I finally get it. Oh, it took me several months to finally see what this particular group of people see daily when they look in a mirror and examine themselves. The realization and comprehension took me by surprise, but I am so glad that I FINALLY GET IT! Oh, I am talking about thin people looking at themselves and thinking they are fat. WHAT?!
I reinvent my look every few years. I am a confirmed shopaholic. I LOVE buying clothes. I love buying shoes. I will venture into designer stores and I will frequent Goodwill. I am not too choosy about where I buy, but I am choosy about what I buy. I think my subconscious knows how much I enjoy cavorting in malls so once I have reached my allotted closets space (yes, I have commandeered more than one closet), my body suddenly transforms.
Ok, it’s not sudden. It’s more laboriously time consuming…like 6 months or a year, or two. I will go from a svelte size 6 and balloon to a size 14. I have gone from being a weensy, boney size 4 to a plump and cuddly size 1X (I think that’s a nice way of saying size 18, I believe). So, I have been all over the board with my body size (and all over the malls…lol).
My most challenging mind game was learning to love my plus size body; all the bumps and lumps and squishiness of me. And I did learn to love it… every big bit of it. Even when my mother mocked and shamed me, I still loved the round cherub cheeks I had, and my breasts…OH WOW…full and quite glamorous. Though I loved the Mrs. Claus version of me, my lungs were clambering for oxygen after walking up a flight of stairs. So, it was time for me to start my journey to becoming a healthier me. Not necessarily a non-fluffy me, but just a person who could walk and not get winded. A person who could lift a toddler without her back going out.
I began with healthier eating. Load up my plate with the colours of the rainbow…broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, strawberries, blueberries, eggplant, et. al. You get the idea. The bland whites and beiges were absent for a little while. No bread. No pasta. No cookies. No donuts. I re-introduced those after I lost 40 lbs, but there were no longer any carb-fests that I had previously enjoyed. Anyway, after shedding parts of me, I joined a gym. (Technically, hubby Wiseguy signed us both up). Well, after a couple of months of “healthy” eating AND three days a week at the gym (for an hour) I have a new-to-me amazing body! I mean, my body is an incredible thing and it can do some amazing stuff!
Before this “new” me, I couldn’t lift 2 lb weights without heaving and straining and now I can lift and hoist 40 lbs. I can lift toddlers without breaking a sweat. I can do squats like a champ…which means kidlets can be bounced on my lap and I no longer have to worry about getting a Charley Horse. Amazing! I am lookin’ goooooood! I have rounded shoulders, thanks to my newly formed muscles. My bat wings … non-existent! My calves and thighs; toned and sinewy. Look at me being a femme fatale version of Arnie (Arnold Schwarzenegger). I’m feeling great and looking great! Or am I?
I’ve been thinner now for about a year, but I started working out about 8 months ago. Now when I look in the mirror I am finding faults with my body. My thighs only seem toned if I flex them. The mushy flab around my belly is still wiggly and jiggly. Where is the 6-pack I am supposed to have? It’s obvious…I am fat. Yup, that is what I see when I look in the mirror and see my reflection. My butt (sorry, not into the big butt look for myself), but I just see cellulite and flab. What happened? I weigh 40 lbs less than I used to be so why do I feel and look fatter now? Apparently, I am not alone with this bizarro way of thinking.
Phantom Fat. It’s actually a thing. Basically, your mind still believes and subsequently sees the bigger you that you were. So, after I lost weight I found I was still trying on large size clothes and would be surprised when they were too big. Even now, I try on small clothes now and am surprised when they fit. “Must be American version of small which is really like a real-size large,” is what my brain tells me.
I am still surprised when people I haven’t seen in awhile tell me how great I look. They ask me how I shed the pounds, which is easy to talk about. What shocks me is how tiny they think I am. I don’t see it. I quickly change the topic because I feel like a fake and a liar.
I will tell you that when I accepted the soft, pudgy me, I was happy and loving life. Oh sure, I ate my feelings (food has always been my go-to comfort when life gets hectic). Now, I worry when I have my latte and biscotti. I worry when I skip a day going to the gym. I worry about not fitting into the clothes I have purchased. I worry about the food I eat thinking I’ll gain 50 lbs after one meal. Who would’ve thought that losing weight and being healthy could become a mental hazard?
I wasn’t going write about this, but I thought there might be someone out there having the same unrealistic thoughts and wondering if they were the only person having these crazy thoughts. Well guess what? There’s a bunch of us trying to overcome this weird way of dealing with something that is actually a great thing!
So today I will stop judging myself and go back to my old mantra that I used when I was trying to love and accept my biggy, squishy me. I will look at myself in that full length mirror and tell that wonderful person, “You are beautiful and I love you.”