Emotions Lifestyle Reflection weight loss

Can Struggles Be A Good Thing?

This week, I’m focusing on bouncing back while dealing with loss, and I’m so thankful for my friends.  Karen, who is always willing to listen to me and support me, has written a guest post that seems very timely for me personally.  I hope you’ll take a few minutes to think about what she says here too.

I am honored that Kenz asked me to guest post. My name is Karen and my blog is called Before & After: A Real Life Story. The gist of my blog is that we rarely get to see what happens after “before and after” weight loss stories. In my case, like the vast majority of those who do lose a significant amount weight, I regained. I started blogging in 2009 to figure it all out.

One thing I knew for sure, was that I was tired of what I thought of as struggle. For example, in my world, following specific diet plans or rigorous and detailed training sessons = struggle. And then one day I got a new perspective.

The Butterfly Story

(I am not sure where this came from originally, but I found several versions online. I will recount it here in my own words.)

One day, a man discovered a butterfly chrysalis with a small opening in it. He sat and watched for several hours as the butterfly struggled to force its body through that tiny opening.

And then the butterfly was still. It did not appear to be making any progress. The man thought that it had gotten as far as it could, and it would not be able to go any further.

So the man decided to help the butterfly. With a pair of scissors, he cut open the chrysalis and the butterfly emerged.

Its body was swollen and its wings were tiny and shriveled.

The man continued to watch, expecting that at any moment, the butterfly’s wings would open, enlarge and expand, and it’s body would shrink.

It never happened! The butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.

Although his intentions were good, what the man did not understand is that the small opening in chrysalis, along with the butterfly’s struggle to get through it, were designed to force fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings, so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the chrysalis.

So yeah, I get it. Struggling has benefits*. I value struggle. I welcome it. On some level, I think I have always felt this way, but three things stopped me from understanding it:

I was struggling for something I didn’t want, but thought I should.


I didn’t know what I was struggling for.


I didn’t know what my struggle style was (more to come on this in a later post).

But here’s the thing: my gut knew. And so every time I set a goal or strived for something that wasn’t inline with my instinct (I’ve done that way too much my life), my body went into resistance mode. And being resistant was not good for my body/mind/spirit. Resistance made me fat and unhappy and unfulfilled.

*I also maintain my assertion that if you tend to be someone who views everything as a struggle – with a “life is hard” attitude – that’s exactly what you’ll get.

Have you ever changed your mind about something you thought you’d never budge on? Are you willing to struggle for something if you know it’s what will allow you to fly? What are you not willing to struggle for? Do you ignore your body/mind/spirit when it goes into resistance mode?

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  • Reply
    Ryan Yewell
    November 1, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    I personally do feel that challenges/adversity are what make us who we are, or more specifically, how we act in those circumstances is what defines us.

    There is a saying that has stuck with me… “Situations do not make me, they reveal me…”

    We are always learning/growing, and often “failure” is just a process of learning, and we tend to only learn/fail in new situations that are full of challenges and struggles.

    I actually recently wrote a blog post on this and called it “The Gift Of Adversity” after I seriously hurt my back when I was first trying to change my eating/exercising, I had to frame the experience in a way that was useful, not self-defeating…



    • Reply
      November 2, 2011 at 5:02 pm

      I can’t wait to catch up on your blog tonight Ry….and I love the quote…

  • Reply
    Jennifer S
    November 2, 2011 at 7:32 am

    There will always be someone that thinks that they know what the answer is to your stuggle and how to end the journey for you, a quick fix or new fad. Unlike the butterfly you have a choice and you get to decide which path to take. So you stuggle to find the right path for yourself, you read, you try, and yes you fail. (holy cow how many calories did that one bite have)? And the day you get to the magic number that you may have the new stuggle to stay fit and healthy begins. The end of this struggle isn’t really the end? WHAT! So many things have changed for you but the one thing that has not…you are still you and at the end of each finish line it is only the start of a new race. So embrace this stuggle it is going to help you succeed with the next struggle until you build the fit and healthy lifestyle that choose.

    • Reply
      November 2, 2011 at 5:02 pm

      We do have choices…and I’m making good ones today.

  • Reply
    November 2, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Kenlie – so sorry about the loss of your uncle, from your posts I can tell he was a special man to many people…

    Hi Karen – interesting post.

    I have a loving and caring family, a career, a house and no major health problems. I know I am fortunate that the only area I struggle with is my eating and weight issues.

    About four years ago, I realized that there was something wrong with my thinking. Not everyone struggles with food like I do. Why is that? Then I read about cognitive behaviour therapy, a form of therapy that works to change negative behaviours. When I was ready, I worked with a cognitive therapist to change my negative eating habits into positive habits.

    In addition to changing my behaviour, I learned that my struggle with food is not a sign of a normal eater; I learned that an eating disorder triggered by dieting locked me in an endless cycle of restriction and overeating.

    Resisting the struggle did not make me fat. Twenty three years of living with an untreated eating disorder and two pregnancies made me fat. Not wanting to live with the struggle any longer is what compelled me to reach out for help that I needed.

    I have a long bumpy road ahead to lose the weight (80 – 100 pounds) sure, at times I’ll be frustrated, but I’m not willing to go back to that food/dieting struggle again.

    Sometimes a struggling with food and weight is a sign that you need help.

    • Reply
      November 2, 2011 at 5:03 pm

      It is absolutely totally completely utterly okay to need help. Just saying.

  • Reply
    November 2, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    I absolutely believe that good can come from struggles. But what matters most is our RESPONSE to that struggle. I’ve seen it in my own life.

    FWIW from a stranger, I am so sorry about your uncle. It sounds like he was very special to you. My dad passed away last month, so I have an idea of what you’re going through.

    • Reply
      November 2, 2011 at 5:04 pm

      I can’t imagine the pain of losing my dad…don’t want to. I’m so sorry for your loss too….

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