Weight Loss Support - Does anyone else struggle with a fear of being more vulnerable if you lose weight?




presmaggie
10-29-2009, 10:16 AM
I've struggled with my weight for years. For some reason, in the 170's weight range, I always struggle with fear. It's like I associate being smaller with being more vulnerable or weak.

I know where this comes from (my childhood and early 20's), but I have yet to find a way to overcome this issue.

Has anyone found a way to deal with this fear? By the way, I've been weight training for several months now and I AM really strong. Unfortunately, I still have this mental association of thin=weak and I'd like to change it. I need to change it for the sake of my health.


justaloozer
10-29-2009, 10:22 AM
Yes, I do worry about my vulnerability when I lose weight. I have not overcome this fear yet but I can't let it hold me back anymore.

rockinrobin
10-29-2009, 10:30 AM
Yes. I've struggled with this. In fact that was one of the *reasons* I "became" fat. To distance people from myself. And it worked! BUT the price was just too hard and too expensive. It was no longer working for me. I was lonely, depressed, sad, anxiety ridden, underproductive, and fearful for my very life.

For me, it got to the point that I was MORE afraid to stay fat then to lose the weight. I was no longer a child or even a young adult. I was a mature woman (42) when I started my journey. So that helped me too. AFter suffering SO much for over 20+ years, I figured it HAD to be easier to deal with people, situations, vulnerability and just about anything else life threw my way - being happier, more self confident, slimmer and healthy. And yes stronger. I really felt much weaker when I was heavy, in hindsight of course. I've gained SO much self respect, self control, self discipline, and use of my body. And it has trickled down to every area of my life. EVERY AREA.

Having conquered my weight, I feel as if there's nothing that I can't conquer.


mom4life
10-29-2009, 10:33 AM
I bought a shotgun. LOL
I'm struggling with it too. I was only overweight for 8 yrs but I started feeling this when I got into the 140's. I thought I was the only one.

bandit2
10-29-2009, 10:49 AM
When I gain weight I have less "man problems" & I think that is one of the reasons I have gained in the past. Recently, I have lost 30# and back out dating, hopefully this time it will be a good experience.

jelder227
10-29-2009, 12:14 PM
I bought a shotgun.

LOL - you gotta love the Texas attitude. (We have several).

Seriously though, I never really realized it, until I lost some weight this time - and my husband actually weighs more than I do! I am more vulnerable - even though I'm stronger.

When my 70 pound lab jumped up at me (she's finally grown out of that), my abs were stronger, so she wouldn't knock the breath out of me, but I had less mass and she was more like to knock me backwards.

And family wrestling matches are much more equitable now - I can't just sit on him! He can toss me around. But, I have more arm strength to fight back.

I guess the most important thing is to focus on the ways in which you have actually decreased your vulnerability. If nothing else, you should be able to run faster! Also, maybe some self defense classes if it really bothers you.

duckyyellowfeet
10-29-2009, 12:23 PM
Absolutely. I worry that I'll lose all this weight, have nothing to blame all of my problems on and then where will I be?
Making a major change leaves you vulnerable no matter what, imo. And I know that in order to be thinner and healthier, I'll lose a part of myself...that scared, fat girl who constantly doubts herself. But I think you also have to think about what you're gaining: a strong, confident woman who can overcome anything she sets her mind to.

Its scary...but luckily, its a journey we all have a lot of support for.

Tomato
10-29-2009, 01:00 PM
Not at all. I never had that fear.

Glory87
10-29-2009, 03:11 PM
Me either. When I was heavy, I always felt like a big, unfeminine linebacker-type. I longed to be petite and dainty.

It is always so interesting to see other issues and how a journey can be so different!

I would say, I guess, how much weaker would you really be? Does being heavy make you STRONG or just BIG? I know that I am a stronger person, I can run up flights of stairs that used to leave me gasping, walk for hours at the zoo when I used to have to rest.

Wannabeskinny
10-29-2009, 03:15 PM
In about 4 pounds I will officially not be obese anymore. It's scary to think that I am obese, but even scarier that I'm not going to be obese anymore. The pressure feels like it's mounting. People are noticing, old clothes are coming out of the closet, there are so many more things that I can do now.... and now I have to do them, which is scary. I've never had to wear heels before, I've never had to define my waist before, I've never had to work this little to get attention, all eyes are on me. It's scary.

And men, where did all these men come from? I'm married and I have no interest but is this how skinny women are harrassed on a daily basis? The eyes, the winks, the compliments, the cat calls.... I'm not comfortable with it at all. I'm doing this to be healthy, I'm not doing this for that kind of attention.

It's scary to be thinner.

rockinrobin
10-29-2009, 03:30 PM
It's scary to be thinner.

But isn't it scarier NOT to be? You said you were in this for health reasons, correct? Getting to a "normal" weight gives you your best shot at the longest life possible, while having a higher quality of life (disease free, more confidence, energy, clothing choices, activity levels and so on).

I certainly hear you on the attention and all that stuff. But I believe that this is how it was always supposed to be. I believe you will become accustomed to it. You're still adjusting. It takes time. You'll get there. And in the meantime rejoice in the fact in what you've done for yourself. You're becoming the best you that you can be. :hug:

Oh and if you don't want to define your waist, don't. ;)

Windchime
10-29-2009, 03:45 PM
I find it a little bit scary, but also exhilerating. I won't ever be tiny or defenseless, because I'm 5'11" and have always considered myself able to take care of myself if I should ever be attacked. (I was attacked once and defended myself quilte nicely, thankyouverymuch!). But the scary part comes from the vulnerability. As I get slimmer, men start to notice me more. Last time I lost weight, I dated a guy for several months and I don't think it was a coincidence that I started gaining again soon after we stopped dating. I think I need to learn how to handle relationship stuff this time around.

But the part that ISN'T scary is the health stuff. I get around a lot easier, I feel a lot better. So that part isn't scary. It's the dealing-with-men part that scares me. And I'm not sure why, because most men are very nice people!

thistoo
10-29-2009, 03:46 PM
I have the opposite experience. I feel so much stronger and more in control now, even at all of 5 feet tall. I get a lot more attention from men, sure, (as in, any at all) but I feel much more in control of our interactions. They are looking at me as something desirable and therefore I'm in charge, I guess, whereas I used to assume, if a man so much as glanced in my direction, that he was thinking 'fatty' or something even worse, and my self-consciousness gave *them* all the power.

It's funny how psychology changes as you change sizes. Maybe it's because I've been overweight since my preteen years, but I'm sort of enjoying all the stuff that goes along with being thinner and fitter and gaining attention. Actually, there's no 'sort of' to it at all.

sprklemajik
10-29-2009, 04:26 PM
An idea- if you're feeling concerned for your safety because your now smaller maybe you should go to therapy or take some defense classes.

Just my personal experience - being larger doesn't necessarily mean you're safer. I wasn't sexually assaulted, but was carjacked at a much higher weight. When there's threats of violence, size doesn't matter. Not that I think that helps what you're working through... just how I've progressed through it.

taylor
10-29-2009, 04:38 PM
yes. i have the same fear.

but on the other hand, being fit and in shape lends itself quite well to being able to defend yourself. i have a girlfriend who is quite small, but she is freakishly strong. you would never know unless you tested her. ;)

i agree about self-defense classes. what about taking up martial arts, kickboxing, boxing....anything like that as an addition to your workout?

there are many ways to take care of yourself. being aware of your surroundings, being confident, eye contact, alertness etc. size isn't the most important aspect. many instances of smaller people overpowering larger people, or at the very least being faster.

like i said, i struggle with the same fear. but i honestly just don't see how being larger is going to help. now...if we're talking no muscle...anorexic diet...lethargic thin? then i'd worry. but fit and in shape and strong and lean? not a problem. :D

carter
10-29-2009, 04:50 PM
This is a very interesting discussion; thanks everyone.

It's a kind of thought I've never had. I suppose it's true that I'm getting smaller, in some measurement-of-mass sense, but that's not at all how I perceive myself.

I perceive myself getting stronger, fitter. I don't perceive this process as making me delicate, dainty, and feminine - that ain't who I am. My exercise of choice is lifting, and I like to lift heavy and really feel my muscles working. I love the pump I get in my biceps after I lift, and I love that as I lose fat I can feel those muscles more readily, start to see definition that wasn't there when I was a weak, winded blob of dough.

So in a way I feel bigger than before - but in a good way. I stand taller; I take longer strides.

ubergirl
10-29-2009, 08:05 PM
So in a way I feel bigger than before - but in a good way. I stand taller; I take longer strides.

Hmm. Me too. I am tall, but I don't feel tall when I'm heavy. The more I lose, the taller I feel.

presmaggie
10-29-2009, 08:15 PM
Wow, thanks for the insight! I guess it's important for me to remember that my being vulnerable at that younger age had more to do with my state of mind than the size of my body. It's just that I haven't been thin since my therapy years and it's just an old association in my head.

I lift heavy weights, too, and I love feeling really strong. It must be helping to fill that need to be strong.

Lots of "food" for thought here.;)

WildThings
10-29-2009, 10:11 PM
I would recommend a self-defense course too...not just for smaller women, but all women. A lot of confidence comes with knowing that if faced with a dangerous situation, you will know how to react and protect yourself. Put those new found muscles and agility behind some basic self-defense and you will be like Wonder Women out there :) .

JasonsLea
10-30-2009, 01:03 AM
Yes. My biggest fear is that I'll be weak.

Susannah27
10-30-2009, 01:15 AM
Wow, I certainly identify with this!

I don't physically feel vulnerable, but when I weigh less, I feel more emotionally vulnerable. I can't figure it out. I am happier, clothes fit better, I have more energy... But it's like I've lost a protective barrier that I need.

People also treat me better when I look better, and I have to wonder if something in me gears me toward believing that I don't deserve that. When I started gaining weight after a hard-fought-and-won 40 lb weight loss, you can be sure I was conscious of every pound that returned... But for some reason I let it go on and on, and backslid back to my original starting point and then some... My goal this time is to lose the weight and refuse to regain it.

I'm glad I am not the only one who feels this way...

srr728
10-30-2009, 02:18 AM
This may sound weird but I liked being heavy because I didn't feel like I had to worry about being attacked or leered at. Being big I occasionally got looks, but I am afraid of being really hot lol I know it sounds silly, but I have gotten so used to being with my husband ( he's 6'5'' and kicks *** ;)that I never worry about going anywhere, but now I find myself scared to be out after dark without him, and I used to go places all hours of the night by myself. So I need to life some more weights and I was thinking of a self-defense class so I dont have to be worried about jogging by myself etc.

I hope that makes sense ;)

ringmaster
10-30-2009, 06:09 AM
being overweight and unfit I feel weaker physically. I feel tired and sluggish and if I had a physical attack I'm not sure I'm strong enough to defend myself or in shape enough to try to run fast and get away. The only type of thin I really look at and think "weak" are the superskinny runway models.


But the part that ISN'T scary is the health stuff. I get around a lot easier, I feel a lot better. So that part isn't scary. It's the dealing-with-men part that scares me. And I'm not sure why, because most men are very nice people!

That's where I feel vulnerable also. Just the attention, and if I wind up with someone and happen to gain weight back for whatever reason if I'll still be liked.

each2each
11-03-2009, 02:23 PM
Yes. I've struggled with this. In fact that was one of the *reasons* I "became" fat. To distance people from myself. And it worked! BUT the price was just too hard and too expensive. It was no longer working for me. I was lonely, depressed, sad, anxiety ridden, underproductive, and fearful for my very life.

Exactly this. My size and height have always served to ward people off, but as I've matured, all of those same problems you mention have cropped up for me, and I've come to realize that hiding in this fat suit just won't cut it.

This journey has shown me that there is a lot about myself that I've yet to learn.

Aclai4067
11-03-2009, 03:31 PM
I feel the opposite right, I think I'm much more vulnerable bigger and I've always viewed smaller women as strong.

BellaDiva
11-03-2009, 03:56 PM
I am scared of being noticed more. When was thinner people always said a lot about it and I hate being the center of attention. Hopefully we can move on from that pretty quickly.

raebeaR
11-03-2009, 04:32 PM
I can relate to this in every way discussed here. First, emotional vulnerability because of looking better and garnering more male attention, and second, physical vulnerability because of looking more like a "victim." I worked for years in criminal courtrooms and I KNOW that how women look plays a role in their vulnerability. Your fears are a valid concern, but don't let them rule your life.

The concern over physical vulnerability is much easier to address: Everyone here who has encouraged self-defense courses are spot on! Learn how to defend yourself! Any size woman can learn how to fight hard against any size of an attacker. You learn to fight dirty. Become situationally aware at all times. Pay attention to your instincts. If something feels "wrong," get yourself out of the situation as fast as you can.

For home defense (and I say this as a woman who lives alone on 35 acres in the middle of nowhere), purchase a good .12 gauge shotgun, learn to shoot it well and keep it handy in your bedroom. Keep a couple of dogs. Install some motion sensor lighting. Know your best "escape" routes from your home and keep a set of car keys on your bed stand -- in fact, hide a spare set in the garage or some other easily-gotten-to place outside your house.

As for the emotional vulnerability, well, that's quite a bit tougher -- or has been for me, anyway. I guess all we can do is examine what drives our fears of becoming attractive to men. I know mine; it's something with which only the passage of time has been able to help. To me, addressing this fear takes a lot more courage than the other.

nooch
11-04-2009, 01:03 AM
For me, I feel vulnerable now. I feel vulnerable when people throw things at me out their car windows, I feel vulnerable when people moo at me, I feel vulnerable when people point at me and don't even bother to lower their voices when they say EW, LOOK AT THAT. I feel vulnerable when I scare small children in the supermarket.

I feel vulnerable when the world tells me I should not be allowed to love myself as I do because to them I am less than. I feel vulnerable when I'm told that everything I believe is wrong - that I'm wrong when I think I'm fabulous, that I am wrong when I say that I am just as valid a human being as one half my size.

THAT makes me feel vulnerable. I feel vulnerable when I think about all the times and ways I could be attacked and beaten and be blamed for it because I had the audacity to go outside while fat. I felt vulnerable when the principal of my elementary school told my mother it was my own fault I was getting the crap kicked out of me every day because if I just lost weight the other kids wouldn't have a reason to torment me.

I will never be dainty or delicate or cute - I will always be a powerhouse. When I started losing weight, I was an offensive lineman. Now I'm closer to a linebacker. Soon I'll be a running back. One day I'll be a defensive back, and that's when I'll be satisfied.

I don't fear attention from men because I have always gotten it. I got more when I was in the low to mid 200s, but I am used to it and I know how to handle it. I didn't get fat to hide - I was never NOT fat. So for me, I am shedding the vulnerabilities as I lose weight.

raebeaR
11-04-2009, 10:30 AM
nooch... a very moving post, and a thought-provoking perspective. I think you're fabulous!!

Wannabeskinny
11-04-2009, 11:02 AM
For me, I feel vulnerable now. I feel vulnerable when people throw things at me out their car windows, I feel vulnerable when people moo at me, I feel vulnerable when people point at me and don't even bother to lower their voices when they say EW, LOOK AT THAT. I feel vulnerable when I scare small children in the supermarket.

I feel vulnerable when the world tells me I should not be allowed to love myself as I do because to them I am less than. I feel vulnerable when I'm told that everything I believe is wrong - that I'm wrong when I think I'm fabulous, that I am wrong when I say that I am just as valid a human being as one half my size.

THAT makes me feel vulnerable. I feel vulnerable when I think about all the times and ways I could be attacked and beaten and be blamed for it because I had the audacity to go outside while fat. I felt vulnerable when the principal of my elementary school told my mother it was my own fault I was getting the crap kicked out of me every day because if I just lost weight the other kids wouldn't have a reason to torment me.

I will never be dainty or delicate or cute - I will always be a powerhouse. When I started losing weight, I was an offensive lineman. Now I'm closer to a linebacker. Soon I'll be a running back. One day I'll be a defensive back, and that's when I'll be satisfied.

I don't fear attention from men because I have always gotten it. I got more when I was in the low to mid 200s, but I am used to it and I know how to handle it. I didn't get fat to hide - I was never NOT fat. So for me, I am shedding the vulnerabilities as I lose weight.

Thank you for sharing such a personal perspective. It is tremendously difficult to accept who you are when others don't. Nobody torments people who are ill, and we the overweight seem to be the exception to that rule. I see my eating disorder as a real illness and it hurts when others dispute my right to exist happily.

Breakfreenrun
11-04-2009, 12:11 PM
I just had to write back to this. I think most peoples answers have been a physical fear, but it is an emotional fear. My weight was the thing that covered me, that kept me from being exposed to others. When people looked at me it was not my face or my brains it was my weight ( or so i thought )and i liked it that way. I know it may sound strange to others but my weight was my comfort blanket...the thing that I could focus on, the thing I could blame, the thing that was my excuse. I am now coming into this weight loss journey a strong confident women who can stand on her own against others without the "friend" ive had my whole life. I am ready to let go. I hope this helps you, just writing it has helped me.