Letting Doubt Fuel Your Pursuits

How many times have you said to a friend, colleague, or acquaintance, “I’m trying to lose 40 pounds?” Let me guess, they said “oh good for you! Me too, but it’s so hard.” Fast forward four months later: you’ve lost the 40 pounds and you run into that same friend, colleague, or acquaintance, and he or she says (although any woman can attest it’s almost ALWAYS going to come from another woman. What’s up with that? C’mon ladies, we gotta love more, envy less. Okay I digress. #endrant.) “oh my goodness, you look great, good for you! Just make sure not to gain it back like I did.” So you say to yourself, is that a complement or a prediction? It sounds like this person is predicting that I can’t maintain this new lifestyle. As if I just spent the last few months busting my ass only to gain all that weight back again. Uh uh, I don’t think so. How dare she! So you tell yourself, “I will show her not only am I going to keep the weight off, I am going to lose another 30 pounds. Take that!” And guess what? You do.

Who knew you had it in you? Well apparently she didn’t. And maybe that’s exactly what motivated you to keep going. Perhaps it was that negativity that fueled your inner drive to not only accomplish what you set out to accomplish but to put all the naysayers to rest. But why? Because, there is no greater motivator than doubt.

Now I realize this is a very bold statement and I’m sure I’ve just lost a few readers by saying so. But everything I write about is based on my own experience. And yes, this scenario I described was me last year. In fact, you can read about it and see for yourself on self.com. I lost 70 pounds in a year. And I did it the old-fashioned way — working out and eating right. No, there wasn’t a miracle fat-burning green juice that makes me look like Kendall Jenner without having to work out. Everyone has a friend of a friend blowing up their Instagram or Facebook feeds with that poppycock. It’s all total bullshit. And it’s okay if you’ve been suckered into these false promises because we’ve all been there at one point or another. But I’m sure you realized (as did I) these get-skinny-quick schemes are fads, short lived, and ineffective in the long run.

Nothing was working. Actually that’s also bullshit. I didn’t try hard enough or stick with it long enough is the real truth. “I want to lose weight” was something I said one too many times yet did nothing about it. It’s no wonder I had some doubters. But on January 1, 2015, New Year’s Day, I woke up and something felt different. I said that’s it, I’m done being unhappy, I’ve got to make a change. And eight days later on January 9th, I had my first session with a personal trainer and made up my mind that by the following year I will have lost 80 pounds.

And you guessed it. I had doubters. And the “doubters” thought I was nuts, overly ambitious, or impractical. And how do you think that made me react? Right again. I said “time to put in work. I will prove each and everyone one of them wrong. Not just for myself, but for anyone who has endured the same weight loss and body image struggles as I have.” I wanted to make a statement — you can do ANYTHING you put your mind to. Never let anyone tell you that you can or can’t do something. Besides, how the hell would they know what you’re capable of? They don’t.

Disagree with me, call me crazy, etc. But ask yourself when is the last time someone underestimated your potential? Perhaps a recruiter saying you weren’t the right fit for a job? Or maybe your significant other saying “honey, you couldn’t possibly put that together on your own.” And how did that make you feel? Probably pretty shitty at first and then you said “screw you, I am going to [fill in the blank]_______ and do it better than you or anyone else dammit.” Okay maybe your reaction won’t be that extreme depending on the circumstance, but I rest my case nonetheless.

I know I’m not alone in this, which is exactly why I felt it was necessary to write this post. So I’ll end with this: take negativity and doubt and convert it into positive energy — energy that will fuel your pursuit into possibilities that never seemed imaginable. At least not to most. But to you they did. And that’s all that matters. In the words of the first African-American female astronaut, Dr. Mae Jemison, “never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.”

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