How Do I Lose Weight?

Dear Robin:

Long time fan, first time writer! My husband is tired of hearing me complain about my weight but I’m sure he’d be happy if I did something about it. When we married almost 20 years ago I weighed 140 but today I am closer to 190.

LOL I haven’t been on a scale in over a year so who knows what I really weigh? Every time I start a new program I get bored and frustrated that the weight doesn’t come off faster and I quit.

Do you have any advice for me? This probably seems like a dumb question because I know you have some serious things coming to you every day, but it matters to me. I am free to talk by email if you want more detail.*


Dear Desperate:

1. There are no dumb questions, even if there are quite a few curious morons.

2. This certainly qualifies for a “serious question” so don’t minimize the impact weight gain can have on your self-esteem and your life.

Thanks for giving me more information via email. Your letter wasn’t clear on just how frustrated and depressed you are about being heavy, but I know now this is weighing (ha!) on your soul.

Listen up, sister: you need to either give up and give in or change your entire attitude about exercise and food.


You told me you hate exercise and haven’t done much of it for over 15 years. You said you gave it up when the kids were born and you felt too busy. What a coinky-dink, that’s when the weight started piling on!

I used to think everyone needed to find exercise that is fun for them. I’ve now decided that’s bullshit.

Some people just plain hate working out, and I think you are one of them because you gave me a list of everything you’ve tried and it was exhaustively comprehensive. I mean seriously, pole-dancing class? Horseback riding?

You have tried to find something you enjoy: I’ll give you that. Now it’s time to give up on loving exercise and just dig in and get the job done for the sake of your health. 50 pounds is a significant amount of extra weight to carry around.

Here’s a fun exercise: go to your gym and put a 25-pound weight in each hand. Now try to walk around the track a few times. That’s how your body feels every time you get out of bed and have to carry around those extra pounds.

You Have Time To Exercise so Stop Making Excuses

As a person who struggles with finding time for exercise I’ve found it all comes down to one thing: scheduling it as you would anything else important in your day. Like me, you work from home. Your schedule is flexible and your kids are both in high school.

You make time for doctor appointments, coochie waxing, school committees and volunteer work. Good for you! Now it’s time to make time for exercise by engaging in some good old-fashioned accountability work. You need a schedule.

Get an eraser board and put your daily exercise on it because if you don’t reverse this trend pretty soon, you will be facing a serious uphill battle much harder than the one in front of you.  Find an exercise buddy to whom you can hold yourself accountable.

You think 50 pounds sounds daunting? How does 150 sound?

Start out slowly for a few weeks with 30 minutes of cardio and 15 minutes of toning work. Yoga and Pilates are great if you don’t like lifting weights, and as you get more in shape you can add to your program and make it more challenging.

Promise me this: commit to two months before you throw in the towel. You WILL see results, but you cannot be impatient and give up.

You didn’t put on this weight overnight so it won’t disappear in a day, so try to remember this is a marathon, not a sprint.


Don’t get mad at me, OK? Here’s what you told me:

I eat really healthy food and estimate my caloric intake to be around 1,200 calories a day.

I asked if you have had your thyroid checked and you confirmed it was normal.

It would be extremely unusual for a woman your height (5’5″) to be gaining weight while eating 1200 calories a day, whether those calories were made up of healthy food or crap. Calories are calories, after all.

So…I took a look at your Pinterest Page. Here are some recipes you pinned in the past 3 weeks:

  • Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas
  • Fried Buttermilk Chicken
  • Easy Nachos (seriously, you need a recipe to make nachos, and an easy one at that?)
  • Burgers stuffed with Blue Cheese
  • Chicken Fried Steak with Biscuits and Gravy
  • Chocolate Caramel Bread Pudding.


I’m not saying you can never enjoy the food you like in your weight loss journey, but you should focus upon healthy high-fiber meals that will fill you up with less calories.

They also give you fun stinky gas with which you can annoy your partner!

Let’s Get Started!

Visit your doctor and establish a healthy food and exercise plan.  Record your calories religiously in a journal. You will be quite surprised at how quickly everything ads up.

As I mentioned, give it two months.  Write back to me and give me a progress report.  

Do not give up.

Read this: Afraid to Try Again.

Lest You Think It’s Not All About Me:

In closing I want you to know I understand.

I think I first deemed myself fat when I was around 8 years old, and until a few years ago I waged an eternal war against my body in an endless cycle of bingeing and laziness followed by strict strange diets and excessive exercise.

My stretch marks have stretch marks from losing and gaining the same pounds so many times.

I’m not saying I’ve totally figured it out, because I am still on a quest to build my best body. However, I do know I am always happier when exercise is a daily part of my life, even if it’s just running from the police or some Sexy Time.


Regular exercise makes you happier.  Trust me on this and if you don’t, use the Magic Google Machine to confirm.

As far as food, learn how to consume for sustenance rather than for entertainment or to stave off boredom and loneliness. Eat to live, don’t live to eat, as the saying goes.

Losing this weight won’t give you a perfect life. You will still fight with your husband over who does the (cheesy, grease-soaked) dishes more often. But if you want to start feeling healthy, confident, sexy and alive make the schedule and make the effort.

As far as your husband goes, you told me he’s a good 30 pounds heavier than when you married. Why don’t the two of you embark on this journey together? Strength in numbers and all that…


*recycled but improved



This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. SavageWotan

    Just a few observations that are hopefully motivating and helpful. While I have been in shape and am currently in shape, I have known the depths having been over 40 pounds heavier 10 years ago. Having my ex announce at that time that she wanted out drove me to the gym early in the mornings almost immediately thereafter, motivated by the fact that I could not abide waking up next to her or spending more than negligible time before I left for work and the prospect/intent of having to get undressed in front of someone new at the earliest available opportunity. The “daddy weight” melted off so quickly that alarmed friends and clients took me aside privately to ask about my health. Nowadays, an importantly for the writer, any thoughts of slacking off are negated by the number of friends and colleagues in my high stress profession and high stress industry are being felled by heart attacks, cancer and strokes. One notable such case was a legendary businessman of every prodigious appetite–golf, booze, women and smoking. He had a series of heart attacks and strokes last year that has left him in a wheelchair being cared for by a full-time nursing attendant–he’ll never swing a golf club again at a relatively young age.
    The error as I see it is the simple focus on losing weight. Weight loss programs alone rarely work. You need to inventory yourself to determine what is important and prioritize your health and well-being. You simply need to come to that conclusion. From there you need to get some knowledge about your body, like are you healthy enough for exercise and, if so, what exercise can you undertake safely. But you probably also need a nutritionist to start. The simple truth is that there is a lot of focus on exercise, but diet is really about 2/3 of the equation. You need to eat the right foods, and clear your pantry of anything unhealthy. You do not need to be insanely dedicated, just mindful that the adage “you are what you eat” is supremely true, especially when you are over 40.
    The other thing (and I am a fitness nut not a decorator) is that there are items that you can keep in your bedroom–kettle bells, a Bosu ball and gravity straps–that you can use every day before you get into the shower. It’s a small upfront investment, but having those things in proximity and knowing how to use them can make a huge difference. Finally, the simple truth (but running shoe companies will not tell you this) is that walking burns calories just like running. Forget about treadmills or steppers, just put on a pair of shoes, go outside and walk. Channel your inner Forest Gump.
    Last but not least, think about taking a copy of “The 4 Hour Body” by Tim Ferriss out of the library. His whole thing is the “minimum effective dose” of exercise required to get you into optimal health. He also talks a lot about diet. For example, forget about a traditional breakfast of high-sugar cereals and rich yogurt. Eggs, lean protein and kale or spinach are the way to go. The results of that simple change can be remarkable. Food is fuel not a cultural event.
    Good luck. You can do it.

  2. RF Madrid

    From 1964, or thereabouts, when I first thought about My Weight, I was [starve/gorge] dieting, because I thought that if I didn’t, I would just keep getting bigger, and bigger, until I covered the landscape. Dizziness, crankiness, forgetfulness, hunger, cravings, headache – the full misery, but at least I wasn’t gaining (very much) weight. In the mid-70s, I found “Fat is a Feminist Issue”. I found the nth-wave Radical Feminism tedious, even offensive, but there was one good piece of advice: “Eat as much as you want, of whatever you want — but no more, and nothing else.” I thought I would eat everything that wasn’t kicking or nailed down. For the first couple of days, I couldn’t believe the freedom — a freedom that came from paying attention to my own real desires, and trusting them. Since that time, I haven’t counted a calorie, or weighed myself. Rather than expanding and ballooning, my weight stabilized at about 15 lbs. lower than it used to be when I was ‘dieting’. Possibly the best piece of advice I ever got.

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