Sunday, December 4, 2011

What I See

Back when I was losing weight fairly steadily, I used to go to the Farmer's Market every week. I'd go for fresh eggs and vegetables and milk and meat, and every week I looked forward to seeing some of the vendors who were noticing my increasingly slim and fit figure. It was great fun to put on a new, tight shirt and waltz up to the produce stand just to see the vendor's face light up with a grin or sometimes if it had been a few weeks their jaw would literally drop as their eyes darted to my hourglass waist and they'd exclaim, "Wow! You look fantastic!" and they'd gush on about how much I had changed my life. It was really ego building. I cannot tell you how confident I felt.

Those little encounters fueled my desire to keep going. Honestly, most days when I got up and looked in the mirror, I still saw fat. In fact I saw obese. I saw rolls and bulges and was horrified at how I looked. Mentally I felt like a fraud. I wondered if I met some random blog reader and they somehow recognized me if they would be shocked at how huge I really was and say "she looks nothing like her pictures! What a fake!" It made no sense, because I *did* take lots of pictures, I saw them, they looked good (but didn't match what I saw in the mirror) and my clothes were getting smaller. Yet in the mirror I usually saw a very, very fat woman. It was only once in awhile I'd get dressed and look and gasp and say "oh my goodness, I look great!" And the feedback from the Farmer's Market vendors solidified that.

Now I've gained along the order of 30 pounds. Those clothes I wore at 178 pounds do NOT fit. I know I have gained. I see it when I look down at my body. But do you know what I see in the mirror? The same. No change. I see the same "fat" person with the bulges and rolls that I saw when I was 30 pounds lighter. I usually look and do not see ANY difference. THAT is what makes it hard to be grounded in reality of what I weigh and how I truly look. The mirror lies. I am in clothes 2 sizes larger, my belly is huge, but I look in the mirror and see the same thing I saw when I was 178 pounds.

What grounds me... what snaps me back to reality... is, once again, the reactions of other people. I haven't taken a picture of myself in a long time. But yesterday, I went to a store where one of those Farmer's Market vendors works. She is someone I admire. She lost a lot of weight, too. We shared the camaraderie of changing our lives and getting fit and looking awesome. She was one who always gushed.

I was sort of nervous about seeing her yesterday. I saw her talking to another customer, so I went up and waited until she was finished. I sucked in my gut. I stood taller. I raised my chin a little bit in case any double-chin-like fat was showing. I tried to look as skinny as possible. But when she turned and saw me, it was obvious. As friendly and sweet as she was, I saw it, for that few seconds when she first took it in and saw that I was a good 30 pounds heavier than when she last saw me. Her eyes darted down to my (nonexistent) waist and back, quick as a flash. She smiled but her eyes didn't. She was happy to see me. But I saw it. I saw the sadness and the fleeting thought, "oh no, how could she gain so much? How sad, she is gaining. What a shame, she was looking so good..." Of course I imagine the dialogue, but I saw the emotion and I know what people think when they see someone who is a lot fatter than the last time they saw them. The whole thing just sucks.

I come home. I look in the mirror. I can't see it. I look the same.

Only with my clothes off, alone in the tub or the shower, I see what is really going on with my body.

I feel a mix of sadness, shame, and determination. I am letting the determination lead me. At this point I don't really think it matters *what* I do, as long as I don't binge or let myself slip into not caring. I do believe as long as I am working at it, giving it some effort, I will reach my goal of 199 by January 1st. I am focusing on that, and my kids, and the joyful parts of this Christmas season.


Anonymous said...

Be kind to yourself. You are an inspiration because you are so very honest about how difficult this is.
I got down to 160, and now I'm 188,
so I've been there. I am there. And I do exactly what you do...self-hatred.


LHA said...

What a great sentence..."I am letting the determination lead me." That is an inspirational literary gem! All of us could do well to live by those words, regardless of what goal we are seeking.

I'm taking away from your post a catch phrase to repeat when I am wavering or feeling low. I wish you all good luck! Just remember that although you have regained part of your weight, you are still keeping off the majority of it. No small feat! Focus on that and the other positives you have in your life and just take it one hour at a time. You can do this!

Princess Dieter said...

I think you need to keep doing the Farmer's Market thing (as long as you can) and have the camaraderie and motivation again from that.

And you need to take pictures. Not for the blog--unless you feel like it. TO SEE YOURSELF not in a mirror. I found that when I saw pics of myself, it was grounded in reality than the mirror. I had the opposite of you--I saw myself THiNNER..not fatter. In photos, I saw myself as huge. In mirrors, as not as huge. Photos gave me reality.

Now, I use photos to see progress. I put my hand over the face...and I find that I am less critical of a headless body--like it's someone else, than when I see it's me. Weird how we are, huh?

Take the photos. Look at 178 versus now...and see that there is a difference, whether your eyes want to see or not.

And hold on to every shred of determination.

And eat real food. :)


Beth@WeightMaven said...

I feel your pain ... my last regain took me back to my top weight, not an interim step. But that said, I wish I could feel better about your determination to lose this weight over the holidays. That seems fraught with peril to me!

I wonder if you could look at the regain as a lesson you were meant to learn. What do you need to do differently so that it doesn't happen again when you get back down under 200? Is there a way you can be more at peace with yourself?

Because of bad back issues, I'm having to learn to be patient and accept slow weight loss, sometimes less than a pound a week. Given how far I have to go yet, that is sometimes a bitter pill to swallow. But I console myself that perhaps weight loss is a bit like the story of the tortoise and the hare. Perhaps.

Sending good thoughts your way!

Bzybee said...

It sucks that losing 100 lbs or more and getting to a comfortable or ideal weight is just the end of the beginning. The real work is maintaining your new weight.

Hard to believe that losing 100 lbs is the easy part.

Catching it before you throw in the tower, give up or go past the point of no return is key.. you have and I have no doubt you will turn it around.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the taking pictures. Trust me, pictures leave little to no room for bs. You will see the difference in even just 10 pounds, in all these little places. It is hard, but great for accountability and a reality check.

PaulaMP said...

I never weighed more than 135 for years. After I gained all the weight I too noticed the looks, gasps, but what was worse were the people that couldn't shut up about it. "You had such a great body, what happened??" In my wildest dreams I cannot imagine ever asking anybody such a question. To this day that is why whenever I see a friend or family member I haven't seen in a long time I only say "it's so great to see you!" period. People don't realize what harm words can do. If you are heavy it's no big secret to you, why do they feel the need to remark on it. As I am losing again I don't want to hear you look so much better, cause that's an insult too in my mind. Once you are thin and stay thin people will stop the compliments, cause nobody can keep up with that forever either. We have to have our own self confidence, no matter what size we are, that's the bottom line.

lisa~sunshine said...

I agree with taking the photos.. they have really helped me..

Another things I agree with is eating real foods.. Last year when you hit your low.. I was right there with you with my low.. I had been on a low low carb diet.. I lost a good amount of weight that way but my body rebelled... ALL year.. I've been struggling to get off the weight I put on last Dec.. I started this year at 187... I've been eating a whole food diet and not really doing anything low carb.. I don't eat too many processed foods but I do get a good carb amount from sweet potatoes.. spaghetti squash and fruits and other stuff.. but I"ve made it back down to 168 this year.. bumped up a bit to 174.. and now have a goal for this year of 167 by January 1st.. so needless to say.. it's been a adjustment.. the one people on here tell you.. that you will have to get through to eat the natural way you want too.. but it can be done.. I had to change up my plans this year.. it was hard because I thought the low carb was the only way for me.. I quickly learned this year.. it's not.. and I feel more belief in myself that I am at a healther place than last year..

I know you can do this.. I know you can get to exactly where you want to be..

pglm said...

you have to hang in there....eating issues are about a whole hell of a lot more than hand to mouth...I've been at it forever and the slipsss....oh my god they come so easy....sometimes I choose .....usually....they are about alot more than just what I'm eating....holidays are tough times.....just keep at it.....we are all a work in process...

Anonymous said...

Our personalities/histories are very different, but we're on such a similar weight loss timeline that it's really rather eery. I went, over a long period of time, from 291 to 180 this summer... and now I'm at 200.3 as of this morning, which is lower than I was a few weeks ago. (I kinda stopped weighing/recording [yeah, I know...] but I think it was 205 a week or two ago.) My limited wardrobe is snug, my winter coat is tight and I really don't want to spend the money to replace it, since it's fairly new. I had 2 small vacations (with family and all that that entails) and then the holidays, and I've been eating out of control for about 6 weeks. It's why I don't like the compliments when I lose weight, b/c the flip side is wondering what folks think when you put the weight back on.

Here are some wise words I've been using to help me put the brakes on, b/c like you, I am DETERMINED to lose weight this month and start the new year in a strong place:

I thought I'd bookmarked a post of yours that was truly helpful for me, but I can't find it. It's where you wrote about needing a goal beyond losing enough weight to escape the obesity. It coincided with my rereading my old WW intake materials, and they said the same thing: we have to have a goal to work TOWARD, rather than simply having a goal to avoid things: the tight clothes, the health risks, the aches in the joints, the daily little humiliations. You, like me, had lost enough weight to feel physically better, and to make clothes shopping, if not fun, then not a misery. You were active and happy and feeling in control... as was I. We'd both moved out of the pain of obesity... and we both seemed to have lost our way.

So... for us both, if I may be so bold, the first task is to get the bingeing under control. Your posts above are a great place to start. I'm one of those folks who can't handle sugar, so that means an extra challenge during the holidays... but it can be done. Second task is getting back to our previous low weights. We've done it before, we can do it again. Third task is finding a goal to work TOWARD. I've decided to go on a trip to England in the spring, and I want to be in shape for all the walking that will entail. So "put down the cookie and think of England!" is my new mantra.

Yes, there are lots of emotional reasons why we overeat, and working on those, and other stressors, always, always has a place in the weight loss journey. But sometimes more mundane behavior modification can work without all the durm und strang of therapy. I've been hearing a lot lately about how it can be difficult to focus on long-term goals (the England trip) when short-term gratification (the cookie) is in front of us. So that's the real challenge: how do we remember in the moment what we REALLY want?

OK, this comment is already waaaay too long... when really the only thing I'm saying is that you're not alone. We're all experiments of one and we have to find what works for us. This is all offered up in the spirit of "try this, it might help," not in any way meant to imply that I know better... clearly I don't.

So, Lyn, what is it that you REALLY want?

All the best,

Lyn said...


what I really want? I want to be able to do agility with my dog.

I know it might sound silly. I've lamented before that I can never run because of my knees. But if I can TROT a little I could do agility. I actually wrote it off. But I still want it, even though I told myself I never would.

I am signed up for a beginners' basics class. My dream would be actually competing, just once. I just want to be ABLE to. My dog is good at it. I think if I were light enough I could pull it off, but at this weight I would hurt my knees too badly.

Thanks for giving me something to think about.

Anonymous said...

What about an interim goal? Knee surgery in order to be able to do agility? I had a hip replacement 5 years ago at age 45 (not arthritis, the other hip is perfectly fine) after limping around for YEARS until the pain got too bad, b/c I also dreaded the idea of surgery -- seemed too invasive, thought I needed to reach goal weight before doing so [I know!], thought I was too young to have to have my hip replaced, fercryinoutloud... But it focused the weight loss (b/c I had to be under a certain weight in order to do the surgery using a technique that's easier to recover from) and being free of pain makes daily living a heck of a lot easier, I assure you, not to mention just encourages you to keep exercising. It's more complicated for you, I realize, since you have a child to look after, and I think knee surgery is harder to recover from than hip surgery. Still, you might reconsider your stance against surgery (which I completely understand) and think about losing weight and strengthening your leg muscles as preparation for surgery... so you can get what you REALLY want. : )

More unsolicited advice... aren't you the lucky one!
; )


Lisa said...

Thats a great thing to focus on Lyn... NEVER give up!

Lori said...

I have a huge, huge struggle with an accurate image of how I look in reality. When I was 248, I don't think I really realized how big I was. I think I felt like I was the size I am now. And, I feel fat. I did then and I do now. Odd, very odd. It seems like I should feel different being nearly 90 lbs lighter. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

I also really have to say, to be frank, that thinking you had a hourglass waist at 170-something shows you have more self confidence than you think/thought. I'm not saying that you did or didnt have that quality, but that it shows some sort of positive self image. When I was in the 170s, I never felt anything positive about my body at all. Nothing but self hatred and shame. So appreciate that you can see the good...and remember how good it felt to feel pride in your body at that moment.

Anonymous said...

Lyn has an hour glass figure at 170lbs. Yes, it's easy to see, look at the's the waist-to-hip ratio which Lyn nails.

Anonymous said...

I'm there. It's simply bruising.


Diandra said...

First - we never see reality whe nwe look into the mirror. No matter how heavy or slim we are, there is a good chance we do not realize what we look like to others.

Second - I do not think that the first thing people who like you and haven't met you in a while is "Oh my god, she gained weight! How horrible!" I mean, that would be pretty shallow, right?

Deniz said...

Doing what you do best (oh yes you do, Lyn!) to be in a position to take part in doggie agility is a brilliant and inspired long-term goal. Much better than just picking a certain weight or particular garment, although those things will help you along the way as interim goals.

OK, you've regained some weight and that sucks, but look back at your before photos and remember where you started from. Remember how little you could do then and how much has changed now.

Lyn, you've done brilliantly and you WILL get where you want to be. A setback, or a stream of them, can't derail you. All they can do to a strong lady (and an inspirational one) like you is slow you down a tad.

Keep your belief in YOU. Let that determination lead you right to where you want to be, keep the doggie end-game in your sights and go for it!

Hugs, Deniz

Anonymous said...

You didn't really read my comment correctly, I never said she *DID NOT* have an hourglass shape. I said that it shows she has/had some sort of good self image to recognize that. I knew I would be jumped on for that.

Dawn said...

I am with you in how it feels to see the faces of people who see you gain having gained and lost and gained again in the past. i also have no idea of my size. There is the size i feel i look in my head, the size i see in the mirror and the size in photographs. Photos is always the biggest. I 'feel' i am a lot smaller than I actually am. Maybe its something in the mind that allows the overeating and gaining in the first place, a disbelief in what we are really doing. i have a 'friend' who tells me I will put it all back on again who helps me to fight to keep going this time. I haven't got to goal yet and I'm scared of trying not to regain

F. McButter Pants said...

I know that look myself. You are human, me Dear. I have gained back 20 lbs and I can tell in my clothes, and on the look of people's face.

Sounds like your attitude is excellent. Remember, attitude is more important the fact! You are determined. Focus on health as your motive. When your motives are pure, you are more likely to be successful. It's a daily battle, waged by us mere mortals.

Wage On! - just thought it was funny that my word verification is CHAMSTER...I looked at it and thought it was CHAMPSTER. CHAMP, just like you.

Desert Singer said...

I've just reached the loss of a 100 lbs, and have 48 more to go. I'm more than a little terrified about the maintaining... so I'm thinking now about what goals to go for once I reach the weight goal.

I think it will be about fitness/endurance.

Lyn, you truly are an inspiration, and I found your blog before I started my journey - and you helped me decide that I could do Medifast. I owe so much of making the decision and follow through to you. Thank You (again!!) for putting it out there.

Forgive Yourself. Easier said, than done, I know. I share with you feelings of self-loathing, and am working on reminding myself that I am enough. And am doing the best I can, with what I have, where I am.

Anonymous said...

ive been trying for years to lose weight and im still at 260. higher than when i started.

Anonymous said...

What if all this is disordered thinking that you can't banish all by yourself? What if MF foods are making it harder? What if the world is thinking about something BESIDES your weight? What if a blog that is 99% about weight loss means taht your whole life is focused on a number on the scale? What if your weight today is as low as you'll ever be? What if you're missing all the good stuff that exists RIGHT now, EVEN at whatever weight you are now?

What if?

Anonymous said...

What if Anonymous had the courage to sign his/her name and leave a trail to his/her blog?

And I think it is presumptious to assume that the topic of one's blog reflects the central focus of one's life.

Just sayin' and using more restraint than you can imagine.


Lyn said...


LOL, very true! Anyone who has read for long knows I have five kids, two dogs, and a very busy life aside from focus on weight. My blog is ABOUT weight loss, which is why that's what I write about here.

Percentage of time in a day I am focused on blogging/weight loss? Um, maybe 5%? I do think about my eating choices, how I look, and exercise but that's just part of life/health.

I was missing out on "the good stuff" at 278 pounds. Losing weight has ALLOWED me to enjoy life so much more fully! I am very thankful for that.

bbubblyb said...

I've been struggling myself lately, I think the change in season is a big factor for a lot of people. Just keep plugging along and like you said never giving up is key. You'll figure it out and I do think time is a big factor too, the more time we spend going along this journey the better we become at figuring out what works and doesn't work. I think how we feel about ourselves is key too, really finding that inner love for ourselves. Hang in there, lots of people here rooting for you.

Bzybee said...

"We do what we have to do. I will always count calories, check the ingredients in foods, exercise, and bow to the scale-every single day...this is life...and I am living it... "

This.. and I don't mind taking a year out of 'normal' life to achieve my current weigh loss goal. I have spent 30 years overweight and other than my kids, I can't think of anything I am more focused on right now. If that means missing some good stuff, then so be it. I know that once I get where I want to be, that 'good stuff' will still be there and I will enjoy it 10 times more.

SG said...

wow. why IS that. same here. i lost 50 lb in 2007 and looked the SAME to myself. and then i gained 75 and looked the same still (in my head). how do we get past it??

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to point out that the STRONG feeling about weight regain may be why PrettyWoman can keep off the weight. A lot of us have body dysmorphia and seem to be able to lose the weight and then we really don't feel that different and easily regain the weight. I have been up and down the scale (50+ lbs each time) four times. I don't feel that different at the top or the bottom. I think that may be a big part of my inability to keep the weight off, once lost.

Perhaps if I felt a little more strongly about keeping the weight off, as PrettyWoman does... I wouldn't have the constant regain?

Anonymous said...

You are definitely determined. And I just wanted to let you know that I am a long time reader of this blog, and you have inspired me to start Medifast--I'm seeing success there, and I couldn't be happier, since that success hasn't been there for a looong time. You definitely make a difference to all of us--if you're ever over on medifast, I'm princesspollyanna.

that TOPS lady said...

((((((((((((big hug))))))))))) Hold on to your goal....Devote yourself to it...make it happen. you can do it. I know you can.

Anonymous said...

Sigh, yeah. It's really sad how the same number that felt so darn good on the way DOWN the scale, can feel ever so perfectly awful on the way back UP :-( . But, we've all been there. Nevertheless I feel certain one of these days soon you'll be back in the mindset to buckle down again and return to new low territory in terms of weight....

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry about the gainage, but I still admire you. It IS about the whole journey, not just the bumps (bulges) along the way. Jody

Anonymous said...

What I see is a tired, stressed out and down on herself woman who has made a huge change for the better in her health and is having a tough time right now.
Teeth breaking is major stress - major. You may be able to use some extra supplementation - like Vitamin D3, zinc and some extra B complex. And as much sleep as you can carve out for yourself. I have been reading a couple years now and it has been rough weather for you lately and for a while.
I am sending you a big fluffy, warm and loving hug!

N.R.E. said...

I still have a lot of weight to lose; I'm nowhere even close to where you are now. But part of what is helping me deal with stress is having things to "fill" my life other than food. I know you spend a lot of time with your family and your pup, but do you have any hobbies or anything that you love to do, just for yourself? Something that can take your mind away from worrying about life for a little while? Obviously, this won't fix every problem, but it's a little way to take care of yourself. Just a thought...

erin said...

"I saw the sadness and the fleeting thought, 'oh no, how could she gain so much? How sad, she is gaining. What a shame, she was looking so good...' Of course I imagine the dialogue..."

I know exactly what you mean. And then I thought about what happens when *I* see someone else who has regained. I don't feel any sense of judgment for that person - just sad for them and the clearly substantial obstacles they have to overcome, and hopeful they'll summon the courage and have the resources to tackle them again.

Of course that's not helpful if you're discouraged by the idea of people feeling sad for you that you've gained weight that you've worked so hard to lose. But it IS freeing to operate under the assumption that people are not judging you. It seems the key is holding yourself accountable but not beat yourself so badly that it's twice as hard to start those healthy habits again. For my $.02.

LJ said...

Hey Lyn. Just checking in. Sounds like things are a bit rough. I can;t give advice because I learned a few posts ago that my "process" was much different than yours. My overeating was due to my refusal to admit to myself that I was not happy with my life. I had pockets of happiness, but overall I didn't have the life I wanted. Once I *got* the life I wanted, the eating began to calm down and my weight began to normalize. I'm a big fan of both lower carbs and portion control.

However, I know from reading your other posts that your life is in a great place, overall, and that you are, for the most part, very very happy. And if you do have internal "wounds", you are dealing with them on your own with success.

In light of all of that, this just has to be a waiting game for you. Patience. You have done all the hard work already of creating the life you want and healing your hurts on your own. It might just take a while for the weight loss to catch up.

You're doing great. Chin up! You have done as much on your own as I have done with - literally - team of specialists behind me. You are so much stronger than I am and if I can do this, you can do this.



Krisken said...

I one hundred percent feel your pain. I worry even that I may never see what I have acomplished by looking in the mirror and therefor become addicted to the weight loss. It seems to me that the most important thing I have found is the attention I get each week by losing the weight. My blog, my friends that check my facebook, or even just hearing my coach tell me how great I look gives me the strength to keep going and finish another week. Even though I may not be satisfied losing only 100 pounds....or 125...but I know that with a good support system I will succeed...and some day I may come to see myself in a healthy light. If the farmer's market gives you that support, if they are a motivation for you, or the pictures posted up on your blog, whatever it takes, keep doing it. For your mental health, and your happiness.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever thought about Overeaters Anonymous-HOW? It may give you what you are really seeking.

Anonymous said...

I def know how you feel! When I was at my lowest, 140, I still felt like I was a million miles away from my goal weight. I've yo-yo'd over the past 4 years between 140 and 160. I just can't seem to reach and maintain my goal weight. I'll be turning 25 in January. I don't want to be on this roller-coaster for the rest of my life!