Weight Loss: Failure, Shame, and All That Other Crap.

When I began this blog I wanted to make sure that I was honesty with myself in what I wrote down. And, for the most part, I believe I’ve been successful.

I don’t know why it’s hard to admit failure. Perhaps for me it’s because I’ve been doing all of this work so publicly, maybe it’s the self-imposed pressure of wanting to do good by the people that support me (both through this blog and in the “real world”).


This past week, I failed.

After having such an empowered week the week before, it was quickly followed by a stretch of doubt a mile deep — with complicated emotions and stress the likes of which I’ve not felt before in my life.

Guess who’s almost 40?

Am I doing what I should be doing? Am I happy? Why am I not happy? What is the root of that? Am I lonely? Why am I lonely? Whose fault is that? Do I scare people away? Why do people shy away from me? Everyone thinks I have this licked? Do I have it licked? Why is it so hard to let people in? Where are the people I am to let in? What are their names? What are the qualifications? How do I make more friends? What is a friend? Am I where I should be? Where should I be? Do I belong? What is belonging? Will I ever belong?

It all swirled like a tempest inside of my head for days on end.

And then on Thursday and Friday it happened.

I ate.

It doesn’t sound like a big deal. It’s just four letters. But the consequences could have been far greater.

I went to the one place I had always gone to quiet that storm.

I drove head on into it. Or in this case, into the drive-through.

What followed was shame — a whole boatload of it.

Why now? Why does this happen now? Two years into this journey that I’ve been doing so well on. I’m not saying I’ve been perfect, because I’ve not been. But, I’ve been careful.

After living the majority of my life trying to negotiate my own emotions, sometimes in weakness it’s easy to fall back on what’s worked in the past. And for me, that was food.

This is incredibly embarrassing for me to admit. But, I think it’s important to talk about.

Changing your life around is not for the faint of heart. And you’re going to have amazing successes that make you feel like a million fucking bucks — and in the same breath may have moments where you feel like the smallest person on earth.

So, what do you do when you fail?

First and foremost, you give yourself a fucking break.

For me, I kind of just accepted what happened. In the past that would have sent me in a tailspin. I would have continued to eat and drown myself in food.

This time around, I didn’t. I stared at my situation from 30,000 feet and looked at all the good things that I’ve done compared to those two days of weakness, and I realized I could learn something from them.

So what did I learn?

I learned that natural default settings never die. They live inside of you forever. They lie dormant, and no matter how much work you do on yourself and the time between “activations”, they will still be ready to roll at any given moment. And it’s important, it’s more than important, it’s vital that you keep that shit in check.

But, perhaps, more importantly, is that if you do fall off — if you do make a mistake — you have to keep this one piece of information firmly in mind.

You’re a fucking human being.

Don’t punish yourself with things like shame, guilt, anger, or self-loathing.

These are poison. Toxic blends that will serve no other purpose than to undo you.

Harness the strength you’ve gained from the hours, days, weeks, or years before — whatever the case may be — and move on.

Keep moving. Always keep moving.

Yesterday, I went to my gym (The Energy Company) and met with my trainer Mike O’Neil. I explained to him what had happened. He threatened me with violence accordingly.

I’m kidding, of course. He cares about what I’m putting into my body. Constantly checking up and making sure I’m making the right choices. After all, I am working my hole off, and I’m not about to let a couple of bad days throw that for a loop.

Sensing that I needed to feel a victory this week we attempted a new milestone. I’ll let the video speak for itself.

Failure, like success, is a part of life.

It’s what you do with it is what is important.

Don’t let it take you down. Instead, learn from it, allow it to fuel you, and drive you towards better days.

Pride feels better than shame any day of the week.

You remember that.

And I’ll be sure to do the same.

24 thoughts on “Weight Loss: Failure, Shame, and All That Other Crap.

  1. I’ve enjoyed all of your posts along the way but this one…this one spoke directly to me! Thank you Dave for articulating what most of us cannot – stumble, FORGIVE yourself, stand up, get back on the fucking horse. From all of us that need to hear that, and hear it from a real person who is living the real struggle, thank you.

  2. Wow. 500!! That’s incredible. I’m just starting on this journey. Your posts keep me honest with myself, and honest with the process. I’ve fallen off so many times I can’t even count anymore, but I’ve always been a perfectionist. I love your one step at a time approach, just like the serenity prayer: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Thank you!!

  3. Hey Dave, I’ve been reading your blogs for a little while now. I really enjoy your writing, you’re doing all the right things. Stumbles happen, that’s life. It’s the ability to realize a misstep and to continue on the path.

    I myself constantly struggle with my eating. I have been on a journey myself the past few months and your posts have inspired me to follow suit.

    Keep up the great work!

    1. Wow. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Accidents do happen. I commend you on starting your own little trip (I find journey hard to say, makes me think of 80s hair rock… I dunno.) Best of luck! And thanks for reading.

  4. I default to lying comatose in front of the TV for embarrassingly long stretches of time, so I was touched by this post. No matter what I do – walk, write, eat well, stay hydrated – those “default settings” (lie in front of tv, eat hamburgers, drink nothing, and wear pajamas) are like nature’s “blue screen of death” version of me, for when the shock of all that’s happened gets to be much much too much. Thank you for understanding that this, too, is okay. I’m hibernating and “refreshing” for a short spell between incredibly awesome spurts of changing my life. The home page will re-boot soon enough.

  5. You only fail when you quit trying to succeed. At the most you had a minor setback. Your a long way from failure. You will not win every battle along the way but you will in the end win the war as long as you don’t quit.

  6. Thanks for your words here, Dave, and for admitting to the failure and shame that all of us going through this journey seem to encounter from time to time. I’ve been following your blog since your first article. I’ve lost 120lbs over the last two years. I still have a way to go, and have tripped up more times than I care to admit. Those default settings are strong sometimes – but no matter if the slip up lasts five minutes in my car or culminate into a sorrowful week of bad habits, I’ve managed to crawl back on track, and each time I realize how much better that track feels.

    Wishing you all the best, Dave. Keep it up.

  7. I lost 50 pounds about three years ago. I’ve had a lot of upheaval in the past year and a half, and twenty pounds have crept back on. I’m trying to get back on the wagon: I’m not there yet, but I’ve managed to halt the weight gain. Small victories, right? You’re an inspiration.

  8. I always find forgiving myself to be harder than it should be. You’ve done some wonderful things for yourself and knowing to forgive yourself is one of the best.
    Looking forward to reading about more of your achievements. 😊

  9. Hi Dave, your blog pops up on my Facebook feed once in a while and I read them….and I relate! I equally had a chow down, shoveled-every-bit-of-food-in-my-face weekend. No matter where you are in the journey, there are times that inner voice, who likes to sabotage, wins…for a day or two. It’s nice to read your honesty and your successes! And to feel not so alone in this lovely, daily struggle 🙂 Keep it up, Dave! You rock!

  10. I really like that;
    “Don’t let it take you down. Instead, learn from it, allow it to fuel you, and drive you towards better days.”
    Well said.
    I understand what you are feeling; I’ve been there too. And, your quote, (above), is exactly what I use to motivate myself back.
    We’re all beautiful humans, Dave. Keep on truckin’

  11. Hi Dave, this blog was just brought to my attention and i believe in the expression “when you are ready your teacher is there.” this posts spoke volumes to me. I deal with weight issues and Depression and anxiety and panic attacks and the guilt and shame and the whole failure game plays out. About 2 and half yrs. ago, i was diagnosed with a chronic pain problem. It really scared me and i became forced and determined to fix it. for a year i never touched junk foods,(only on rare and conscious decision making) swam regularly, yoga, mindfulness meditation and i lost about 30 pounds. since late last year, i started to slip into a slow depression and by Xmas i was bedridden and could not get up and go again. i also “failed.” and the old ALL OR NOTHING thinking was building a thick high wall. i have gained almost 20 pounds since late last year. Well this week i got back into swimming and slowly back to meditation. I call these episodes “180 flips” and when i am standing at the other end of the flip my old insecurities and thoughts come flooding back and the old coping with food came full force. So Just reading this, i was able to get some more perspective on the situation. SO Big Thank you for putting a whole bunch of words and insights into my mouth. PS: I had a drumstick ice-cream for breakfast 🙂

    1. Teacher? Eek. Heh. No teacher. Just a dude scrambling around trying to make sense of it all. I’m very glad that you managed to find something in there to help you out though. That’s awesome. And you’re going an incredibly brave and courageous thing. Don’t lose sight of the amount of strength and fortitude that it takes to change. Millions of others don’t have that. But you do. So, go you!

  12. As always, thank you for your blog, Dave.

    With the number of people you touch, I sometimes wonder about the amount of pressure you’ve put on yourself and am I’m curious about your trigger: “Am I doing what I should be doing? Am I happy? Why am I not happy? What is the root of that? Am I lonely? Why am I lonely? Whose fault is that? Do I scare people away? Why do people shy away from me? Everyone thinks I have this licked? Do I have it licked? Why is it so hard to let people in? Where are the people I am to let in? What are their names? What are the qualifications? How do I make more friends? What is a friend? Am I where I should be? Where should I be? Do I belong? What is belonging? Will I ever belong?”

    I only ask because these are the fearsome questions we all sometimes dare to ask ourselves and hope to God we have the resiliency and coping skills to deal with the answers. Forgiving yourself. Somehow it always insists on being step #1. And then hopefully ending up at: “Fuck it; I’m worth it.”

    1. Hi Sandy,

      That’s a heck of a question.

      And yes, there are most certainly times when I feel the pressure of this blog. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. It’s often fleeting, and it usually comes up when I’m making choices that are questionable in my life. But, you know what, in many ways it’s a driver too. So, it balances its self out, really. But you’re the first person to bring that up. Sometimes, when I go to the grocery store — now, this was primarily when I was on CBC, and not many people did this (I’m no celebrity by any stretch — but, every now and then, I’d catch people looking into my basket. Then looking back up at me and nodding with approval at what they saw. It was freaky.

      The questions are normal. I run through them every now and then like everyone else. But, I think the difference with me now, and me two years ago, is that I can step back and view my life at 30k feet and realize things are going to be ok. And that I’ve in fact come a hell of a long way. And for that, I am proud. Damn proud.

      And you’re right, I am fucking worth it.

      Thank you for such a wonderful comment.

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