Friday, June 25, 2010

Seeing Change

The other day when I took those progress pictures and posted them, I had to really sit and do double and triple takes for awhile. I do it every time: take pictures, then stare at them because I can hardly fathom that that is ME. I swear I looked at those pictures 100 times yesterday. But I also looked at some old pictures of me at 278 pounds. I also held my face in my hands and cried when I saw some of those pictures from August 2007 that I had forgotten about. How sad I looked. How my face was distorted by the fat. How unhealthy, how unwell, how bereft of hope I had become. I truly wept.

I don't know what kind of mental disconnect allowed me to gain all that weight and not ever really SEE it. I guess I saw it in the mirror. I guess I knew I was wearing size 26/28 pants and 3X-4X shirts. I knew I was in pain... I remember that. But somehow I let myself block out what was really happening to my body. I knew I was fat, but I honestly DID NOT KNOW my true size. And now when I see those pictures after several years I am just shocked.

Whenever I take new pictures, it shocks me the same way. My brain takes a long time to catch up to reality, I guess. Sometimes I think I must have a trick mirror; one day I look and see this thin-looking young woman and I do a double take because I barely recognize her, while the very next day I see myself with fat rolls and a giant belly and I think UGHHH, how can I still look this way after losing 80 pounds?? I probably see myself at about 225 pounds when I look in the mirror now. Except for magic mirror days when I see a normal person.

The pictures are for more than just to show you my progress, although the feedback I get from you all in the comments helps me a lot. You telling me that I look good confirms that I actually DO look smaller and it is not just some weird game my brain is playing with me. The pictures, mainly, are for ME to grasp what is going on with my body. I HAVE to look at them 100 times. It helps me get my brain around the reality of my body. It is a very strange and disconcerting thing to not feel familiar in one's own skin... to not really know what one looks like. I find myself looking at random people on the street and thinking, "Am I as big as her? Am I about that size? Is she bigger than me?" I have a very hard time gauging that. In fact sometimes I have to look at how far apart someone's hips are on a chair and how many inches of extra butt hangs off the sides, and then look down at how I am fitting in the same size chair, in order to get some idea of whether I am that size or not.

And just when I think I have it figured out, it changes. "I am a size 18!" But then I'm not. Hey, I'm not complaining. Just saying, it messes with my head a little.

When I take progress pictures, I am usually pleased with how they turn out. I don't edit them at all, except to lighten them a little when they come out too dark. I think if you saw me on the street, though, you might think I look fatter in person. I dunno, that could just be my warped self image talking, because *I* think I look fatter in person. I certainly have a bit more of a belly when I am wearing a bathing suit or looser pants; I always wear the smallest jeans that will comfortably fit me for my pictures. That way I consistently see the progress instead of loose bits hanging here and there. I mean, really. Things are squishy and weird right now. My belly is NOT firm at all; I can push on the fat and it compresses into a pretty small space. So the jeans do make me look slimmer. However, I always take measurements in the buff, so I get an idea of how my body is changing without the clothes to help.

Anyway, I am trying to be much more aware of my size and my shape as well as my health. I want to NOTICE if I ever start to regain weight. I do not want to obliviously gain 80 pounds in ten months like I did before. I won't be wearing stretch pants for that very reason. I need to know how big I am.

I think it's a good thing to be self aware and in touch with your body. Taking progress pictures and taking measurements helps me do this. I might look in the mirror and see 225 pounds, but there is no denying the truth of the pictures and the measuring tape. I am totally shrinking. And I love it.

31 comments:

beerab said...

Girl you look good! Congratulations on getting to onederland! :) Yay for size 14!

Autumnforest said...

You are describing it well. When my sister had stomach stapling, she melted fast and her mind couldn't readjust. She went shopping for clothes and couldn't find elastic pants that fit and I said, "honey, you need to move on to jeans now." She laughed, not realizing that she didn't have that constraint anymore. It takes time to readjust. I am shrinking too and for the first time in the past few years, I actually stop to see myself in profile in a mirror. Before, my stomach was huge--I'm built like a dude--and I would gasp. Now, I look in profile and go "that's a normal woman's profile." Soon, hopefully, it will be the old modeling shape again. I miss that body. I felt really comfortable in it and no matter which was it was viewed, I didn't worry about people catching a glimpse without me having to suck it in. Yeah, it takes time. I think even when I get to goal, I'll be wanting to wear loose shirts and have to remind myself, honey, you can wear the clingy ones now.

April said...

wow, i totally know exactly how you feel! i'm currently at 194, have lost 70 pounds, and still have 50 to go. i see myself and i almost look "normal" and i think that can't be me. i saw a friend last weekend that i hadn't seen in more than a year, and she was shocked when she saw me. but i HAD to ask "can you really see a difference?" ...i suppose it is because i know that i'm done with this journey. that i still have 50 more pounds to go. and i compare myself to other people all the time. just this morning this woman got on the bus (i ride the bus to work) and i thought to myself "do i look like her?" i can see differences in me when i look at pictures, but i still wonder if i truly am seeing a change? the most obvious is how my clothes fit. majority of my clothes are uncomfortably too big.

i have to say that going on this journey with you helps to not feel so alone. especially since our numbers are so close to one another. thanks for your honesty it is truly appreciated!

lets keep going!

NewMe said...

The tool that tells the real, unvarnished truth is the tape measure. The scale talks in pounds, not fat vs. muscle. So can you lose lots of muscle weight without losing any fat. Pictures can also be misleading: as they say, the camera adds ten pounds.

Your tape measure is giving you real, honest good news.

Congratulations!

Hanlie said...

I think my disconnect happened when I reached puberty, for various reasons. Yes, I only really gained weight 15 years later, but I was never in touch with my body as a teen or young adult. Sad really! Now, at over 300 pounds, I think I'm much more "aware" of my body and even more comfortable in my own skin. Which doesn't mean that I don't get a shock when I see a picture of myself.

I think our minds definitely need to catch up... Good subject, Lyn!

Al (losingharry) said...

When I look in the mirror I see the same fat ass as I did the day, week and month before. Its people that do not see you day to day that notice the difference the most...you look great in those pics and have come a long way.

Lisa said...

I had the exact same experience. I used to see myself in the mirror, I knew I was wearing size 20 pants, I knew how bad I felt but I just never saw that great big girl in the mirror. I think it was because I would only focus on my face, not the fat rolls under it. Even now, after I've lost over 70 lbs, I still see myself the same. But every once in a while I will catch a glimse of my reflection and think "who is that??" or I will see parts of my body and wonder who they belong to. I also wonder if/when/what it will take for me to feel like I am a normal size, not a "fat girl" I wear a size 10 pants now and I still hold them up and think "wow that's a big butt"... maybe when I do that I'll pull out the 20's for some comparison. I've put them on a few times recently and it's comical, but I guess sad too since when I bought them I didn't really think they were all that huge. So, I guess all this was to say I can totally relate to your brain - body disconnect (guess that would be a good description).

Spaghetti Cat said...

Congratulations again Lyn. I totally hear you. I actually have done the same thing- comparing myself to others, not in the sense that many might take it- but just literally trying to gauge myself.

i still have difficulty seeing the "big difference" everyone else sees. Maybe it is because I had convinced myself when i was bigger I was never actually that big, and the only pictures I find, are OBVIOUSLY (lol) very unflattering, but no i was never that big.

I still don't understand when I am putting on clothes- how they fit. actually yesterday I went shopping and tried on larges instead of XL. And they fit. Comfortably. It was WEIRD.

I came out and demanded my friend and husband tell me how tight they were, but they actually just fit.

I have a disconnect between how I think I feel and look, some days I have days where I think I look amazing and most days I feel like i need to be hiding at home..

It is weird but I agree- having people point out the changes helps. I think it is driving people a bit insane when i ask is XYZ smaller? Really? No. Not by a lot though- however I am getting used to me, slowly. I am sure when i get used to "this" size.. I will be smaller!

Very similar to how the numbers on the scale mess with me.... But I am still happy and proud- and you should be happy and proud of yourself too Lyn!!

Shelley said...

Yes, yes and yes to everything you wrote! I still do the "am I the same size as that woman?" but at least I'm getting closer in my estimates...I was way off for quite a while, and it was mostly by taking progress pictures that I began to see myself as smaller. It's an interesting process - weird, but fun at the same time. One of these days you'll have to post your (what I'm sure is a) pretty face, so we can see your big smile!

llanna said...

It's so funny, people who have not been there have no idea how this could happen, but it really does. I lost about 40 pounds ten years ago (gained it all back, lost it again, gained it all back again...you know the drill...but that's all beside the point). It was very quick weight loss, becuase I was stressed from my divorce. It was the one and only time in my life I was too stressed to eat. And had no idea I had gotten thin. No idea.

Until I went into a store to buy new pants for work. I went into the dressing room with a stack of my usual size at the time - 16 - and the pants literally fell off me. I tried 14s and even 12s with the same result. I ended up going home with a bunch of 10s. TENS! I'd dropped three damn pants sizes! But until the moment I tried on those 10s and they fit, all I'd seen in the mirror was the same old fat me and it was totally shocking and overhwhelming to be that small.

Laurens_Closet said...

I'm so impressed with your progress and so proud for you! I REALLY REALLY hope that you'll add your NEW progress pictures on the main page of your blog, along with the "old" pics. I'm sure that would be even more of an inspiration for people!

WAY TO GO!!!

Amy
rebuildingamy.blogspot.com

Glenn, Fat at Fifty-five said...

Visible progress would be a powerful booster. At a mere ten pounds progress I can't see or feel a thing yet. I'm looking forward to a visible difference, whenever it comes!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, talking about a disconnect and seeing change...

My weight has stabilized at 240-243. I had planned to lose more, but my body had other plans. LOL.

I suppose by our culture's standards and obsession with thinness I'm supposed to be upset when I look in the mirror, because I'm still obese in spite of losing 60+ lbs. But I'm happy to see a size 18 woman who can walk and dance and hike and swim and make love with the man of my dreams (my husband). :)

So if you or a reader happens to see a woman my size, no need to assume she sees something negative when she looks in the mirror.

For me, and I suspect for many women, weight is relative. Having been a size 30, my current size 18 is a dream come true. I am at my goal...living comfortably and happy.

Sarah said...

OK. You've convinced me that I need to post my before photos, take progress photos, and track my measurements. I too struggle with body image and have no idea what I look like. My husband has stopped answering me when I point to a woman and say "Am I her size?" or "I feel like I look like her. Am I right?"

I did ask a good friend one night at a bar. There were two women, one was probably 100 pounds heavier than the other. I was sure I looked more like her. My good friend's jaw dropped, and she told me I was not that big. She'd had a few margaritas (truth serum), and I could tell she was being honest.

I am all over the place too. Some days I feel great, and some days I feel like a whale.

Leslie said...

Your journey is particularly poignant and hopeful for me now, Lyn, as I'm in a major struggle mode. I wrote about it today. I just feel very discouraged, disheartened and almost scared. Your story, (I've followed it for a long time) reminds me that healing is possible. Change is possible. I'm just having a hard time believing it can happen to me right now.

septembergrrrl said...

Yes, yes, yes.

Just nodded my way through that so much that I'm dizzy.

So get what you're saying about not recognising your own body. It was not learning this lesson that saw me put back on the bulk of the 75lbs I lost last year. Determined to ditch stretch pants too!

clickmom said...

I AM SO HAPPY FOR YOU. You look fabulous! I do the same thing with my clothes. I keep putting on my 3x shirts, not noticing that they are swirling around me until half way through the day. And if I pick up pants that fit they look unbelievably small. But then they slide right up. Guess what I keep right in front of me in my bedroom these day ..... the charity box!

Dillypoo said...

My husband has caught me looking at myself in the mirror many times. And I still gasp when I lay a pair of pants on the ironing board. They look like kid's clothes! The waist of my old pants used to hang off the sides and now they're narrower than the board!

It's an awesome feeling, isn't it?

Deanna - The Unnatural Mother said...

I hear ya, I hear ya! I so HEAR YA!!! I had a very similar experience around Christmas and I couldn't believe how I let myself get so heavy, and than I can't believe that I much I lost. The pictures are a good reminder of where we've been, how far we've come and perhaps where we need to go! Congrats on all your success, live it, breathe it, accept it!

SG said...

my jaw literally popped open when i saw your picture. i was looking at the pic of you at 278. then i scroll down to your last post and my jaw flew open. oh. my. gosh. wow. wow. wow!!!

i love the way you explain what it's like to not really know your size. and the way you explained yourself before you lost weight brought tears to my eyes.

thank you for reminding me why i am doing this....and more important: that i CAN do this.

you did it! you are doing it! it's possible.

Bunpoh said...

I completely identify with what you're saying here. I have bad mirror days and "magic mirror" days, too. I also am experiencing a disconnect, feel I look larger than pictures show, and feel squishy and weird. My body image hasn"t caught up yet, and I'm still playing the "am I as big as her?" game too, just trying to get a grasp on it. Luckily, my husband lost a large amount of weight also, and he has been helpful and understanding in that regard. The documentation does help, though, I agree. Good job with that.

Mary from Sugar Bush Primitives said...

I've been going back and reading your journey from the beginning. It is inspiring to read your thoughts when you were bigger. I think the mental disconnect is the devil's doing. I know that if I get a craving, the first thing I do is turn off my brain and dig in. Unfortunately I have done a lot of damage while mentally "asleep."

Jennifer said...

I too am having a hard time with trying to figure out what I REALLY look like. I am always comparing myself to others in the mall or on the street trying to figure out what "I" look like. That is why I started taking pics too. I still see a big girl in the mirror and I just wrote about that in my blog today actually. I still have the big girl mentality. Some days I see huge improvements and others I still see a big girl looking back at me. When my husband and I went to the beach a few weeks back I asked him to take tons of pics of me. Not because I am vein by any means but because I am trying desperately to grasp what I really look like. It does help. It is better than just a progress picture ever few weeks or so like I was doing.
Keep up the good work and I am so happy that you are seeing the differences in you!

Jennifer
http://wecanlosethepounds.blogspot.com/

McCulley's said...

This is something so many of us go through. I love how you can put it into plain simple words for the rest of us.

Kat said...

You look AMAZING! All that hard work has paid off... clearly!

Mishe@EatingJourney said...

After losing 100lbs I was at the goal I always 'wanted' to be. However, I decided to lose 30 more lbs. I was 168 for about 2 weeks and I realised upon looking back that I didn't BELIEVE that I could actually be 'skinny'. That I deserved to be thin. That it was ME. I wish that I would have reached out harder then because honestly I wouldn't have put back the 30 lbs that I am currently carrying had I actually decided to be true to who I was and KNOW that I deserved it. It's a weird thing sometimes losing weight and I think, KNOW, it's why people who lose it put it back on. They don't lost the mental weight. They keep it there and never allow themselves to bask in the glory of what they are. You must start working on re-wiring your brain totally..I wish WISH that someone would have said that to me.

Congrats lady. You're doing amazing things!

Jo said...

Congrats! You are an inspiration!

Gemma said...

You're looking great!! Well done. ANd once again i could've written your entire post myself! Totally agree with everything you said, and i have all the same thoughts and worries and looking at others, and I wonder constantly what other people think I look like. Rarrrr!! Keep up the good work xx

Jaime said...

I feel like you just wrote everything I feel. I just don't know what I look like anymore. I don't recognize the old 320 lb me BUT I don't recognize me at 193lbs either. Can't imagine being back in a 26/28 but boy oh boy it is weird to see a 14 in my clothes.People stop me on the street (I live in a little village of 600 LOL) and tell me how good I look etc and although I see some of that I just don't "get" what they see. I look at your pics and I think WOW YOu look FANTASTIC!!!!!! I look at mine and I always just see the lumps and bumps. At 320 lbs sure I knew I was over weight but I just never really saw by how much , now when I look at those pics it really makes me sad. Sad for all the life I was missing out on. I never looked really happy.

Lanie Painie said...

I completely understand the phenomenon of not knowing how big you are. I am constantly driving my BFF crazy asking if people are fatter than me. I can trust her to tell me the truth, I think.

Thanks for the tip with using the chair as a gauge. Why didn't I ever think of that? Yay! A new level to my psychosis!

I admire you. You've come a long way and you look awesome. I have some catching up to do!

Amelia said...

I can really relate to this. My weight has bounced around so much over the years - between 230 and 140 - that I have almost no sense of myself as a physical being. It is extremely difficult to measure my progress or to understand what size I am. That's something I'm trying to work on. Also, congrats on the amazing weight loss. You are an inspiration!