Every one of us has a comfort zone that we settle into – that comfy old chair, maintaining the status quo by holding ourselves back (like not taking promotions because we fear screwing up bigger, more important jobs,) or the yummy comfort foods we cling to in times of stress, sadness, or again, fear.
Deeper still, a very common comfort zone is fear of failure. Here’s what happened to me over the years.
I was frustrated at work, so I ate. I was frustrated in relationships, so I ate. I was frustrated I never had money, so I ate. Because I was getting bigger, I ate. Then, as I grew, I knew big and tall stores existed, therefore I could always find clothes that fit, welcoming me into a “fat-ternity.” Their friendly staff made me feel “normal.” Finally, because I never told anyone about my attempts (and failed attempts) to lose weight, my weight became its own comfort zone. I always hid in being big, never letting on that I had dropped and re-gained those same 10 pounds.
I know comfort zones all too well.
The day I broke up with my comfort zones came in 2005 when I looked at a photo of myself. I had ballooned up to an enormous 400 pounds. I was sad I had used the excuses of sadness, stress and fear in my life to eat and eat and eat, and I was scared if I kept those comfort zones they would eventually kill me. My comfort zones were not good for me and it was time to break up with them.
I simply started by walking an hour every day after work and doing sit-ups. I started working on me for me. The first time I was able to buy something in Macy’s I almost cried. It was a simple XXL wool sweater, but it might as well have been made for me by Giorgio Armani himself. I felt a little guilty not buying that sweater from my big and tall store, but it really was a proud victory and I wanted to feel victory again and again. I was breaking out of my comfort zone cocoon by shrinking out of it.
Why didn’t I do something sooner than 2005? Fear of the unknown, the new, of failing and yes, even succeeding. We wrap ourselves in comfort cocoons because saying, “Look, I am trying something different and new” is sometimes the scariest thing a person can do.
I’m just like you. My weight loss journey scares me, and I ask the same questions you do. What if I gain weight back? Would that mean I’m a failure?
I know beginning this is scary. Sometimes I feel so out there and bare, especially after losing my mom to that demon cancer. The comfort zones of food and bigger clothes are so tempting and they’re always there. However, the feelings of accomplishment and success you get from achieving ANY sustained weight loss are very powerful feelings we all can – and will share.
In “City Slickers,” Billy Crystal holds up his index finger and says that he’s searching for that “one thing” that will make him happy again. You and I together will take those scary steps out of our comfort zones and continue to find our “one thing” that will make our worlds that much braver, while we make ourselves that much smaller and that much better.