We all fantasize about how if one thing changed in our lives, everything else would change for the better. If only I had a relationship or more money or a better body. I spent my whole life as a fat girl and I always imagined that if only I could lose the weight- everything would be perfect: I’d be happier, people would want to be my friend, men would find me desirable, I would feel alive. Having lost 60 pounds in a year showed me that while most of those things were true- they came with an equal and opposite reaction that I wasn’t prepared for.
Weight loss, for me, has been about a greater loss…the loss of identity. I always knew who I was because I had spent 36 years crafting myself on the inside and I think I had done a pretty decent job in creating a nice person. If you’re fat on the outside, I think there is a duty to counterbalance that with a more evolved person on the inside. I was a good mom, wife, teacher. I always wanted to help other people and I cared deeply for the people in my life. Others were always at the center of my focus. But the weight loss knocked me on my ass (and without all that extra padding- it really hurt).
I started focusing on myself more and not just more- all the time. All this focus on me sounds like a good thing but it wasn’t because I stopped checking and fixing the inside and instead focused only on the outside. The outside you is the the face that people see and it’s the first judgement a person makes about you and when the outside begins to change so does others and your own opinion of who you are and what you’re about. People who I had known for years, started treating me differently. Men, who I thought were my friends, started responding in weird ways to me, either ignoring me completely or the other extreme. While I wanted the attention, neither option made me feel good. People who I had been friendly with all of sudden started inviting me out, including me in their lives in a more personal way. This sounds like a great thing but it makes you think- why wasn’t I good enough before to be included in this way…do I want to be friends with people who are only willing to deepen our friendship when my body changes to fit more of a mold for who they would associate with? My husband was paying me more attention but then when there would be a lull- I took it deeply personal….Maybe I need to lose more weight? Maybe I’m not pretty enough? Maybe he’s bored with me? Whereas before I would think maybe he’s tired or had a rough day at work. I started feeling sexy and that new feeling somehow got blurred with feeling sexual. This has been the greatest struggle I’ve encountered on my journey because it blindsided me and made me question what was really important to me and who I really wanted to be at my core.
Nobody prepares you for what a significant weight loss will do to your life so I hope you use my cautionary tale to help to help steady you. That fantasy, that it will all be better if only this happened, is like all good fantasies- not without consequence. Be prepared to make some mistakes, question feelings and people you wouldn’t have imagined you would have to, be ready to take a hard look at what you see in the mirror and work diligently to align the two selves. There is a loss in weight loss but if you’re ready for it, it doesn’t have to break you.