During the years that I studied dance and played basketball, I was very lean and muscular – never bony, but toned and very athletic looking. For two years in college, I worked out at least four days a week and when I graduated I was in the best shape of my life. Over the years, I might have added 10 – 15 pounds at times, but was always able to get it back off again. It wasn’t until after Monkey Man was born that I really ballooned up and became truly overweight.
As I mentioned earlier, I have lost 40 pounds since last September. It actually wasn’t very difficult for me – I guess I’m one of those lucky people that have a decent metabolism, and as long as I’m eating OK and getting some regular form of exercise, the weight just falls off. I reached 40 pounds just before the end of December and have managed to keep it off. Honestly, I could probably stand to lose about ten more, but haven’t been motivated to do that because I feel like I’m “just right” for now.
On Friday I ran into one of my friends that I worked with out on the jobsite who has left the company. We hadn’t seen each other in several months, and the visible shock on his face when he saw me was pretty surprising. He grabbed me in a huge bear hug and kept repeating over and over how skinny I was and that he thought that I look great. I guess that it is pretty startling to see me now compared to how I looked last summer, but it’s almost disconcerting to have people commenting about it all the time. I mean, it seems like it’s every day that something about my weight comes up from my friends, family, and coworkers.
I think the unsettling part of it to me is that when I look at myself in the mirror, I don’t see myself the way other people do…I see the baby roll still on my stomach, the ass that needs a little more firming up, and the hint of a double chin that I am so self-conscious about. It’s not that I’m displeased about my progress or the way I look now, I guess it’s just that I’m so unaccustomed to the positive attention that I’m receiving that it almost makes me cringe when people say things. It’s not that I think that they’re being hurtful or saying anything cruel…it just brings me back to the realization of how much I had lost myself for a few years.
It was a really weird period in my life, because I was so focused on everything and everyone around me that I really lost my sense of self. When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t see someone that was overweight…I really didn’t see anyone at all except for the shell of my former self. Gradually as the pounds came off and I started paying more attention to my health and had some really good things happening again in my life, the “old me” came creeping back in again. I feel more like Me than I have in almost five years.
The weight loss scares me. It scares me because I don’t remember how exactly I got to that place. I weigh myself every day, hoping to stop the barbarians at the gate this time before I spiral out of control again. And it scares me that I really didn’t see myself as being out of control either – so how will I recognize it again without being a slave to the scale and obsessing over gaining half of a pound?
Will I ever be comfortable in my new skin? And will I ever be able to smile and say “thanks” when someone compliments me on my weight loss instead of mentally calculating in my head how many pounds ago I saw the person? How long is it going to take me to be able to walk past a mirror or a store window, catch a glimpse of myself, and not wonder “Who’s the fat chick?”
I love the new Me, I’m just not sure when the old Me will finally be silent.
Note: The top picture was taken in October 2005, when I was about 2 weeks into my weight loss journey. The second picture was from early December, with about 28 pounds gone. The third picture is from a month ago, and 40 pounds after I started.