Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Afraid to Lose Weight

Here is a post I wrote the other day, right after a binge. It's a raw reflection on what's really eating me.

I am really upset. I think there is something wrong with me. I had a perfect day. A great day. I ate healthy, filling meals. I felt amazing. I was 228!

At dinnertime I felt so hungry I ate a whole pot of kale, but I was still within my calorie goal. But then I just got this drive to eat. I ate so much crap it made me sick. I ended up eating one thousand calories in about 15 minutes flat.

When I was eating it I thought about throwing the food away. I thought about stopping. I knew if I stopped I would be ok. But I wanted to eat.

I think I am afraid of being thin. Of succeeding. I think part of me is just terrified of losing this weight. Scared of success. And the other part of me is scared to death I will never be able to get thin, will stay fat all my life, and never reach my goal. How can I possibly win if I am afraid of success AND afraid of failure??? I am so frustrated!!

I have a terribly hard time imagining myself under 200 pounds. In fact, when I reached 214 pounds in July 2008, I distinctly remember realizing that I was going to reach my goal of 199 WELL before I'd planned (Christmas). I suddenly knew that if I kept it up, I'd be well under 199 by then... maybe in the 180's or less. I had a distinct feeling of panic. Fear. Upset. Which is the opposite of what I'd expected.

I have been thin before. It's not unknown territory. I was pretty happy being thin.

But when I was thin, I was also:

When I was thin, I could be grabbed and taken. My (ex) husband picked me up, flipped me over, and mopped the floor with my hair. He used to pin me to the bed or the wall or the floor and laugh in my face while I struggled and screamed. He'd make me "calm down and behave" and apologise before he would let me up. I think part of me is STILL scared that being thin is a liability. I've written about this before but my solution was: I will take martial arts/self defense classes when I am able. But the fear, it's still there.

If I lose weight, someone might grab me, put me someplace against my will, pick me up and put me somewhere, hurt me, pin me down and laugh at me.
Being pinned is a very helpless, scary feeling.
If I lose weight, I will have no excuse NOT to live fully.
If I lose weight, and things are still not *right*, I can't blame it on my weight.
I will have to shop in the normal size clothes. I will have to figure out what to wear instead of just picking the only shirt and pants big enough to fit me from the Plus Sized Section.
Again, I have a distinct memory of weighing in the 210's and going to shop for new clothes and being confused and overwhelmed at all the choices. Nothing in the plus section was small enough for me, and I didn't know where to begin shopping. It felt very unsettling.
If I lose weight, I might starve. I have had empty cabinets before and it is no fun. I have this weird idea that as soon as I lose all my weight, there will be a worldwide famine and I will die first because I have no fat left to live off of.
I am afraid of the loose skin and the hanging bits and how I will look absolutely unlike what is expected when I take off my clothes.
All of this stuff, it's all THERE. I am AFRAID to get under 200 pounds and I KNOW how ridiculous it is... but I have to write about it and deal with it and GET OVER IT.
I think ALL of it is overcome-able. I think even if I just talk to friends about it and think it through and do some writing, I will get over the parts about the famine and the clothes and the shopping. But the part about being carried off or pinned down or just TAKEN by someone bigger than me... that's gonna be a tough one. In fact, I think THAT is the core of most of my fear. I absolutely panic when I think of NOT being as big as I am now... because right now I know it would take an awful lot for ANY man to *move* me.

I have to start believing more in my own ability to build STRENGTH. Maybe strength training is a key, here. I do feel very strong and confident when I lift weights. Maybe I can become strong THAT way... maybe take some boxing classes and those self defense classes I mentioned. I need to overcome my fear of getting physically *taken.*

Part of me, I guess, does not want to get small again for those reasons... that big reason.
I have to convince myself:
it is okay to lose the weight, to let it go.
I can protect myself.
I will not be a victim again.
The fat is not a good protector (even as I type this, I think, "oh yes it is! Yes, it is!!" and I have to work through that.)
I can protect myself with strength and power and abilities. And a big dog if necessary.

I can't keep living with this almost-subconscious fear of thinness! THAT is what drives me to binge. I am sure of it. I am sure that tonight when I was stuffing my face, it was to prevent myself from getting closer to 199 where I think I will be more vulnerable. It was *almost* present in my thoughts as I was eating! I was not in oblivion completely. I was thinking, "What the hell am I doing? Why am I doing this?" and I think the answer I got was, Fear.

I am not really sure how to build the confidence I need to overcome this, because inside of this mature adult there is a really scared little kid, and a very tearful and angry 20-something thin woman who cries, "I'll show you! You'll NEVER pick me up again! You'll NEVER pin me down again!! YOU WILL NOT HURT ME AGAIN." And she gained, and gained, and gained until not only was she not pick-up-able nor pinnable nor moveable, but also alone.

I have to empower that thin girl inside of me so she feels okay about letting go of this fat armour. There must be a way.


I have thought about this a lot since then. My eating is back on track, I walked for an hour yesterday and am going to bike for 40 minutes tonight. But those core fears remain, just under the surface.

I also realized from this article that I do, in fact, associate thinness with death. As a child, I watch several close family friends die of cancer. Waste away. It scared me to see people getting thinner and thinner until I could barely recognise them, and then they were gone. It was horrible.

But the most important thing for me to realise is that after I lose weight, I CAN BE SAFE. Being thin does not make me a victim. I have a lot of empowering to do.


Sarabei said...

Hugs to you, Lyn. You are strong. You will do this.

Anonymous said...

Lyn, you are not alone in your fears. I fear what I will look like, how I will feel. What if not being fat anymore doesn't make a difference? I've blamed so much stuff on my weight and what if it all is just a big excuse? There are a lot reasons why there are so many people who stay fat. But you are overcoming and you are working through your fears. I know you won't let it stop you from success!

Hallie said...

I recognize a lot of these fears, and can understand some of the others. Still, from my own personal experience I think that the reason people binge is not because they want to be fat but because they want to eat (without incorporating the association between eating and fatness.)

Margie M. said...

Lyn, then was then (being unsafe) but now is NOW. You are a different person, a stronger person that I can tell wants to live a healthier life. You CAN do this and have a happy and healthy outcome...both physically and emotionally. So what that you had a binge? You learned from it from what I read on this post. You'll be OK. I just know it!

Vickie said...

Once in the normal range - I was very scared for a whole year.

specifically of being grabbed.

And I did learn to deal with it.

I rarely go to a large parking lot place at night by myself. And if I must - I ask to be walked out to my car. I don't park anywhere near vans - day or night. I look before I get out of my car everywhere I go. I look before I pull on my street. I pull in the garage and close the garage door before I get out. I keep the doors locked. I keep the garage doors closed.

and those are not paranoid things - those are SAFE things.

It took a full year for the fear to subside and it was directly related to the weight.

If I was heavy - I could make like a rock and hit the pavement.

I always felt like ONE guy could not grab me at that weight - it would take two. And I wasn't afraid of two - I always pictured one.

I have a VERY hard time with large men with beards (my dad) - will not be anywhere near them - in a store, in a line, seated somewhere.

But it is no longer a panic - it is more choosing to move away. It feels very different now.

Ironically I am now significantly smaller than I was THAT SCARED year. And I am not scared. I am still careful. But I am not actively afraid.

the skin and the body are an adjustment. and there is no way to know what is pregnancy related. what is age related. what is fat related.

it is all woulda-shoulda-coulda. And that means chasing ones tail round and round instead of moving forward.

I did get over the mirror thing and the camera thing. Still not a big fan of the combination of bad lighting and weird mirrors in dressing rooms. . .

It takes time. It takes awareness. It takes not sabotaging yourself. You find your line in the sand - and you hold it. so you move forward and not back. You don't have to move QUICKLY forward - holding your own as you learn is good too.

Anonymous said...

Lyn, thanks for sharing your emotional process with us. I can join you in the "afraid" camp if there's room? I'm afraid of losing the weight for so many reasons: I'll have to work hard to keep it off; I can't blame my weight for other things; I will be held to a higher standard in everything else if I succeed at this! The interesting thing is that no one ELSE sees those things as reasonable fears; just me, stuck inside my fear.

What makes me crazy is, where is my fear of being fat? Where is my fear of early death, of diabetes, of high blood pressure or cholesterol? Just because I don't have those things now doesn't mean I won't later.

I guess I need to convince my HEART that (a) I should not fear success and being healthy/smaller and (b) Fear is not a good basis for living and decision-making. Only love is.

Good luck & keep sharing!

sarah said...

Lyn, I was thinking as I read your comment that I was going to send you a link to a "tapping" or EFT site because it might help you, and then I see you've already found the site. Have you tried the tapping? It has helped me to some degree with some similar feelings - not about food, but anxiety about being happy (or not being happy) in the life I'm in, the skin I'm in. It definitely helps separate the emotion from the reality of the situation when they don't match. I've also found that demystifying it, naming it, as you're doing helps. If you talk about it and name it and point fingers at it, it can't hurt you.

flyingwoman said...

Wow, potent stuff.

For me, one of the fears I have about being thin is that I won't be me anymore, or that I'll then be in danger of gaining it back and failing my success.

In case you're interested, you inspired me to start my own blog. It's just begun, but if you'd like to stop by some time it's: http://daringthesoul.wordpress.com/


Julie said...

I'm afraid too. I'm afraid that I won't be "big and strong" anymore. I'm afraid I won't be invisible anymore, that people will be paying attention to me. I'm afraid of loose skin. I'm afraid that I'll only put all the weight back on, so what's the use? I'm afraid that I'll lose the comfort of the foods I like to eat.

Another wonderfully honest post Lyn. Thank you for opening my eyes to my fears.

Tiffany said...

Right now I am struggling with this "afraid to lose" too. I'm 5ish lbs from goal and I'm afraid to succeed. I think it's a common problem. Thank you for this post. It helps to know others feel the same way.

Losing 100 said...

Lyn, I so understand your 200 pound thing! A few years ago I was trying (again) and got down to 200. I remember going to the store and buying a huge giant hersery bar. Food is our drug of choice. It makes us feel safe. This time when I passed 200 (going down)it was soooo slow going. I have to fight the urge to comfort myself with food. It doesn't always work, but I just keep going. You need find comfort in the strength you are gaining...mentally and physically. Keep up the good work. :)

Laura said...

This post almost made me cry. I understand the fear, though not the same one. You've got great motivation, and you were actually the reason for the beginning of my 15 pound weight loss. You've done so amazing. You can keep pulling through.

Anonymous said...

I feel exactly like you. My Mom died when I was 7 yrs old and I always had to be big and tough to protect myself.

Here is my resolve. Being fat gets you attention, negative attention. But like a child we would rather have negative attention than none at all. What will make me special if I just like everyone else?

I am still working through this too. You are in my prayers.


Larkspur said...

So true. I have always been treated gently, and am not particularly fearful-- I was raised by a 6', 200 pound mother who was kind and bright as hell but did not put up with guff or project a lot of physical fear. But even little things like getting hit by a ball hurts less when you're big, and I notice now, 20 pounds lighter, that I can't really cope with my DH in basketball. I cheat horribly and I can't budge him. He is, by the way, a large bearded man-- 6'3" and 220, and just the kindest person you could imagine.

I'd keep up with your weights. Even as you become smaller, you can still be STRONG!

Fattie Fatterton said...

Very powerful post, Lyn. I think we are all afraid of change, no matter if it's for the better or for the worse. We already know how to deal with our current situation, so it feels safe.

You're not alone on this journey. I know you can get to know and love this new body you are creating.

bbubblyb said...

This post really hit home for me Lyn. Since I've never been thinner than I am now in my adult life I can't say I have the fear you do about being grabbed or hurt.

I do know that strength training makes me feel empowered and strong so I do think it could help you. I too have been there with the clothing thing, very recently actually and it wasn't very comfortable for me. I found myself wanting to go back to the large section to find what I was use to wearing. I also totally get the loose skin, look like a train wreck naked thing. That is where I am right now. But since my husband is excepting I'm trying to be too. I know I look better in clothes so I try to focus on my good points. Maybe one day I can have it all removed but even if I can't I'm learning to be ok with it. There definitely are fears that come with being thinner. I hadn't really given it a lot of thought till reading your post. It made me realize maybe why I struggled so much when I was approaching the 200 mark. *hugs to you* I think it's great you can see into yourself so well and share it with the rest of us.

redballoon said...

You've got to stop thinking that being heavy prevents you from being grabbed. Literally, perhaps, but this is not about the literal meaning of being hurt, because if it were there are many ways other than pinning someone down to hurt someone.
It's the people you surround yourself with, the people you attract that is far, far more important. It's how you walk and how you respond EARLY on to people that keeps you out of certain dangerous situations.
Again, get it through your head that if you are going to be hurt, you will be hurt, no matter what you weigh. Guns don't need to pick on skinny people.
And, on the other hand, even if you are a featherweight, you can stay out of harm's way. It's your brain, it's your attitude that is your biggest ally, not your mass. Only the mass between your ears is what you need to use.

Anonymous said...

i really like your blog. you write well, you're honest, you're perceptive about your own situation without being egotistical - you're self-aware but not self-centered. it's nice.

i'm losing weight too and have only recently realised that i have a lot of fear about it, like you. and i've realised a lot of this fear is related to my sexuality and identity as a woman. right now, i walk alone at night and i'm fearless. rationally, i know that anyone with a weapon can overpower anyone of any size.

but i don't have to suffer the up-and-down looks of leering men the way my sister does. when i walk beside her, the men watch her, and i watch the men, and it makes me ill.

i have had boyfriends, i have had sex, i like sex. but it has always been on terms where i feel safe because most of my life, i don't have to feel like a sexual object. i don't have to worry about someone raping me when i walk alone at night because i so rarely have to deal with unwanted sexual attention that it's not as hard-wired into my brain.

the consequence of this is stifling my own desire to be desirable, of course. i have seen completely sexy larger women work what they have and i know many men find them attractive. my own sexual experience has been with men who adored me at the size i was, not "in spite" of my size, or "because" of my size. but i don't feel sexy here.

and not sexy can feel safe. food for thought.

Jen said...

Fat was and is my protector. No one will pay attention to me or bother me. I am sort of invisible when I am fat. I was at 305 lbs.

I lost 120, gained back 45 and am on the road back to 120 down.

With lots of therapy, seriously, I have finally gotten to the bottom of it.

I also HATED being told I was a different person. I AM THE SAME PERSON just smaller.

You are strong and can do it too.

Mary :: A Merry Life said...

I've had these same fears. I'm still working to get past them, but I think we both can do it.

kelly said...

Thanks for sharing. You are working through these issues slowly, steadily and I am confident you'll overcome!

Diane Fit to the Finish said...

For me, losing my 150 pounds was an exercise in much more than just pounds lost. As you have so eloquently described, there is a level of fear involved in changing your life, rather through weight loss or life circumstances.

I know that you are feeling worried and fearful now, but you can get past this fear. You are a strong person - I hear it in your writing voice. You can do this.

liz said...

Thank you for sharing. I was is in tears as I read it. I've never been abused in the same way but I understand your need to feel safe.

swayerm said...

You can still be strong.

And I have a big dog because of that too :) She's a godsend.
Part Alsatian, so looks after me well. Hard to walk when she wants to run though!!

Also a great companion, a saviour from alone-ness sometimes.

ctina said...

You are an inspiration, Lyn. I am a small person in general, and have always marvelled at how "little women" can command a room, or tell a huge tall man what to do. How they can be listened to and respected. I've always felt like I am too small. That I could disappear. I am scared to be the weight I'm going to be.

But? Truth is, we are no stronger when we are big. Your height is your height. It's your voice and YOUR WILL that commands the room. That tells others "NO" and means it. That doesn't take crap, and that won't let passive negativity creep into YOUR positive life journey.

You are one of the strongest people out there-- your blog is evidence of that. You know how to do this all already-- you are already you. Now, you just need to believe.

withering waist said...

You are so lucky to have such a support group. Imagine going through this alone, with on one to encourage & help lift you. That would be awful. I'm glad for you. I read a great quote recently that said "You are stronger than you think"...be strong Lyn, you are doing great, you really are.

Amelia said...

Thanks for this post. I have experienced many of the same issues whenever I get close to achieving my goal. I think this is why I have never actually achieved my goal weight... Whenever I've gotten REALLY close, I've kind of freaked out and then sabotaged myself. It's a problem I HAVE to work through.. Nice to know I'm not the only one.

Jules said...

Lyn - Thanks for putting that all out there. Many, many of us who were victimized and ridiculed have used weight as a false sense of protection. For me, right now, it is learning s-l-o-w-l-y to come back into my body. I have to learn to take care of me. Love me. Put me first. Say no. Stand up for myself. I have had a detachment from my body for way to many years. It's amazing the changes and the confidence that builds when I just give myself 5 minutes a day to "feel"....I'm right there with you.

screwdestiny said...

Wow, what a powerful post. Reading about your fear of being a victim once you become thin again made me really upset. Upset that you had that happen to you, and that it's slightly holding you back now.

But I can tell you that I think strength training really helps. I've been thin my whole life (except for right after I had a baby), and I have had times where I worried that I would be too weak to defend myself against someone. And who knows, if I actually was ever put in that bad situation I might be, because I'm still easy to pick up. But strength training makes me feel strong, makes me feel like I'm not a just a thin, weak little girl. I like being able to do a lot of (real) push-ups, being able to do pull-ups, bench serious weight, etc. Even though my boyfriend can still throw me over his shoulder if he wants, at least I can also push him off me if I wanted to.

And just remember that you are also in a different situation now, and I'm sure you know better than to get with the type of person who will do to you what your ex did. Good luck with overcoming this fear. We'll all be here supporting you.

Hanlie said...

I totally identify with your fears! For the last few months I have been working intensively to change those fears. You literally have to work with each one and empower yourself in the process. It takes time, but it's really worth it.

You are a resourceful woman and I have no doubt that you will get through this as well. Good luck!

Rebekah said...

Lyn, I think you hit the nail on the head.
Sometimes its so scary when you start to realize you will be "vulnerable" like you were in the past.

I know this is an issue for me as well. I noticed when I got down to 182 I was not really focusing on losing weight. Sure i filled out my diaries and exercised, but I never really spent the time realizing, oh SHIT. I am not going to have this "protection". Men are going to do things to me that they would not if I don't lose weight.

Part of this has been helped a LOT by me obtaining 4 tubes of pepper spray and doing things to make me feel safe, the rest I am still working on.

Many hugs to you girl!

Cindy Marsch said...

Lyn, I can identify! And part of my trouble is what Jan mentioned, people congratulating my thinner self for finally BEING a person. It's as if by losing weight I can finally justify my existence. No, sorry, some of the most important things I've done in my life have been during the years when I've been fat. When I'm fat I'm still smart, still committed to my faith, still a concerned mother, still a sharp professional, still a loving wife.

Cindy Marsch said...

I just wrote:

When I'm fat I'm still smart, still committed to my faith, still a concerned mother, still a sharp professional, still a loving wife.

However, when I'm fat I have to work harder to prove I'm smart, or people kind of marvel that I could be smart; I have to dance around the sin part of what contributes to my weight--though those who watch know that thin people can sin at least as much with food as fat people do; when I'm fat I know my children are not as proud of me, my daughters perhaps concerned that interested young men will see me and envision my daughters' future as fat women (you know the old thing about how a guy should meet his sweetie's mother before deciding on the sweetie); when I'm fat I do more effective work from home, where I am not myself "the elephant in the room;" and, finally, when I'm fat I am not as delightful to my husband as I would want to be, not as uninhibited as I should be, not as secure.

So the fat does make a difference--just not quite the kind of difference the critical public would like to smugly assume.

Michelle said...

Oh honey hugs to you for all these emotions and for that binge. I have some of the same fears but when I worry about being taken I think this. If I had to crawl or climb over something at my weight I would rather be skinny. I think getting out of a small space would be easier and I would have more strength and agility to fight someone off skinny and hell RUN faster and further. You have so much that you have dealt with you can do this. I hope that when you hit your 199 milestone that it gives you the confidence in yourself to know YOU ARE A AMAZING WOMAN WHO DESERVES NOTHING BUT THE BEST! I hope that you come to enjoy the options of clothes in the regular sizes, that you learn to love yourself so you find someone who loves you too with smothering kisses and hugs. Not abuse and fear.
Good Luck to you....and WOW in the 220's girl you ROCK!

Georgia Mist said...

The fact that you are talking about it is a great first step!
No one is going to hurt you -- you are too strong for that now.
Just remember to draw strength from the journey itself.

Karyn said...

Lyn....could you email me something, please? I neglected to transfer my email contact list to my new computer. I'd like to send you a letter.

Miss talking to you!

NutriAngel said...

Bless you Lyn for recognising the fear that is stopping you from wanting what you want. We all have fears in one shape or another and we do ourselves a huge injustice when we let it rule our lives. However, fear is not easy to let go of and can take a lot of work before you can breathe a sigh of relief.
You will succeed, you know you will and I know you will.

Anonymous said...

Ah girl, your story is mine. The fear, the fear - I can relate to them all - the vulnerability of others if we are smaller, the fear of being more attractive being equal to being more of a target, the fear of success, even, what then?...

ArleneWKW said...

Whatever my deeper issues are (and there are no shortage of them) the bottom line is this: It is easier to give in to the urge to eat "off track" foods than to walk away with that urge unsatisfied.

Kathleen said...

Lyn -- I think it took me six months to go from 203 pounds to 199. What you talk about is a huge issue for so many of us.

If you haven't read Fat Is A Feminist Issue, you should. I think it would be helpful.

Another thing I would say, though, is that I have done something that has helped. I have embraced the cliche of my surface sexuality. I wear heels, skirts, flattering jeans. I wear makeup and try to look good. People treat me better and better, based on my appearance and my level of confidence. That's not "right;" it's just the reality. But being thinner is just part of it.

I don't know if you read my blog, but I talk a lot about "psychological plateaus." I feel as though I need to get used to being in my skin at different weights. And that's OK. And it's OK for you as well.

Pubsgal said...

Wow, Lyn, this is such a powerful post. Thank you for sharing it with us.

I can't help but wonder if the vulnerability you describe kept me from feeling motivated to lose weight. I've never been on the receiving end of physical abuse like that (makes my blood boil that you were!), but there was a certain comfort to being fat. Like when I'd wear very conservative clothing as a teen, so that I would not look sexy and be a target. I wonder if that's why I'm feeling very comfortable with being over 40, too? Like my age is my new "cloaking device?" Food for thought, that...

But I'd also join the chorus of those recommending strength training. I've got a smaller body, but it was exercise and strength training that make me feel more "solid" than ever. Seeing some muscle helps me view my "floppy bits" with more equanimity. (I'm not ripped or anything, but just have some pleasing-to-me definition in my legs and arms.)

Oh, and I hear you about the clothing bewilderment. What helped me was taking my measurements, and then going online and viewing the sizing charts for stores where I planned to shop in person. That helped narrow down the sizing for me somewhat...you know how clothes vary. (Size charts also helped me at last understand why jeans that felt good at the waist were baggy in the legs and rear; I'm 5 inches off of the standard 10-inch difference between waist and hips.) Maybe then plan a few, quick "going and trying on but not buying" outings, just to get a sense of what's out there and what styles you like before feeling like you have to buy stuff.

Tammi (Hayne's Her Weigh) said...

A powerful cathartic post for you. Thank you for sharing your deepest fears with us so freely.

Debu-chan said...

I share many of your fears, Lyn. I don't have the background of abuse and I was never thin... but I do fear losing myself and the clothing choice and so much more. The fear is also a key to my own self-sabotage and something I have to work on, too.

Best of luck!

amy edwards said...

thank you for being so vulnerable and open about your fears. they are not rediculous at all! i'm so glad you were able to get back on track after your binge. That is true strength! don't give up! you can do this!!! :)

Erin said...

Wow! Thanks for writing (and sharing) such a powerful post. I can't even wrap my mind about how much your post spoke to me. You can do it, though...you seriously can. Your fear isn't irrational...it is based on a reality you used to LIVE. Now you have to own your new reality...because you ELIMINATED the threat to your safety and that is POWERFUL AND STRONG. The weight is a leftover symptom from a time when you weren't powerful and strong!