Thursday, December 8, 2011

Reality Check: THAT Mirror Didn't Lie!

Oh boy.

I got a huge, massive slap of reality today. And I mean slap.

I've said before: I look in the mirror. I see the same me I saw at 178 pounds. I don't generally see the weight gain. I have the same pants on I wore in the 180's. I haven't changed much, in my brain. Even though the scale says differently, to the tune of about 30 pounds.

That changed today.

I think I must have trick mirrors at home. Or maybe it's the dim lighting in the bedroom, or the way there are boxes in front of the fully-mirrored closet doors, or the fact that I wear sort of loose clothing and don't stand too close to the mirrors. Maybe it's because I don't look for too long. I don't *really* look.

I looked today.

I have an event to attend where I need to be nicely dressed. I'm not a frequent churchgoer and I don't have an office job, nor do I go out to fancy events much. I dress simply, in jeans and tees or sweaters for the most part. But for this, I needed a nice dress. And since I had to shop, I decided to go ahead and buy myself ONE pair of jeans that actually fit. Because, you know that one pair of 14's I have been wearing forever? The only pair of jeans/pants I have that fits? Well the other day I saw something I haven't seen in a long, long time: light shining through the fabric in the thighs of my pants! Gah! It was a bit distressing when I first noticed them getting threadbare between the legs. It sent me into flashbacks of those darned black stretch pants I used to wear and how the inner thighs would rub, rub, rub away the fabric until I was walking around with holes in my pants. I am not about to wear holey jeans, so I figured I had to cave and buy a pair to wear until I got some of this weight back off.

I went into the store. I was looking through the clothes, and felt oddly calm even though I had no idea what size I should try on. I remembered how when I went shopping several months ago, I'd always end up in the changing room gasping in disbelief that the skinny-looking clothes actually fit MY body. It was exciting! So today I felt almost confident as I grabbed the 12's and 14's, and one pair of 16's (just to make myself feel skinny when I tried them on and they were falling off me). I went to try them on, along with some dresses in the same range of sizes. I was so excited to see how they fit!

I was floored. FLOORED. I have seriously been in body size denial. I KNOW what I weigh. I DO look in the mirror. I KNOW I gained some weight back. But... but...

I started with the jeans. I tried on the 14's first and was quickly shocked that I could not even get them buttoned. I mean, I had a good 2 inches before they would have buttoned! They were super tight. There was no way. I peeled them off and set them aside along with the 12's that I would not even torture myself trying on. All that was left was those 16's. And you know what? They were tight. TIGHT. As in, I looked very fat in them. And you can be sure I looked. I took it all in, in those triple mirrors and blaring lighting that hides nothing. In a very small dressing room where I could not get far from the mirrors. In the store, all by myself, I was whispering "I cannot believe this, this cannot be real, how could this be, oh my gosh..." and putting my face in my hands. Yes, I was distressed. It was SHOCKING. I mean really shocking because the image I have of myself in my head is NOTHING like what I saw in those mirrors today. The bulges, the rolls that were simply NOT THERE a few months ago. The size 16's, skin tight. The pretty blouse I tried on with them that accentuated every bump and lump. Yes, lump. I had CURVES before and now I have lumps and I am NOT being mean... if I had the guts to post pictures you'd see. I was embarrassed, upset, smacked back into reality.

I took off the jeans. I looked at the pile of dresses I'd brought to try on. I knew this was not going to go as I had planned. I picked out a cute 14, slid it over my head. I looked from every angle. Not even Spanx could fix this. There was no way. I almost couldn't get that dress back off it was so tight. All that was left was that size 16 dress. I put it on. It fit nicely. The bumps were there but Spanx-able, I think. I took it off and bought it, along with those size 16 jeans. At least I have something to wear.

I wish I could express how this whole thing felt to me. When I first looked in the mirror and saw, *really saw*, I felt like I must be asleep and having a nightmare. It was always a nightmare when I was 175 pounds. It was a terrible fear that I could gain it back. I looked in the mirror today and saw my nightmare coming true. It was *not* self-hate. This is *not* self-loathing. It is seeing my body as it really is right now, as it has changed from 175 pounds to back over 200... and it was very dramatic to me.

In fact, just as I was writing this I decided that I *will* take pictures of myself in those jeans. In that dress. They are not horrible. I can make them work. But I am going to take the pictures and maybe when I have lost the weight again... when I feel less sensitive and embarrassed about it... I can post them and show the difference in them and in my body when I get back to 175.

It was a moment that I won't soon forget. Those images in the mirror are burned into my memory. I *need* to keep working and not let complacency take over.

One other thing. Something else has changed. In  the past, this kind of experience would make me hate myself. Before my blogging days, I had a lot of that. I'd try to lose weight, lose a little, and gain it back. On the rare occasion that I actually saw or realized how large and out of control I had gotten, I'd cry. I'd go into that self loathing mode. I would get angry at myself. I would beat myself up for letting it happen.

Today? I freaked out in the dressing room. I walked out of there, bought my jeans and dress, and came home and got excited about the event I will be attending. I smiled, I laughed, I lived. That experience with the clothes today? It gave me some much needed new insight and even more motivation to take better care of myself. But it didn't shape my day. It didn't ruin my life. It didn't make me sad for more than the ten minutes that I was in front of the mirrors. And THAT is a huge deal to me.

Self awareness is great. If you haven't gone clothes shopping and tried on clothing in a dressing room lately, I highly recommend it for a reality check! I am going to do it more often.


Anonymous said...

Doesn't sound liike an easy experience. Still maybe it was helpful to you. Wish you all the best.

Nikki said...

I've been there so many times!! I know the feeling. Good luck to you!

Marilyn said...

I've been finding that shopping at the Goodwill store has been very helpful on my weight-control journey. I didn't begin until after I'd dropped 90 pounds (I still have another 50 or 60 pounds to go at this point). Sizes are all over the map, in terms of how they actually FIT as my body changes, and even though I'm close to the same weight as I was at the start of the year, my SHAPE has shifted and clothes I bought back then hang differently now. While you're in a transitional state (which we all are, whether we're climbing or coming back down on the scale), for me it makes sense financially as well as emotionally to buy someone else's "gently used" attire - and the dressing rooms have been a LOT less "charged" an environment for me!!
That said, I can empathize completely with the denial that accompanies weight re-gain - it has happened to me my entire life! Facing it takes guts, and your blog demonstrates that you have the courage to face this reality and triumph, Lyn! XO - M

The Girl From Back Then said...

I see a lot of myself in this, it is so distressing to be in different places mentally, and physically. I try not to look in mirrors and if I do it's mostly the face. Anything else I know is just going to upset me. Especially those cruel shop mirrors with all your flaws to see. Not nice. Maybe this experience could end up being helpful to you. Good luck love :)

Ms. M said...

Wow! You and I are so at the same place. I've gained back about the same amount (probably a little more now) and had to admit that the 12s n 14s just weren't cutting it anymore. It was hard. It sucked. I hated it. I know I have an injury, but geesh! I'm glad you were able to go about living with a smile. :)

Diandra said...

Make the best of the state you are in right now. And then go and lose these pounds again, and then you will know you can do this.

(I know you can.)

Have you taken up any kind of exercise lately?

Dawn said...

I'm sure a load of my problem has been size denial and not looking in mirrors. I ate and ate my way to a size 28 and denied how big I was to myself until I took a look at it and freaked out wondering how on earth I had let it happen. Deny, deny deny has been very much in my vocabulary. Reality is good and although it hurts to know it today your reality check is going to help you get where you are going. Just keep on the right road, you know what it is and you know you can do it.
Hang in there

Julia Stambor said...

I so can relate to this. Having gotten to a point where things start to look good, and then life throws a curveball, and one stops practicing what got one that far, reverting to older habits, and finding oneself, someday, in your own words, "waking up fat" again. But as hard as that may be, this time there is a very important difference: You know now what to do to get the weight off again, you have found a way of nourishing yourself that will make those rolls and bulges go away again. So, you already know what to do and what not to do, don´t you? I have absolutely no doubt that you have what it takes to get to your goal weight and stay there for the long run. A setback like what you had just means you´ll get there a bit later, and, come to think of it, you are still quite a bit below your top weight if you can wear a size 16, so the way to goal will be shorter this time. Remember, two steps forward and one step back still means you´re one step further than when you started.


Erika said...

This very same experience you're talking about here? It's what made me say enough is enough and to start losing weight in the first place. For some reason, when all the "thin" clothes (size 12s) I had back then stopped fitting I thought, no big deal, I shrunk them! AHAHAHA. Yeah.

So then the 14s and the 16s got too tight, and I needed some dress pants for a work function, and nothing fit from The Gap, Limited, Express, etc. I finally had to go into Lane Bryant (don't get me wrong, I think their cloths are way cute, it's just, it finally dawned on me...PLUS SIZE!).

I've BEEN THERE, like you and many other commenters. But you know what? "You are entirely up to you" (I saw this quote the other day). You can get there Lyn!

Now a size 6,

that TOPS lady said...

((((((((((hugs)))))))))) I KNOW you can get it back off. You've got this.

Lori said...

I'm glad you are recognizing personal growth from the situation. Our minds are strange and wonderful, and sometimes not accurate. It is good that you are using the reality check as the impetus to move forward.

Personally, I think you should take the pictures even if you never post them. You need them for yourself. You need to keep that reality check in front of you.

You'll make it to your goal weight. All these little side journeys are needed. We may not udnerstand why at the time, or ever, but they're a necessary part of the journey to forever thin.

Jaclyn said...

I'm glad that "reality" didn't make you sink into despair! Good to see your current state as nothing more than a challenge to do better at getting to the state you *want* to be in.

Also, have you seen this website? I found it to be VERY eye-opening in terms of how I see my own body. You enter your height and weight and then you can browse other women who have the same stats as you. It puts things in a really interesting perspective! I thought of myself as MUCH bigger until going through this site, and then re-looking at myself.

The Captain's Daughter said...

I feel for you - I truly do. I am in the same boat - I see what I see in my head but last week, at my annual physical, I learned that I am 38 pounds up from my low in February. I know exactly how it happened and now I'm working my way back down and beyond where I was (so thrilled with myself.) It'll happen - it won't happen tomorrow, but it'll happen. I am reading your blog right now as a distraction... I do have an office job and behind me there is a conference room where there is a lunch meeting going on. Outside the door, directly behind my chair is a huge bowl of penne pasta salad with feta, an assortment of sandwiches, every kind of chips and pretzels you can imagine and a plate of cookies baked in our cafe this morning. I placed the order for this lunch meeting, as I do every week and every week I sit here in front of the food that lingers until catering comes to get it around 3PM. Some days I am able to say it doesn't matter, won't taste as good as I image and whatever else I need to say/think to be successful and other days, I'm planted head-first into it and still eating in secret at my desk until the moment it's taken away. It's tough - but you know what? It's only a fraction of my day and that's what I'm working on - trying to remember that going off my CLEAN plan during this tiny fraction of my day will indeed spoil the other parts of my day - my morning when I had my CLEAN shake and vowed to remain on plan - my evening, because I'll want to continue to binge to punish myself for "blowing it" for an hour or three at work and my night, because I'll feel bloated and too miserable to sleep. So I call it the hell-fraction and knowing that NOT eating this crap will make me feel better for all the rest of my day when it's not in front of my nose is what gets me through... Most of the time!

On we go... Together! You're never alone!

donner said...

I think you should try on clothes at least 1x a week, or every other week. It will give you a chance to keep yourself in check and to see how you're progressing (downward, of course). I weigh into my MF center 1x a week and it really helps keep me in check. I can see when I gain or lose and make adjustments in the week. It doesn't 'get away from me'. Perhaps trying on clothes will be that weekly check in for you. i'm glad you didn't let it ruin your day. Good for you!!

Anonymous said...

Lyn, sorry for the shock to the system. Been there and did not enjoy it either. I like Donner's idea of trying on specific clothes every week. I do that to motivate myself to get into the next smaller pair of jeans (as they span between 4 and 18).
As for your specificity, this is YOUR blog and you are not refraining from weighing yourself while being in denial about the #s. I believe you need not include any information that you find unnecessary for your readers to know, nor do you need to explain the reason for which you include or avoid sharing certain details. Hmmm I mean, unless you want to.
Grateful for your gifts,

Melanie said...

Hi Lyn,

Completely agree with Norma. What I admire about you most is your perseverance and determination. A situation like this could easily send many people into a downward spiral/huge binge. You're not allowing that to happen. You're learning, and moving on.

Nanette said...

oh man... I hate the trying on bits. I'm glad you're feeling motivated. I normally get sad. More power to you!

Tiffany said...

I've totally been there. After having 3 kids in less than 5 years I thought I could still fit into my size 10 pants and that I was the same size. I am nowhere near that and it took seeing pictures from my wedding and comparing them to a recent picture of me to realize that. In fact I can't even slip my size 10s over my hips anymore!

But, I will get there and just because I may be wearing a 16 or 14 now in a few months it will be a 12 and then a 10 and then to my lowest size of an 8! We both can do this and keep the weight off!

LHA said...

The good thing about weight gain is that it can be reversed! You have pointed out that you have lost weight using more than one method, and your readers have commented on many good ideas for weight loss. You have faced the truth and you are working to get the scale moving downward again. Enough said.

LHA said...

The good thing about weight gain is that it can be reversed! You have pointed out that you have lost weight using more than one method, and your readers have commented on many good ideas for weight loss. You have faced the truth and you are working to get the scale moving downward again. Enough said.

Anonymous said...

oh man, dressing rooms are rough. even at totally normal/thinner than average weights, they really emphasize all flaws times a million. i really dont think they arevery flattering for ANYONE. good for you for facing it and letting it motivate you-but not destroy you.

Danielle said...

Oh Lyn, I know exactly what you mean. I recently lost a lot of weight and have since gained 25-30 (depending on the day) of it back and it's horrific. I hated having to buy bigger pants. I really want to fit back into my 10's and now I had to buy 14's....It's really hard to not be self loathing and mean to myself. I know it doesn't help, but it's hard to break that habit. I love reading your blog and I like blogging my journey as well. It's all one big learning experience!! Take care dear :)