An Open Letter To Stellar Magazine Part 2

If you haven’t read part one you can check it out here otherwise this won’t make much sense

I want to go back to a quote from Rosemary I touched on in the first post

“I had no one to sympathise with and no one to get me back on the straight and narrow. I went home from that bad-news meeting and I ate everything. I was in a shame spiral, and there was no getting out of it.”

Emotional Eating is real and a problem so many women battle with. But I cover that in part one.

Here I want to discuss what I consider one of the 3 key support areas you must have to achieve lasting weight loss success


It’s key to success. Since 2006 I’ve paid mentors and coaches to keep me accountable. Show me different perspectives. Help me when I struggle and feel low or when I’m afraid to take the next step. To have someone there to reach out to, who understands what I’m going through.


The best ones have never let me wallow in self-pity. They don’t use sympathy. They use honesty, get the truth from me and then help me face up to what needs to be done.

These weight loss meetings try to offer Accountability. But it ends up being sympathy. Instead of finding a way to figure out how not to let the same shit happen again and again.

Because sympathy means to buy into the excuses. It means the excuses are valid.

And that means the same excuses will keep coming up time and time again

That wagon will keep throwing you off. No matter how much willpower you can muster.

And that means you’ll never get what you want. 

Rosemary admits she almost expects it to happen…

“the inevitable fall off the wagon”

“I’m giving it a good go for the next few weeks”

But if it keeps happening then you can’t ever succeed. Unless you find a different way. Unless you stop looking for sympathy. 

If you’re looking for a different approach you can get a step by step guide I’ve written called ‘5 Powerful Toning Tips For A Better Body’ here

This lack of sympathy approach may sound harsh I know many women won’t agree with this. They truly believe their reasons for not being able to do it are real and valid. And I don’t disagree with them. I know they believe their thoughts to be true. But who ever told you you have to believe everything you think? I’ve trained people with major illness, injury and disabilities, including Rebecca in the video below.  

SF Fitness member Rebecca Healy Deadlifting 75kg at the Irish Drug Free Powerlifting Association (IDFPA) National Single Lifts.

Posted by SF Fitness Personal Fitness Centre on Sunday, 22 February 2015

And only recently I read about Clodagh Cogley from the Berkeley disaster

Here’s what she wrote

“The fall from the balcony left me with 2 collapsed lungs, a broken shoulder, a broken knee, 5 broken ribs and a broken spinal cord…Meaning the chances of me using my legs again are pretty bleak…

…Who knows maybe my legs have been holding me back all these years and I’ll realise my talent for wheelchair basketball…

…The things I’m taking from this tragedy is that life is short and I intend to honour those who died by living the happiest and most fulfilling life possible”

That’s inspiring. I’ve seen it shared all over social media. But how many people are just going to just feel inspired vs how many people are going to turn it into a change? A change they dream and wish for daily?

I can guarantee, no matter how much you believe your excuses for not changing or for giving up seem now, they are nothing compared to what Clodagh is going through. And somehow she’s found something different to focus on.

“…to honour those who died”

When we make excuses we buy into these thoughts. We let them manifest. We identify with them. We believe them. Especially when others sympathise with us. It’s validation.

And then these excuses control our decisions and our actions. They control our happiness.



How do I know? I’ve seen it in countless women over and over. But I’ve also seen them change.

In fact here’s an email sent from a member of SF Fitness, Eva, who’s a single mum,

“…I am more honest with people who say that they can’t afford, have no time for exercise! Before I started in SF Fitness I thought the same.

But now I think that I was so wrong and I am so grateful to all the team there for making it fun and easy, even when you think you can’t do it!” 

John O'Connell SF Fitness

My 18-year-old self

I too used to believe my own excuses. As a kid I was weak, skinny and shy. I was bullied in school, horrendously. But for years I never told anyone. I stopped going to school. Stayed in my room and refused to go out.

Was I depressed? Probably, this was nearly 20 years ago and I would hazard a guess I’d be diagnosed in a heart beat nowadays.

I finally went to counselling. And the truth about being bullied came out.

I also took my anger and sadness out on other people. I became a bully. No doubt as a fucked up way to make myself feel better. Maybe so I could feel like a man and not like a worthless piece of shit.

How wrong was I!!

But it wasn’t until I found exercise that I started to feel something different. I got stronger and fitter and more confident. I had a passion, a purpose. And realised I was pretty good at helping others make this shift.

It didn’t happen over night. But looking back I realise I let what happened to me define me for years. I believed what others thought and said about me.

Now? Well now I still get these thoughts sometimes. I still have the memories. And sometimes they do get the better of me. But I refuse to be a victim of circumstance.

It’s my decision to believe these negative thoughts or not. And I know if I don’t give them any power or any meaning they can’t affect me.

In fact when you really question your own negative thoughts most of them will become insignificant. This isn’t positive thinking. That simply doesn’t work. This is negative thinking done differently.

One of the ways I do this is by asking are there other people out there, like me, with similar experiences who have succeeded in what I want to do?

The answer is always yes.

So if someone else can, I can.

You can.

If Clodagh can decide to live her life in honour of those that died. I can get up off my arse and exercise when I feel tired, or when my neck feels sore from the motorbike accident I had in 2003.

There will always be things that bring you down. It’s life. It’s inevitable. It’s not easy.

And losing weight is bloody hard, for many women it feels impossible. They’ve tried so many times.

Problem is they’re trying the wrong way. Going in and out of Diet Mode depending on how they feel. Depending on what the scales read. Making it a lot harder than it has to be.

I discussed this in Part 1 but go into more depth in my free guide ‘5 Powerful Toning Tips For A Better Body’

You can get it here

John O’C  

P.S. I mentioned the 3 key support areas you must have if you want to make a successful, long-term change.

Accountability being one. The Other 2? They both begin with A. But I guess I’ll have to do another blog for them  

Get VIP notifications for when I publish new blogs when you claim your free guide – ‘5 Powerful Toning Tips For A Better Body’ here

About the Author John O'C

John O'Connell is the owner of SF Fitness & Health Centre. He started working in the fitness industry in 2002 after suffering a back injury. He has worked with many professional organisations including Leinster Rugby, An Garda Siochana, New Zealand Rugby, Dublin GAA, Spar and CBRE. He has also appeared muliple times on both RTE & TV3 as a health & fitness expert. John is the co-author of 2 international best selling books - Total Body Breakthroughs and The Fit Formula.

follow me on:

Leave a Comment: