The Heavy Burden of Losing Weight

My friend and editor in chief, Mandy, is a superstar. Tackling anything that comes her way with enthusiasm and gusto!  I was so happy she is willing to share her story with our PLANK community.  Many of us (absolutely me too) could write some version of this story. I think my version is on a loop every Monday too.  
We would love to hear your comments, and let’s support each other … maybe even start a challenge if that would help everyone find motivation. 
Oh life, such a crazy path we follow …

 The Heavy Burden of Losing Weight

by Mandy Denaux

My heart is pounding, my legs feel like jello and I have the reoccurring thought that I’m on the verge of either passing out or throwing up. All while the voice inside my head volleys between “Come on, you can do this,” and “How in the world did you get back here?”

MandyDenaux - Before weight gain
Okay so this was taken in the bathroom at my work, but still it’s inspiring because I am reminded what I am capable of.

How in the world did I get back here? Four years ago, I was fit. Working out and eating clean weren’t just some plan I was following … they were my lifestyle. And I was happily sliding down from a size 6, a size 4 just within reach.

Today, I am not fit. Doing this workout is a chore and eating clean is something I start again every Monday. Oh and those single digit sizes now fill up a side of the closet that hasn’t been touched in a very long time.

So here I am … beating myself up on a daily basis for allowing myself to slide back to a place I swore I’d never be again. And when I’m not beating myself up, I’m franticly searching for the next answer … not so patiently waiting for that thing in my head to shift and for motivation to click into place.

Intellectually, I know what I need to do. Sure, despite the proliferation of both information about healthy lifestyles and access to good food/fitness, there are still people in this world who are overweight because of their lack of knowledge and/or access. But that is not me … I am informed.

I’ve spent most of my life trying this diet and that. I’ve studied nutrition, I’ve analyzed my body, and I have the means to access all the healthy foods and fitness regimens you can name. Moreover, I am motivated! I want to lose weight, not because I’m trying to adhere to some media prescribed version of beauty, but because I see the ways the excess weight holds me back (literally and figuratively). Plus I feel better without this extra wall around me.

Through all my years of diet experimentation, including a whole lot of trial and error, I did learn some truths. Like there’s no silver bullet, and that tricks and gimmicks never work in the long run. And, I know that the best way to lose the weight and feel good (in my body and about my body) is to simply eat clean and move often.

But let’s be real – this is NOT simple. It’s hard work … and for many of us it’s work that will continue for a lifetime. And trust me, there is no real substitution for that hard work.

Here’s the problem though … I KNOW all of that. And still, for the last year or more, I just haven’t been able to get there. Why could I do it before and I can’t do it now? How is it that I know more about health, fitness and nutrition now than ever before, but still struggle with reestablishing them as true aspects to my lifestyle?

In a recent conversation with my acting coach, something he said struck a chord. As we discussed my work and the obstacles that are holding me back from the career I want, my weight came up (again). Never a fun topic for me, it’s one I’ve long-since gotten used to discussing with him (he’s focused on truth and exposing one’s self … and that means not hiding from the ugly and the unwelcome).

He told me that the work I need to do is figuring out why I hold onto the weight. As you might expect, my gut reaction was “Well I’m certainly not doing it intentionally.” To which he responded that it might not be conscious, but that I was definitely subconsciously choosing it. His assessment was that I’m scared of that unknown life where weight isn’t a daily concern … fearful of what that might mean for my career, my love life, etc. And that I’m likely taking some sort of comfort in my current state.

WTH? That was my initial reaction. I mean that sounds like a lot a new age mumbo jumbo. But when I stopped to really let his words sink in and ask myself if there was truth in them, the answer was … yes.

Still with me? Okay …

Following that conversation, I had a session with my trainer – who I admittedly hadn’t visited for sometime. Never one to sugar coat anything, she opened our session with “Clearly you’ve gained some weight. What’s going on? You tell me you’re eating clean, but obviously that’s not the case.” Lots of talk (and even a few tears) later and we eventually arrived at pretty much what my coach said – there’s something else going on here.

I mean if I know better and I’m physically capable (I’ve hiked mountains, lifted weights and even ran a marathon), then maybe it’s time to take a “deeper dive” and examine the underlying emotional and/or spiritual issues.

Now, here is where I should probably admit that I don’t have all the answers yet – in fact I’ve only just begun this journey … and this is a journey I’ll do alone, for the most part. But I’m not one to sit around and wait for the answers, so while I work on this deeper level self-examination, I’m also putting into practice some of the things that I know work for me … in hopes that the combination will bring the results for which I’ve been searching for the better part of 30 years.

One of the things that helps me in a situation like this is to put it out there … if I tell someone I’m going to do something I’m much more likely to follow through. So, here I am telling you.

Another thing that has helped me in the past was to have a strong support system … and maybe even friends to join me in the journey. Which brings me to PLANK. Mary Beth has done such an amazing job building this platform of inspiration and support … and so I thought there might be people here who, like me, would benefit from some support in this area.

With that in mind, I wanted to open up a little forum for discussion here. And taking it one step further, I’ve started a group on an app called My Fitness Pal (it’s a free app that tracks fitness, food and related topics) and I’m inviting those of you who might like to join in.

I realize that, even among those of us who share this particular struggle, our situations are different … and we each have our own “deep dive” to do. Still, I firmly believe we can be more successful in tackling those issues when we support and share with each other along the way.

So, let’s discuss. And if you’d like to join me on My Fitness Pal (you can find me there by my username, mandydenaux or join the group called PLANK: Setting the Table) … include that in your comments (or email me) and I’ll send you the details. Because I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to shed this heavy burden.




  1. Stacey AKA BraveWidowMama

    I’m sorry I missed this one when it was first posted. I feel your pain with the whole weight thing. I had weight loss surgery after my girl was born and lost 120 pounds. I got into weight training and was in the size 6 range when I was dealt the double-whammy of a tumor necessitating removal of 1/2 my thyroid and a serious back injury. My daily workouts went away and my metabolism slowed to a snail’s pace. The ass pushed it’s way into a size 12 and I struggled to find a way to be active again.

    The thing that has helped me is when I realized that most of the women my age have completely given up and look worse than I do (LOL.) Remember, that when you are busy judging yourself all the other women are doing the same thing. Just keep trying and concentrate on staying healthy without jacking up your back.

    I loved the bathroom selfie. It reminds me of every guy’s profile picture on Match.Com!

  2. OMG! I LOVED this blog. Thanks for being so open, Mandy! It’s really the kick in the pants I need, too. After doing W30 in March & giving up added sugar for Lent, I’m in a good groove eating well. I’m eating healthy except for special occasions & while on trips. But I really need to move. I was disappointed in the amount of weight I lost during W30 & Lent but shouldn’t be since I wasn’t exercising. Earlier this past week I started walking on the treadmill with the plan to start running outside come June. I honestly hate running, haha, but it’s the best bang for my buck when it comes to exercising. It’s cheap & pretty well works my whole body out at once. I’d love to be apart of the MyFitnessPal group. Apparently I had signed up years ago. haha My username is andryasmith80. I’m hoping being part of a group will keep me moving. Maybe it’ll motivate me enough I could train for another half! Thanks again for the post!!

  3. Mandy thanks for sharing your story and I love the idea of a support system. Growing up I was always slim and could eat whatever I wanted. I’ll never forget when I was at that college age and my little Irish grandmother said to me, “Paula you have gained weight”. Well of course I was shocked she just blurted that out to me but I had to laugh because she was always honest. Hey I did. I went from a size 6 to a 12. She was right. My two older sisters always struggled with weight so I jump on board with them and joined a gym, tried Weight Watchers (which I never could follow the points so I always sucked at WW). Even a few years ago I downloaded MyFitness Pal and I think I used it for 2 weeks if that! Even though I’m a in-between sizes 6-8 now I can tell you I AM NOT FIT at all. It’s funny how some people think you are fit because you are a smaller size. I just volunteered at the Boston Marathon (at a water stop) and I’m alway in awe seeing the runners. Even brought to tears seeing amputees run by me and soldiers walking with 50lb backpacks. I couldn’t run a block if my life depended on it! They inspire me to be get off my butt and move. Just turning 48 a couple of weeks ago and that much closer to 50(yikes) I want to be healthy and hopefully fit. Even though I might only need to drop a little I do want to have the healthy lifestyle. So, I’d love to join in on the MyFitness group for accountability and supporting each other. I think this is a great thing you are doing.

  4. Thank you Mandy for sharing and supporting all of us! We all seem to have similar stories… we know everything about nutrition and exercise and can actually write a book on it or teach a class… no exaggeration! I’m 60 and have been struggling with my weight since my daughter was born more than 30 years ago! I can lose 20-30 lbs. while following a plan to the tee, but one slip-up and I’m on a downward slide…. WHY???! I feel so much better at a lower weight but can’t stop downslides when they happen…..My daughter is getting married this summer and since the end of January I made up my mind to not be heavy in her wedding pictures… I’ve lost 18 lbs. so far on a very low carb diet. I feel wonderful but when people compliment me I say that it’s probably just temporary because I’ve gained weight back before. Why is it I’ve already put a kibosh on my weight post-wedding? I’m my own worst enemy. Thanks to you and Marybeth for putting this ever important subject out there … I’m headed to My Fitness Pal app right now!

  5. Andrea Welmaker

    Aww, Mandy this blog came at a perfect time. About 3 years ago I lost 30lbs and I’ve gained it all back. When I lost it I was able to buy a whole new wardrobe and anything I tried on fit me. Now it’s so depressing to try clothes on. I’ve tried to lose weight since putting it back on and the best I do is 5 to 10 pounds. Then it goes right back on. When I originally lost I never deprived myself of anything. I ate off a salad plate, I ordered kids meals, if I couldn’t then I’d only eat half the meal. I only ate sweets on special occasions. This worked for me and once I lost I told myself I’ll never gain my weight back. “Famous Last Words” I’ve never done MyFitnessPal but I’m excited to be apart of it. Im going right now to download it. Mandy thank you for sharing and for encouraging me and others. Thank you Mary Beth for giving us plankblog every week.

  6. Monica Murray

    Oh I can so relate! I was a chubby child, even though I swam on a swim team for years..I was always 20 lbs overweight in high school too. Gradually that number got higher and higher and finally, at age 49, I decided on having the Gastric Sleeve Surgery. Other than having GERD from it, I was losing weight and doing great. Then the awful thing happened. In 2014, I was diagnosed with a tumor “the size of a hot dog” on my spine. All the years I was diagnosed with Sciatica! So I had a very difficult surgery involving a laminectomy and spinal fusion from L1 to L4. I have metal in my back and was in the hospital and subsequent rehab for over 2 months, learning how to walk again. Unfortunately, when they removed the tumor, my L3 had to be cut to get it all out as it had grown into that nerve which has left me with a severe defecit using my left leg. I can barely use stairs and even short walks are almost impossible. I think all of this has caused me some depression and to be honest, the only reason I haven’t ballooned up to my previous weight of 265 (I’m 224 currently) is because I simply can’t ingest that much food with my smaller stomach! But going from a completely healthy person other than being overweight with back pain occasionally is very different than being “disabled” on a daily basis at age 53. My ability to exercise is really hampered though I do try to use the elliptical occasionally. Are there any groups on your site that are for people like me? Disabled and struggling with weight? And thank you for posting this Marybeth. It helps to see us all struggling with this weight issue together.

  7. Mandy:

    Thank you for sharing this with us! I am one of the many that have a similar story also. I do know what to do and all the reasons why I should. I was a high school athlete and was in excellent shape and now I have a teenage son who is an athlete and I have him in training and learning to eat healthy but something keeps me from doing it consistently myself! For my health I know I must make the changes! After doing some soul searching in late 2016 I realized I had not been really living since my marriage fell apart and my father passed within months of each other. That was 14 years ago and now is the time. I started in January 2017 by doing the Whole 30 and have lost almost 20 pounds. But like always I have started to fall off the wagon! This blog came at the right time to get me back on track!

  8. Anna Phaire

    I use My Fitness Pal and was doing well with limiting my calories to 1400 a day for 2 months. I lost 14 pounds in that time. Now I’m going back up in wright and haven’t logged in to Mt Fitness Pal for a few days. I have to get back on track before I gain it all back. I will look for you on My Fitness Pal. Thank you..this article may be what I needed to turn it around for me.

    • Mandy Denaux

      Anna, I get it! I’ve been a member of My Fitness Pal (and Spark People before that) for some time, but it’s hard to stay consistent … though when I am it really does work. I think having a group and some incentive to go there will help us all. Great to have you!! (invitation sent)

  9. Mandy, happy to join you on MyFitnessPal. One thing is for certain about that app! You can lie to it, but you can’t lie to yourself when you use it. I have been clean eating since doing the Whole30 in February with one specific exception- wine! I have a busy schedule myself, up at 4:30am, 3 hours of commuting a day, a fairly sedentary job, a husband, house and 2 young children. So, I know this for certain: as much as I am committed to getting up, working out, and clean eating, I want to reward myself at the end of the day, when the kids are in bed, and when the obligations stop.. and that reward is “WHAT I WANT TO DO” not what my daily routine demands of me, what my kids need from me, or any commitments to health and fitness. It is way too easy for that reward to be food or drink. It’s generally quicker than winding down with an hour of TV or a couple of chapters of a book. I still feel good. I haven’t gone back completely to my body in February. But I don’t want to either.

  10. Mandy,
    I’m trying to join the group but can’t find you. I’m sportsmom1012 on the app.

  11. Michelle

    Thank you for this blog. I have been looking for anything to help me get back on track. I did great several years ago after I had my daughter but I have not been able to get the weight back off again. I had that one cheat day that turned into 2 and then I told myself I would start Monday since I already had 2 or 3 cheat days this week and then I would go okay next month and now here I am couple of years later and heavier than i was when I had my daughter. Thanks for starting this support group and I am finally feeling optimistic about losing the weight.

  12. Karen Richele Burke

    Mandy, I can so relate to your post, except I’ve fighting this battle for 40 years. I’ve sent you an email on MyFitness Pal to join. Looking forward to joining you on this journey!

  13. Mander, honey, I love you. You inspire me every single day. What makes you unique is that even as you are trying to shed your heavy burden you genuinely reach for every opportunity to shed me of mine. Your support of my endlessly starting and restarting journey has not matched mine, and I am going to do better for you. This new community of support you’re gathering is so you, though. You are a collector of good, loving souls to nurture and enrich and who thereby nurture and enrich you back. I’m in this with you, and I am so proud of you. But I’m also proud to be inspired BY you. Remember one thing. You are a walking success. That girl in the work bathroom mirror and the girl who just wrote this. I’ve got your back.

  14. Karin Cox

    I was a size 12, which I was happy with. Then I opened my own business (insurance agency), I work 10 to 12 hours a day, and I am too tired to exercise. I am at a size 20, the heaviest I’ve ever been. I am ready to make the necessary changes and having a support team would be wonderful. I will look you up on my fitness pal. And I would also like to join the group Plank: Setting the table. Together, we can all reach our goals!

    • Mandy Denaux

      We would love to have you, Karin! When you sign up, you can look me up (mandydenaux) and request friendship, and then I’ll add you to the group. Or, you can search for the group … but some people have been having a hard time that way. Let me know if you have any trouble!

  15. Mandy,

    You have pretty much described what I have been going through for a years now. Thank you for sharing your story with us, and I am definitely in on MyFitnessPal!

    • Mandy Denaux

      Thank you, Rachel! We’ve got this!

    • It seems difficult to search for the group because there are so many things that come up in a fitness app when you search by “plank” aka the stance that I don’t hold very well for very long. 🙂

  16. I’ve been on myfitnesspal since Jan 2016 and have lost 64.8 pounds. Would love to be a part of your group but couldn’t find it.

  17. I had been doing great on weight watchers all summer and fall until the Christmas holidays came and I was set to visit family. As much as I love them there is stress in being all together, considering that my sisters never seem to struggle in the weight department as much as I do. There was something about that trip that did me in with the healthy eating. Maybe it was the day I was put in charge of the making of cookies. Maybe it was the idea that I had the entire vacation–that I had the RIGHT to eat the traditional holiday
    goodies just like everyone else. I will join you in your pursuit of healthy eating and movement and look for further camaraderie from the group. Thank you, Mandy, for your transparency. Thank you, Mary Beth, for giving Mandy a platform to speak for so many of us.

    • I’d love to join the group but I can’t find it.

      • Mandy Denaux

        Sara, if you want to friend me on MyFitnessPal (mandydenaux) I can send you an invitation. Or send me your username and I can invite you that way.

    • We all struggle with demons as to weight! Mine are genetic, income and time! My family all have a tendency to get heavy in their late 30’s and up.. I’m going to 52 end of this year…I know what needs to be done just like the past I saw a dietician.. But, I have financial limitations big time as well as time constraints. I am full time care giver to my disabled 73 year old mom.. Hence, time for myself issue…But, I too make unconscious choices..that could be better do to stress I believe. I also don’t want to be my we all struggle..hope your more successful than I with my battles.

  18. I am on MyFitnessPal and have been for several weeks. Would like to add you as a friend but couldn’t find how to do that. Email sent.

  19. ILoveMySnK

    You were talking about me, about my strugglrs. I’m in. I’ve emailed you. Thank you for doing this.

  20. Mandy,
    You are feeling the same as all of us. We all know what we need to do to lead a healthier lifestyle, but, like most women, we put others first and don’t take care of ourselves. I would love to join you on your journey with the app. I, too, need to get back to a better me. Thanks for having the courage to put yourself out there and help all of us. You got this, girl! You can do it and we’ll all be here cheering you, and each other, on!

  21. Barbara levy


    I am in too!!!!!! thank you for sharing your struggle and being brave enough to write about it in the blog.

    I am struggling , like multiple folks here, with multiple physical challenges but I could do much better. I have to accept what I cannot change and find my way. I have had thyroid cancer and we are unable to control my TSH (hormone) so I swing hypo and hyperthyroid due to GI absorption issues. I am also 68 (69 this sept.) and this next step called retirement truly scares me. Having said that I can do better and it would be great to have support. I live alone and could use some support and suggestions so I can do better. I have tried everything and believe whole3o is for me. This plan eliminates foods and additives I am allergic to.

    You are a brave woman to share your struggles. It took a lot of courage to pick up and move to LA. You have picked a profession that will let your talent show but unfortunately judges you by your physical appearance. You are obviously blessed with great genetics in the beauty department.

    I would be honored to join in but one of my definite deficits is the technical department. I could not find your group.

    So, if you could send a link (tried your link but could not find you) or send instructions I would greatly appreciate it!

    Barb levy

    • Mandy Denaux

      Yay Barb! Glad to have you. Go to and sign up. Once you’re a member, you can click on Community and then Find Members … search for me (mandydenaux) and then I can invite you to the group. (You could search for the group directly, but some people have been having trouble that way). Let me know if you have any trouble!!

  22. Yes, I would like to join you on My Fitness Pal. Thanks!

    • Mandy Denaux

      Great, Tina! To join us, go to and sign up. Once you’re a member, you can click on Community and then Find Members … search for me (mandydenaux) and then I can invite you to the group.

    • Barbara levy

      I have joined successfully ( I hope) and sent you an email.

      Barb levy

  23. Kim Graham

    I’m right there with you on weight loss! I was doing great….exercising, clean eating until I had an unhealthy meal 😔 I have had such a hard time getting back into it. I was down 16 pounds and was really wanti g to hit a 29 lb weight loss but I messed up! There is no one else to blame but myself! As you described about yourself, I to know how to eat healthy and exercise. I know in order for me to lose weight I have to eat very low-carb. I’m also diabetic, type two, and not eating many carbs is a good thing when you are a diabetic. I want this so bad and I say that to myself and I think about it and then I turn around and say to myself “well you not must not want it too bad if you don’t stick to it and eat healthy and exercise every single day”. I wish I knew why I sabotage myself! I truly am ver disappointed in myself.

    My Weight loss goal is 50 pounds total. My son is getting married August 25th and I really would like to look good for that wedding, even if I’m not down the total 50 pounds. Your story was very inspiring for me because it’s nice to know someone else feels the same way I do. I would love to encourage each other and help each other get strong again so we can work hard to reach our goals. I will look you up on my fitness pal as you suggested we do! Thank you! Thank you so much for really making me think about this! I look forward to talking to you sometime and possibly encouraging one another and anyone else. We’re all in this together.

    Thank you so much Mary Beth for introducing us to your friend about clean eating, exercising, and losing weight to reach our goal!!!

  24. I am SO with you Mandy! I’ve never had a weight issue until my mid-30’s. Now as I am turning 45 this year, it feels like a losing battle. I am disgusted with myself and would really like to get myself back into shape. I look forward to joining you on this journey!

  25. I’m with you, Mandy. I love that app and I need to get back to using it. I never had the day-to-day struggle until I hit my 40’s, but what a struggle it is now!

  26. Yes. Yes. Yes. Mandy, everything you said here I have dealt with myself. I’m almost in tears knowing that I need to change things in my life so I can be happy and am struggling with doing that. There are so many things I want to accomplish, but just don’t know how to go about it. My physical and mental health are a priority for me these days. However, I find myself worrying about other people in my family and not taking care of me. I know that needs to change for me to accomplish what I want to accomplish. Maybe writing this down right now is going to help me with what is holding me back. Thanks, Mandy. Also. Please include me in on the My Fitness Pal app, which I should already be on.

  27. Omg. I am you! Or…you are me? I lost 55 lbs 3 yrs ago now. From May 27 to Dec 25 of the same year I knew I had the weight thing whipped. Finally, I knew how it worked and I was doing it. Sooooo, I allowed myself a piece of Christmas fudge. Three years later I’m heavier than I was in May of that year. One piece of fudge was my downfall because it didn’t stop there. It only got the the whole snowball rolling into an avalanche. The thought of starting all over again is more than I can think about. But I hate what I look like. I hate how I feel. I hate what I’ve done to myself. AGAIN. I don’t know if I have it in me to start over. It’s so daunting. I’m so over it. I feel so out of control. Why did I do this to myself??? Not. A. Clue. Do I have it in me to start digging for the reason why? Idk. THAT’S where I am. Stuck. Stuck reallll good and deep. Somehow I’ve got to find a shovel and begin. (sigh)

    • Mandy Denaux

      First, give yourself a break … forgive yourself. Now, let’s do this! Find us on MyFitnessPal. I’m pretty confident we can all help each other out!

  28. I could have completely written this blog. I was an athlete and gained 70lbs thanks to a really hard year. I’ve never had a weight issue and all of the sudden I can’t lose it. I’ve experienced every emotion you described. I love to work out but I find myself so discouraged in the gym (new feeling for me). I’ve developed so much shame that I let this happen that it’s holding me back. Thanks for sharing your journey.

    • Kim Graham

      Hi Emily! I feel your pain and frustration! I did the same thing, I ate something I shouldn’t have and it went downhill from there. We can encourage each other if you like!

    • Mandy Denaux

      I hear you, Jera! If you want some support … we’d love to have you!

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