A Stranger’s Body

When I moved across the country, I started a new life with family and friends who hadn’t seen much of me for nearly 10 years. They aren’t as familiar with my body reshaping journey, and they don’t have the same image in their heads of me that I do.

I was having lunch with my new coworkers, and we were talking about dieting, different food lifestyles, our struggles with our bodies that ranged from weight loss to maintaining mobility. I talked some about how my eating habits changed over the last year and why I’m trying to steer clear of carbohydrates and starch. I get comments now to the effect of, “You don’t need to lose weight.” I then tell them about the eating plan my doctor put me on last year, my highest weight two years ago, and how much I’ve lost over the last year. “You weighed 205 pounds? You?” I don’t feel that different essentially, but I know I look different, and the two versions of myself are still being reconciled in my head.

When I look in the mirror, I see myself as I’ve always seen me, even though the shape is different. I’m still surprised at how my abdomen doesn’t protrude as much and how much better defined my chin is. But there I am, with more wrinkles and gray hair every day, smaller measurements all over.

The real shock comes when I look at photos of myself from the recent past. Scrolling through my Facebook photos is eye-opening. While I don’t regret what I looked like or hate myself for it – I know how hard I was trying to change myself for all those years – I am glad that I no longer have the health problems that came with that extra weight, the frustration that came with living that way, and the feeling that I’d never be able to lose it no matter how hard I tried.

People who know me now don’t realize that the larger version of me is still who I identify with, that that’s who I was for two decades. That’s my story, though, and it’s not as visible as my current body and the story that people might assign to me because of the way I look now. For better or worse, our pasts rule us.  That’s one reason I will always be decent to other people no matter their size – you don’t know their story, and it’s a highly personal story that is never really over.

I’m still getting used to seeing this body in the mirror, fitting it with clothes, and understanding the way other people see it. I love myself in every iteration, but this new me is both exciting and strange… and expensive to reclothe. My boyfriend is a valuable touchstone for shifting my perception and highlighting the changes my body has been through.

I have to cull my clothing collection again to rid myself of shirts that just won’t work anymore. I’m starting to fit into size 10 pants; my size 12s are getting baggy, and I’m wearing my boyfriend’s belts for the first time. This would have been impossible in the past due to the measurement of my waist. It’s a whole weird new world to me that just seems normal to everyone else. Time for me to start getting used to it.

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2 responses to “A Stranger’s Body

  1. Weight loss is more taxing mentally than it is physically. I’ve lost a little over 240 pounds in less than 18 months on a medically supervised diet and exercise program. Where I was wearing 62″ pants, I’m now in 38″ pants, and they’re looser than they need to be.

    Until I get to my goal weight, it’s Goodwill all the way for me. Polos, khakis, and anything else that I can buy secondhand, I do.

    Once I had the determination that I wasn’t going back, I donated a ton of clothes to various charities. I sold some others. I make a point of keeping shirts and pants only one size larger than I currently am.

    Good work on getting your body healthy. I wish you the best in getting your mind synchronized with your body. I know I’m facing the same struggles you are. I document my journey at http://needlesspounds.com

  2. I was super broke last summer and hit the thrift stores of DFW pretty hard, as well as the $3-5 t-shirt stands of Wal-Mart, to try to keep from looking so ridiculous. I was so proud of myself this weekend for finding well-fitting jeans for $3 at my local Goodwill.

    I’m also holding onto a lot of clothing that is the next size up! Now it’s getting to be two sizes too large, with some shirts that are three sizes above (at least my boobs are getting easier to fit into most shirts). Part of me is afraid of backsliding and wants the safety of having something I can still wear in the back of the closet if I go back. But I also love getting rid of clothes that don’t fit anymore (I grew up in kind of a hoarding situation, so the less stuff I have, the better), and I went through my closet again last night and culled some shirts that didn’t look good on me anymore. “If I were trying this on in the store, would I want to buy it based on how it looks on me now? No? Could I get away with layering it with another shirt? Ok, bye-bye.” I’ll start doing that with my pants soon, too. Can’t hold onto the past forever 🙂

    I’ll check out your blog!

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