What Would You Say To This Woman?

One of the things I most enjoy about this blog and what I get to do is interact with total strangers whom I have never met before and try to help them out the best I can.

I get hundreds and hundreds of emails each week, some similar to the one that I am about to share with you.  I would love you to be able to help this woman out with your advice.  I will share with you her email (anonymously of course) and then show what I responded with.  I know she would greatly appreciate it!  Thanks in advance.

Dear Dustin,
“I am writing you from Toronto Canada. I was searching the web trying to find a workout plan that I could stick with, because if its too hard I know that I am going to give up. I am currently going through a separation from my husband of 22 years, and though I have been a good wife and mother I feel that because I let myself go, and gained so much weight that has been a contributor to the problem. I am in the tedious process of regaining my self worth which I have allowed to erode over the years.

In high school I was head cheerleader I was considered well built. I do not know if that would ever be possible again but I would like to try, not to regain my past but to help build my future. I want to feel good about myself again. my Mom who was my best friend died over five years ago from Heart Disease and Diabetes. She died a horrible death drowning in her own fluids. I do not want my children to watch me go out like that.

I watched a video clip on your blog, and tried to do the three exercises, and I know that I’m going to be in trouble they look easy enough, but “Oh My God!” I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to fail. It’s hard to stay focus. can you help me?”

My response:

Thank you for opening up to me! I am very sorry to hear about your separation and mothers death. It sounds like you are now very focused and ready to take the next step!

I don’t know if you have anyone in your town who would be able to keep you motivated and accountable but that is a great place to start. I would also begin to listen to positive and motivational seminars and books. I really like Tony Robbins.

My Fit Moms For Life program would be the best program for you right now… It is a step by step monthly workout DVD program… If you follow the program you should be able to get much of your cheerleader body back! For more info visit www.fitmomsforlife.com/thankyou.html

Also subscribe to my free newsletter if you haven’t already.

We are here for you… You can have whatever you believe you can… It first starts with believing that you deserve it. It won’t be easy, but nothing rewarding in life is easy.



So what would you tell this woman, what advice could you give her?  Thanks!


  1. I would recommend http://www.sparkspeople.com to track her workouts and eating. She can put in her goals, track them, also join support groups, and get a ‘workout buddy’ through the site. There’s motivational information on there, plus a ton of other stuff and best of all it’s FREE.
    I think with Dustin’s workouts and a place to also go track everything and receive support she would be off to a good start. 🙂

  2. Louise Schrunk says

    I would say, you are your own power, if you think you will fail, you will. Do not allow yourself to say those words. Start small, my mother in law has only done the 1st video for 6 months now. She does just 1 time through on the weights, skips the cardio and then does the core trainging and stretching, on the other days she does the cardio. Baby steps is the only way to see results and if you can, put your scale away for 30 days, I torture myself weekly by getting on the scale, the scale is just a number, how you feel in your own skin is what matters and for me it is now a focus just to eat more veggies every day, something small but something I can write down and see my progression. You can do it!

  3. I agree with Angela and Louise. I also want to add that writing in a journal is key! I have a regular notebook that I write my food journal on one side of the paper and then on the back side I write my emotional journal. This helps me find my emotional triggers that send me to eat. In time you will want to journal your feelings first before you hit the kitchen. Ask yourself “Why do I feel like this?”

    I wish you all the best and remember — your are the most important person in YOUR LIFE! Embrace it!

  4. It would be great if she could get a wellness or life coach to work with for encouragement and accountability. Someone that she can partner with to set goals, stay motivated, and accomplish her workouts each week.

    The other great thing about working with a coach is that they help you gain some perspective on things, help you see the positives that you probably overlooking (we tend to focus on the negatives more), and help you move forward with confidence.

    I also think it would be great for her to find an IN PERSON group of people that can help motivate — such as a walking group. I think online communities are great for certain things but I think sitting in front of a computer can be quite depressing and perpetuate the feeling that you are alone. It also makes you feel more sedentary and it can be a huge time waster which will make you feel worse about yourself versus getting out and exercising with others. You can start something up with work collegues, friends, or even try to start up something with like-minded women in your community by posting some ads on craigslist or in your local coffee shops.

    Lastly I would recommend finding a local yoga class. Yoga is a great confidence builder and it helps us appreciate and understand our bodies in ways that traditional gym work outs do not. It gets us away from the mirror and inside our bodies. We can appreciate what our bodies can do for us. It also really helps with positive thinking and stress reduction.

  5. Anne-Marie Peterson says

    Hey! Give yourself a break. Your first step should be to realize that you can change, but you have to want to. Find a friend who will work with you, or even your children. I was blown away to find out that once I had committed myself to the workouts, my daughter,9 and son, 4 want to work out with me! I’m on my way to pick up an exercise ball for Olivia. Here’s a shout out for you: “Whooo-hoo!!!” You can do it, just start! And if you slip a bit, start again. Don’t guilt ourself out of getting healty because you slip up a little.

  6. Remember, deep down, you are still that same person who was head cheerleader years ago and was content and confident in your own body. No matter what has happened in your life or how old you are, you CAN get a healthy body back, along with that confident “I can do anything” feeling. If you can accomplish 22 years of marriage (no matter what the outcome of it now that you are separated) and raise children, which are in my opinion two of the most difficult (yet rewarding) tasks in life, you can accomplish ANYTHING. I am with you….you are not alone. I too am trying to get my body and confidence back….Start out small…maybe 15 minutes of activity a day and just trying to eat healthier at every meal and snack…Dustin’s dvds are great and you can use less weight to keep things easier in the beginning or modify the exercises a little…..even walking around your neighborhood for activity is a start. Once you get into a routine you will come to look forward to your workouts.Concentrate on how GOOD you feel AFTER your workouts at first, because you WILL feel really good to be doing something good for yourself and your body. That feeling will keep you motivated…..YOU CAN DO IT!!! Life is a journey and you never know where it will lead you. Here is a quote that I remind myself of alot when I want to eat junk food that is not good for my body….”Eat to live, dont live to eat”….that small saying helps to keep me on track with my eating.

    GOOD LUCK TO YOU! You CAN do anything at any age with determination and effort. You are not alone…..I am struggling along with you.

    Healthy wishes!

  7. Anne-Marie Peterson says

    Oh, and I really like the suggestion about starting a yoga class. I love doing the poses, it’s not easy, but focusing on just breathing is awesome!

  8. Cheryl Congdon says

    I don’t have the answers. I cannot achieve weight loss right now myself. I do crave sweets. I just had a mini bag of carrots though this morning. I have been taking a higher dose of blood pressure medication for the past six months and I am wondering if this can cause weight gain. I do not like myself this way especially since I am short. I feel so frustrated. It is the first thing I think of when I wake up. No one addresses the physical problems that may not allow one to exercise at high speed. I am 65, have arthritis, fibromyalgia. These two conditions do not lend themselves to extensive exercise. Almost no food (and I am educated about quality food) must be the solution! All the help I can offer is to commit to the effort, something I must be failing at.

  9. I agree with lots of the comments on here, especially the suggestions to improve her sense of empowerment through setting short term goals and doing exercises that would be reasonable for her current fitness level. But what really strikes me is her emotional state right now. It’s always a good idea to start working toward better health and fitness, but it’s important not to neglect your emotional health. I would highly recommend that she seek the services of a clinical psychologist, not because she’s crazy or anything, but because she’s going through a bunch of rough stuff that any reasonable person would have trouble handling. Counseling can really help her to identify a path through of her current situation, and can help her to deal with her feelings and her history in more healthy ways. Her primary care physician can provide an appropriate local referral.

  10. It’s overwhelming wondering how you can ever get to where you want to be so my advise is to take one day at a time. Just concentrate on what you can do today. Eat healthy today, make good decisions, do a workout and if there isn’t time then take a walk, just stay active. One day at a time… the whole picture is overwhelming and today is what you have so focus on today! You can do it!

  11. Try and find someone who will encourage you. Psychological help is good, but spiritual help is huge!! Anything that can help build the inner spirit!! I’m cheering you on from Canada!!!! The only exercises I have been able to do so far are the bits and pieces off the website while I wait for my first DVD. I don’t have more than 3 days a week, 15 – 20 minutes a day to work out, but the results have been amazing!

  12. You have already taken the first and hardest (in my opinion) step, deciding that you are ready for a change and knowing why. Keep those reasons in the back of your mind when the process seems to get hard or isn’t moving as fast as you would like. Your email doesn’t say how much weight you would like to lose, however if you start eating healthier (I learned this from experience), start exercising at least three times a week and remember to drink a lot of water, you should start to see some results in the first couple of weeks. For me, once I started to see the scale go down a couple of pounds, I was that much more motivated to continue.

    Keep a food journal (and don’t leave anything off), this will help keep yourself accountable. As far as exercise, Dustin’s DVD’s are great and easy to follow, if you find an exercise difficult, just modify, as long as you keep moving. I found that exercising with a group or another person was also helpful, that way you can motivate and push each other. Maybe you have a friend that you can exercise and take this journey with, or maybe there are some bootcamp type classes in your area. As long as you continue to want this, I’m sure you will reach your goal ! Best of luck. If you have any questions about my journey, send Dustin an email and he can send you my contact information.

  13. You have already made the first step, you just need to remember that you can do it. You are a good person and you deserve the best for yourself.

    I have some health issues but I focus on what I can do. Dustin’s DVD’s are wonderful and the website is inspring and just to know that other women are going thru similiar things as I am, helps me keep going.

    I wish the best to you.

  14. I concur with all the previous posts. Having a support system, being ready to make a change and not giving up on yourself is key. I wish her all the luck in the world dealing with this very crummy situtaion. One thing I realize more and more everyday is that everyone has something they are dealing and struggling with. It does make making a change more difficult. My personal struggles have caused me to slip for months at a time: giving up on working out and good eating etc. You are not alone … reach out and find the people in your life that can support you thru this time. You can do it.


  15. Melissa Bublitz says

    I would say you owe it to yourself to try – but don’t start with the feeling that you can’t – start by thinking I can if I take it in steps. In Dustin’s fit-moms-for-life video series he gives several hints if it seems to hard at the start such as only doing one or two sets rather than three like most the videos. Or doing the excercises that seem too hard at first without the added weights. But you will never know how strong you are until you try. When you complete one entire workout you will be tired and sore but you will have such a sense of accomplishment that it will overcome the bad feelings and make you want to do it again. The monthly video brings change to your workout and new ways to challenge yourself, you get excited to recieve next month’s video. And if you do feel yourself getting bored with one video, you can always go back to previous videos and compare how much stronger you are.

    You can and you should – do it for yourself today! You are worth it!

  16. I think there are a lot of good suggestions here. A few things: #1 Talk to someone professional about your separation, feelings about your mother’s death, and where to go from here. Not only for yourself, but for your kids sake as well. Becoming stronger mentally will put you on a better path towards physical change.

    #2 It takes two to tango. Don’t blame yourself entirely for your separation and don’t let anyone else guilt you into feeling that way. Even though you may feel that your weight has contributed to the problem, it’s not the sole reason. No one is perfect. You are right to look ahead and start a positive change.

    #3 Don’t worry about changing too many things all at once. Pick a place to start, set a reasonable goal, and once you’ve reached that goal set a higher one.

    #4 I think it’s a good idea to have a support system whether it be a professional, friend, co-worker, family member, etc. Someone you can trust, who believes in you when you feel like giving up, and someone you can be honest with.

    Best of luck, and I admire your willingness to turn your life around. You can do it!


  17. Hang in there!!!! You can do this! Here are a couple of things you can put on the refrigerator:

    “You have to want to fly so much, that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.” (thanks Trina Paulus, I just love butterflies…:-)

    and another favorite:

    If you think you can – or – if you think you can’t, you’re right.

    Stay connected to people. I believe that getting out of the normal routine is best, but it is scary sometimes. You’ll be amazed at the new perspective you begin to have of yourself in the world when you do. Volunteer somewhere if you can’t think of anything else to do or anyone to connect to. Take your kids with you if you have to. It will be good for all of you.

    I’ve been where you are and it’s hard – no doubt about that. But – YOU CAN DO THIS!

    You’re not alone. We believe in you!

  18. The first step of being honest with yourself about your goals and ambitions is the hardest, and you have already taken that step! With all of the turmoil and grief you feel regarding the loss of your mother and your separation, you sound like a strong woman who is ready to make positive changes in your life. Every day can be a step in the right direction if we make it so. There is nothing holding you back from closing the book on the life you once knew and beginning a new book with all new chapters that you yourself create! I am impressed with your sense of self-awareness and your realistic view of what you think you can do. YOU CAN DO THIS!! And Dustin can help you in a positive, “doable” manner. He really cares about his clients. I would love to see how far you have come six months – or even a whole YEAR – from now. I wish you all the best! Don’t EVER give up on yourself. YOU are all YOU’VE GOT!

  19. What a woman of courage and strength your are to finally put yourself first! It’s all about one day at a time and one step at a time. Between the Fit Mom’s For Life DVD, track your meals and exercise. If you can include at least one supportive person in your life to help you remain accountable, that is priceless and a strong foundation to build upon. Another outlet and supportive environment is SparkPeople.com. There is a community of like minded individuals who are going through the same thing and know where you are and where you are going. A winning combination would be Dustin’s Fit Mom;s For Life DVD and SparkPeople.

    This is your health and wellness journey and you are worth it!


  20. You are a woman of strength and courage and have taken the first step in transforming your life. It’s a one day at a time lifestyle change that includes that affects every part of your life. This is a pivotal point in your life and worth every bit of time and effort. Surround yourself with positive people and activities. I recommend purchasing Dustin’s Fit Mom’s For Life DVD series and following the nutrition guidelines and become committed to doing the routines. Track exercise and meals and follow the nutrition guidelines as presented by the nutritionist Tracy. This is a winning combination and you will be on your way to a new you!

  21. Hi there,
    I know I could help… I’ve been in a very similar place. One day, you will be able to see the gift in this because you WILL learn to take care of YOU and to know and like yourself more than you thought possible!
    I have some great workouts I could recommend if you want to email me! You will find that workouts are your saving grace! You can get a lot of emotions out.. AND make a BETTER YOU at the same time!

  22. Every day is new day to make a commitment to yourself. It’s ok to fail, so long as you learn from it and give yourself the chance to start over every day.
    My heart goes out to you. I know there are many women who would be glad to help you. Find a church, club, book group, or community center to connect with and let other women help you. Be good to you, your children learn to treat themselves the way you treat you. Sending you lots of support and good wishes.

  23. This is fabulous because in encouraging the gal from Toronto you are also encouraging all of those who aren’t brave enough to share their challenges and story with Dustin. I will reread these posts for motivation on my own journey.

    Also, drink lots of water and write down every BLT (bite/lick/taste) of food. Somehow seeing it in writing makes it count more. And me telling her to do it means that I need to remind myself as well. :o)

  24. Judith Hineman says

    I have been trying to lose weight most of my life. When I Iose some I gain it right back. With Dustin’s videos and the nutrition advice I haven’t gained any back, but losing any is still a struggle. I plug away at it and at least try what I can’t do. Months later I came back to some activities and found I could do it. I do know that my health is at stake and I will not give up. Any progress is good no matter how small. Start slowly and take baby steps. Find someone to support you because you may need someone to talk to. You will be fine.

  25. Julie Miller says

    I hope she acknowledges herself for the giagantic step of just starting this process! Wanting to do it and taking the first step are HUGE. Then following up with a support system – whether it be a counselor, pastor, workout buddy, etc. etc. would be a great next step. I got together with two other friends and we set up scheduled workouts and goals. We just did our first 5k this weekend. And we’ve been working out together for about a year. Goals don’t have to be lofty or huge, but it definitely gives one focus and direction. And you need people around who can support, encourage, pull you up by your bootstraps when you’re down, pat you on the back for your successes and make the process more fun. Does she have a dog. I also found that’s a nice, easy way to be consistant – take that dog for a walk every evening. Good luck to her….. she CAN do it.

  26. Short and to the point:
    After 2 children, furthering my career to support my family, and maintaining my household- it took me finally realizing that if I am to be truly happy, I need to take time for myself. I have always been proud with what I had in my life, but not proud of myself.
    Since November, I have made sure to take the time for myself, exercise and eat well, and sometimes, allow myself to be concerned with what was best for me. The results are that I have slowly started to take pride, not just in my family, but myself as well.
    The tools I used to get there: Fit Moms for Life DVDs and Calorie King- to educate myself on what goes into my body, and just taking it day by day.

  27. Patty Munro says

    I would say the same as Angela….do Dustin’s FMFL DVDs and SPARKPEOPLE.com. I love it there! I’ve been trying to find other FMFL women out there in SP. My Sparkpeople name is PattyFMFL. Come find me!

    One day at a time, you will get stronger. I thought I was in pretty good shape when I got the first dvd, but couldn’t do the side plank without modifying it…3 weeks later I could and now it’s even better! Trust me…Dustin is just great!

  28. Dear Canada-

    Congratualtions on reaching the moment of truth with yourself where you are willing to seek/accept help, remember that moment, as it will be a life changing day for you. From this day forward you have taken back control of your life, you have taken the drivers seat on your tomorrows. Life happens, it is easy to get caught up in serving others and our own personal demons, the day you put yourself first will be forever empowering-and it is not selfish, in serving yourself you will become more available to those around you. In choosing you, choosing to better yourself, you have made a decision to honor the person that lies within you, not giving into the person that circumstance made you into. I guarantee the challenge you are undertaking to regain health and fitness will be hard, but wait until you see the return of joy in your life when YOU do what you never thought you could, amaze yourself with the progress you will make. Start small-one choice, one decision at a time, and eventually your desired outcomes will occur. Set goals for yourself, small and measurable, big and crazy-don’t limit your self expectations! Dustin’s programs will give you the tools and foundation, the hope you need, but it can’t do the work for you-beleive in yourself, and hold on for the long haul……..the Olympics start this week, now is your time to form your own team, team me-make sure you open up to someone in your immediate environment, you will need the accountability and support. Relish even your smallest victories-acknowledge all your thoughts, frustrations, it all matters…hopefully you will soon have good and better days, not good and bad days. My final tidbit of advice, make sure that your “I can’t” statements really aren’t “I won’t” in disguise-big difference with even bigger end results.

  29. Another way to look at things, instead of as a giant mountain of “shoulds” and overwhelming start-up is…when everything else is spinning out of control, a healthy lifestyle is the one thing you can control. You are the only person who puts food in your mouth…decide to put in the right, nutrient-dense food. You decide if you stand and stare at the microwave while you’re waiting for it to beep or if you take those 2 minutes to do some squats or drink a big glass of water. Taking control of your own physical being will provide a structure to what seems overwhelming and make all the external (and mental/emotional) circumstances easier to deal with and keep in perspective. Make the decision to be good to yourself…start small…start now!

  30. I am in a similar situation right now. Email me if you want someone to listen who is going through the same thing?

  31. wow, a lot of positivity and encouragement and love is evident here. what a great community!
    i want to say something to cheryl congdon. i know how it feels to be frustrated. i am 46 and have often thought that there really isn’t much out there for people who have serious health issues, chronic injuries or are older. when i started doing the FMFL DVDs, i thought they were way too hard for most people. i’ve been working out pretty steadily for many years, including a lot of weight training, so even though the DVDs are hard for me, i know how to push through the pain. but, i know a lot of people who could really benefit from exercise and there isn’t much available that isn’t high intensity.
    if you’re struggling with several health issues, maybe you can work with someone on an individual level. it’s expensive, yes! but if you can afford a couple of sessions with a REPUTABLE personal trainer, or even better, a physical therapist, they can give you tools you can use on your own, later.
    of course, use dustin’s videos and DVDs, but don’t give up hope if you find the exercises too hard. THEY ARE! that doesn’t mean you won’t ever be able to do them!! you absolutely can get stronger! just be gentle with yourself and realize what dustin says: only 1% of americans work out at this level. IT’S HARD! you can do it, but do it knowing your own limits. push them with respect! and get some advice that’s tailored to your specific situation. you go girl! you can do it!

  32. Dear Canadian Cheerleader…..that’s who I see when I think of your awesome blog and the tremendous response from so many hearts; you also bring to mind that scripture that says about calling those things which are not as though they were, and encourage you to again see yourself as that cheerleader! I really do believe that we will be hearing from you along your path as you encourage others with your steps towards where you ARE headed. You have a lot of people who are excited for you and praying for you and your family!

  33. Thedora Hodge says

    The first thing that I would advise is to seek professional help or talk to someone to help you to figure out what is happening mentally. I say that because what ever got you to the point to over eatting to gain the weight whether if it way depression or what ever if those felling come back at any point you should know how to deal with them.Then you should learn how to eat and why you are eatting so you don’t over do it. Do work out that fit your character. For me I like to dance so I do dancey workouts. It should be fun but intense. I will pray that you find your way to a healther life,and this is a great start.;)

  34. Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this article and also
    the rest of the site is really good.


  1. […] But, I intrinsically believed this was not who I was. It takes sheer guts and determination, but I also believe in speaking my desires over my life. Not only thinking them with my mind, but actually saying them out loud and affirming them for myself. What we think and say WILL set in motion a cycle of natural events. With this said, I used words for me instead of against me. (I loved your mom’s comment to the Canada reader! This is exactly where I am coming from.) […]

  2. […] Before I talk about today’s post, I want to give you an update on the story of the Canadian woman who needed your help and advice.  Click here to read her story and check out all the amazing advice you shared. […]

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