How to turn your fears into motivation


5 July 2018

A before and after collage of Chris Zaremba's usage of fear to motivate his wellbeing.

Photo copyright: Chris Zaremba

Using fear as motivation to live a better life

At 61, Chris Zaremba is a picture of health – a dedicated gym-goer and marathon runner with a body age of 35.

But this hasn’t always been the case. 11 years ago, the self-proclaimed “obese couch potato” found himself on the road to ruin.

Weighing in at almost 18 stone, Chris’s lifestyle centred on binge drinking and eating fast food – pushing his blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol to dangerous levels. He was morbidly obese with a BMI of 35. Warned by a GP that his unhealthy habits could cost him his life, and having his pilot’s license revoked as a result, was a wake-up call for Chris.

Fear of losing any more of his passions, coupled with the fear of dying early, motivated Chris to take responsibility for his health and wellbeing.

I noticed my body was beginning to show signs of wear and tear because I was carrying so much weight – I needed to get a grip on my health. I decided that time and effort invested in fitness activities would repay themselves in years to come. The alternative was to do nothing and live in fear of what lurked around the corner, which wasn’t an option for me.

Spurred on by wife Jenny, a passionate runner, Chris started to increase his physical activity gradually by walking more, then going to the gym a couple of times a week to do more challenging cardio. He also made a conscious effort to make healthier food choices. These were small but achievable steps for Chris who, apart from occasional cycling and squash, hadn’t much interest in exercise before.

One month in, when he had to forgo a gym session to attend a work meeting instead, Chris had what he calls a “magic moment” – a realisation that he felt disappointed to be missing out. Going to the gym was no longer something he did because he felt he had to, it had become a habit he enjoyed. So he kept it up, gradually progressing from cardio to adding in some weight training, increasing his goals little by little.

A decade later, fitness is not just a hobby for Chris, it’s a passion that he’s turned into a business. A software salesman no longer, Chris is a qualified personal trainer, with a fitness consultancy helping people over 50 achieve their health goals.

I now help people who are in the same position as I was years ago. I remember thinking it was too late to get fit aged 50 and feeling a little bit lost and unsure where to start. But I used my fear – the fear of being left behind on the couch by my marathon-running wife; the fear of becoming so ill I’d have to give up the things I loved doing – as fuel to turn my life around.

Chris’ top tip: Find what feels good

There’s more to fitness than the gym. Ultimately, you have to find what feels good for you – it might start with a walk round the block after dinner, or cycling to work. Make it a regular habit, set realistic goals and just go from there!

What would you do if there was nothing stopping you? Take alook at our article to find out how fear can be a powerful motivator for change, rather than a barrier to leading the life you want.

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