Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Alternate Reality

Once again, watching the Biggest Loser threw me emotionally for a loop. Within the first half hour I was sobbing on the couch because of the feelings the show brought out in me.

They showed the final four, who have all lost a lot of weight, 80-120ish pounds. Several months ago when each person began their weight loss journey, they videotaped a message to their "skinny self." So now that they have lost the weight, they watched themselves, morbidly obese, talking to them now in the video... a message from the past, into the future.

And when those very obese people were saying things like "keep going, I am so proud of you, keep working at it so you do not go back to *this*," I suddenly for a moment *became* 278 pounds again, right here, right now, and I actually had the most intense and real feelings and thoughts:

I don't want to be like this anymore. I am SO TIRED of being like this. I want a new life. I want to change my life. I want to lose this weight... oh I want it *so badly.*

And I cried, and held my head in my hands, because suddenly I was 278 pounds again, watching this show, wishing it was me, hurting so badly that it wasn't. And it was like movie frames in my head, flashing back and forth from "I am morbidly obese and I am so tired of it" to "I lost the weight, I did it, I can't believe it." And it felt so overwhelming and confusing, because, for me, it was not just *remembering* how it felt to be there... it was BEING THERE AGAIN. The thoughts were in the *present.* They were about the body I have *now.*

I don't know if anyone can understand this. But suddenly, now, it is clearer to me why sometimes I look in the mirror and see the same huge fat body I had before, while other times I look and am shocked to see a "normal sized" person. About how some moments I feel like a complete and utter weight-loss failure, because I am still *the same,* while in other moments I am on top of the world with my own success. My brain actually creates some kind of momentary, alternate reality for me sometimes where I AM 278 pounds again. And THAT is when it gets easy to behave as if I were still 278 pounds, and eat hot dogs and buy pints of ice cream and eat them all in one sitting, even though I can't, because it makes me sick and I have to stop after 1/10th the volume that I used to eat. And that snaps me back to reality.

I still have some healing to do, but watching this show and crying those tears has started that process anew.


bd160 said...

*Big Hug*

This post brought tears to my eyes -- I can completely empathize. As hard as it is to change the body, it's so much harder to change the mindset.

You've done it. You've gone through the long, hard process of healing the body, and I'm so glad you're back on track to heal your mind.

Ann K. said...

You continue to grow into yourself and evolve. Its a process, learning of life and self and it goes on...whether its after grand epiphanies and realizations or large losses of physical and emotional weight and its a great thing.

Ex Yo-Yo Dieter Debbie said...

I had a similar experience the other day when I was watching TBL (I missed it last week...broken DVR...so saw it On Demand instead).

The contestants were doing the challenge when they do what they had to do at the beginning...500 step-ups or walk/run 1 mile...with all their original weight strapped on.

When they started to talk about how they suddenly felt like they were all the way back at the beginning, and the emotional pain they were in when they started, I started crying, too. They talked about how they never ever want to go back to how they were, and it really hit home with me.

Suddenly, I felt that old pain, too, and I felt very sad. When I went into the bathroom to get tissues, I was surprised to see my slim reflection in the mirror.

I've experienced this many times, even when I've been at goal weight.

My theory is this: When I was obese, I rarely let myself feel badly for too long - I'd eat to shove all the nasty feelings and pain down. I was obese and I was numb. But I believe all the crappy feelings are still hidden in there...we're just letting them finally come to the surface. So our bodies and brains are mixed up...my brain is feeling something I experienced or should have felt a long time ago...at the time my body was much bigger.

It may take a long time for it all to bubble its way to the surface, but I suspect at some point the body and brain will catch up with each other.

The episode of TBL the other day reminded me of what I need to do if I ever lose motivation for eating in a healthy way or exercising. Strap on the old weight and walk a mile in my "old shoes".

We're not going back.

Leslie said...

Powerful experience Lyn, and you're right that it likely brought you to a new level of self awareness and understanding. And healing.

I think the painful experience of being so overweight for a long time actually leaves us with a form of post traumatic stress disorder that just doesn't go away overnight. But slowly and with intention and time, we can heal.

Chelly said...

Oh my gosh....do I ever understand!

Lori said...

I am struggling in that same place myself. I feel huge, but I'm not. I feel like a failure, but I'm not. It is hard to remind myself that I have really truly lost 81 lbs. Just because I'm yo-yoing between 75 & 80 lbs doesn't mean I'm a failure, but then I wonder if the reason I'm stuck is because I don't believe I can do it. It is such a head game!

Shelley said...

Yep. It takes time to separate your new self from the old one...I often use the phrase "I don't do that anymore" when it comes to certain behaviors, including overeating.

You are at a new stage in the weight-loss process now, Lyn, and it's just as important as the losing stage. Emotional growth is painful and hard to go through, but it's very worth it. Hang in there, keep doing the next right thing, and you'll be amazed at how good you will feel. :)

Vee and the Kid said...

I watched a bit of last night's show too and thought of my own process, and how I've had to put my own body on hold while I figure out how to handle being the mom of an autistic child. It was quite an eye opener. Glad you wrote about it. Vee at http://veegettinghealthy.blogspot.com

Deanna - The Unnatural Mother said...

I understand more than you know. Glad I am not alone. Hang tight.

Anonymous said...

Oh...I am so glad I stopped by today to catch up because I feel the same struggle, the same delusion when I look in the mirror!
And it's really hard to get over this to stay true to who we are now, who we are becoming...to keep going to who we want to be.

Thank you for the post...and letting me cry along with you for a bit. I needed it.

Theresa said...

I can relate very well to this Lyn. Let's never go back.....