Friday, August 27, 2010

Afraid to Reach a Goal

I am having a hard time.

Not in the way you might think; I am not going nuts wanting to eat junk, I am not depressed, and not struggling with my plan (much). The hard time I am having is trying to get my head around the fact that at 185 pounds I will not longer be obese.

What kind of a head game is it, anyway? It's just a number, a BMI. One more or less pound (which could be water or constipation or PMS) does NOT change my body, who I am, what I look like, how I feel physically. One silly pound makes zero *real* difference in my life. But in my head, it is the world.

I realized this yesterday as I was pacing around eating extra slices of cheese and sugar free jellos because I had an overwhelming *drive* to eat although I had ZERO hunger and nothing was calling to me. My head just kept saying, eat, eat, eat. And I had to sit myself down and think about what was going on, and I realized the last time this happened was when I weighed 200 pounds.

I was waiting, excitedly, for that final pound to drop so I could be in "Onederland" as they call it... weighing 199. Not having a 2 in front of my number might not *seem* like a big deal, but it was. It was huge. It was almost all-consuming, and instead of staying right on track or working harder to reach that goal, I started sabotaging myself. Eating more stuff. Feeling this urge to be out of control and just EAT... didn't matter what. I binged and set myself back like, a week. But I figured out what was going on and decided to stay off the scale completely for awhile and just let it happen. And it did.

It's like I needed a little more time to be *ready* to see 199. And now, I think this weird mental thing is happening again.

I have been obese (and up through morbidly obese) for SO LONG. I think it's been 13 years. That is a HUGE chunk of my life, more than half of my adulthood. My *identity* has been "obese." As much as I hate the word... how ugly it feels, how judgemental, even though it is a medical term... it was who I was. It is who I am. I am fat, I am the fat girl trying to lose weight. I am the fat mother who keeps screwing up weight loss. I am the obese woman who wants to get thin. I am the one who wants to escape from obesity. And I know this is ridiculous, but in my head, I am all nervous NOT to be obese. I mean, heck, it is even my blog title. Once I escape obesity, then what??? OMG. What will I be, what will I do. I *know* the answers. I still have weight to loose and fitness to gain and work to do on my eating. I am *so* not finished. But some strange deep dark part of me, maybe the part that IS the obese girl, is struggling to stay alive. Is not ready to die.

The weather has cooled off the last couple of days and I have found myself digging in the closet for warmer clothes. I got rid of all my huge clothes but still have some smaller things left that fit me 6 months ago. Guess what. Huge. I put on my favorite zippered sweater/jacket that I have worn in the house almost daily to keep me warm for a couple of years. The shoulder seams are now halfway down my arms and the sleeves hang so long they cover my hands. I was a bit dismayed as I looked in the mirror at this huge baggy thing that used to be so warm and comforting. I put it in the Fat Clothes box. I looked through my sweaters, and found several but even just looking at them I thought, "oh my gosh, I will have to get rid of this, too! It is way too big for me." I did find something that fits, but I really haven't got much in the size I am now. Faced with shopping for smaller clothes *yet again* I feel anxious because even if I find the perfectly fitting, clearance priced clothes I love, I know I won't be able to wear them in a couple of months. It freaks me out a little.

I looked in the mirror in a bathroom yesterday and thought, "gee, I look like an average sized woman. I don't really look obese at all." I sat in a doctor's chair with my daughter the other day, facing a big mirror, and noticed that my upper body looks average sized, my pants are way too big, and the amount of floppy thigh spread when I am sitting is absolutely horrific. They look like big pancakes! Wow, when did this happen?

Don't get me wrong. I am happy and thankful I am losing weight. I think the rate is perfect (7 lbs/month or so). I feel wonderful. I think I look good most of the time. But no one really talks about this negative, scary stuff that happens when your whole body image... in fact your whole mental image of yourself and your identity... completely changes. It is hard. It is strange.

I know I will get through it. I know I am sabotaging myself a bit with the extra cheese yesterday and the 2 mugs of coffee with half and half this morning and I am slightly concerned at how I will behave at the county fair today. I know I can't really binge or eat the crap I used to. I do feel fairly in control. Maybe I just need an extra week to get my head around NOT being obese anymore... eating a bit extra is perhaps my mind's way of delaying it a bit. Being aware is so important. If I had paid attention to my feelings and self sabotage the other umpteen times I tried to lose weight over the last decade, I'd have probably been thin by now. It is really important to pay attention and acknowledge your fears as you lose weight, figure out what is making you uncomfortable and RESPECT that. Work with it... don't try to plow over it or ignore it or you'll binge yourself right back up to where you started. Trust me, I did it enough times.

Hey, I know I am going to get there. I am going to get my head around the fact that I am overweight and not obese anymore. I will embrace the new identity and keep on working towards my goal. As much as I'd like that to happen quickly, I am okay with waiting a week or so if that's what my mind needs.


Debbie said...

This was an amazing post and made me really think about a lot of things. I see me in everything you wrote about. I look in the mirror now and I still see me 30 lbs heavier. Clothes are starting to be a problem also. I do have lots of clothes in smaller sizes though so its lke getting a new outfit every so often. Again I really enjoyed your post today.

Anonymous said...

Insightful as always! You write PERFECTLY about the experience of losing weight (at least for me). I too am hitting a weight range that's a little scary for me. Thanks for writing a post that helped me figure that out. Best of luck!

bbubblyb said...

You said so many of the things I've not said before but have thought. I was so very much this way at several milestones for myself. I'm sure you'll get past it and then the next one. It's all a matter of just keep pushing through the feelings. You do a great job at that.

Lanie Painie said...

I know just how you feel. When I went from "morbidly" to "severely" obese I did the same thing and then lost ground. Who the hell am I going to be when i'm no longer the fat lady? If I'm not fat, then I might have to face up to the fact that there are real (possibly valid) reasons that my life sometimes isn't want I want. I won't be able to blame all the bad stuff on my weight. Then what?

The mental stuff is the hardest part.

I'd write more but I suddenly need a snack.

Lori said...

I have been quite bewildered lately getting dressed. My clothes are all new and don't seem like mine. I'm glad to know that my experience is not unique.

Polar's Mom said...

The way I think about it is that food is my life/identity, or at least a large part of it. So when I try to shed this 'family member', it is almost like grieving, because I am scared of the unknown, and I have been fat me for so long-I'm used to this girl, this identity. I know I am ME down deep, but food/obesity has intertwined and twisted itself into almost every fiber of my being, it is almost traumatic to strip it away. At least that is my thought process IMHO...

Polar's Mom

Baby Stepping said...

I can understand that scary feeling. It's like you have changed and it's time to re-define yourself. It's like you're rejecting who you were, but you're not, really. Who you were got you to who you are. You don't have to say good-bye to the old you, because the old you is what you are inside and you will always have her - just a better, more streamlined version. ;)

Lisa said...

Hey girl. you ARE ready... :)

Anonymous said...

I've been reading you for a while. I'm still in an earlier part of my weight loss journey this time around... but I am so happy to read about your progress and your ups and downs and struggles because it shows me that it can be done.

On the issues of thighs, they always look their widest when seated. And, you'll know better if the proportions have changed, but: if you've been eating healthy, protein-heavy stuff and few processed carbs, your waist has likely shrunk. It was probably the most prominent (sorry) part of your body and is now more average, making the thighs appear bigger.

I don't know if that explanation is clear. What I'm saying is that it could be a very positive change.

screaming fatgirl said...

"no one really talks about this negative, scary stuff that happens when your whole body image... in fact your whole mental image of yourself and your identity... completely changes."

Actually, I have been talking about it, a fair amount actually.

I've talked about how I don't know who I am anymore, how I need to build a new definition of self, and how being fat has served me well in many ways so it's not all that easy to simply let go of.

There are hard emotional adjustments to make when your body changes. Everyone thinks it's all good, but becoming thin is not a "win-win" scenario, especially when you've been fat a long time and it is a definition other people have slapped on you so often that you see yourself as nothing else.

This is only one post of several where I talk about the loss of identity and how hard it is:

Fit B said...

What an amazing post. I agree it is both overwhelming and scary at the same time when you lose a lot of weight and begin to really realize you have changed. I think this is due to the fact that we as individuals tend to fear change and we fear the unknown.
We are all in this journey together and I am glad to know I am not the only one with these feelings!

jiesa said...

While my mom was in transition through her 70 pounds of weight loss, she bought this gorgeous red coat. The next year she didn't wear it and I was so upset! Haha. But clothes come and go, it's better to think about your health!!

Think about how much money you spent on your kids while they were flying through sizes. Is the shopping you need to do for yourself that much different?

Jaime said...

I totally understand how you are feeling. I hadn't even realized I had left the Obese catagory until I looked it up after reading your blog the other day. Weird thing though I spent the last few days "wanting" to eat. Feeling the need to just have something anything and I know it is purely emotional. My thighs can look like pancakes too. I told my hubby that I think my butt now just hangs around my knees .It's all worth it though. Thanks so much for voicing your feelings , it sure me to know someone else is going through the same things.

MargieK said...

I don't suppose it would help to mention that the BMI tables are a very rough tool that don't tell the whole story. They count all weight the same, not accounting for the amount of muscle mass a person has.

Given how you look and how much you've been working out, perhaps you technically left obesity behind several pounds ago!

Have you read about dry skin brushing? I first saw it mentioned 5-6 years ago on the Prevention message boards, and it's discussed a lot of the T-Tapp discussion forums. I started doing it last year (you don't need a fancy DVD or brush, you can read up on it on internet web sites for free and buy a suitable natural bristle brush for $2-$3 at a drugstore or grocery), and can definitely tell the difference in how soft and healthy my skin is. Women who have lost lots of weight have found that their skin has shrunk, too. While it's best to brush WHILE you're losing weight, it's never too late. It's cheap and only takes a few minutes (feels good, too), so worth a try. :)

Lyn said...


I do skin brishing myself. I have been doing it for I think about 2 years now (details are in earlier blog posts for anyone who wants to read about it). I think it has helped tremendously!

Sue said...

Lyn - I have lost 97 pounds...then gained back 8. Am afraid to continue. Am going to a counselor now. Began my journey at 283 pounds. I am also doing a program - mine is a 12 step, though - with no flour, sugar or individual binge foods. I had a purposeful break - my food was getting sloppy on things. Why am I afraid? I don't know. I look forward to your blog.
With much thanks!

Theresa said...

I have had these feelings too. I didn't turn to food, but OH THE DESIRE! OH THE FEELING UNCOMFORTABLE in my OWN skin. I seriously would have called 911 if I was not "aware" of how I was.... now needing other ways to deal with my feelings. Sweats, dry mouth, heart pounding. What's up with THAT? Seriously like an addict. That's a statement isn't it?
You're not alone with the need to face the feelings, the emotions, the trauma.... in new ways. No food required to soothe it, just a lot of soul searching.
We'll both get there!
Thanks for this post. It helps me so much to know I'm not alone.

Sarah (Fat Little Legs) said...

As we lose weight, I believe we also lose ourselves... and then we have to find ourselves again, in a different spot. At a different weight. As a different and strange new person. I struggle with identity issues down 106.4 pounds. I stare at pictures and don't know "me". It is weird, it is hard, but it is as much of the losing process as dropping the actual pounds is.

MargieK said...

Re skin brushing...

Cool, Lyn! I haven't read ALL your posts, but will look for the old ones on skin brushing (if that's possible ;) ).