Do you know what I realized last night? It is all in our perception of things and everyone is going to be different. I went to Weight Loss Support Group and a couple stood up to speak. They are both about 2 years out of surgery and met in the support group 2 years ago- just became a couple this summer. The man weighed over 500lbs and now weighs about 275 and the woman started out at 380 and now weighs 220. She is still working on losing and i am not sure what his goal is, but he will need some plastics for sure! Anyhow, when they were talking they talked about all the things they can do now: Sit in a booth, walk through a turnstile without trouble, buy smaller clothes, shoes, hats, belts, etc. But, when anyone who does not know them or their story looks at them they have to think they are an overweight couple. But, they do not. They feel wonderful about themselves and know how far they have come.
Perception of the whole world ends up different. There were times I would get a meal and wonder “is that all” or know I would not have leftover to take home. Now Brian and I usually split a meal or we order something that is able to be reheated to take home. We look at plates of food that come to us and say “yikes! how can we eat that” Or if we have ordered our own meal we wonder out loud why we did not decide to share. The only thing we are unable to share is a steak because we both like them prepared so different. I don’t like my meat to Moo back at me!
Booths in restaurants look bigger and we find ourselves trying to move the seat or the table closer to us instead of far away because it is so far away now. I no longer look around a room to see if anyone is bigger than me. I don’t care anymore who is in the room or what they look like. The only reason I cared before was because I felt like I stuck out for being the biggest/roundest. Now, sometimes if I am in a room of people who know me but some have not seen me I feel a little self conscious because they keep looking at me. I know I am shocking to look at now. People stare and then tell me they just can’t believe it. I don’t mind. I try not to be bothered by it, but it just confirms for me how bad I was before. I have sort of become used to being the center of attention and I am trying to convince myself to learn to like it. I do things that scare me a little (like public speaking) to try to get myself over my past.
I look at pictures when I was 4 months post op and had already lost about 60 pounds. I thought I looked fantastic. I did not look heavy to myself at all. I pull that picture out now though and think how big I was. I look at pictures of my birthday weekend trip to the beach last year that we have on the wall and remember how good I felt then. I thought I was looking great! It was my perception from how big I was. Now I think – yikes! I was still so big! (I was about 170 ish then)
Now, at 125 pounds lost and wearing a size 4 jeans I can’t help but still feel my old self. I look in the mirror and all I can find is the flaws. So, why do I remember feeling so good 50lbs ago and now I don’t feel as good about myself? I suppose it is my perception that still being heavy at 170 was so much better than being 255lbs. But, now being a normal 125lbs, is so unreal to me and a goal I just never believed I could get to and stay at that my brain cannot wrap around the fact that I am there. I am done. I am thin. I am healthy. I have stamina. I don’t get sick as much. I don’t feel like the pink elephant in the room that everyone is looking at while trying to avoid all at the same time. I have more courage. I want to encourage others and be there for others so they can understand what the next year will bring for them. I speak at support groups when others have questions about something and crave an answer from someone who has been there. I needed someone like me when I was just starting.
I volunteered to be a patient advocate last night. I have to go through all the steps to be officially declared a hospital volunteer then I can work with patients who have just had surgery. Since I don’t have the means to go back to school to do this officially (or the many years it would take!!) this is the next best thing. I can use the experiences to bring back here to share also. And I can lead people here to read and maybe they will find what they are feeling and experiencing is normal.
In the meantime, I still work on myself all the time. I tell myself I do look good (minus the loose skin) and I am so much better in so many ways. I have a whole new outlook on life. I HAVE changed. And no matter how many times I say to people “I have not changed at all” I know that I have. I have not changed WHO I am! I am still me. I still love everyone I did before. I am still a natural helper. I still cry at commercials. I still love sappy movies. I am still a good friend! But, I have changed for the better in my health and well being. I have changed how I eat and how I look at food and my relationship with it. Basically, we broke up. I use it to live only – except for the occasional treat, which is NOTHING like a “treat” used to be! I can sit and ask myself if I am actually needing nourishment or if I am just looking for something to do. I can stop myself from bad choices. I have changed in that I stand in the fridge with it open saying “Do I want a salad or some fruit for a snack” Instead of chocolate or vanilla ice cream or a brownie. My brain is disconnected from food bringing me any comfort, joy or help. I can do that on my own now. I can go to one of my many support systems in place instead. It’s all in the perception of how you want to live life now.