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4. Chapter 1: The Difference Between Hard and Impossible

What I had learned over this time of failing to lose weight (and yes, learning from your failures is key to future success) is that if it is a battle to do, or to abstain from, then you will fail.  This isn’t rocket science obviously, but so many things we are asked to do are difficult.
I don’t mean difficult in a ‘boy that was a hard workout’ sense, but difficult as in you don’t even know if what you are doing is right, so as you struggle to do it, you are doubting everything about the process, especially your willpower, and what is often worse is the way you are measuring your progress raises even more doubts.  Anyone who has tried to lose weight knows the difference between the two types of difficult.  Nothing is harder than trying to lose weight.  We work so hard to lose the weight, harder than probably everything else we do, yet still we don’t succeed.  Obviously this isn’t just a difficult task, for most of us, it is impossible.  This isn’t to say that losing weight is impossible, just that for most of us, the way we are going about losing weight is making the likelihood of positive results impossible.
It is being able to tell the difference between something being difficult, such as eating better, and something being impossible, such as don’t eat the potato chips that will be on the counter every time you walk by (or substitute chocolate, cake, cupcakes, whatever your weakness is).
Here is what we so often have a hard time with.  Educated, hard working and driven people have a hard time losing weight and keeping it off partly because we aren’t given hard tasks, we are given impossible tasks.  The people giving us these tasks clearly don’t understand how hard these things are that they are asking.  They don’t get it.  They don’t get it precisely because they never have had to.  They aren’t us.  They aren’t the unfit people in society.
So, the one thing that I had incorporate that wasn’t a battle was oatmeal, and the one thing I knew about oatmeal, was that the few fit people I knew eat it all the time and ate it as kids.  So, the oatmeal worked for me, and as I said it wasn’t a difficult battle.  This got me to wondering.  Since that time, I have met more and more fit people and I have discovered more and more of how they have stayed fit.  It wasn’t until I had independently determined that I had incorporated a bunch of their habits into my life and they had worked in getting me fitter that I made the connection that changed my fitness forever.  In the next chapter I will talk about fit people and share some of what I have learned from them, and why they were the key to my being fit today.  Over the course of the rest of the book, I will show you ways to incorporate their behaviors into our lives in ways that aren’t a battle.

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 16, 2009 11:54 pm


    We sound like we have (had?) similar issues; we love food, overindulge even though we know we shouldn’t, and struggle to lose the excess weight (please correct me if I am wrong). So much of what you say is almost an echo of my oldest friend Dion who, incidentally, has been telling me for many years that when he finally gets down to his ideal weight (almost exactly the same target weight as mine – see my site) he is going to write a book and tell the world how HE did it, and how anyone else can do it too. Ever the pessimist, I often wonder who would actually want to read such a book – no offense to Dion – he is one of the nicest blokes you will ever meet, but these days people only want to read about what celebrities are doing, not us mere mortals (as Lily Allen sings: “Life’s about film stars and less about mothers”). If Jack Black (for example) suddenly shed 30lbs, people would really want to read about how he did it. It would be the main topic of conversation surrounding him and he would be pestered by the like of Men’s Health magazine (etc) enquiring as to what his “secret” might be – to which he would probably come up with a load of old cobblers when really all he did was count calories and work out with a personal trainer five times a week!

    Having said that, there is always a place for a well-written biographical account of one’s weight loss, especially if it offers hope to someone who is on a similar path. I have recently been reading articles on other websites suggesting that it is ludicrous for someone who has NEVER been overweight to lecture someone who is currently overweight and tell them the secret to successful weight loss (I believe you mention something similar in your book). I’m sorry but if you have never been overweight then you have no idea how hard it is, how desperately soul-shattering it can be, to lose weight. There is just too much “well, if you do what I tell you, you’ll lose 50lbs in three months” – garbage!

    You don’t mention your current weight. Have you reached your target weight, or is it an ongoing battle for you as it is for me?

    I would be more than happy to read your chapter on nutrition. I have been involved with exercise and nutrition since 1988 and am interested to see if any of your theories are similar to my own. My email address is

    Best of luck with the book. Years ago I had a similar notion, but after so many successive failures I guess it was just a pipedream for me! Oh well…

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