There aren’t many “fat” photos of me around. Because I’d only spent a few years at nearly 300 pounds, I was pretty successful at avoiding cameras whenever possible. I’m beginning to think that maybe that wasn’t such a good thing. By avoiding cameras I was also avoiding the truth. What I saw in the mirror was what I chose to see. I knew I was big, I knew I’d gained a lot of weight, but I didn’t want to see it.
The woman I was in that earlier photo is physically a stranger to me, but I know everything she was thinking and feeling at the moment that photo was taken. The hand in front of my face says it all: Let me hide.
I remember that day, too, because it was the day Shirley taught me how to make Norwegian lefse (a soft flatbread made with potatoes). I had to stand to roll out the dough and I remember my back hurting me so much that I had to take frequent breaks. I denied that it hurt because I was morbidly obese. I blamed it on heredity – Dad has a bad back so naturally I did, too.
I knew I was a topic of conversation between my mother and Shirley; not in a mean-spirited way, but I know how important looks are in my family. I’ve been told since I can remember what a beautiful girl I am. Even typing that just now made me roll my eyes. Being fat for a few years took the pressure off of me to always look “good,” however that is defined. For a few years I didn’t care what I looked like. I owned an antique store and poured all my energy into running it.
But the physical demands of carrying around 150 extra pounds took its toll and I knew I had to get the weight off or I’d have diabetes, heart disease and worsening arthritis in a few years, possibly months. I also was tired of being embarrassed and avoiding people. When I got honest with myself, I didn’t really like what I saw in the mirror and I missed the Lynn who cared about what she looked like. Three months after that photo was taken, I joined Weight Watchers.
Today I’m 146 pounds lighter, almost half the physical person I was in October 2004. Problems solved, right? If only. My head hasn’t caught up to my body. When I look at that photo of me from last week and compare it to the me from before, I feel defensive. I want to protect the fat me from the thinner me smiling at me from the photo. It’s like I’ve become the people I tried to avoid when I was fat. I don’t know if “forgiven” is the right word, but I’ve accepted the fat me, the person who struggled with hypothyroidism and depression which led to a huge weight gain. I am gentle with her and understand her a lot more than I understand this thinner chick who wants to beat up on the fat chick.
It’s a startling comparison photo. Even I can see that. I have it posted on my weight loss website to serve as an inspiration to people struggling with their weight that with hard work and perseverance, it can be done. But despite my smiling face, getting thinner is a much bigger struggle emotionally that I ever imagined it would be. I’ll blog about that another time since I need to hit the gym – something that fat chick wouldn’t understand.