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Facing my fear and failure (again)…

My two biggest fears in life are the fear of failure and of disappointing people – I think many people can relate to those.

But both of those fears combined into a queasy ache in my stomach yesterday as I walked into the local WeightWatchers office where I lost 35 lbs. – TWICE over the past three years.

Needless to say, I re-gained most of that lost weight because I got lazy with the program – thinking I had “arrived” – not needing the support of others or the program itself anymore, thinking I could do it on my own.

That was not the case.

I missed a string of meetings and fell back into old eating patterns and started adding pounds back.

And when I had difficulty buttoning my pants, I stepped on our scale at home and was stunned by my “silent” 20 pound gain. I couldn’t believe that I fell again. I felt that I had fallen too far and there was no way for me to go back to WW and face those same people who helped and cheered my success. I had failed, and I was certain I would disappoint.

During the ensuing months I managed to gain an additional 15 pounds – I didn’t intend to do it, but I didn’t fight it either which allowed my unintentional habits to dictate the circumference of my waistline.

The issues with my weight jumped to the fore when both my parents died from cardiovascular disease in their early 60s. With a baby on the way and two preteen girls, I need to ensure that I’m doing all I can to be around for as long as I can.

Regardless, I knew I had to do something.  I’ve tried all of the other weight control programs before and the only one that allowed me to lose and keep it off (when I followed it) was WeightWatchers.

As crazy as it sounds, my pride and fear were the burdens that were weighing me down the most – keeping me from the help I needed.

It was surreal how nervous I was going to that weigh-in and meeting yesterday.

Public speaking is usually the number one fear that most people have – even more than the fear of death. Talking doesn’t bother me. When I was a reporter I’d verbally mixed it up live on-air with hostile interviews, and from time-to-time I’ve also been on the other side of those difficult interviews as a corporate spokesman.

By comparison, those public speaking “fears”  were nothing compared to the anxiety I felt as I opened the door to the rented offices of the local WeightWatchers office. My fear of failure and of disappointing others were very real to me.

While my failure was physically real in the extra pounds on my face, neck and gut – not to mention my cholesterol levels and lipid ratios – I was stunned that when I walked through those doors, the actual manifestation of disappointment never materialized.

Rather, I was met with open arms, understanding, caring and kindness. I was met by a sense of, “We’ve been where you are and we welcome you just the way you are.”

I was humbled and awed.

There’s more to share in the coming weeks, and I suspect that the real “fat” I need to lose is largely between my ears – I’m hopeful that my body will follow. I can say with certainty that being accepted back despite my failure and fears is encouragement enough to help me try again.

Question: Have you ever experienced a similar up-and-down pattern in your life?


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  1. Donna Cavanagh says:

    Tor, you are being too hard on yourself I think. Weight is a tough thing. But just wait, because when the baby comes, you won’t have time to eat. You will never see that weight again. :)

  2. I do feel your pain. I have been through WWI and WWII with several other skirmishes that I lost due to varied reasons that all add up to pounds. Bob and I are both fighting the battle again. It is so challenging. Congrats for getting back on the wagon.

  3. Of course, they welcomed you with open arms. It augments their revenue…
    Seriously, though, my mom was one of the very first lecturers for WW – long before Heinz acquired them, when it was just Jean Nidetch. And, they knew the odds of someone not coming back to the program was about 1 in 10. I’m sure they are no different now.

  4. Amanda Sachs says:

    Good luck!!

  5. Nan Porter says:

    I knew they would welcome you back, that’s what we call the Service Vision. You should hear the successful leaders who say, “the first time I joined WW I lost XX pounds, then XYZ happened and I gained back XX pounds, the second time I joined WW …. the third time I joined WW… Finally things click when we don’t give up. Each time we commit to lose weight we learn something, and you are better for that.
    We sure do want you healthy, you have learned valuable info from your parents, and you are taking action BEFORE you have to!!! There’s a reason why we call WW members “Lifetime” when they reach their healthy weight, and all of us staff do often struggle to maintain control. I loved your view of public speaking being no big deal, but the scale/staff causing anxiety, haha!
    It won’t be easy, but your family is worth it and we all know you will find a way to fight on. You have lots of cheerleaders :)

    • Wow, I never thought about the challenges that a WW leader may have overcome. I really appreciate that perspective Nan – thanks so much, you’ve always been a tremendous inspiration!

  6. Good luck with your journey. I think of myself as disciplined but that is an area I struggle in and usually lose.

  7. Michelle Woodman says:

    Oh, I do! Mainly with my tendency to procrastinate. :p

  8. I think that it is great that you went back despite feeling so much anxiety. It is hard to lose weight and keep it off. I think many people struggle to maintain a healthy weight and often ignore their health. It sounds like even though you gained weight that you are doing the right thing by recognizing it and trying to lose it again. Good luck to you on your new journey.

  9. Crystal Green says:

    I definitely have. I am struggling with a similar situation.

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