Why gardening is like weight loss

Wee-greensWhile shoving a few seeds in pots and washing bugs from the crevice of lettuce leaves hardly qualifies me as a gardener, I’m finding this growing malarkey so addictive and relaxing. With all that learning and bumbling error, gardening is a great metaphor for life. But I know most people come here for the lard busting chat, so it’s time for another episode of… Dodgy Weight Loss Analogies!

It’s best to start small
I nearly went beserk on my first visit to the garden shoppe – OMG obscure berries and fancy tomatoes and potatoes with girly names! We should get chickens too! And keep a goat in the bathroom!

It was just like the old dieter’s mindset: Must lose 2 kilos, revolutionise lifetime of crappy eating habits and do 5 gym visits by Sunday!

So I slowed down – starting out small meant less chance of falling into a defeated heap two weeks later. I internetted “easy plants for absolute beginners” and settled on salad leaves and herbs for my debut.

Knowledge is power
If you’re out of your depth you can’t be afraid to ask for help. In this case it’s been my father-in-law, gardening blogs and “The Kitchen Gardener” by Alan Titchmarsh – a very straightforward book that explains the basics in gentle, encouraging tones. Whenever a plant does something weird or looks close to death our mantra is, “Ask Titchy!” The good thing is, the more you learn the more confident you become and eventually/hopefully you’ll get bold enough to test your own thoughts and ideas.

You gotta get dirrrrty
You could shove seeds in the ground then admire a la distance while hoping for the best. But if you want sexy results you have to get mucky. You have to nuture your babies, water them regularly and patrol for snails. As with lard-busting, it all boils down to time, sweat and toil.

From little things big things grow
At first it looks so pointless and insignificant – a broken pot, some dirt and Β£1 packet of seeds. Then you spy a tiny hopeful shoot pushing through. Then suddenly a few weeks later you’re greeted with a lush spray of poncy salad leaves. Just like when you start your healthy quest, a brisk walk and forsaking Pop Tarts for porridge can feel like it will never amount to anything. But give it time and patience and those small efforts sprout into bigger rewards.

Mind your own business
It’s easy to get Garden Envy when the neighbours are retired and have more time and fancy equipment and fancy flowers and whatnot and all you have is a rusty spade and a half-dead strawberry cutting. I was no stranger to lard-busting jealousy either – She’s losing weight faster than me! She’s got a personal trainer! She doesn’t have to work! Rah rah rah!

But you have to focus on your own situation and budget and channel that energy into making the most of the tools you have to hand. You might have a second-hand DVD instead of a personal trainer… but you still have YOU and your own imagination.

Holy moly this is a lesson I need to learn. So often I’m frozen into inaction for fear being undeserving or doing something wrong or rubbishly. But the gardening is showing me that it doesn’t bloody matter if you cock up. It’s more fun to let go of the outcome and plunge your hands into the soil. What’s the worst that could happen? The plant might cark it but you only lose a few hours of your time or a few pennies for the seedling. Failure is your friend. Embrace ineptitude!

Some things are beyond your control
You can be diligent with your diet or pamper the hell out of your plants, but sometimes the weather turns nasty or a pheasant craps on your head or a snail gnaws away at your resolve. But at least you’re DOIN’ IT, baby.

35 thoughts on “Why gardening is like weight loss

  1. yes yes yes on the perfectionism.

    I like to call that (chapter 8 of the book of mine no one wants to publish :)):


    xo xo,


  2. Oh Perfectionism – how I hate thee!!! I’m still trying to learn that lesson. I love the analogies – so true. I’m also applying all of the above to my own personal debt mountain – I might be both svelte and debt-free by approximately 2012 at this rate!

  3. I’m sure the unlimited amount of cow pie helps your garden grow.

    We’ve been building an addition at our camp so I’ve been weight lifting lumber and doing steps up and down the ladder – what a workout!

    Glad to see you back. I’ve missed you. πŸ˜‰

  4. Sometimes I think perfectionism is slowly killing me. I needed this reminder today so thank you for a great post!

  5. This is a beautiful post, inspiring for both my weightloss and my beginners garden. May I ask what gardening blogs you follow?

  6. I can so relate to the perfectionism thing. Gardening is such a good analogy for weight loss. I’m a beginner gardener, too. I planted lots of things last year, but this year my enthusiasm waned, as it seems to with everything. I’m afraid I give up far too easily. If something doesn’t go quite right or I have a small gain for no reason, then I usually throw in the towel till the next time. Not the way to make progress on the weight loss front or the garden! Slowly, but surely, one step at a time is the way to go, I guess. Thanks for another inspiring post.

  7. Perfect analogy (oops). Great analogy. I recently hit my -25lbs mark and I’m starting to get frustrated with how slowly any additional weight is coming off and I’ve got 40 more pounds to go! I’ve been letting everyone else’s needs push into my daily goals trying to please everyone. Can’t do it, gotta stop. Just like your garden, I need to tend to myself if I’m going to make this happen for me. So glad you were able to post.

  8. Hey DG!

    So glad the gardening thang has captured your heart!

    The post was spot on!

    I soooo have green envy but on the allotment rather than the garden. This year we have not been able to tend to our plot in the same way and I just feel despondent whenever I go there. Our allotment neighbours are a) a professional gardener with a lot of spare time on his hands b) a couple who have been tending their plot for decades – literally and then, within view, some of the old timers who know anything and everything and live on site (well almost).

    BUT it won’t be like that forever. That’s what we have to remind ourselves when the perfectionism rears its ugly head. All to frequently, it seems!

    Anyway, this gardening malarkey has that double whammy of being creative yet relaxing!

    Fabulous! Keep going! Wish I could sign off with a spade icon : )


  9. Oh I soooo want backyard chickens. I’ve been talkin about it for 6 months. My mom even had some of her chickens set aside for me when they are old enough to lay eggs. But I can’t even manage to get my basil plant into the ground. Instead it’s slowly dying in my kitchen. UGH.

  10. I have a large garden, but it’s grown (and will keep growing) over the years. It can be too overwhelming to do too much at once – once you figure out what you’re doing with what you have, then it’s time to add more! Just like weight loss πŸ™‚

    I wish I had a supply of cow manure sometimes! πŸ™‚

  11. Your entry made me cry…I know…that is really silly. I just have struggled for so long now to get back on track and can’t seem to get myself going. I have gained 15 pounds back of the forty I had lost. I know I need to get myself back under control before all is ruined! I keep looking for that one nuget that will push me to get back on track..I know I just need to do one thing at a time..baby steps. Excercise has become dull , eating healthy has fallen completely to the back. I need a firm kick in the arse!!! The scale did that to me this week because I had been in denial about the weight gain…my pants were reminding me (but the drier is easy to blame). I want the “garden” to grow by itself without nurturing and effort ( I know better). K – enough whining!!! Thanks DG!!

  12. My husband and I just planted our first vegetable garden two months ago. I can absolutely see the close similarities between gardening and weight loss. Thanks for the interesting analogy!

  13. I agree – the analogies are not so dodgy. They’re pretty spot-on, actually. We’ve got the tools we need… it’s what we do with them that will bring on success. I can always rely on you to give me a mental kick in the pants!

  14. Ha, I notice everyone else who has commented has been inspired to deep thought, self analysis etc. Me? I’m just envying your lush crop of leaves. Does that make me shallow?! (yes, I fear so – but I do love a salad so bite me!)

  15. I love this, especially the dieter’s mentality vs the gardening mentality of “gotta change everything NOW and know everything I’m supposed to know NOW!” I do that all the time with new things, like growing herbs. (What do I do with them after they’ve grown? I don’t know how to dry lavender? What if I screw up?? Oh no!) Slow down, deep breath, and learn. Thank you for this reminder today.

    Your greens look lovely, by the way πŸ™‚ Good job.

  16. @Peridot – this whole entry was really an excuse to use the photo of the baby leaves, so i’m dead chuffed you mentionedthem πŸ™‚

    @Lila – I totally LOLd at that one… does sound very Dalekesque!

    @Lynn – Oh aye… btw did you figure out the lavender? We’ve got a few bushes in the front garden… πŸ˜‰

    Thank you as always for yer lovely thoughtful comments, comrades!

  17. Love the analogies, but I’m afraid I found weight loss a lot easier than gardening. My thumbs are definitely not green, and most things don’t last too long when I’m left in charge!

  18. This post was just what I needed right now – particularly the bit about perfectionism. Can relate to everything you said. On the gardening front we live next to an elderly couple whose runner beans are peeping proudly over the top of the fence already -as if to say ‘look at us you losers!’. Our shorter beans are getting there though!

  19. I love this analogy! Your words are true. This especially resonates because gardening (at least at the windowsill level) is something I have been trying to work up the balls to do for a while now. I would so much prefer to be able to pluck some fresh basil from my own plant, rather than spend $4 on a bunch that ends up rotting after I’ve used the one handful I needed for a recipe.

  20. Sounds crazy, but I’ve missed you. I know you haven’t been gone, but I feel I have…my online social acts have been sooo neglected as of late.

    The greens look great btw…wish I had time to garden, but then it would mess up my manicure…and well we know what a priss I am πŸ˜‰


  21. Loved this post! Just got back from a walk with the doggies where I was ruminating about my lack of weight loss in spite of counting every calorie I eat and working out fairly hard. And your last sentence was absolutely perfect–“But at least you’re DOIN’ IT, baby.” Thanks–that will carry me through the day!

  22. Love your dodgy analogies – as usual, they are fairly accurate and not really that dodgy. πŸ™‚ I dabble with a few plants in my backyard as well. Herbs and onions this year – no salad greens – wish I had though – yours look delicious!

  23. My garden lived for about five weeks and spawned about 9 anaemic looking cherry tomatoes and 4 sprigs of rocket.
    My weight loss journey is still steaming along though. I think I need to transfer some of the skills I’ve learned there to my next gardening attempt πŸ˜›
    Beaut post DG. I do so love the analogies. They crack me up and inspire me all at once.

    Can I suggest… for the next analogous offering… “Losing Weight is like Maing Pizza Dough”? LMFAO!

  24. PS Re: the goat in the bathroom… you already have a hubby. Do you need any more wildlife in the house, really?
    Tee hee. Blame the Aussie Shiraz for that comment.

  25. I gotta go plant my garden… and BURN a few calories!!!!!!!

    I wonder what vegi gardening burns more… carrots or tomatoes? I bet the carrots – I can practice my squats! LOL

    Never Stop Movin’!

  26. Hi Shauna
    I want you to know, that you are such a massive inspiration to me, I just love your posts and all your analogies. I only hope to one day find that motivation with in to take on my own personal challenges.
    I am living the life of my dream, with this one thing holding me back. So in my head I cannot work out why it is still so hard.
    That said, I really enjoy your posts, as in may ways, I find they keep me focused. I haven’t got it sussed yet, but I know I will. Keep inspiring with your talented writing – and I really hope it gets you further that far!!
    PS your book was amazing.

  27. Wow! I’ve read my way through the archives. Thank you so much for being so witty and inspiring and realistic; I love how you post the downs with the ups as it makes it so much easier to not let a week or so of off the wagon time prevent me from getting back on.

    I cannot decide if fresh tomatoes or arugula/rocket is better, but I think we plant a late season crop of arugula since it grows so quickly.

    thanks again & looking forward to the next post!

  28. Wouldn’t recommend a goat. Don’t know anything about goats but I would say no. Or, only in the sitting room.

    So sorry to read about nasty comments and emails. (Glares into cyberspace on your behalf.)

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