The fear of future weight gain

The fear of future weight gain

No matter where you are on your food freedom journey the fear of weight gain can hold you back from truly being free around food. Once you overcome your fear of weight gain – not necessarily actual weight gain, but the FEAR of it – then your whole food struggles will disappear…

So how the F do we overcome our fear of weight gain when it’s the exact thing that got us in this mess with food in the first place AND fear of fatness (fat phobia) is E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E.?

Having personally been through this myself and coached many women through this fear, I’m going to share with you some foundational principles so that you can start to see that potential weight gain or actual weight gain isn’t actually the end of the world… yes, really!

Let’s do this…

Actual weight gain

Let’s dive straight in with what sounds like the worse thing that could possibly happen to you… actually gaining weight.

I used to believe that there really was nothing worse than gaining weight. I’ll give you some context as to how petrified I was at the thought of gaining weight:

  • When a friend or family member got sick and lost weight, I’d literally wish I could catch whatever it was and be sick too so that I could also lose weight.
  • When my friend had her tonsils out and could only drink liquids for X amount of days, I’d wish that I’d have to have my tonsils out too… or have my mouth sewn together or something – anything that stopped me from eating!
  • Whenever I used to train at the gym or run and my body was super tired, I’d motivate myself with thoughts such as; “Keep going! Pretend that if you stop, you’ll instantly gain weight!”

…it kept me going that’s for sure. In my mind, the motivation seemed similar to someone who was literally running for their life. I felt like I was running for my life. As far away from any weight gain as possible. Then I’d be safe.

Can you relate?

Over the course of my life, I’ve yo-yoed between a UK size 6 to a UK size 16. However aggressively I restricted and lost weight was the same extent to which I binged and then gained the weight back, plus a bit more.

If I was being super restrictive, I’d experience super binges. It’s actually physics; “In the third law, when two objects interact, they apply forces to each other of equal magnitude and opposite direction.”

If you are forcefully restricting – meaning if you are using your willpower to deny yourself what you truly want to eat – you will be met with the same amount of force going against your will to restrict from your biology. And in my personal opinion, that of my clients and the results of numerous studies, biology wins 95% of the time.

When first I started my food freedom journey I was about a UK size 10/12. I gained some weight during the process and went up to a size 14/16 within about 6 months. Now – 5 years into recovery as I write this – I am on average a UK size 12 (depending on what the clothing is and where it’s from).

When I started this journey to food freedom and body love, I didn’t WANT to gain weight (obviously!) but I knew that what I was doing wasn’t actually “working” anyway… as I couldn’t lose weight no matter how hard I tried and I was actually putting weight on due to all of the binges. I also felt crazy around food, obsessed with the way I looked, was constantly closing off to my loved ones and I genuinely thought I needed to check into a mental institution or something (I clearly prefer to learn the hard way!) I just knew I couldn’t carry on the way I was anymore. I wanted out. I cared so much about what I looked like but I desperately didn’t want to care. I was ready to face anything as long as I could live in peace around food and about my body and actually live a life that didn’t revolve around all of this shit that controlled me since I was 9 years old.

When the weight gain came during the start of my food freedom journey, of course, it freaked me the fuck out. It’s not like I was greatly surprised or anything but when your biggest fear actually comes true it’s kinda fucked up… to begin with. I can imagine it’s like someone who has a fear of heights signing up to overcome their fear and their first assignment is to go bungee jumping!

Although, as I’m writing this it’s quite funny as I’ve put weight on numerous times in my life and been dreadfully, deeply depressed about it… yet I guess during those times, I had the security and comfort of knowing that I was going to “do something about it” and lose the weight again. This time, however, I was committed. I was fully invested in this journey to food freedom and body love. After all, I had paid a coach to support me and what I was doing was in no way sustainable unless I wanted to check myself into a psychiatric hospital.

So as I was saying, I gained weight and it felt horrible. I’m not even going to sugarcoat it. I literally felt like it was a choice between living with an eating disorder but potentially in a smaller body or hating my body but living in food freedom. I had chosen freedom but there was nothing freeing about it, to begin with

I knew I had to just keep going and trust my coach and the process. I did everything she asked me to do. The mirror work, affirmations, mindset re-programming, and even mediation where to begin with, I’d roll my eyes at the mere thought of it. I did it all and I lent on her support. I thought I’d sold my soul to the devil who in return gave me the joy of hating my body for the rest of my life…

However over time as I was doing all of the practices and learning all about acceptance and surrender, the weight gain didn’t seem so bad. It was still bad, don’t get me wrong but it wasn’t as bad. Exposure therapy definitely played a huge part in this alongside surrendering to each moment and the mirror exercises I was doing.

After about 4 weeks, I was able to look at my body in the mirror naked without feeling like I was going to have a panic attack or desperately want to crawl out of my skin because I couldn’t handle the pain of seeing myself look that way.

I also noticed that just because I had gained weight I hadn’t suddenly morphed into a monster who looked nothing like me. I was still the same shape. It was still my body. I was just curvier. I carried fat in the same way and in the same places. I was still me. Just a bigger version of me. And I remember thinking “Maybe I think I can be ok with this one day. Maybe gaining weight isn’t actually as bad as I thought it would be.”

It wasn’t. My friends still loved me. My fiance still loved me and wanted to be intimate with me. I was still good at my job. I could still walk and run and exercise. I could still cuddle my dog. I could still put on a dress, and some make-up and go and enjoy a meal out. In fact, I enjoyed social occasions that involved food a million times more than I used to because I was feeling freer and freer around food as time went on.

When I looked back I released that my life wasn’t actually much different at all, in fact, it was better because I was no longer shutting loved ones out emotionally or sneaking and then lying about food or spending every god damn waking minute thinking about food and my weight! That’s when I decided to journal; I’ve gained weight AND…

That was a game-changer for me and over time as I continued to dive deeper and deeper into this work around body image and self-love and re-visit past trauma etc, I finally released that I could live in food freedom WITHOUT hating my body for the rest of my life!

Now I live in total food freedom, I eat what the fuck I want when I want it, I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been (ironically) and I LOVE MY BODY!!!!! Seriously what the fuck happened, I never thought this was possible.

Body love to me is me loving my body unconditionally. Being super grateful for everything she does for me including keeping me alive every second of the day since I was born AND knowing that she is sexy and imperfect and a representation of my story and all my past experiences AND most days feeling good about how she looks.

This is possible for you too…

The fear of future weight gain

Ok, so now let’s get into the intense fear of future weight gain. The fear of weight gain is actually worse than the weight gain itself. This is because fear is a:

False

Experience

Appearing

Real

It’s super scary because it’s unknown. It’s not actually happening yet but you’re creating the scenario of it happening in your head which is SO much worse than the actual thing itself happening and it feels like you’re losing the ground beneath your feet. PANIC is the word that comes to mind.

Fear is not real. It’s all in the mind. And guess who has control over your mind?

Yep, you!

You can’t control the thoughts you think as they appear automatically due to all of your past experiences and how much you bought into those thoughts over time but you CAN control how you respond to thoughts and what action or non-action you choose to take.

Thoughts are not facts.

Don’t believe everything you think.

Choose to think now “I think I will go and climb that tree outside…”

Are you going to climb the tree?

You can choose to ignore the thought and not climb the tree or you can choose to go outside and climb the tree. 😉

So fear is not real, it’s in the mind yet “danger” is real. You can be walking on a wooden bridge over a vast mountain range and it can start collapsing and you’ll be in danger. Your body will put you in flight, fight or freeze response in order to handle the dangerous situation. You’ll handle it in the moment (or not) and then when you get back onto solid ground, you’ll be feeling FEAR over what’s just happened in the PAST…

Read “The Power Of Now” By Eckhart Tolle

What do you make fat mean?

Your fear of weight gain is because you think that weight gain itself is something to be scared of.

Hmm, I wonder why you think that… Oh erm hello societal conditioning! We don’t care about fat in a vacuum, we care about what we make fat mean. If we lived on a desert island with no access to media or a society that has been developed the way ours have, we wouldn’t even know the concept of fat and thin. Think about that for a moment.

So my questions for you that I invite you to journal are:

  • What do you make fat mean?
  • What do you make thinnes mean?
  • Are your answers absolutely true? Why or why not?
  • Who would you be and what would your life be like if you didn’t know the concept of fat or thin?

I deep dive into this stuff with my clients as it’s a hugely important part of the journey.

Self-worth and body image

How much does the way your body look dictate your self-worth? If you were to give yourself a % of how much of your self-worth was reliant on your body image what would it be for you?

Mine used to be 95%. The other 5% was what I had accomplished at work and what I did for other people.

I’m here to remind you that your body is not a billboard. Your body is your home. Your body is the least interesting thing about you and your body does not define your worth.

If your self-worth and your sense of value come from the way your body looks – which is what we have been taught and conditioned to believe – we are doomed. Seriously. This is a huge deal for women because even if our bodies didn’t change, we still age. We need to look for other ways to meet our self-worth needs apart from the way our body looks. 

The ultimate truth is, that we are worthy just because we are alive but many of us don’t grasp that (it took me a while) so because of this, I’ll continue using self-esteem and identity.

If your sense of identity comes from what you look like, you’re never going to be truly happy which is why releasing the grip you have on the way you look and prioritising other things is key to your recovery from disordered eating and your journey to food freedom.

There are some important questions you need to answer in order to do this.

  • How else do you want to value yourself?
  • How else do you want to measure your self-esteem?

The question isn’t “how can you stop feeling awful about your body?” the question is:

  • How can you meet your universal needs without it being about your body?
  • What universal human needs are you trying to meet from the pursuit of thinness?

It’s not only about making peace with your body it’s about what you are trying to get from thinness.

“Thinness isn’t an innate human need. However, acceptance & love are. The problem is, we THINK we will acquire acceptance & love VIA thinness…”

Victoria Kleinsman

  • So how can you start to meet those needs in other ways because dieting just doesn’t work for you?
  • How can you start to meet those universal human needs in a healthier more nourishing way over time?
  • What are you trying to avoid through perusing thinness? 
  • Why do you care about losing weight so much? 

What are your values?

Do you know what your values are? If not, spend some time connecting to yourself and what’s really important to you. The huge feeling of disconnection and lostness in life can come from not being in alignment with your values. We all have values whether we are aware of them or not. I suggest you become aware of them and then take a look at what living in alignment with them means to you.

For example, my top value is freedom and I think it has been for most of my life. Yet when I was dieting and trying to control my body, that was the exact opposite of freedom. Society and my family conditioning had taught me to value what my body looked like above all else and so I dedicated my life doing just that yet I was so far out of alignment of my actual true soul value of freedom. No wonder I was never happy. If someone truly values control and discipline then they will be IN alignment with controlling and disciplining themselves.

Find out what your values are my love.

In memory of…

Another question you can ponder is “what would you want to be read at your funeral?” Would you be thrilled with; “She was so disciplined. she always said no to birthday cake and managed to maintain her size 8 figure all her life. She spent many hours in the gym to keep her trim athletic figure. What an achievement!”

Or would you be happier with; “She was happy and carefree. She made others feel accepted and loved in her presence because love and acceptance just shone out of her.” ?

Future tripping

Future-tripping is an actual clinical term, also known as anticipatory anxiety: when one worries about something that hasn’t even happened yet. Compulsive future tripping and planning is simply an attempt at grasping for safety and control.

When we feel overwhelmed in life in general, out of control or unsafe it’s easy, natural (because it’s what we’ve been taught to do) and habitual to just turn towards our body. We’re trying to make the future secure by either thinking about controlling our bodies or actually attempting to control our bodies.

Don’t forget that dieting and weight loss promise a life free of problems. So no wonder we turn to manipulate our bodies when we feel overwhelmed or unhappy in life.

“I will be happy when… {sometime in the future} when everything is in control and safe.”

It’s that sense of comfort that something in the future will provide more safety than the present moment. It’s a way to resist reality and relieve some of the emotional pain you may be experiencing.  

What to do when you’re future tripping

The first step is always to notice that it is happening.

“Ding ding ding there goes my control brain!” and you will notice the anxious energy in your physical body. You” be tense and “on guard.” You will feel the opposite of relaxed and peaceful. Notice that it’s happening and take it as a signal to relax, surrender and be in the present moment. 

You can take a deep breath to relax more physically and then say:

“This is the body I have today and I can’t control it anyway now or in the future.”

Ask yourself, “how can I make peace with the body I have right now?”

There’s more you can do around body acceptance but start there. It also helps if you have clothes that actually fit you. If you open your wardrobe and it’s full of clothes that no longer fit the body you have now, have a sort out. Put the smaller clothes in bags and store them in the garage. Give them to charity. Sell them. Anything, you just don’t want to look at them every day as this won’t help in any way.

You’ll find it very liberating and beneficial to your food freedom and body love journey if you have clothing options that you like and that fit you.

So stop future tripping and come back to the present moment. And if you’d like support, I got you!

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