Shocking, But Not Diminishing

Last night as I did my workout for physical therapy in my little home gym, I looked in the mirror set up in that room and started thinking about the before-and-after photos people have posted in the weight loss/fitness communities of Reddit. I decided to take my own to keep for comparison someday when I reach my goal weight, cropping my face out so I’d concentrate on the body. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever taken such photos, if you’re overweight like I am, but it can be pretty shocking to see yourself in a different way even than how you see yourself in the mirror, even though there isn’t a difference.

You are still you, after all, but how quickly your perspective can change once you see yourself more objectively. I went from “I look adorable!” (focusing on things I like, such as my face) to,  “Um, wow. I did not know I looked like that” (focusing on myself more as if I was a stranger evaluating another person’s fitness).

A cartoon of an overweight woman in front of a mirror reflecting an abstract version of herself.

"When did I get so many squiggly lines?"

This wasn’t about self-esteem. I didn’t stand there and yell “Fatty!” at the mirror. No, I’ve been called fat in a variety of ways for the last 20 years of my life, and I’ve both developed a thick skin to non-constructive criticism and insults and come to love myself despite the ugliness that has been thrown at me. There could be a bit of self-dislike still lurking on the inside, but my self-esteem is intact; there was much more self-delusion to be cut through by those pictures. My shock did not change how I saw myself aesthetically. I was pleased with some of what I looked at – for example, I saw just how much my gallbladder surgery scars have faded – but I was alarmed by my new perspective on the sheer size of some parts of me, knowing how much of that is unhealthy fat, how much worse that is making my life. My size is putting me at risk for diseases and conditions that run in my family, such as type II diabetes and arthritis, and it was eye-opening to realize how much of a load there is to bear for my bad ankle and bum leg.

I plan to keep to my diet and continue to exercise, as well as walk more often, as I’ve said in previous posts. I also plan to take measurements and photos every month to track my progress, as well as to give myself regular reminders of why it’s important to keep going. I’ve done this to my own body, and I’m the one who can get myself out of it again.

I also signed up for the 90 days goal community on Reddit. An active, supportive weight loss/fitness community inspires me and keeps me on target. I can’t wait to post my positive progress photos in the months to come. Most of all, though, I look forward to improving my long-term health and loving the way I look even more. Positive reinforcement from others will just be a pleasant bonus to that payoff.

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