This is me:
Body-image experts say it’s not uncommon for people, especially women, who have lost a lot of weight to be disappointed to some extent to discover that they still aren’t “perfect.” The excess fat is gone when they reach their goal weight, but they may have sagging skin, cellulite or a body shape that they still deem undesirable. Like Hicks, some even continue to see themselves as though they are overweight.I still expect that large person every day. I look at some of the clothes in my closet and think that there is no way in hell that they will fit me, but they do. I still expect to take up a seat and a half at the doctor office. I look in the full length mirror that I pass by in the store and wonder who that woman is? I still avoid racks of clothes, afraid that I won't fit, and walk through the aisles instead. I look at the angular parts of my face and wonder how they got there and what do I do with them?
And yet I understand it from the other side too. Pete got down below 180 last summer. When he did, he thought he looked awesome and he felt good. Yet, to the rest of us, he appeared gaunt and sick. People were worried about him and asked me if he was ok. Yes, and no. He is struggling with his image. And since that time he's back into the 190s and unhappy with himself. We have talked extensively about how he looked unwell and how great he looks now. But he doesn't see it. He sees himself as fat again. On the outside of his body image, I can see it. On the inside, he still struggles.
I've had many family member approach me over the holidays and tell me how good I look. It absolutely made my day when I heard this. For years I stayed on the sidelines even in my own family so I wasn't cause for attention. To hear the comments was so wonderful. Their next question was usually was I still trying to lose more? My reply was always yes. Because I haven't reached the goal I started out with. Yet, ultimately most of them told me not to lose much more because I looked good.
Truth? I don't see it. Not yet. And it sometimes worries me. Will I ever see myself as that thin person? I'm continually asking Pete when we are in public if I am thinner than other women. I'm not doing it to boost me up. I'm doing it because the image in my head, the one that I've lived with for over 10 years, is still a size 24/3X. Reality is that I'm currently a 12-14/Large. I just don't see it. I want to see it. Believe me, after being so large for so many years I long to see the skinny me and appreciate every part. But it's just not happening...yet.
I have started at myself in the mirror at the gym and wondered who I was. Who the woman was looking back at me. And it's me. I'm there. But it's not me. I stare to try to learn the new shape of my face. I stare at my arms to learn the new curves of my biceps. I bend over to dry my hair and see the outsides of my hips without turning my head back and forth. I put my thumb and middle finger around my wrist and I'm amazed that it not only fits, but overlaps. I'm continually trying to learn the new me.
I'm hopeful. Hopeful that with time and careful studying I will know the new me like I knew the old me. I'm hopeful that the studying will make me appreciate the new me and remind me not to go back to the old me. I'm hopeful that one day I can walk in public with Pete and not have to ask him to compare me to another woman. I'm hopeful that I can at once go to my current size in the store without looking at the item 1-2 sizes bigger thinking that I need it.