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Letting Go of My 15 Pounds

By Ilene Marcus April 20, 2023 Mindset

I vowed to get some of my to-do list done today and not fritter it away by binge-watching a new show. Here’s how it starts: I plan to savor one episode to relax as I eat my breakfast, half of a gluten-free bagel with fat-free cream cheese, a few ounces of smoked salmon, and a thin slice of onion along with a steaming hot cup of coffee.

Where Do I Get Off Track?

Three hours later, the other half of the bagel is long gone, I have gulped down not one, but two cups of coffee with the third cup almost gone. I scratch my head and wonder where I got off track.

Honestly, it’s not only the streaming shows that I lose time to. I can spend hours tinkering in my yard and not making a dent in the leaves, or the weeds in the garden, or raking the fallen branches close to the driveway.

I can labor at my desk for an entire afternoon, organizing and lining up my bills, mail, and correspondence, placing them in piles, adding notes about what needs to be done, and yet not responding or being able to move them into the completed pile.

Not Fitting Right

Over the last week, as the weather changed drastically, so did my frustration with my closet filled with turtlenecks, fleece-lined pants, and wool socks. Is it possible that just three weeks ago I was shoveling snow? I was dreading digging out my summer clothes.

Now that I am older and wiser and have done the major lifting of keeping what I love in front of me and letting go of the rest, I still have to prune. Some items are only meant to be worn for a season or two, or aren’t made to last, the fabric pulls or shrinks. Other items, although I love them, need to be retired due to a stain, too many holes (already patched up), the fabric thinning, or it just doesn’t fit right anymore.

Not fitting right is at the center of this juggernaut for me. Items I want to fit on my body or in my lifestyle, but they never seem to work out. And the biggest obstacle of all is that 15 pounds, which is a tad underestimating.

The Dreaded 15 Pounds

There are reasons for this weight gain post-Covid, post-winter, post-breakup. Pulling out my summer clothes, that show more of my body, I have to be honest about how my body has changed. And that makes me want to not eat the other half of the bagel in one sitting.

Now, I have awareness of the pattern, and I know vowing to change and wanting the change is not enough. I must take action to make it so.

So, instead of eating my breakfast in front of the TV, the first change I executed was switching to a different space. I sat in the kitchen and had my breakfast and coffee there.

When done, I charged into my bedroom and started the process of swapping out my closet. This necessitated carrying the spring and summer clothes from my storage closet into my bedroom. That was the second change, not delaying; doing the work when it needs to get done.

I emptied bags of light-colored tops, swimsuits, skorts, and linen pants, and refolded fleece leggings and sweaters back into the bags till their season comes around again. Looking at my winter garments, inspecting every item, and discarding what needs to go, I listened to the news.

Record rain caused massive flooding in Florida, a rouge National Guard agent leaked classified documents, protestors in France raging against increasing the national retirement age, and the continued fallout in Ukraine.

I started to feel guilty that my biggest problem is lying to myself about the 15-plus pounds I gained and trying to hide it from myself and others. The more I thought about it, the more I beat myself up about gaining those pounds, thinking about those pounds, and not thinking about others. I was stuck in only thinking about my situation and my 15 pounds.

Listening to the news snapped me back to reality. What others are facing may be way worse, or in some cases may be better, such as lugging around 30 pounds or only carrying 5 pounds. My job is to learn to honor their journey and my own and not compare and despair.

This is critical here. If I compare myself to someone who has more problems, and heavier burdens, I tend to feel better about my own. When someone has less than me, I feel worse about my own. The key word here is “own.”

Own What Is Mind

Own what is yours and take steps to address it. For me this morning it was only eating half the bagel and accepting those 15 pounds.

How did I change my actions? By changing my mindset. I honored others’ burdens but carried my own first. Here are the steps I took to change direction:

What Will I Be Saying Later?

I play it ahead in my mind and think it all the way through, such as four hours later, when I haven’t accomplished anything but have eaten the whole bagel, what will I be saying to myself? Will I still be beating myself up? (Probably). How different will I feel if I use the time wisely and do something else?

Stay in my Hula Hoop

If you have ever used a hula hoop, you know it does not have a large circumference. And if you are like me, it takes a lot of effort to keep it moving. Actually, I could never hula hoop; my body just doesn’t move like that. Some do it seamlessly but not me. If I bump into yours or step into it, we both go down. The hula hoop is just a visual, and I need a visual.

Put Your Oxygen Mask on First

Overused and over-popularized for a reason, if you don’t attend to your needs, you are not able – or your capacity diminishes – to take care of others. It is so much easier for me to reach out and help you with your situation, problems, and crisis than it is to attend to my own and make sure my house is in order.

In the short run, if I want to help you and the world in general, I have to make sure I am fully functioning and attentive first.

It’s Only 10 Minutes

Drawer by drawer, paper by paper, beloved household item by item, the more you clean and prune, the easier it is to clean and prune. Don’t wait for a disaster to get moving, such as when your basement is flooded, you have to run out and can’t find the right clothes or you have to leave town to find what you need.

Working at it gradually, even 10 dedicated minutes at a time, makes a difference in the long run. Use your time wisely; you can’t make more of it or get it back.

Pro Tip on Discarding Items

Here’s a professional hint: What you are disposing of, toss it right in the garbage or recycling pile and bring it to the curb, or in my case, drive directly (“do not pass go”) to the transfer station immediately or it may find its way back into your closet.

Make very few exceptions and think, “If I wanted to feel good, would I reach for this item?” If the answer is “No,” it goes into the discard pile. Don’t second-guess your intuition.

What’s Next:

Honor all the truths. Take small steps that make a huge difference over time. Chip away at those big issues by spending some time on yourself and then time with others. Take action to let go of your 15 pounds and slowly and steadily the situation will change.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you use your time wisely or do you tend to procrastinate? What was the last project you tackled and how did you manage it? How often do you find time to work on yourself and what progress have you made to date? What encompasses your 15 pounds?

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Oh, this sounds so much like me. I get distracted very easily. It’s good to know that I am not the only one, going through this. I am a changed person since the pandemic and not in a good way.

Ilene marcus

I am with you – getting back to a baseline is an uphill climb. I am right next to you!


Same here. I live in Europe, but the pandemic meant I couldn’t travel back to a house I have in Scotland or visit family there for 2 years. I managed to be motivated all the way through until the final lockdown we had at the beginning of last year and it was just one lockdown too many for me. I even went into hospital for a hysterectomy during 2021 and wasn’t fazed by it.

At the beginning of the Covid crisis I think many of us believed things would be shutting down for a few weeks, then we’d be back to normal. After that final lockdown period I completely lost motivation and am still struggling to get back on track. By the time I get to a Wednesday or Thursday in any week I am wondering where the time has gone as I’ve achieved nothing. I have online courses booked but lack the will to get on with them.

During 2021 I took an 8 week meditation course for stress management and I think I may take another this autumn as it really did help and made me feel energised at the finish.

I can empathise with the 15 pounds as well, I had a conversation about it with my doctor only last week (for the record she told me not to beat myself up about it too much as I’m a very healthy 61 year old).


Eating a much better breakfast would help you. That was very high starch and highly refined starch, low protein, and low fat. You need the fat to be able to utilize and digest the protein as well as feeling full, and you need the fiber in a whole grain starch to keep you full longer also.

Ilene marcus

Good tip. Thanks


Good article and comforting to know I’m not alone. I tend to be an all or nothing person- a very bad habit that I need to break. The idea of chunking out bits of time has never worked for me although I completely see the value in doing so. When I have something to tackle , like the Dr ordered 30 minutes a day brisk walk to lose MY 15++++ lbs, I find every other task I can do to leave me no time for what I need. Or, I’ll stream with the intention of not binging for hours and then binge for hours. I get the necessary stuff of life done but not what I need to do that would enrich my life and health. I’m going to give your method a go- baby steps.

Ilene marcus

Yes, give it a try and think about your mindset after you do it!


Good tips here but I kept it simple and just took wheat out of my diet. Most of the heaviness around my middle (mostly bloat) and 25 pounds dropped off my frame within a few months. It was hard at first as wheat is in everything, but once I learned to make wheat-free substitutions like popcorn, nuts and beef jerky for snacks, I found myself looking for ways to put the weight back on. It’s too simple but it works every time. Look up wheat belly.

Ilene marcus

Glad it worked for you!

Jill Waller

Hits close to home. I’m having a real problem downsizing. I hate the word, but know it’s necessary. Thanks for the boost.

Ilene marcus

We all need a boost and to know we are not alone.

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The Author

Ilene Marcus, MSW, MPA, is the author of Managing Annoying People and runs Aligned Workplace, speaking and training Leaders and Founders to attract and retain great employees. An emerging literary writer, her goal is to make you smile just a bit more. Please visit her website at

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