Thursday, January 28, 2010

Underneath the Blanket

Yesterday I read a blog recommended by a friend and I found it very thought-provoking. The woman was talking about body dysmorphic disorder (sp?) and how after you lose weight you can’t see yourself thin. That got me to thinking about me and my incessant need to still go automatically to plus sizes when I shop….I even convince myself the clothes are much cuter there anyway. How do you break a habit like that you’ve had your whole life – in just months or a year? Is it possible? Does any woman really do it? I mean YES – of course it’s part of the dream – walking into a store and shopping in regular sizes and looking good but to me that isn’t what happens. For me – it’s not that I don’t see myself thin – it’s that I don’t see myself as thin “enough”. There’s comfort in plus sizes because no matter what I pick up off the rack it’ll fit and it might be a little big but it fits. There’s no sucking in air, zipping zippers into skin, cursing in the dressing room, etc. It just fits. If I were to break the habit and go right to my real size – there’s a chance it won’t fit – just like it never did all those years before. There’s a chance I have to put it all back and then go to the plus section where I should have started anyway. There’s a chance the size I thought I now was – isn’t – not in this brand anyway and I can’t take that rejection – not one more time.

I think the perfect invention is a blow up life-size before picture of yourself that you could fold up and carry in your purse. Just imagine me standing in the dressing room thinking – “Are you freaking kidding me? I ran 5 miles every day this week and my fat @ss still won’t fit in a size 12?” – when suddenly before I break into tears and whip out the Twinkie in my purse that I could get out a picture of me at my highest weight and stand it up next to me while in that dressing room…..THEN – yes THEN – I wouldn’t feel like such a failure knowing I have to reach for the next size up. I could “see” it – right there in front of me. Because for me – I forget how far I’ve come, the hills I’ve climbed, the struggles I’ve faced and how big I was. I think we all want to forget it so we do…but remembering is part of the key. I suppose this is why people who are successful at weight loss carry a picture of themselves at their highest weight around with them. Forgetting doesn’t work….it’s pretty much denial that a fat me ever existed.

It’s the same with staying home instead of going out because you can’t find anything that looks good and you’re afraid of what people will say. I thought that would go away after losing 70 lbs – turns out no – the feeling is the same, just a different reason. Now I’m afraid I haven’t lost enough, still nothing looks right and my God what if someone notices and says something like “how much weight have you lost?’ You’d think that would be a celebration but for me it’s not. Saying I lost 70 lbs is flat out admitting I had it to lose. Saying I lost it is admitting to the public I was overweight. It’s like admitting I had a problem and who the hell wants to admit that? It’s all part of the journey I realize now – saying yes – I let myself go, I didn’t care, I had issues, I had problems, I didn’t make myself a priority, I wasn’t healthy – sometimes to complete freaking strangers….but every time you say it – it gets easier to believe. And every time I have to walk out of the dressing room and put the plus size clothes back and go get a smaller size – it gets easier to see.

Part of me loved the fat girl in me – because I told myself I was happy with me as me – fat and all - and confident enough to be fat in my own skin and know people still loved me. I filled myself with good lies every day and I believed them. It was a good fat world……until the sun went down and darkness fell and I was still fat. I guess now there’s a difference – I’m awake even in that darkness now. I’m doing this for me. Though I have lost almost 1/3 of what I was – I’m more of a person today than I was then. But I will never make the mistake of thinking that weight was just fat. It wasn’t – it was a symbol of a million things I couldn’t face or talk about or live with. Fat is like a blanket that covers you up and keeps all the ooey-gooey stuff nice and warm on the inside while you go on living on the outside. You lose it and it’s like someone stripped off the blanket and you have big arrows above you flashing and pointing like a neon sign saying “Look at this girl. Look what is under her blanket. Sins. Misdeeds. Imperfections. Lies. Pains. Heartaches. Come one come all – open for everyone to see!” It’s scary as hell. And beware - it's not like as a kid when your mom ripped off your bandaid in one swift move. Oh no - this blanket stripping is slow and drawn out - painstakingly slow at times.

I have told anyone who asks – losing weight is easy science. Calories in – calories out – work out – done. The emotional weight loss is a whole different story and it’s not for the feint of heart. That’s why I believe so many people gain it back. So many say well I stopped working out and I started eating cookies again. Sure you did but why? I believe it’s because the emotional weight loss was starting to take hold and facing that inner you that you haven’t seen in years is more scary than carrying around an extra 50 lbs. But if you want – blame it on the cookies – I’ll never tell….I’ve been there. Done that.

1 comment:

Justawallflower said...

So, I know that you could have had a baby in the time you wrote this and the time I am posting this comment, (nine months later, incase my joke didn't come across....) but I was just reading back, and this really spoke to me! First, I fear that once I am banded (I appreciate that you have lost the weight naturally (or as naturally as killing yourself at a gym can be) but I need the assistance of a band)I will have the issue you speak of with body dysmorphic disorder. I am a size 20 now, at 5'7", I have about 100 pounds to lose to get back to my high school weight. At around 140-150 pounds (in high school), wearing a size 9-10, I was constantly dieting. Like I said, I'm 5'7", I could not pull off a size six or so. Anyway, I was always on a quest to lose 30 pounds, never skinny enough. Hopefully now, ten years later, the wisdom that comes with age will kick in when I see a size 10-12 (hopeful sizes) in the mirror and I will be accepting of that. I do not want to go back to the way of thinking I had when I was that small before and it wasn't good enough.

Secondly, I completely agree with you. In order to maintain long term weight loss one must deal with the issues that got them to that weight in the first place. I realized this a few months ago, after taking off 42 pounds, and actually starting to feel good about my progress, only to gain it all back. I started to see a psychologist to deal with the underlying issues. I am preparing to take the weight off with the assistance of the lap band (hopefully very soon) and keep it off by dealing with the issues underneath. Thanks for sharing this post, it really touched me, as I can completely identify with it!