Tell us, What is the the long and short of being your own friend?

That’s a really, really good question. At first, the hardest part was mourning part of my old lifestyle. I knew I was giving up some things—not just certain foods, but certain hobbies and ways of being (i.e. sleeping as late as the children and not exercising, baking, a coffee culture, social eating, and making excuses). My best friend put it to me this way: “You cannot be a SAHM who bakes as a hobby and not expect to gain weight.” Boom.It was also hard to get into the mindset of daily weighings and—gasp—being accountable. I had to learn calories for various foods and proper portioning. Not a lot of food it felt like at first…but after a few months, a surprising amount of food if I chose to eat veggies and to eat clean.The hardest part mid-way through was a distancing of a person close to me who is very, very much into the food culture and who knows that she is overweight. We used to be into food and overweight together. The distance partly comes from this person and partly from me. Food used to be a major shared interest…and now it isn’t. Now I think we wonder what we both still have in common… But I view food as being like a drug, at least for me. It is fine in medicinal doses, but it is like being a recovering addict in many ways. I’ve had to switch cultures, to keep my mind on the right track. This person isn’t ready to make this journey. I don’t judge that: she’s just not ready. I try not to take our mutual distancing personally, and we’re still friendly.

Right now, I am struggling to switch my mindset from “losing weight” to “maintaining weight.” In some ways, it is easier for me to be in a “losing weight” mindset than it is to be in a “maintaining weight” mindset…if that makes sense. Long term, I am scared of losing control over myself again. There is part of me that knows I won’t, because I have educated myself now about food and calories. The documentary Forks Over Knives has been huge for me, as well. But part of me knows the potential is there for a relapse, and I live with that every time I come downstairs to do dishes and feel the tug of my past late-night snacking habit.

The challenge long term is also to keep goals ahead of me. I do best when I have something to work for. I met my weight goal, but now what? I have been thinking about focusing on strength now, and performance. I have to stay hungry for achievement, versus being hungry for food.

Questions:  How about you? What have you found to be the biggest challenges long and short-term?  Please tell us, also, what is your story.  We need to hear.

Sarah McGhaugh is the auther of blog, birdinyourhand, where she describes herself as, “a teacher, entertainer, four star general, and nurse: in other words, a mom.”  Too cute!  She is also my friend :).  Thank you Sarah for engaging with us.  Keep on.


17 thoughts on “Tell us, What is the the long and short of being your own friend?

  1. Good for you Sarah, I’m very happy to hear that you lost so much weight and maintaining, that’s extremely difficult to achieve, congratulations! however, there are a lot more important and serious things in life than losing and maintaining your weight. I wish I had your problems instead of all of my problems (want to trade places?), I lost about 40 lbs in 6 months or less and still losing because of all the stress in my life, like just trying to survive from day to day, being unemployed for over two years and not having enough food to eat, (Now that’s a problem!) I’m 52 years old and nobody wants to hire me because of my age. Now that you managed to gain control over your weight problem, you’re absolutely right about starting to focus on other important issues. Sorry about getting off topic, I’m just curious what your next big battle will be. Just remember, you’re a very lucky woman not having to worry about your financial situation and finding a job to survive and pay monthly bills, most real people don’t have the luxury to be a stay home mom like yourself. It would be very refreshing and a lot more interesting if you or other stay home mom’s can write about coping skills and finding solutions to problems that most real people have to face every day just to survive. Imagine youself being severely depressed and having major panick attacks to the point of being afraid just to step out of your own apartment and not being able to work even if you could find a job, on top of your weight problem (also, no health insurance). Any bright ideas or suggestions on coping with my daily reality?


    • Sounds like things are really tough for you. I would like to put out there that you have absolutely no idea what else I face or what other issues I have dealt with in my life. This is one small part. In fact, this piece was written as a comment on another of Sana’s posts…and she asked me if she could post it up front. As a favor to her and out of friendship, I agreed. I did not write this thinking I was any kind of expert, or intending it to be widely read—although I have had my share of experiences in life. I’m grateful for the good parts and humbled by the bad ones. Certainly, everyone would be better off if we had words of support for each other, instead of the words I read in your response—which, to me, seemed designed to hurt a person you don’t even know.

      Sana is the best person to ask about coping skills. This is her blog.


        • It totally happens…been around enough people at this point in life to have a thicker skin and to know when to keep myself from taking things too personally. I feel the need to share that, contrary to how it might sound in the comments above, my quest to lose weight was not just a cosmetic issue. Sure, among the many motivations I admit I want to love clothes again and feel good about how I look. But, as you know, it goes so far beyond that. All that weight was putting stress on my organs: heart, liver, lungs, etc. It was the same, only worse, for my husband (who lost 125 pounds). He had been diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. Now those diseases are under control. We want to be around as long as we can for our children—not making ourselves sicker year by year. This was a journey we felt we had to undertake—because there were not other options.

          It’s also about overall mental health. I firmly and fully believe that no mental health issue can be addressed without addressing the WHOLE body. The systems are entwined. You’ve sung it for years: sleep, no coffee, exercise, nutrition. It’s not just about the weight. It’s about treating systemic problems. Never have I felt more able to handle the many things that make me feel anxious than I do right now. My state of mind is in part affected by stress on my organs, sugar, and caffeine. I am more patient with my kiddos. Things slide off more easily. I am able to let go more easily of anger about various things that happen in life. That doesn’t make me some great rockstar, and it doesn’t diminish anyone else’s struggles: it just is. Even I have been surprised by how much this is true. I had to get in control of myself….because being in control of myself makes me behave better in ALL areas of my life. There are things with which I still struggle. A few of them feel much more manageable now.

          Looking at the root of the problem is key here, too. Food/weight…just one more kind of addiction we all battle. I had to look at my excuses and addictive nature in the eyeballs. Head to the weakness. When I really looked at my excuses for being overweight, I was a bit surprised by what I saw there. It’s a drug, like alcohol. Also, I had to own up to having accountability for myself, instead of looking for outside sources to blame. No matter our struggles, I think this process is something we all have to go through, and it makes us all equals. Vanity alone was never enough to get me to deal with my issues. But I understand that some people might read this and think it is all about luxurious vanity. However, if vanity were enough, I would have done this years ago… Vanity is not enough. It’s so much messier than that.

          When I run, I often listen to a song called “Guardian” by Alanis Morrisette. It can be taken at many levels. Could be about a lover, children, or…oneself. A few months ago I was running along and had an epiphany: this song is about taking care of me! Is it hard to leave for a long run on the weekends when once in awhile my youngest is pulling on my legs and crying for me not to go? Yes. But I am my guardian. I can’t guard anyone else well, unless I am my own warden first.


  2. long term and short term struggles. ooohhhhh . . . i like that. i like the delineation between the two.

    biggest struggle. hope. hope that one day i will allow Grace to heal me. hope. just hope. i have been using hope a lot lately. a sign, and blip on the radar. a pound lost instead of gained. despite how i am changing my calories, the way i look at myself and food, everything. i exercise (i am a fitness instructor) and still not a pound in fact i have gain 10 pounds. sigh . . . i declare Lord i would like hope a sign a direction. something i can see. eyes to see and ears to hear. God’s will.


    • Love your idea of hope… I think hope is the reason we get up in the morning, personally. I don’t comment much here, but I’ve been reading for a long time and always read your comments, Col. Thanks for commenting on my comment-turned-post. It was sweet of Sana to find it of any value.


    • i don’t know any of us who would want a fitness instructor who wasn’t in touch w their own honest true selves, who didn’t have a shared experience where we could know that we are known and who didn’t love themselves so that they could love the flaws and perfections in others. keep on lady courage, col.


  3. I sincerely apologize if my comments were interpreted to be hurtful, I honestly didn’t mean to be, I was having a bad day and just needed to share my frustrations, and my comments should have been saved for a different topic all together, my problems have nothing to do with your story. I just read my own comment and realized how hurtful it sounds, I apologize to you directly and hope you can forgive me for what sounds to be a personal attack on you. I need to start sharing and being supportive instead of criticizing others, I’m very sorry!


  4. I totally get that we all have bad days… Been there! Thank you for the peace between us. I am sending good thoughts to you that some of the pressure and stress of your situation is relieved very soon.


  5. My struggle with my food goals are more in line with planning my dinners to cook at home when I have the chance. I have a varied work schedule between work as a Personal Care Aide, and as a volunteer working with Homeless Veterans. Sometimes I don’t have the time to sit down and write out my menu plans but when I do, I am more on track. Also I have been making smaller changes to my diet such as using Splenda in my tea and baking with sugar substitutes such as agave nectar. I think it has been paying off a little bit at a time.


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