Fat to Fit to First Level: Becoming a Learner

“If my painful, plodding, raw honest revelations can help even one of you have an easier time on your own journey, this will all be worth every moment of frustration and fear.” As Esther recovers from a fall, she takes a moment for some self-reflection.

If you read this column regularly, you already know that I, like Humpty Dumpty, took a “great fall” off Kaliwohi not long ago. I wish it hadn’t happened, but it did. A subsequent fall (not horse-related) a few days later compounded the original injuries to the point where I am grounded for a bit.

I choose to invest this time to do more than heal. I choose to start exploring the hardest question of all on my weight-loss journey.


Why has the scale been stuck for so many months now, as I hover at twenty-plus pounds gone, but never get to my next milestone of thirty pounds down? Why can’t I lose this weight quicker? Why?

Kaliwohi is now down to a “5” on the Henneke scale. He could be more fit, for sure, but my original goal – to get the excess weight off him that had him at a “7” back in January 2017 – has been achieved.

Kaliwohi showing off his “5” svelte self. Photo by Tess McHone, Everyday Beauty Photography

So, if I can get my mustang’s weight under control, why am I fighting such an epic “battle of the bulge” with myself?

Sometime over the last few days, this video popped up on my social media feed. Entitled “If You Feel Stuck Watch This,” Tom Bilyeu makes some very thought-provoking statements, including this one:

“Every time we believe something about our identity it becomes our reality.”

This sentence felt like the mental equivalent of the bodyslam crash that put me out of the saddle. When I read something so profound, I often find myself mentally diagramming the sentence for clarity and impactful understanding.

“Every time” – not one time, not sometimes, every time.

“we believe” – not someone else imposing their believe about me on me, but my belief about myself.

“something about our identity” – such as, “I’m fat,” “I’ve been fat for decades now, there’s no way I can fix this,” “it’s too late for me to be my true self,” etc. All negative. None helpful.

“[that belief] becomes our identity.”

I bet I sat with this sentence for an hour, pondering the vast implications contained therein.

Bilyeu self-identifies as a “learner.” Check out the vid linked above for his rationale for this moniker, but my point is, as someone with ten years of college and seven degrees under her belt, I absolutely love the concept of self-identifying as a “learner.”

So as I studied on my personalized version of Bilyeu’s statement, “every time I believe something about my identity it becomes my reality,” two critical points came to consciousness.

First, I have believed myself to be fat for decades. I’ve heard the words, “plump,” “pudgy,” “obese,” “fluffy,” “fat,” “chubby” (oh, how I detest that word!) for so very long, my self-identification circuitry has become hard-wired to think of myself as hopelessly overweight. On the inside, I still feel slender and fit, but my expectations when I look in a mirror are vastly different.

Second, I started asking myself this question. If every belief about my identity becomes my reality, shouldn’t it be possible, then, for me to re-wire my self-identity circuitry?

What if I start self-identifying as the fit, thin self I feel like inside? What if I ignore the mirrors, speak only positive identifier statements to myself (and silence the nagging negativity that hammers on my self-esteem daily!), and do whatever it takes to literally re-program my own beliefs about me?

Is it possible that the fat clings to me physically because I cling to it emotionally, like Linus and his blanket?

Who would I be if I weren’t “fat Esther?” Do I know? Do I want to know? Do I have the courage to find out? Am I afraid of the unknown?  Am I terrified of… success?

There’s a question to consider. Am I scared of actually getting the weight off because, if I do, I won’t have a clue who I am? I won’t be slim size 8 twentysomething Esther. She’s long gone, and, frankly, I prefer wiser, older Esther anyway. But perhaps, just maybe, wiser, older Esther can reside in a slim, fit body.

So, I’ve made a new covenant with myself. For the next few weeks, I am not going to focus on weight loss per se. Instead, I am going to focus on re-programming my self-esteem. I am going to dedicate myself to ferreting out all the fears that keep me hiding beneath these layers of fat.

I will keep putting my findings, thoughts, fears, and realizations out here for the world to read, because, while I wish this journey were over, the fact is, there are thousands of other women who are fighting this very same battle. The battle of health, the battle of self-identity, and the battle of wholeness. And if my painful, plodding, raw honest revelations can help even one of you have an easier time on your own journey, this will all be worth every moment of frustration and fear.

Like Tom Bilyeu, I, too, am a “learner.” And I’m about to begin an immersion course in a language foreign to me: the language of true positivity towards self.

Join me on this journey on Facebook: Fat to Fit at Horse Nation (page and group), and my blog www.appalachianchic.com.


Go riding.

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