Frustration: Friend or Foe?

I was thinking this morning about weight loss, weight maintenance, and frustration with weight. As I was reflecting on those three aspects of weight management I thought it would be interesting to look at the role frustration plays with weight loss success and failure. When I thought of frustration with weight, here’s the definition I came up with.

♦ Frustration with  Weight – Can occur before, during, or after weight loss attempts. In other words, at any time!

Frustration with my weight was a daily, if not hourly feeling. When I first married, and started putting on weight, I was constantly frustrated with how I looked. I hopped on and off the scale every few days not understanding how I was gaining so much weight. I couldn’t admit to myself that I was the reason I was gaining so much weight. And because I couldn’t admit to myself that I was the problem, my frustration with myself and the scale grew.

I remember getting fitted for an outfit when John and I belonged to a singing ensemble at church. Believe it or not, we had to wear Victorian costumes. I selected a beautiful green satin fabric, and a intricate ballgown pattern. I took the fabric and the pattern to the seamstress, where she measured me and said to come back in two weeks for a fitting. When I went back two weeks later, she had the dress mostly completed, and it seemed to fit nicely. However, when I went back a month later to pick up the completed dress, hat, slip, and bows for my shoes, I had gained a bit of weight.

This caused a problem.  I could barely zip the zipper.  I vividly recall standing in her bathroom trying my best to get the zipper to close. I sucked in my breath, reached my hands behind my back and tugged and tugged. Miraculously it went together. It went together, but I could barely breathe. I looked at myself in the mirror, and wondered if she would notice that the waist was tighter than it had been a month before. And of course, when I walked out of the bathroom for her to see the dress, she said, “Have you put on some weight?” Shaking my head I said, “I don’t think so,” knowing full well that I had just told that nice old lady a lie. Standing in her living room with her fussing over the dress, I vowed to lose the pounds I had gained, and get back to where I was less frustrated with my weight and appearance.

I left her house with my beautiful ball gown in hand, determined to make a change in my eating habits. But the minute I got in my car, instead of heading to the health food store to stock up on some food that might help me end my frustration, I drove straight to McDonald’s and ordered a couple of cheeseburgers, large fries, and a diet coke. After inhaling that food while driving down the road, I visited Wendy’s to top off my frustration with a Frosty.

green ballgown2

So for me, merely feeling frustrated with my weight wasn’t enough to move me into action at that point. In fact, once I went from merely overweight to morbidly obese, I wasn’t asked to be in any ensembles anymore. Instead of wearing ball gowns, I wore tent shaped jumpers, white tennis shoes, and stopped wearing my contacts.

My feelings of frustration grew, my waistline expanded, and I often felt paralyzed. I couldn’t seem to move forward in my attempts to get healthy, and instead kept eating, and eating, and eating.  I wanted to stop grazing on chocolate, inhaling chips, and baking cakes, but I felt out of control.

No matter how frustrated I felt, it wasn’t enough to get me moving in the right direction. Morbid obesity was very frustrating. I hated getting on the scale, buying clothes, and looking at myself in the mirror. But the frustration alone wasn’t enough to get me moving in the right direction permanently. Why not? I think for me, because frustration is such a negative emotion. Every time I lost tried another diet based solely on the frustration I felt, I failed. It wasn’t until I combined the frustration and fear with something positive that I was finally able to move forward.

What are your thoughts about frustration and weight? Does frustration hold you back from reaching your goals, or is it an emotion that you can use to move forward? Diane

47 thoughts on “Frustration: Friend or Foe?

  1. Monica says:

    I have been frustrated with my weight since I can remember. Honestly, I like the idea of pushing it behind me and using how mad I get with myself to improve.

    I get frustrated when I can’t do the things I want to do, and should be able to do at my age.

  2. vickie says:

    what you are writing about – is what I think of as the ‘disconnect years’ – when the relationship between action (or INaction) and result is so blurred that I wandered around very lost and paralyzed. I noticed that you used that exact word too – paralyzed. That is exactly what it feels like.

    once I got moving – the frustration – specifically felt toward my BELLY FAT – got me moving and kept me moving. It was my main motivation and still is.
    .-= vickie´s last blog ..New Season of the Biggest Loser starts tomorrow (Tuesday) on NBC (it will replay on FLN later in the week) =-.

  3. Shelah says:

    your posts are sooooo good! they are informative, honest and they help me think about things…

    I think frustration is more of a discouragement for me and I don’t lose weight… well… depends.

    Okay, so i’m frustrated with my size so I did something about it. i got a gowear fit, started counting my calories and exercised more regularly. I started losing weight.. the frustrated caused a change which changed my body which made the frustration go away.

    Then again, when i’m frustrated with my body weight, I sometimes stuff my face since I’m so upset. oops…

    so BOTh… frustration is a catalyst for change or a stumbling block for self sabotage.

    Interesting post!!! please be encouraged to post more more more!! I love your blog. 🙂
    .-= Shelah´s last blog ..I’m HAPPY!!! I’m actually happy!! =-.

    • Diane says:

      @Monica – I really hope you can use the frustration to move you towards your goals. I’m rooting for you!

      @Vickie – Yes – paralyzed is a good word for how I felt too. You are not paralyzed anymore – you have done an amazing job!

      @Shelah – Thank you so much. I agree with you that it can be a catalyst or a stumbling block. For me it seemed to be both at times, depending on how I felt about myself.

  4. Tyler says:

    Frustration is more of a foe than a friend. So I think like you implied, knocking frustration out of my mind is better than letting it take over. Great post as always!

  5. michelle says:

    I am so frustrated right now. On top of being stressed.

    Last birthday rolled around and I promised myself that I would be at 168lbs when I weighed in on my birthday..guess what? I WAS! I remember crying for a little moment and then thinking to myself..only 10 more to go.

    What happened in a years time?

    I gained 30lbs. THIRTY POUNDS. The clothes that I wore to my birthday party last year hardly fit anymore, and I am constantly frustrated every single day. I wake up feeling like a complete failure and have to constantly dig myself out of the grave that weight loss has given me.

    So yes…I am frustrated. Exhausted…but want to be back to where I was. Through the tears that I have in my body, through the frustration and guilt that I have for gaining the weight back…I have to remind myself that I have a lot more of my soul back than I did a year ago.


    • Diane says:

      @Tyler – A foe for you? Yes, I can definitely agree with that. Good luck on knocking the foe to the ground!

      @Michelle – Oh, this is really sad and happy at the same time. You have come so far in your personal journey, and I really feel like the weight loss will soon follow. Take care.

  6. South Beach Steve says:

    It is easy to let frustration side track our efforts. As I can attest from my weigh-in yesterday, no matter how upbeat we try to be, a bad weigh-in is enough to send many people into a downward spiral. Of course, once you make the decision that this is all about your health and that you are going to follow a solid program, then it all gets a little easier.

    Diane, as always, thanks for your outlook and motivation. You are a true inspiration to the weight-loss community.
    .-= South Beach Steve´s last blog ..Giveaway Post & Motivation for Monday =-.

  7. Jody - Fit at 51 says:

    Frustration, ah yes! When I was heavy, like you Diane, it did keep me from losing weight. I would eat & take out my frustration & emotions with food. It was a catch 22 as they say! Frustrated but doing nothing about it. Once I started to lose, less frustration except that I could not eat the things I really wanted to.. 🙂

    Now, I still get frustrated when my weight fluctuates even if it is out of my control, like the monthly or these friggin age hormones that have been way more difficult to control my weight than the monthly ever was… because with the monthly, it goes away.. with this age stuff, right now, it does not seem to go away but keep changing & challenging my patience. I almost never give in to it but when I do, I know what I am doing, tell myself I deserve the treat.. well, because I do since I work hard at this weight maintenance stuff & just get back to figuring out how I can get around these crazy age hormones. Yes, frustration is definitely still with me but at least I know how to deal with it & handle it now!

    • Diane says:

      @Steve – It is enough to send us into a downward spiral. It’s happened to me more times than I can count. The decision based on health reasons does make it easy to put the frustration behind us and keep going!

      @Jody – You are so right on. You learned to deal with the frustration and not give in to it. I love how you are such a good example of staying fit throughout life’s changes. I hope I can too.

  8. zaababy says:

    Frustration wasn’t enough for me either Diane. It took the majority of my life for me to finally ‘get it’. I pretty much deceived myself for all those years. Except for the pictures, they never lie! I felt helpless to lose the weight so why look at calories? Who cared if I ate cake or a salad? It wouldn’t make any difference. Yay for waking up and finding the truth that weight loss isn’t a horrible punishment for being a big fat pig. I am happy for the first time in years. I totally love your blog.
    .-= zaababy´s last blog ..Day 118–You never knew I could be so longwinded =-.

    • Diane says:

      @Amy – Good point about waiting the frustration out. Eventually things will resolve themselves won’t they?

      @zaababy – Thank you so much for the compliment – I love yours too! I can totally relate to the “who cares” what I eat mentality. I definitely had that too! You are doing a great job with your weight loss!

  9. Andrea@WellnessNotes says:

    I can totally relate to frustration with your weight not being enough and actually having an opposite effect. When I was heavier, I was VERY frustrated with my weight and felt very uncomfortable in my skin pretty much all day long. Yet food was the easiest way to make me forget the frustration I was feeling for a second…
    .-= Andrea@WellnessNotes´s last blog ..Blueberry Pancakes with Peach Sauce =-.

  10. Leah says:

    I was just thinking along these lines the other day, because I think one of the main reasons my weight is coming off this time is that I didn’t start working on losing weight solely out of frustration with my weight. In the past, 99% of my weight loss attempts have been based on the frustration with myself, my appearance and my increasing weight, and for some reason I always failed at the attempt.

    This time there is some frustration, but I’m able to turn it into something useful to help me along with my weight loss. I’m learning to be frustrated without hating myself in the process. It’s not easy, but I really think that is part of the difference for me this time.

    Very good post, Diane. Thanks for sharing your past with us!

    • Diane says:

      @Andrea – Yes, I used food as a salve for frustration as well. It didn’t work.

      @Leah – It’s wonderful that you were able to turn the frustration this time into something positive. I think that you are very smart and wise to learn to deal with the frustration, because we can’t just turn off our emotions.

  11. Lori says:

    Like you noted, I think frustration actually leads us into the opposite direction with bingeing and the like. I read the Beck Diet book, and one thing she wrote about really stuck with me. That was dealing with frustration and the ‘unfair’ feelings. For me, I get to a point sometimes where I say “It isn’t fair that other people lose fast and I don’t” or “I want to eat X, it’s not fair that I can’t have it”. Those thoughts lead to uncomfortable feelings. What Dr. Beck says to do is to acknowledge that it isn’t fair and then *move on*. Accept it and go, which is so simple, yet has helped me a lot.
    .-= Lori´s last blog ..Out with the old, in with the new. =-.

  12. Shannon Fab Fattie says:

    Frustration is a huge problem in weight loss. Especially mine 🙂 Not only does it hold me back from losing weight but it can screw up alot of things.
    I suppose we all need to embrace patience to counteract the frustration. I had a friend tell me to just let my body do the work be patient and enjoy the process. So every time I get a little frustrated I try to remember her words.
    .-= Shannon Fab Fattie´s last blog ..Do It Anyway =-.

    • Diane says:

      @Lori – I like the philosophy you expressed from Dr. Beck’s book. Acceptance was important to me too. Thank you for sharing that.

      @Shannon – Yes, enjoying the process really is important. I actually have a post in draft on that very subject!

  13. Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit says:

    I think people especially get frustrated with scales, because they often don’t play fair. We can eat right, sweat like crazy and do all the right things and still not get paid off on the scale. Frustration can make the mind talk us into unhealthy behavior, but we need to understand just how self-destructive that is and what kind of slippery slope it puts us on.

    Very thought-provoking post (I’m not saying that’s a good thing, Diane; I don’t always enjoy thinking).

    Have a great week!
    .-= Jack Sh*t, Gettin’ Fit´s last blog ..IM Over You, Beer =-.

    • Diane says:

      @Dr. J. – It’s not easy, or at least it wasn’t for me. I found it very difficult to redirect the frustration into something positive, but the more success I had the easier it became.

      @Fitcetera – Right to the drive thru – me too! I had such a hard time feeling good about myself, that I often quit before I even tried. I like your attitude!

      @Jack – Scales do sometimes make it seem as though all our hard work is for naught. It’s important to think – even if it hurts!!! Have a great week yourself!

  14. Robin says:

    I think frustration is the hardest part for me, particularly since I’ve met my husband because i want to make him proud of me. I know he is, every single day but I want to prove to him that I can get control of my health but in these nearly 7 years it has yet to happen.

    • Diane says:

      @Robin – Frustration is really hard. It took me 10 years before I finally got in control of my eating and improved my health. My husband loved me, and never looked down on me, but I still wanted him to be proud of me too – just like you want your husband to be proud of you.

  15. Janet says:

    That’s a great post, Diane… I am also curious about now, 12 years later. Do you still get frustrated? And if so how do you deal with it? As somebody who has just reached maintenance I’m very curious about how you feel now 12 years later… do you feel like you’ve finally got it LICKED, or do you still feel like you’re always looking over your shoulder waiting for those lost pounds to catch you…
    .-= Janet´s last blog ..Day 119 – Maintenance is a SCARY place =-.

    • Diane says:

      Janet – I don’t look over my shoulder all the time. The first year was a time of adjusting and figuring out what worked for me in maintenance.

      For me, I look at maintenance as the reward for all of the hard work I did. Maintenance is the fun part Janet!! Don’t be afraid those lost pounds are haunting you. Those pounds are gone, and because you’ve changed your relationship with food, they won’t come back unless you allow them too!

  16. Bearfriend says:

    Hi Diane. I’m glad you managed to convert negative feelings into something so positive. I am really struggling to get started on a diet at the moment. The only time I manage to do it is when I become completely suicidal over my situation.

    As soon as I manage to get back onto a diet I feel so much better in every way. It’s like I’m a different person. So I have two modes of being – one the binge eater/ overeater and the other the healthy eater who walks 6 miles a day. But moving from the former to the latter is so difficult.

    How can I actually achieve this change without getting suicidal over it?

    Best wishes,
    Bearfriend xx
    .-= Bearfriend´s last blog ..Is it rude to tell a complete stranger to Google Sean Anderson? =-.

  17. eurydice says:

    for me, frustration helps me reach my goal – but it’s that lack of frustration that leads me to not care about what i’m eating and if i’m gaining weight. it’s a cycle – get frustrated, work harder and lose the weight. then, take it easy and gain it back. i’m talking about 5 pounds here, but still – it’s annoying! thanks for commenting on my blog btw.
    .-= eurydice´s last blog and weight gain =-.

    • Diane says:

      @Bearfriend – I read your post today. I hope that you will get some counseling for your feelings. Please take care of yourself, and realize that you are worth getting healthy just because you are who you are. (I emailed you)

      @eurydice – That’s wonderful that you can use frustration to help you reach your goal. Even your 5 pounds bothers you. It doesn’t matter how much or how little we are talking about here – if it bothers you, it’s important!

  18. Lisa says:

    First of all, I think you looked beautiful in that pic. Second, it feels like you write things that I have stampped on my heart. thrid, I think we need frustration in order to move forward.
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Stop me PLEASE… =-.

  19. natalie says:

    I’m going with foe…. the more frustrated I feel the less I want to try. It’s more discouraging than motivating, at least for me. I find the more satisfied I am, the more I try to maintain it…

    • Diane says:

      @Lisa – I loved your post today! Your positive outlook made me so happy for you.

      @natalie – It was a foe for me. It didn’t help me along either, but rather stopped me in my tracks.

  20. Taryl says:

    This was such an ‘aha!’ post of yours, for me. I had not previously been able to put my finger on why I KNEW, deep down and to the core, that this go at changing my lifestyle and eating habits was going to stick and be successful beyond the first five pounds, until just now.

    My first mini-weightloss attempts with WW were mostly in the ‘this HAS to change, I hate myself!’ vein of frustration with my weight. The problem is, making a GOOD change for your body based on NEGATIVE motivation just doesn’t stick for me, long term, and when I see some success and a bit of my frustration abates I have then lost much of my key motivation.

    However when I went about losing weight this time around, which started officially in April or the beginning of May, I had both a plan that was inherently positive and focused more on health than weight, as well as personal goals that were primarily with the goal of being the BEST I could be for my family and myself, rather than running away from the WORST of the scale. With a goal of good health, suddenly any loss or positive choice is a victory. There is no falling off the wagon or backsliding, because everything is part of the journey that has no end. And there is no huge frustration with myself or the scale because I know, one way or the other, I am doing better no matter what the numbers say.

    Frustration (and heck, even motivation) was not enough to start me on a permanent journey to a better place with my weight – commitment, prayer, and POSITIVE self-image and goals were my ticket. Frustration was, well, frustrating! And futile, too. It just fed hopelessness and self-hatred, but gave no real actionable plan for me to succeed on. I much prefer my slow, happy crawl to where I want to be, and feel progressively more radiant and healthy for it!
    .-= Taryl´s last blog ..Another milestone (more or less) met! =-.

    • Diane says:

      @Taryl – This was so good that you should post it on your own blog. I love that way you realized that because it’s a journey, the emotions that we all experience will happen, and we have to learn to roll with them, and keep the eating on solid ground. Thanks for this great comment!

  21. Pam says:

    It used to be an emotion that made me give up.

    But this time, as with so many other things that are different, its just given me a deeper drive to prove whatever is frustrating me that I can beat it.

    Its amazing how different of a journey this one has been and continues to be for me. Thanks for letting me realize yet another element!
    .-= Pam´s last blog ..Two Years Ago…. =-.

    • Diane says:

      @Pam – I’m so glad that you have such a deep drive to succeed, and not let any frustration push you back!

      @Joanna – Thanks. I love your blog!

      @Hadley – I like the way you expressed it. Frustration = giving up. I let frustration make me give up, and I also let frustration keep me from really getting started.

  22. MB says:

    I’m frustrated I keep putting my body through the strain of gaining and losing weight. I’m frustrated I can’t seem to maintain any substantial loss and end up bingeing my way back up the scale. I’m frustrated I haven’t figured it out yet.
    .-= MB´s last blog ..Begging for Change =-.

    • Diane says:

      @Chubby Chick – Thanks – I hope it gets you thinking about something positive!

      @MB – It’s not an easy journey, and although I never lost a lot of weight on my journey, I did have the same 20 – 30 pound losses that I couldn’t maintain. One thing that helped me was looking at the “goal weight” as the beginning of my journey rather than the end. That way the weight loss was just the start of my new, healthier, life. Does that make sense?

  23. Chris says:

    Frustration with my weight only left me feeling completely DEFEATED, all the time. Not a single day had passed without me feeling defeated about my weight. Sometimes it’s just a passing thought when I look into the mirror. Another day, it’s a twinge of wistful longing, when I walk past a certain place where I strongly associate my once-thin self with. And in really bad days, I feel utterly disgusted with myself, full of hopelessness and self-loathing.

    I was miserable when I found out I could no longer zip up my old size 2 dresses. I could not bear to open one of my old photo albums from my “thin year”. And I dreaded to be “the fat one” at girls outings. But all these negative feelings were never enough to ditch this self-deprecating mindset, like “I’ll never be thin again, I’m meant to be overweight forever.” A self-fulfilling prophecy at its best.

    It was only when I made my health number one priority that I was finally able to overcome this defeated feeling I’ve been suffering too long. Perhaps I’ll never fit into my old size 2s again, but I certainly CAN lower the risk to develop diabetes or hyperglycemia. I was not endowed with a slender bone structure that is highly common among Asian women, but no one said life is fair. Better being big-boned and toned than being “skinny-fat”. While focusing on my health, one day I found myself almost fitting into size 2s again.

    Positive thinking, it really does work. I used to be highly sceptical about those motivational books, but now I concede that they do make some valid points.

    • Diane says:

      @Chris – Positive thinking really does work – I totally agree. I see a common theme with you and some of the other posters, that health really is a positive motivation when trying to achieve weight loss success. Congratulations on your weight loss. You should be proud of yourself.

  24. Tammy says:

    Every time I write a negative post,like the one tonight, I come find one on your blog addressing the same issue. How cool it is that you’re here, after 12 years of maintaining a 150 lb loss, to give us support and encouragement along our own journeys. You are such a blessing to me Diane…you truly are. 🙂
    .-= Tammy´s last blog ..The Battle Rages On… =-.

  25. GeorgiaMist says:

    Right now, I am becoming VERY frustrated. I’ve been on a 5-week plateau after losing 58 pounds since January.
    It’s hard not to become stressed and we all know that stress affects weight-loss negatively.
    It’s difficult to stay motivated when this happens, but I’m trying to remind myself that a plateau is simply our body adjusting to the changes.
    .-= GeorgiaMist´s last blog ..SAHALE SNACKS REVIEW and GIVEAWAY! =-.

  26. Ida says:

    I think there are lots of us who try to overcome frustration with food. You get frustrated which leads to depression which leads to over eating. I remember the days when stress would make me NOT want to eat anything. Of course I smoked in those days, too. Since I quit smoking, I grab a snack instead of a smoke when I’m stressed or depressed or frustrated. There have been a couple of times I have even considered starting to smoke again in order to lose weight, luckily, I never did beyond the considering stage.
    .-= Ida´s last blog ..Motivation =-.

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