Choosing what to do with fear

Linda Lowen
4 min readOct 19, 2020

On May 6th a number on the scale jolted me out of my lethargy and comfort eating. If I caught covid, I’d end up in the ICU. It took another three weeks to decide on a way of eating I could live with, and on May 28 I made the shift. Today: 50 pounds lost, 9 BMI points down, 27 inches gone (though to be honest I didn’t have the guts to take measurements until mid-June when I’d lost 15 pounds). I still have another 50 to lose.

I’m sharing this to emphasize a simple truth: what you want is possible. And the crazy thing is: fear lives on both ends of that equation. Fear is what propels you and fear is what prevents you from achieving what you want.

I was afraid I’d get sick and die. But I was also afraid that if I tried and failed, my inability to care for myself — by changing my way of eating — would be proof I was inadequate, weak, lazy. In short, a loser.

I hate using that word because of the current political climate, but that’s the fear that drives us. None of us want to be losers. But in striving to win, we lose ourselves every single day in the questionable pursuit of short-term happiness, i.e. the alleviation of pain by means of distraction, mollification, or anesthetization.

I didn’t want to hurt or feel anxiety about the future, so what made me feel better? Toast in the morning with marmalade, just the way my mother enjoyed it. Heaping bowls of rice with green tea poured over it, a childhood comfort food the Japanese call ochazuke. Baking and cooking everything that came up in my feed, including an amazing citrus meringue pie that I made twice it was so good.

Warm, filling, solid: those were the treats that got me through. And my body bloated. My knees got so bad that I could only do the stairs once a day in my home, and I was so lethargic that I fell asleep every day mid-day. Though I posted here that it always happened when I listened to Governor Cuomo’s daily speech because I was so comforted, I knew the truth: I was avoiding pain and fear and anxiety. I was avoiding discomfort because I had no control over what was going on in the world, so at least I could self-comfort with food.

I don’t drink. I can’t. I react badly to recreational drugs (my family has stories). My addiction is food, particularly sugars and carbs. There is no ‘one…

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Linda Lowen

Once upon a time I stopped going to cocktail parties because I hated trying to impress people in 90 seconds or less. Same with brief online bios.