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Is getting on a plane a good goal?

Do you not travel or go to events because of your weight?  I know I didn’t.  And it didn’t hit me until a recent conversation with my partner. I still avoid scenarios where I’ll be uncomfortable even though I’m no longer too big for a ______ seat. (Fill it in.  Airplane, theater, bus, arena, concert hall, stadium, restaurant booth, train, and the list goes on.)  I can’t tell you how many opportunities over the years to travel or have an experience that I’ve made excuses for, or just out right declined, simply because I knew I wouldn’t fit in the seat. 

Fear and embarrassment were of course at the root of my hesitation to say yes to different opportunities.  This really started for me in 7th grade.  I was on a band trip (and before you jump to any conclusions, I was super cool!  All trumpet players are…) in which we were performing at a retirement home. The chair I was sitting in broke sending me crashing to the floor in the middle of the performance.

Folding chairs are not my friend!

I spent the rest of the concert kneeling on the floor and wishing I could just disappear.  People were polite afterwards.  Several of my friends said that their chairs felt unsteady too. I knew they were just trying to make me feel better (which was MUCH appreciated.)  But the damage had been done.  I started having anxiety every time I was in a room with folding chairs, or any seating that looked like it wouldn’t support my weight. 

Fast forward a year and another band trip (still super cool) saw me in New York City attending a Broadway show.  The problem was that I was too wide for the theater seats.  I tried to stand in the back but that wasn’t allowed.  Left with no choice, I had to squeeze into the seat and spend the next couple hours in pain, both physical and emotional.  I remember being horrified that I was making the people next to me uncomfortable as I spilled into their space.  I’m sure Miss Saigon is a wonderful show but I couldn’t tell you.  Even when a life-sized helicopter crashed onto the set in the climactic scene, I was too busy worrying about whether or not I would need help getting out of my seat. 

Incidents like these set me on a path in life that would last 25 years.  I don’t want to overstate things.  It’s not as if I had the opportunity to have a private tour of the Louvre or anything.  But family trips to Florida or a friend group going to a concert were things that I simply started saying no to without giving it any thought. 

Have your fears turned into a lifestyle?

Here’s where things get interesting.  I’ve been at a stable weight for years at this point, but I haven’t changed my mindset when it comes to travel and entertainment.  As I mentioned earlier, my partner brought up the topic of overseas travel and my immediate reaction was to start making excuses as to why I couldn’t go.  I quickly realized what I was doing and had to admit that I was feeling anxiety towards something that was no longer my reality.  I can comfortably fit into any seat I want to! 

Looking back on my weight loss journey, I wish I had given more thought to this subject because I think if I had made “comfortable travel” one of my goals, it would have given me a little more motivation on the days that seemed too overwhelming.  For those days that getting up early to work out seemed impossible. 

One thing I’ve realized over the years is that you can’t have too many motivational tricks up your sleeve.  Shooting for a number on the scale is the goal most people latch onto.  After that, things like fitting into old clothes, spending a certain amount of time doing cardio, or staying within your daily calorie allowance are the things we tend to focus on. 

But what about setting a different kind of goal?  Being comfortable in an airplane seems like a fantastic goal to me!  So let me challenge you!  Is your weight keeping you from experiencing life to the fullest?  Is fear and embarrassment, or more specifically the fear OF embarrassment making decisions for you?   

Turn the negative into a positive!

I say turn that negative emotion into the motivation you need to reach that goal.  Tell yourself every day that you are one step closer to that big trip you’ve always wanted to take. Or you’ll finally be able to go to a play and actually enjoy yourself. Imagine not spending the entire time thinking about how uncomfortable you are. Or how your presence is potentially negatively effecting those around you. What would it be like to simply enjoy yourself? Sounds pretty great right?

We haven’t made any travel plans yet (thank you COVID) but as soon as we are able, I intend to get on a plane and go somewhere amazing!  And you know what?  I’m REALLY excited about it!  It almost seems impossible that I would be looking forward to boarding a plane for the first time in my life.

If there is something in your life that you haven’t done simply due to your weight, I hope you can use it as a catalyst to overcome that hurdle.  After all, if I can do it.

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