Sunday, August 23, 2009

Scared of Success

Weekly weigh-in: 225.6
Loss: -3.1 lbs
Total loss: 65.9 lbs.
Emotion: Skeered

I'll admit it: I'm scared of doing too well on this weight loss adventure.

I know, I know... there's lots of better, more interesting things to be frightened of, like spiders, darkness, garlic, choking, crowds, bowling shoes, clowns, tornados, weathermen, plaid, heights, widths, being alone, microbes, Bolsheviks, newts, nosebleeds, hospitals, random violence and powdered milk (and I'll admit, I'm frightened–to varying degrees–of all of those).

But I'm scared nonetheless.

When you're approaching rock bottom, when you're at your heaviest and most unhealthy, it's a miserable, crippling feeling. However, you know deep down in your heart that if you can somehow muster up the strength, the determination and the drive, you can start on the journey to climbing out of that pit. There's nowhere to go, it would seem, but up.

When you've enjoyed some success and are suddenly within eyesight of your goals, it's easy to glance down and freeze up, to suddenly see how far you have to fall and just how easy it would be to fail... again. Anyone who's yo-yo'd with their weight might understand the pressure I find myself feeling.

I thrive with a challenge in front of me, a goal that needs to be met. Something I can attack with a single-minded fury. Sustaining? Maintaining? Keeping on keeping on? Those are foreign concepts to me, and truthfully, I thought it would be a long time before I would need to start considering the idea.

The last time I had a personal assessment at the gym was a little over five years ago, and I weighed 225 lbs. I was coming off months and months of manic workout sessions, sometimes three a day. I had actually gotten down to 215 lbs, but had felt so freakin' weak at that weight that it scared me... and I purposefully packed on 10 more pounds. Read that again (because I had to even as I was writing it): I purposefully packed on ten more pounds.

During that assessment, the trainer expressed wonder at my fitness level. I was off the charts for my age range. It took her 20 minutes to get me to break a sweat and that was with my long-time nemesis, the push-up. She declared me at "the ideal weight" for me, and we devised a new workout regimen for me.

I left the gym that day and promptly went ape-sh*t crazy. The details are still fuzzy, but I began a slow (but quickly snowballing) descent back to obesity (and then some). Why would I do such a thing? What possible reason could I have had? I can't even begin to fathom it.

So here I am, back where I was, with not much left to lose and yet... with everything to lose.

So I'll stay here, using this blog and your unbelievable encouragement and support as lifelines against the choppy waters. This time, I hope the dizzying heights won't mess with my brain, won't make me light-headed and weak-willed. I believe success doesn't automatically have to be followed with an inevitable fall.

I guess it's time to prove it.


  1. I've been there. if you figure out what causes it, let me know.

  2. Congrats on this week's loss! Nicely done

    I love this post for so many reasons and thank you for writing it. Lately, I have began doubting my weight loss and wondering when I will slip up like I have always done in the past. It scares me to think that I might actually be doing it this time...I might actually stick with it and lose the weight.

    Have a wonderful week, Mr. Sh*t and here's hoping to another great loss :)

  3. Great job on the loss this week Jack! :)

  4. Another great loss, Jack! Congrats! But remember, you can't give up yet because you still have so many great things to do...high-five-ing a hobo, sacrificing a dog...

  5. As you get to the end, it does become scarier, doesn't it?

  6. maintenance can be a mofo....

  7. Congratulations on your loss this week! I understand what you mean about maintenance. I guess if the changes you're making turn into new habits, then maintenace shouldn't be a problem. Just keep doing the things you have been. And therein lies the rub. Keep doing it...forever? Yes. Forever.

  8. Hi
    I've been lurking on your blog for a month now. You've been such an inspiration.
    I know exactly what you mean, cos I've done it too and am also clawing my way back now.
    Sometimes, I think that it's because we feel like we don't deserve the success. Well, that's how it is for me at least. I feel like I am not good enough to be happy.
    But just know that your writing has done so much for all of us out there, the humour, the tough love and the daily reporting.
    Keep on keeping on. We're all in this with you!

  9. There is no better feeling than crossing the finish line!

    Once you do, you have the courage to go back on the track and help out people who are close to the finish line.

    By the way, I like the way your blog is changing. It used to be 90%funny/10%inspiration. I am seeing a 50/50 split. Maybe it is the confidence in your weight loss.............

  10. First, let's get the important things out of the way: scared of GARLIC??? Nature's perfect food (tied with chocolate)?!!!!!!!!!!!!! Powdered milk I can understand, but GARLIC. Jack, you're screwed up, big time.

    Seriously, though, I think this is one of the most important posts you've written.

    Anyone who's been overweight and then lost a significant amount of weight has had the same fear as you. You can be darn sure that you're not alone. Now, what to do about this fear?

    First, let's look at the numbers. You have lost about 22% of your total body weight in 18 weeks--only 4 1/2 months. From a strictly mathematical point of view, that's wonderful. You deserve hearty congratulations for the determination and consistency that you have shown.

    I wonder, however, if what you actually fear is how you are going to continue to remain consistent, determined and steadfast FOREVER. And that, my friend, is much more daunting than even the incredible feat that you have accomplished so far.

    In simpler terms, your task now, Grasshopper, is to master the fine art of maintaining. You may want to drop a few pounds more, but actually NOW IS THE TIME to seriously explore how you will remain more or less at your target weight from now on. The rules are changing and, dare I say, they are much more fluid and harder to grasp than the "rules" that you followed to lose the weight.

    Now, you must TRULY change your relationship to food. If you continue to see it as your enemy (i.e., if I eat XYZ, I am doomed), trouble will ensue. I'm not accusing you of seeing things in such a simplistic manner, but I urge you to reflect upon this issue.

    Maybe, it's already time to start moving into maintenance mode--whatever that means for you. Even if you do want to lose another 10 pounds or so, you should lose that weight much more slowly. Why not take another 10 weeks to lose this weight and thus give yourself time to also concentrate on retraining your mind?

    Be well, my friend, and remember that all my wise words are ones that I too am only just learning to apply to my own journey.

  11. We are never scared of what we know and are familiar with.




  12. I was surprised that homicidal trees and Tom DeLay's hair did not make your scary things list.

    Once I reached my weight loss goal, I set some other goals to work on: decluttering my house; being more social; improving my relationship w/my twin sisters and increasing the length and speed of my bike rides (to become an athlete). This has helped me.

  13. Congrats on the loss!

    An amazing post as well. Thank you so much for writing it. This fear factor is all too familiar to a lot of us. I can relate that's for sure. And it reminds me of something my sister said the last time I was able to get into my skinny jeans. She said that being skinny wouldn't necessarily make me happy. Sorry? Did I just hear you correctly? And now I get what she meant, as I scrabble my way back out of this pit of being fat again and back into my skinny jeans. I worked on the being happy part first this time around. Still working on it actually.
    The support network that we all have forged together here is amazing. I think this will help so many of us pull off the "forever" part for real this time.
    You have touched the lives of so many with your humor, your support and your tough love. And that's a whole lot of good karma heading back your way!

  14. fuck finish lines... i say keep chugging right past it

  15. I completely understand your fears Jack. My whole life I've had to battle against the evil "self-destruct" mode. Sounds like you too huh?
    Many people do. How many pro athletes or celebrities can you think of that have blown everything, with no one to blame but themselves. When we hear of their stories we're appalled--- "wow, it seemed they had everything in the palm of their hand--and they threw it all away, just crazy."
    It isn't crazy, it's a real fear of, and reaction to, change. But Jack---these wonderful changes you've made are good and healthy changes. Don't stress or feel pressure to maintain or do anything. Just live this life with the new wonderful habits you've developed---and let it fall into place.
    If you're worried that your mental changes haven't caught up to your physical changes---than focus on them seriously. Don't make this complicated Jack. Don't turn this into an overwhelming pressure cooker, because that's not what this is. No pressure. Just Jack, livin' his life---eating responsibly, exercising regularly, writing and sharing, and enjoying the success you have to realize you deserve. Don't make yourself feel like an out of place party crasher. You belong at this party Jack. You seriously belong here. I love following along your journey.

    Thank you for everything you do my friend,

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. Great job on another loss! I think being scared of gaining it all back again is keeping me from losing this time. It sounds crazy to people who've never lost and regained but it messes with your head. Every single time I lose weight I vow to never gain it back. I'm trying not to make the same mistakes again.

    Time to prove it.

  18. Oh boy, yeah 216 was actually my freak out point, I decided to regain back to 270. Maintenance is scary, I've never been 'normal' and so normal is a whole new world. Way to go getting back to your lows!

  19. hey jack,

    i've seen some pretty scary times, and have found that humour always gets me through (the darker the better lol!)..So i have a feeling you'll be a-ok:)

    can't say i'm not looking forward to that same kind of fear though!!


  20. Jack- You have done unbelievably well in a short 18 weeks (the green-eyed monster keeps telling me "he's lost TWICE as much weight as you in the same time period!"...shhh monster!!). Your determination and huge success are so inspirational. I think if you keep on bloggin' even after you're happy with your weight it will help. I am also so worried about getting lazy and reverting back to my state of fatness. For me it happens slowly, a pound a month so I don't even reallly notice. I plan on noticing now! I will keep weighing in and making myself work out. We can do it Jack! :)

  21. You're at the toughest point on the journey. Near goal, almost there, scared of getting there, scared of not getting there, scared of getting there and not staying there. I know that feeling because it's where I've been hanging out for the last six months.

    Keep on blogging and keep us posted of how you're doing it. I, for one, need to know your secret. Because I'm the poster child for NOT making it to goal. You are my inspiration!

  22. When you get close to your goal, you need to make another goal. So, now that you're almost there, maybe you're next goal is to train for an event like a 5k or a body building show...that way, you're always working toward a goal. If you don't have another might quit and do nothing. Goal after, goal after works.

  23. It is difficult to live mindfully. We tend to let our fears make our decisions for us, by default. Just the fact that you are questioning and have a desire to get to the bottom of this is a great thing. Just keep at it. You deserve to be healthy.

    Thank you for your condolences, Jack. It means a lot. Glad to have made your acquaintance. :)

  24. First, congrats! On your "skeered", is it fear of failure, fear of disappointing others, fear of disappointing yourself or vent he stress of keeping up with others expectations?

    Jack, I know for me, people have expected me for years to be the fit & muscle one & always look good & all the crap. Honestly, sometimes it does become exhausting & all I can think about is what people will think of me if I am less muscular, or put on a few pounds or whatever it is.. and this is inevitable with age. We can have muscle BUT we will just not look the same. It don't work the same & I am already seeing signs of that as I get close to 52. Things just don't tighten like they used to SO it is a bit stressful in terms of others expectations.

    BUT, I say keep on truckin! I continually find new ways to challenge myself & even though I am fit, I find there are just things I want to try to do AND I do want to be healthy & here as long as possible for the kids & grandkids!

    You dig deep & you will find "IT" for you!

    PS: I am mentioning you in my blog post this coming Tuesday the 25th.

  25. There was a secret sent in last week on PostSecret. It said something to the effect of "I'm afraid to lose weight because what if people still don't find me attractive? The weight won't be the excuse."

    When I lose this weight, I'll have only my psychology to contend with and change. The physical stuff is so much easier than the mental stuff.

  26. Boy, you get an "Amen" from me! I know just what you mean. I have been thin and in shape (note the past tense)... often it seems like remembering *her* is like trying to remember the plot of a book I read years ago. It seems like a fiction, a tall tale. Even today I was relishing the stories of my infamously long tennis matches, and how I used to win because I always split sets with my opponent and I would just run my opponent to death, and I was simply in better shape (hahaha, lamely glorious!). And I just got to thinking, "Was that me?? Really?? In better shape than someone?!? Noooo ... ! I must be mistaken!"

    Success IS scary. It's like this tumorous growth of fat is actually a protective layer shielding us from our own faults and failure. If we can't do something, it's an easy scapegoat to blame it on the weight. If we DO succeed, what then? A whole expanse of our lives lays before us of years upon years to fail. Best to pack on the weight rather than delay the inevitable, right?

    These are my secret thoughts, since you shared yours. But they are non-truths. The catch is ... which internal tapeplayer is your mind listening to? The one that tells you that you are a failure, or the one that knows you can overcome and do great things?

    Love your blog, my friend. Thanks for joining mine. :) We can succeed together!!

  27. Yep, that fear seems to be with all of us - Maybe we will have to have maintenance blogs for the rest of our lives. How many maintenance jokes can you come up with? Please say loads!

    I love the answers here from Fitcetera and NewMe, especially.

    Oh, and fantastic on such an excellent loss this week - woo-hoo!

  28. I have F'd up quite a few times once goal weight was attained. It's hell!

  29. Another big time congrats on the weigh in. I think it gets scarier because you have so much more to lose if you fail. I mean who gives a shit if you gain back the 20 you lost...just another short term diet.

    But when you've done something extrordinary, I think it's easy to get you walked halfway across the high wire, you just looked down for the first time...and now you say, HOLY what?

    As member of teh Yo-Yo hall of shame, I am glad to hear you will stay with us. We help each other stay honest.

    But in the meantime. Congrats...big time!

  30. I really believe that maintenance will be the toughest part. I only hope to get to goal so that I can discover it probably isn't...but I too go apeshit crazy every now and then...

    The support of the bloggers is an amazing tool. I am glad to have finally discovered it!

  31. Well done on another great week!

    I totally get that fear. And it's good that you are recalling what happened before... Spending some time exploring your motivations for your past actions may stand you in good stead this time around.

    Good luck!

  32. Dude - you hit home today. I've hit goal weight twice. Effing TWICE! Both times, I was declared by a weight-loss program as a 'Lifetime Member' and both times, it was like someone hit me over the head with an idiot stick on the way out of that meeting, because my transformation back to fatness began overnight. Thanks for voicing the crap in my head.

  33. You're killing me, Jack.

    I'm scared of raw chicken. It's my second greatest fear, after ghosts.

  34. Hi Jack. This is horribly familiar to me. Reading this post made me think about what got me into my current bingeing hole and it was actually the moment when, after 3 months of great dieting and exercising - extremely hard work with massive commitment - some guy said to me "You've lost weight haven't you". And that comment was enough to tip me into the last 6 weeks of total bingeing hell - undoing all that work. I'm now back to where I was at the beginning of April.


    How do we stop this happening if we don't even know why it happens in the first place?

    Until we figure it out, NewMe's suggestion to take things more slowly towards your goal sounds like really good advice.

    Finally, WELL DONE!

  35. (Sorry for the deletion above. I noticed a typo that I HAD to correct).

    Love this post so much because I can definitely relate to it. I too, love a goal. Without something to shoot for or some plan in place for how to accomplish it, I'm lost. I think that when I get close to my goal weight, I will feel exactly as you are now - with some doubts as to how to "just maintain."

    If anyone can lead the way on this, it's you, Jack. You seem like a very determined person, and I have no doubt that you will be able to accomplish whatever it is you set out to do.

  36. I too know the joy of significant weight loss....and the pain when I return to old habits and put it all (and sometimes more) back on even tho I'd given away all my 'fat clothes' and SWORE this time it was for good.

    Losing weight is hard.....but maintaining is even harder. I think blogging daily will keep me focused and on track. I'm also reading "End to Overeating" by Dr David Kessler who has fought the same battle and now is maintaining. Good book.

  37. Well, I've always heard that losing weight is easy - it's keeping it off that's the hard part.
    Make a plan for maintenance just like you made a plan to lose. And stick to the plan.
    Hopefully you're eating in a way that you can keep doing forever - that should make things a bit easier.
    Congrats on the loss this week!

  38. I don't know why but this post kind of scared me Jack. It's probably because my own goal is sooooooooo far from my grasp that it isn't even an issue of fearing what next. In 19 weeks you've lost 66 lbs., that's amazing! In 19 months I've lost slightly more than that. When I first started reading I was planning on commenting with "Just wait til you hit a plateau, then it'll seem neverending and you'll get to that place where blah blah blah blah"...

    Maybe the difference now in comparison to then is you remember how you felt. You're very aware of what's happened before and what could happen again. Maybe that's all you'll need to maintain.

    Wishing you the best of luck!

  39. Don't worry Jack. We'll hold your hand. I hope your family appreciates your clever wit. I know I do! gratz on the loss.

  40. Hi Jack, i so know where your coming from. even though i still have a long way to go i look back and am worried of losing even the small success i've achieved so far. keep it up fella, your doing great.


  41. I understand the fear of success. You don't want to say it is that, but inside you know that may be it. You've been doing so well, Jack, don't let "success" trap you in the bad way. Ride the success wave and enjoy it! And don't worry, I've no idea if what I said made any sense whatsoever.

  42. What you are feeling is normal. I think fear can sometimes be a good and healthy emotion. It keeps us in check.

    Congrats on doing an amazing job. What an inspiration you are for so many!!

  43. Way to go on the great lose this week. Yes, we all are afraid of going back. I think figuring it all out during the journey is the key. It really is about fixing our minds. I think you know all the right things to do. I think you will continue having great success. It is about having faith in yourself.

  44. Congratulations...and I understand! I have never lost more than 65 lbs...and for the last month or so I have been hovering at 62-64.8 lbs lost. Terrified to go on....terrified to go back...No one understands when I try to explain it, they just give me al sorts of advice...but they don't get it...skinny jerks!!

  45. You're "too legit to quit." Keep on keepin' on. You inspire me and so many others. Let that bit of information inspire you back.

  46. This is a GREAT post. Thanks for sharing, because I know I have felt this/done this myself. And even at the time, I'm like what the heck am I doing? Losing weight is sooo much more mental than physical. It's so hard to explain to someone who hasn't been there/done that.
    I think it's great that you realize that THIS is your biggest hurdle. I think it will make it easier to get where you want to be!

  47. your post speaks to a fear I think many of us have - thank you for sharing

  48. i guess when you're still big you only have to look in a mirror to get instand motivation. without that, what will we do?

    a fitness blog is a great idea. and like tony does, reminders of days of being overweight and the pain of it all. keeping it just fresh enough to stay a motivation. being proud of oneself is great, but i spose keeping some leveling humility is a wise approach!

  49. i don't know, but maybe not looking back will help? you know how they say if you're afraid of heights, don't look down while you're walking across that tightrope and that really makes it easy-peasy (ok maybe just a little less difficult, but not easy-peasy).
    focus forward, not behind you. easier said than done i know, but what if, you fake it til you make it? what if, you pretend you're already there? what if, you pretend this is your "normal", not the jack that started out, but the jack that is here today? and you keep adjusting that normal with each passing day. you keep evolving into the "new jack" and accepting it as the "normal jack".
    you (and every other overweight person in the world like us) knows that you may lose all the weight and become skinny mini/buff bart, but until you change your head--your perspective of yourself--you will always be the fat fanny/fat fred.
    wow,you give me so much to think about that it ain't funny. =) keep on rocking it dude!

  50. Clowns are freaky! Just as bad as Santa!

    Great post! I have discovered this myself. The more I've lost and tried to maintain, the more scared I hve felt! The trick is not allowing ourselves to self sabatage because of this fear!

  51. You big frickin' loser you!
    powdered milk? really?

  52. Oh Jack, Jack, Jack. You have exposed the biggest fear I've had since I started my weight loss. I'm still 64 lbs away from goal and I've already been dreading this same stuff. What do you say we put on our positivity caps together?! Let's look forward, not backward.

    I know that your fear of gaining it all back is very real, because it has happened before. But what I also know is that the Old Jack is who gained it back. He's dead now. He died, you buried him, and we were all here to watch. You are the New Jack, with new mental changes, new perspectives, and will be full of new goals.

    I totally get the "What Now?" thing. I, too, have to have something to bust my ass work fuel me. Boredom and nothing going on leads to very bad things. It's a good thing you're thinking about it now so you can start planning.

    I really like the idea of trying new doing walks...5ks, 1/2 marathons, etc. Maybe for good causes? Maybe just for you? I'm finding a new love for hiking and that opens up ALL KINDS of possibilities for Skinny Tammy. Skinny Jack, the New Jack, will find new things too.

    It's going to be so cool when our little (HUGE) network of weight loss bloggers becomes the maintenance bloggers. This is for life...we're not going anywhere...we'll be here sweets. There's no getting rid of us now. :)

  53. kinda feelin that ole' self-sabotaging monkey on my back this week too. Not that Im near any weight chart's "Ideal Range" for my measley 5ft of height. But Im smaller and fitter than Ive been in probably 20 years and that scares the bejeebus outta me!!
    its easy for us to see things objectively when its other folks wearing the monkeys huh? Stay outta you're own head :-D
    Youre inspiring and you've done an amazing job and learned a lot on the way--obviously! jack shit IS too legit to quit! Uh oh, uh oh uh oh!

  54. I completely understand. Sometimes it is easier to stay at my weight (which is off the charts) than succeed and have to maintain the success.

    Why do I do that?



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