losing weight and identity

Too Fat for Photos

Recently I posted a link to an article on my Facebook pageSO YOU’RE FEELING TOO FAT TO BE PHOTOGRAPHED . . . I wanted to share it here for you guys to read, too. I really loved this article and could relate to so much! I’m sure many of you can, too.

“In our warped minds pictures become frozen mirrors that we can stare at as we pick apart our features over and over again. I know girl. I know.”

This was me for a really long time. Probably most of my life. I ducked for cover whenever someone brought out a camera at a party or event. If I was forced into participating in the picture I was the one that hid in the very back behind the group of people so that I could hide my body. I was just a floating head in the background.

oldme

My other move was to not have body shots taken. A lot of pictures were from the chest up. Not that that really hid the fact that I was fat, but somehow it was better for me.

sab

Another trick: wear baggy clothes or big jackets/sweaters and to hold purses and bags and stuff in front of my body. Not foolin’ anyone!

chicago3

As I was losing 100 pounds I started to get better about allowing photos to be taken of me. It was slow. It’s not like I lost 20, 30 or 40 pounds and immediately was like “yeah! I’m ok with pictures now!” I was still reluctant. But I’m glad I did get some photos because I get to look back now and see the transformation I made. I didn’t notice the weight loss as I was smack-dab in the middle of it. I couldn’t tell I was losing weight (other than having to buy new clothes in smaller sizes) until it was a drastic change. Looking at yourself in the mirror every day, you don’t see the changes.

bridesmaid

The above photo was taken the day I weighed in at 50 pounds lighter–the day of my brother’s wedding. I was SO glad I reached that first goal before his wedding and that I was able to enjoy the day and not feel self-conscious about my body and not enjoy being in the photographs. It wasn’t about me and how I felt about my fat. It was a day for my brother and his wife to celebrate and I’m glad I’m in those photos. No matter what size I am.

“…always waiting for this elusive moment where I would be thin enough (pretty enough) to have such a permanent record of me. Because, you know, HEAVEN FORBID there be any proof that I look the way I actually look.”

That above quote from the article was TOTALLY me. Not only was I waiting to be thin enough for photos to be ok, I was waiting to be thin enough TO BE HAPPY. “I’ll be happy when I lose 50 pounds.” Why can’t I be happy now??

LisaEireneBeforeAndAfter

I’m also happy I have some photos of my heavy days (even if it’s not many) because sometimes I forget that was ever me. I see old pictures and I don’t recognize that person, I can’t relate and it doesn’t feel like I’m looking at myself. But I’m glad I have them because I can look back and think “that was that amazing trip to Chicago I took with my best friend!” I’m not thinking “that was the trip I took when I was 250 pounds.”

I think many of us have been there. But have you ever stopped to think, isn’t this a moment that I would like to remember someday? Even if it’s not my ideal body weight, wouldn’t I rather look back years to come and remember this moment? Christmas with family? Especially if family memories have passed away. Am I going to look at the photo and think “God I look fat in this photo!” or am I going to look at the photo and think “I really miss Grandpa. I’m so glad we got to spend that last Christmas together”??

Your children want pictures with their mom.

Your husband wants pictures with his beautiful wife.

Your mom and dad want pictures of the happy, successful, amazing woman they raised (ok, and more pictures of the grandkids while you’re at it)

So you’re feeling too fat to be photographed? . . . Ok. But you’re the only one who notices. The rest of us are too caught up in loving you.

Now that I’m pregnant and obviously going to be gaining weight, I’m trying not to focus on that. I’m growing a human. It’s not like I’m bingeing on pizza and ice cream like I did when I was 250 pounds. That was a different beast altogether. I’m trying to focus on my body as a healthy vessel for the baby, not criticize the weight gain or pick apart pictures of me that may not be the most flattering. It’s important to me to have PHOTOS of this magical time in my life. I want to look back years from now and think happy thoughts, not negative thoughts about weight gain. I’m trying to change my perspective.

What about you? Are you hiding from the camera or embracing life as it is in the moment?

Body Love Week: Identity Crisis

This week on 110 Pounds, we’ll be discussing the important topic of Body Loving. Here is the third post to continue the positive body image week. Enjoy. -Lisa

Self-Image

When I was 250 pounds, I was “The Fat Girl.” That was wrapped up a lot in my identity. Looking back at old diary entries from my late teens and early twenties, what I saw was a lot of hate. The voice I heard in my head was that negative voice that pointed out all my faults, my fat rolls, my low self-esteem. The negative self-talk was so ingrained in me, I barely noticed I was doing it. I didn’t speak up for myself as much as I wanted to. I dated a lot of guys who weren’t very good for me because I thought I couldn’t do better. That makes me sad. Settling should never be the answer.

When I was losing the weight, I was “The Fat Girl Losing Weight.” This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I definitely got a lot of attention and I got a lot of support from people. I even received support from people I barely knew. Coworkers I passed in the hallways gave me good wishes. It was a positive, life-enforcing thing that made me feel compelled to keep going. The attention was nice and boosted my self-esteem and my ego. I started to tell that Negative Self-Talk Voice in my head that I WAS worth it. I didn’t have to settle for anything. I was successfully losing the weight, finding myself, finding my voice. And I had a low tolerance for men who didn’t treat me right. I realized I would rather be single, than be paired with a jerk.

Despite becoming more confident and positive about myself and my body, I found that I would belittle what I was doing. If someone gave me a compliment on my weight loss, I’d say “Oh, thanks, I still have a long way to go.” So what? Why, why did I always have to diminish my accomplishments?

When I lost the weight, I was “The Girl Who Lost 110 Pounds.” It was an awesome feeling, let me tell you. Reaching goal weight, becoming a confident, positive person who was HAPPY with her body and HAPPY with her life, was an awesome thing.

While it was a happy moment in my life, it wasn’t necessarily a comfortable place to be. I was wary. I was worried about gaining it back, I was uncomfortable in my new body. I changed my style entirely and wore clothes that were tighter, more revealing than I was used to. Gone were the over-sized clothes I used to hide my body under. It took some time to figure out who I was going to be in this new body.

After I’ve kept the weight off for almost 4 years now, I am “The Girl Who Maintains.” Sometimes it’s difficult to figure out what that means exactly. Here are some things I’ve been working on as I maintain these past four years:

Self-Control

It took me a long time to finally calm down and enjoy maintenance. I learned that I didn’t have to ALWAYS worry about keeping the weight off, I wasn’t going to gain it ALL back if I missed one workout or ate a cheeseburger. Going Scale-Free last summer helped me get in touch with my new reality, and it really worked. Learning that balance has been a challenge but I’m doing better. Doing what works for me–counting my calories and working out–keeps me in control.

Self-Esteem

Learning tricks to silence that Negative-Self-Talk-Voice in my head has helped. I found that I valued myself, I valued my health and THAT was why I worked out. I wanted to be healthy and not develop diabetes. Isn’t taking care of our health the best gift we can give ourselves?

Self-Realization

Realizing that I can do anything I set my mind to is extremely empowering. For years I told myself I’d always be fat, I’d never lose the weight, this was who I was. Seeing the weight come off because I worked hard made me realize that I was not stuck in that life if I didn’t want to be.

It’s funny–I’m now at the stage where I’m meeting people who never knew me as “that girl”–they just know me as who I am now. And they are always shocked to find out I used to be this other person. I’m still working on myself and will be for a long time, I think. I don’t know yet “Who I Am”. It seems to be changing a lot, but maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe that’s enriching who I’ll eventually be. Thoughts?

QUESTION: If you lost a significant amount of weight, did you go through an “identity crisis”?