Letting Fear Control My Life (and My Weight)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Disclaimer: Stick with me. This post is long and pretty personal but it's something you might relate to.

Over the years, I’ve thought long and hard about why it has taken so long for me to get to a place where I genuinely want to change and do so in a healthy way - no miracle wonders, fad diets, or insane routines - just plain and simple healthy eating, workouts, and dedication.  

Being overweight certainly isn’t from a lack of know-how.  I am well-aware of what it takes to lose weight and transform your body - I've done it a few times. I’ve read the books and bought the T-shirt.  While I continue to educate myself about healthy living and I’m more interested in the fitness component of weight loss, it’s clear to me that my problem is mostly psychological.

Honestly, I can’t decide if my problem is that I’m afraid of failure or that I’m afraid of success - probably both.  There is something so comforting and safe about being mediocre and it’s not all about my weight.  In so many areas of my life, I’ve allowed myself to stay within a comfort zone.  

Take school, for example. I always did well academically.  I took challenging AP and Honors classes in high school but I never pushed myself to be at the very top of the class - I was content to be where I was.  I didn’t put in more work than was necessary; instead I worked off natural ability.  This worked really well for me in high school, not so well in college when I found out I actually had to study.  What if I studied profusely for a test and I still did poorly?  Why not just settle for the B+...someone has to get a B, right?

My fear also impacted my relationships with others.  Growing up I was definitely a shy, introverted kid.  You could usually find me reading a book rather than giggling in the corner with friends.  I didn’t volunteer answers during class and I didn’t enjoy group work (hello, only child).  If I didn’t put myself out there, I wouldn’t be rejected or hurt but I missed out on forming meaningful relationships for a long time.  I’m thankful that I’ve finally broken out of my shell in that regard. College changed my personality a lot...now I won’t shut up! 

My weight serves as my own personal safety blanket.  Whenever something doesn’t go my way in life - like I perceive someone doesn't like me or I receive criticism - it’s easy to place the blame on my weight. In my opinion my weight is one of my greatest weaknesses but it’s also something I have the power to change.  By rationalizing to myself that my problems are because of this one thing I can change if I really want to, I protect myself from discovering the real reasons why I failed. Maybe that person actually does like me but I'm too self-conscious to be myself or maybe I really just need to learn from the constructive criticism. 

Up and Down - 1. Senior in HS  2. Sophomore in college  3. & 4. Senior year of college
The idea of losing my safety blanket, my own personal scapegoat for all my problems, scares the hell out of me.  What happens when I lose the weight and I no longer have that as the primary focus in my life?  How will I deal with those times when I just fall short? 

Sometimes I wonder how my relationships will be affected. Will my friends and family want to be around me?  That’s crazy, right?!  What if losing weight changes my personality or my interests or my focus in life?  Will I drift apart from people?  I’ve heard so many stories of this happening so I don’t think my concerns are unfounded but still...it’s so ridiculous.

I also wonder, what if losing the weight still isn’t good enough? Will I ever be happy with myself?  Will I continue to have a low self-esteem even at my goal weight?  Well what’s the point then...give me my chips and coke zero back, damn it!

I don’t know the answers to all these questions but I do know that I’m scared.  It makes me feel weak and out of control. 

Now for the good news. Unlike all the other times that I’ve tried and failed to lose weight, I’m finally aware of the mental games I’ve been playing with myself my whole life. I realize it’s going to be a hard battle of constantly reminding myself that it’s going to be worth it.  My hard work IS going to pay off but I have to be willing to try. And I have to learn to love myself no matter what the weight on the scale is. Baby steps, Heather.

So earlier today I said I would be discussing hot yoga.  Here’s where that comes in. Yesterday I finally got my booty up at 6:45 am to get ready for yoga class.  You might remember that I mentioned I was going a few times in previous posts.  Guess what?  I chickened out two other times.  It took me a month and a half to pluck up the courage to go. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up or that all the skinny yoga mom’s would judge me.  I even had the most irrational thoughts that they would turn me away or laugh at me (really?). 

Was I the biggest girl in the room? Probably.  Did I feel awkward and anxious? Absolutely.  But did I survive? You bet...and I really, really enjoyed myself!  It was the most gratifying feeling to see the beads of sweat pouring off of me for the entire 60 minutes (granted I had some help from the 95 degree room).  And aside from a few inversion-like poses, I did a damn good job of keeping up too!  I even signed up for a student membership for the rest of the summer.

Then there’s the running. My 5K is on Saturday and while I haven’t stuck to my training like I should, I am pumped.  Never did I ever think I would be able to run - let alone enjoy it!  It’s these little things that have made me realize lately that I am capable of far more than I give myself credit for.

People say you are your own worst critic - I’ll agree I’ve earned that title.  I can tear my self down quicker than anyone and laugh while doing it just to beat you to the punch (ahhh..self-depricating humor).  

Why not sublimate all that effort, pain, and fear into something positive for once? I’ve let my fear of being anything greater or less than mediocre control my life for way too long.  I want to be healthy and strong and I know if I do it the right way, I will be nothing but proud of myself.

Now I want to hear from you guys!
Have you ever felt like this?
What inspires you to let go of your anxiety and fear?


  1. Great self-reflection, Heather. It so awesome that you're able to work out your mental barriers and fears because that'll make it that much easier to get past them!

    Losing weight is all psychological, I think. I don't think that losing weight will magically solve all your self-esteem problems, but it might certainly make a difference! The rest is up to you. :)

    Good luck! <3

    1. Thanks so much for the positive words! Now that I've finally written it all down and made a little sense of it, hopefully I can start to let go of it all!

  2. great post! I'm still working on it but I am doing an Insanity class tonight @ the YMCA... My first time was a couple weeks ago and I was definitely the biggest & least in shape but I did it! And was way proud. We defintiely need to continue push ourselves.

    1. Wow, Insanity class? Major props to you! I'm glad I'm not alone.

      Keep up the great work!

  3. Oh my gosh you described me in SO many parts of this post! I know that I use my weight as an excuse. My inspiration this time around though is wanting a better life for my son. I don't EVER want him to struggle with weight and I can help him with that by teaching him how to live a healthy life style!

    1. What better motivation is there than little ones? I'm not quite there yet but I definitely agree with you! One day when I have kids, I don't want them to struggle with their weight like I did.

      Your son is blessed to have a positive example and strong woman as his mother :)

  4. I'm so glad that I found your blog. I can really relate to where you are at. The reason I've always failed, is because I haven't viewed my weight loss as a lifelong thing. It's always just been a fad thing. I also share your fear, that if I lose the weight, I'll be a different person.

    This was a wonderful post and I appreciate your honesty. I look forward to reading more. Battle on!

    1. Thank a lot for stopping by and for your kind words! It feels good to know I'm not alone in these feelings!

      It's so true too...weight loss has to be a lifestyle change. It's not something we do for a few months and then go back to the old ways. I guess it will change us to some degree but hopefully only in positive ways!