Skinny Daily Post


I know the panic, the fear, the hopeless, swallowed-up feeling your extra weight can give you. I know. It’s awful. It is. It comes at that point when the diets stop working, or you know, because you’ve proved it to yourself many times, that the weight will just come back on again. The diet is temporary, but your body’s desire to be fat is not. Even successful dieters live with this fear. I live with this fear every day.

And it’s tempting to go in search of “the cure,” “the guru,” “the secret.” The one missing piece, the lost map, the secret code. You want to be saved. We all do. We put a lot of time and energy into finding some simple solution to the obesity epidemic.

But until we find an easy cure, the more complex one will have to do. We have to get more exercise and eat differently. Our food has to be both of a better quality and fewer calories.

As adults, then, we have to save ourselves. Somehow.

Somehow you need to trust that you have what you need inside you to do it, the wisdom, the curiosity, the drive, and one or two very good reasons to keep at it when you would normally turn back.

The day you stop looking for the easy out is a very good day. That’s the day you decide that you don’t have to go on another diet, but have to learn to eat differently for the rest of your life. That’s the day you decide your body really does require daily exercise to get well and stay well That’s the day you begin to turn the ship around.

I love that expression. If you’ve ever been on a very large ship, a cruise ship or a naval vessel, then you know that ships don’t turn quickly. When a ship turns, it must do so with real effort, and slowly. First it has to stop heading in one direction, and then it has to turn, and then it has to start heading in the other direction. Slowing the ship down, turning it, getting it up to speed again, these things all happen so slowly that, if you’re standing on board the ship in the middle of the ocean at high noon, you may not perceive any movement at all for quite a long time.

There’s plenty happening, but no evidence of progress.

If you have decided to regain your health, whether that means losing weight or giving up lousy food, or getting control over your drinking, or starting an exercise program, or giving up smoking, you’re turning your inner ship around. You must be patient, encouraging, respectful of the momentum you’ve created to propel yourself in the wrong direction. It’s not a bad idea to employ a little self-directed kindness.

Today’s journal assignment. In your body log or health log, whatever record you’re keeping of this passage, draw an arrow to the east and an arrow to the west. Let’s say the east arrow is the direction you’ve been traveling, the one that has resulted in extra weight or poor health or both. The west arrow is the direction you want to travel now. Write all the habits that you’ve picked up traveling east along the eastern arrow, one after the other. Is it skipping breakfast? Eating too many empty starches and sweets? A sodapop habit? Afternoon candy bars? TV snacking? Late night eating? No exercise? Then write down the new habits you know you’ll need to successfully move west, toward your healthier future: daily exercise, more veggies, less red meat, portion control, better fats, walking instead of driving everywhere.

Let this plotting be the beginning of your plan. Figure on dropping those eastward-moving habits over time, picking up the westward-moving habits as you go. Know that turning your ship takes time. You may not perceive any real movement or progress for weeks. But if you keep a careful log, trust your sense of direction, patiently and kindly allow your ship to turn and build momentum, stay with it long after you might have quit before, forever perhaps, soon you’ll see that where you are is a lot farther than where you’ve been.

Bon Voyage.

Respecting Large Vessels

Help for Breaking Bad Habits, Forming Good Ones

9 thoughts on “Turning the Ship

  1. Drew says:

    Juju – I’m a new reader and really love what you share. I’m reconquering some weight after waiting far too long for the lightening bolt to hit me and kick me into gear.

    Realizing that this jolt or magical moment of clarity might not ever happen was one major step in me turning my very ship around.

    Your entry today was dead on – THANK YOU.

  2. Connie says:

    Wow, JuJu, as usual you know your cue well. I needed this today. I needed to remember that there isn’t a quick fix, that I’m putting all this work into myself not only to lose my extra weight but to gain best-possible health, and that I’m not alone.

    The holiday season is tough- so many ways to rationalize overeating and under-journaling. So many excuses and ways to allow my health goals to get out of focus.

    It’s hard to accept that all this journaling and planning is the best way to keep my health in control and heading in positive directions– but it’s the truth. I can’t run away from it. I won’t. This holiday season I will stay on track. I will keep up with my daily health log. I will not overeat. I will stay focused on my health goals. I have to- for me. For my health. It’s going to be easy, but when I really think about it- it’s never easy. Actually, just the fact that it’s NOT easy sure seems like a darn good reason to keep with it. Most things that are easy, aren’t worth the little bit of effort they take– right? 😉

    Thank you for writing, JuJu. I feel like we’re friends, as if we’re sisters fighting the good health fight side by side. I need all the sisters I can get! I’ve never been one to make friends easily nor have I idenitify with many women. Your posts are always welcome in my life!

    Big hugs,

  3. jappy says:

    Wonderful, wonderful analogy! The picture of the effort the ship must take to turn around was great. And when you wrote “there’s plenty happening, but no evidence of progress”, that was very helpful.

    I recently discovered a habit I developed to keep from bingeing or overeateing due to my fear of deprivation, was something I didn’t want to do anymore (the mind is finally changing!). I am, of course, going thru a mourning period over the realization & decision to change that. But your message & suggestion have strengthened me.

    Thank you SO much! Again!

  4. Quinn says:

    Thank you, thank you thank you for this post! The whole explaination of turning the ship around matches very well with my experience of developing healthier habits. For example: the oatmeal thing. A couple months ago turned back to having oatmeal for breakfast (Quaker Old Fashioned Rolled Oats with cinnamon and apples and chopped walnuts — nothing fancy). Noticed a few weeks ago that the gastritis that had been making my nights a misery had completely disappeared! Haven’t felt a need for any kind of medication, OTC or prescription, in weeks thus saving myself lots of money! Am no longer sleep-deprived, so am able to think more clearly and make better decisions everywhere i go (while driving, shopping, working, looking for entertainment).

    Oh, and I’ve lost an inch around my hips. 🙂

    So, from just one simple dietary change, I’ve had all kinds of benefits. Who knew?

  5. Mari says:

    You have no idea how much this post meant to me, and how much you totally got into my head to say all the things I was thinking/feeling but just didn’t know how to grasp.

    One of my favorite posts!

  6. marianne says:

    As I keep “heading eastword” lately, this post is just what I need. I think much of the reason I’m going in the wrong direction lately is because I’ve had some upper-respiratory bug off and on for easily a month. I’ve been pretty good about exercising until last week, but where I really need to change direction is in all the comfort foods I eat when I’m sick–I have much less control when I don’t feel well, and my comfort foods include bread with peanut butter, real coke, and chocolate. Could you give me some tips for heading back in the right direction, to not overload myself with comfort foods when I don’t feel well? Thanks.

  7. Kris says:

    This is exactly what I needed to hear today. After losing 30 pounds, I’ve been at a plateau for three weeks and fallen back into some poor eating habits out of frustration and depression. But you just reminded me that change takes time and I need to be more patient with myself.
    Thank you!

  8. Damian says:

    I am just started reading and I really want to start journaling. This entry was AWESOME and moved me to tears. I can really move my ship…that is great!!

  9. BlackJuJu says:

    i’m kinda curious… where’d you get Juju, i got my name from an alice cooper song. if you could just e-mail me back, or not, or whatever. i’m just curious. peace.

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