to hear today Shelley. Your description of what it was like makes clear you went through all the struggles - and still eventually found a way to sustain through. Thanks so much for being a wonderful REAL role model.

  7. Yep, I agree. I still consider it somewhat of a miracle that I kept going--it wasn't the most enthusiastic of starts.

    Day of debauchery and gluttony --LOLOL!

  8. I want to hear about The Saturday DDOG!

    Seriously, great post.

  9. I love that your post mirrors Helen's today! Yep, we all want it, its what actions we take to get there.

    Let's both have a great week!

  10. I forgot about the Saturday Day of Debauchery & Gluttony! That's why I had that cupcake!! I had an excuse. It was a friggin holiday. :)

    BTW, I drove by the stadium where all of that was going on Saturday. People were coming out in droves, in buses, and paying to park for it. No thanks. And we still don't have rain.

  11. What a great post! I think that it's so true that it has to be the right time for you. Something clicks in your brain and you suddenly want it more than you want the other thing. I was so jealous of my sister when she got to her goal weight. I told myself "you can sit around being jealous of what she did, or you can go and do it for yourself!" So that's what I did! (or am doing)

  12. Brava! Wonderful post.

    This (last) time for me was unique - gallbladder surgery kick started my ruminations into action. The one-day-at-a-time mantra really does work (although I would NEVER say that to anyone trying to get started). The benefits are tremendous; the plateaus are frustrating; life gets in the way; suddenly almost 2 years go by and now I'm close to being 1/2 the body that I once was.

    Thanks for reminding me!

  13. Great post! I think you hit the nail on the head. Just keep going.

  14. What a fantastic post!!!! LOVE it!!! You are a true inspiration Shelley!!! Hope your Monday goes well.

  15. Great post! Nothing ever really clicked for me. I still don't know if this is *the* time either, and it scares me. I still want it, though.

    I certainly look to you for inspiration on keeping going!

  16. This is interesting because when I started to get into really good shape, there was no forewarning, except that I had a certain time allocated for myself each day. I didn't expect much and the results were amazing at the gym.

    Weight-wise: I've conquered 35 pounds 4 years ago and never gained it back. Now, I'd like to take care of that last 20 pounds, but I do feel that I'll need another shift of my lifestyle again to make this happen.

    :-) Marion

  17. Awesome post.
    Very simple, basic information. It's easy to get lost in all the diet/fitness information that's out there. It is very useful to be reminded to focus on the one thing you can do right now. Thank you!

  18. My switch has been flipped a few times but this time has been different and I believe no matter what happens I'll never allow it to get shut off again.

    Not only have I learned to love, ok like, exercise but I stopped trying to follow the latest greatest diet fad. I eat what I want in moderation and I sweat regularly. It's so hard and so simple at the same time.

    I'm so happy you are showing people how fabulous forty something can be.

    Rock on!

  19. Yep. Everyone's switch is different, and sometimes there isn't any switch at all. But when it clicks into place, like it has for you, it's almost seems magical. It's not -- it's hard work, and determination, and a lot of literal and figurative sweat -- but to the outsider looking in, we want some of that magic dust sprinkled on us.

    Thank you for the reminder it isn't magic. It's just US.

  20. "the time when you glance at a reflection in a store window and are startled to realize the stranger staring back is you"

    I love the sound of that. Because too often these past few years, I've been startled by my reflection...but for gaining weight!

    Would you say that blogging helped you to lose weight?

    That's what I'm doing this time to keep myself on track. Otherwise, it's just too easy to sneak that cookie when no one is looking :)

    Wish me luck! And congratulations to you, Shelley!

  21. unfortunately my switch was a tragic one and although I miss my dad more than I can put into words, it truly was a life saving gift for me and I am grateful what it has taught me and who it has made me.
    Doesn't matter if there was a specific switch, what matters is you turned it on!
    Great post as usual Shelley!

  22. What I see is that you didn't make one decision. You're making lots of little decisions, and you keep making them.


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