Do You Ever Feel Guilty?

Guilt isn’t the most productive emotion – in many cases it can overwhelm us to the point of inaction. Guilt concerning past actions, unkind thoughts or behaviors and guilt over other’s reactions to us can stymie us and keep us from moving forward.

I’ve spoken with  quite a few people over the past year who have quit their various weight loss programs. When we condensed the reason down – a lot of their reasons for quitting came down to guilt.

♦Guilt over “messing up.”

♦ Guilt over taking time away from their families to exercise.

♦Guilt over spending a bit more money on healthier foods.

♦ Guilt when they quit their “for-fee” program without having lost down to their goal weight.

It makes me sad when I think about how often I quit weight-loss programs in the past. My reason for quitting was usually tied to guilt over making bad choices, then letting the feelings of guilt cause me to come up with other reasons to quit.

When I reflect on my finally successful weight loss, I realize that I did not let guilt overwhelm me any longer. Instead, I learned to recognize that guilt was not a productive emotion and that instead of guilt motivating me – guilt beat me down. I occasionally felt guilty when I spent time exercising while the rest of the family, but I put the feelings of guilt away and thought about how much more energy I had to spend time being active with my kids rather than sitting on the couch.

I sometimes felt guilty when I spent a bit more money at the grocery store – but I knew logically that healthy food was good for me and if I could spend $3.00 on a bag of chips, I could spend $5.00 in the produce section.

Friends tried to make me feel guilty by bringing up the fact that since I was losing so much weight my clothing budget was probably out of control. Instead of letting their comments get under my skin, I just smiled and knew that no matter what they thought – it was more fun buying clothes in the regular sized area of the department store.

As you go throughout your journey, I’d just like to encourage you to put unnecessary feelings of guilt aside. I figuratively “beat myself up” over poor choices I made, but that didn’t get me any closer to my goal. Once I was able to let go of the guilt and embrace the freedom making healthy choices gave me – I was more at peace with myself during my journey.

Have you ever thought about guilt and weight loss? Any correlation for you?  Diane

26 thoughts on “Do You Ever Feel Guilty?

  1. Desert Agave says:

    There has definitely been some guilt involved in my weight loss. I’ve been working with both a dietitian and a trainer and I’ve frequently felt guilty about the money I’m spending in order to do that. I’ve felt that I really ought to just be able to do the weight loss on my own, like so many people do. However, I tell myself that I need to do what works for me, and this is working so I should go with it. The guilt does still creep in though.

  2. blackhuff says:

    I did not have quilt feelings whatsoever in the past that made me stop eating healthy and exercising. What stopped me from being healthy is life. Life throwing nasty curveballs which made me go back to my old habits a.k.a Emotional Eating.
    I can’t understand the point where people feel quilty about taking time away from their families due to the fact that they exercise. Why don’t they just set the alarm one hour earlier in the mornings to exercise? This is what I do because then I don’t have such an excuse. I know it is not this easy for everyone but when you set your mind on it, anything is possible.

  3. vickie says:

    very interesting perspective
    and my experience is the opposite
    my guilt is all centered around what I used to do

    amount of money wasted on non-food/junk and restaurants is A#1 on that list. I can’t imagine how much $$$ I wasted on things that made me fat and unhealthy. I have NONE of those feelings about spending $$$ on ACTUAL FOOD now.

    I have a lot of guilt that I almost saddled my husband with dealing with me and severe health problems. Because I was right on the edge of stepping on to the medical merry-go-round. That would have been a lot of unnecessary time/$/worry/effort.

    I have a lot of guilt over what I used to feed my family and the example I set for my kids.

    I have a lot of guilt over what I used to feed my friends (card club, quilt groups, etc) and the codependency/enabling that went on in those circles. I was very much a part of reinforcing others really bad habits. And they went on to the really severe health problems. I was a part of their demise.

    I have not had one moment’s guilt over the new shoes and clothes I have bought. I was very smart about it. I only bought a few pieces to tide me over on the way down. And now at goal, have been careful in the FIT of what I have bought. Very classic, timeless pieces that I love.

    really good post, it made me think.

  4. Jane says:

    I know what you’re saying about guilt. I think that those of us who are overweight or obese struggle with guilt at many levels: guilt for being overweight; guilt for not always being present (both physically and emotionally) for our families; spending money on all kinds of weight loss programs; spending money on clothes for special events, because nothing fits; failing time after time; just to name a few. I think that our condition (obesity) thrives on guilt. Are there things that I could have done differently? Of course, but those opportunities are past, and I am going to focus on the present and do the best I can right now. I have also accepted that eating well is money that is spent well.

    This is an excellent post, and gets to the heart of what keeps us overeating and overweight. As I said, our condition thrives on our emotions, and one of them is guilt.

  5. Jody - Fit at 52 says:

    Guilt.. I am Jewish, need I say more??? 😉 I know, a joke but still some truth to it! 😉

    Guilt, yes I have had it in many forms… but in weight loss… yes, I got mad at myself when I slipped up as I do now sometimes but I never felt guilty about losing the weight!

  6. Jenn Barley | The KickStart Coach says:

    Guilt is such an interesting emotion — it comes from being out of alignment with our values, our “shoulds”, what society sets as norms etc.

    I really try to take the “it is what it is” approach and then sent intentions for doing things differently in the future. Doesn’t always work — but it is about putting my energy in to my next action instead of my last action that is now over.

  7. Deniz says:

    I’m with Vickie on this one – more of my guilt came from the ‘before’ stage than now. Hiding food instantly springs to mind!

    Now, mostly guilt tends to come when my monster gets the best of me and I slip up – although I try not to let it get too out of hand. A little guilt is a good reminder to get back on track. Lots of guilt is a destructive thing for me.

    As to guilt over new clothes – that’s where the charity shops come into their own! I can (and do) dress nicely without breaking the bank. Great since I usually whimper when I see the cost of many new clothes.

  8. Julie Lost and Found says:

    I have repeatedly felt guilty over any and all slip ups. With that guilt also often comes anger, putting myself down, and more guilt over feeling guilty and angry.

    I think Jane above sums up perfectly a lot of the guilt I’ve experienced over the years.

  9. Leah says:

    Just a few weeks ago I felt guilty for going to the gym in the evening instead of staying home with my family. I had to work that day, but I wanted to get my exercise in. My husband told me to just go on and, of course, when I returned I was very glad I didn’t let the guilt keep me home.

    Thanks for the reminder to not let those negative emotions take over, or even ruin our weight loss attempts.

  10. Sandi says:

    I used to feel guilty for not making treats that my family loved. I felt bad when they turned up their noses at the healthy meals. Now I realize that it is for their good as well as mine. Feeding them unhealthy food was not really taking good care of them.
    The same goes for exercise. They might gripe about having to do it, but it is in their best interest. Now I reason that the 45 minutes a day I spend on exercise would be spent some other way that wouldn’t have the healthy benefits.

  11. Lisa says:

    When I first started dating my boyfriend, he’d make me feel guilty for working out instead of spending time with him. I was in love and wanted to be with him just as much as he did but working out was important to me. I explained to him that my journey is important and I can balance exercise with life but he has to help out. We both made peace with the situation and he was supportive of my efforts from that day forward.

  12. Cynthia (It All Changes) says:

    The biggest guilt I’ve felt is that I spend more money on my health and well being (food and workout things) than Hunni does because it is not as important to him. I try to compensate with helping him eat good stuff and making him healthy treats.

  13. fittingbackin says:

    I definitely feel guilt, more about my time. Do I spend too much time working out and cooking right – or not enough time? I have to work to stay in the moment whether i’m on a treadmill or relaxing at home – I always feel like there’s something else I SHOULD be doing – it’s annoying!

  14. Dr. J says:

    I heard a quote once, “Control the guilt, control the child.” I’m sure as most I have felt guilt, but not very often, and certainly not without a very real reason.

  15. Fran says:

    Definitely yes! I feel guilty when I skip a planned workout. I feel guilty when I eat something unhealthy while I promised myself I wouldn’t that day. The guilt never stays long though. I’m a positive person and hanging in guilt doesn’t make it better. What makes it better is move on and make the next day a great day.

    I never feel guilty that I’m going out for a run or to the gym because my husband supports me in this and never complains about it.

  16. CK says:

    Another intriguing post, Diane!

    This got me thinking less about “guilt,” which, from reading everyone’s comments, is misplaced, because engaging in health-enhancing activities should be encouraged, right? I do get the time aspect, that many moms and partners feel that making themselves and their healthy habits a top priority (for a change!) is somehow wrong.

    But I was thinking that a lot of these situations — eating wrong for so many years, gaining weight, not taking care of oneself — elicit feelings of shame, which I think is also often misplaced. As overweight people, we are often also shamed by others just for being overweight. So we walk around feeling ashamed most of the time — not worthy of loving, so not worthy of healing. And I think those two reactions/emotions sort of co-mingle and are hard to pry apart.

    Also, based on a previous post Diane wrote about others’ negative reactions to our weight loss, sometimes I’ve felt that some old friends tried to make me feel (intentionally or not) that I did something wrong somehow because I broke out of my “role” by losing weight, which forced them to reassess what they thought of me, and that could be a form of guilt-tripping, to which I definitely reacted with confusion and depression.

  17. Tami says:

    I am learning to let go of guilt.

    It really serves no purpose and it perpetuates a negative cycle of behavior I am trying to avoid!

  18. Emergefit says:

    I was raised by a Jewish father and a Catholic mother. This means guilt owns me. I surrendered years ago. I can not eradicate, channel it, or even ignore. It is my critical weakness.

    I have nothing to add to the conversation but to echo Dr. J’s comment. I blame them.

  19. LovesCatsinCA says:

    I found this interesting because guilt isn’t a driver for me to abandon the practices that got me to slim down. It’s more the opposite.

    Guilt and shame, although not the most positive of emotions, do motivate me to stick to my lifestyle. Or rather the threat of guilt and shame. I would be mortified if I “failed” and gained weight back… The idea of people whispering behind my back “how sad, she looked so great and look at her now, she really let herself go!” motivates me to keep it up even more than the memory of the high blood pressure or weighing what I did in my 20s. And although exercise has all sorts of other benefits like lifting my mood and helping with stress, probably the chief motivation is that I feel guilty if I don’t with no extenuating circumstances like illness or injury or severe weather that prevent me from doing at least a 15 minute walk…

    I realize that kind of sounds sad but it’s true. Not that I don’t appreciate having more energy and better health, or all the “Ooooo, look how skinny you are” comments from people who haven’t seen me in a while, but it’s the negative motivation that really motivates me.

  20. Siobhan says:

    I used to practice guilt-avoidance. Don’t do something and then you won’t feel bad when it doesn’t work out. Of course, I missed out on a lot of life and learning that way. I’m really working on it being okay to not be perfect AND to let people see that I’m not.

  21. Hope says:

    I’ve definitely felt guilty in the past. Guilty for working out when I don’t have that much time to spend with my husband in the first place, or when I should be doing homework.

    I definitely felt guilty after quitting WW. To the point of where I thought all the weight was going to pile back on, and I would be right back where I started. But, like you, I eventually realized that this was a silly and unproductive emotion to be feeling, and I moved on. Now, when I feel guilt related to my healthy lifestyle, for the most part, I ignore it. 🙂

  22. Lori Lynn says:

    I have a terrible time with guilt. It’s something that I have struggled with for a very long time. It’s hard for me to let things go, b/c I want to beat myself up for ‘messing up.’ I recently was in a Bible study where we were talking about that dwelling on ‘self’ and the guilt/negative is just as sinful as being prideful and thinking highly of yourself! It’s still focusing on self.
    I’m working on letting it all go, but it’s just a matter of not letting those thoughts pull you down.

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