To briefly summarize my life to this point:
As a result of these constraints on my daily life, I wound up losing upwards of 40 pounds (for the sake of my sanity and tenuous self-esteem, I don’t weigh myself and don’t own a scale, so I don’t have an exact number).
But instead of the euphoric freefall so many people describe in their weight loss journeys, I experienced almost the complete opposite.
And I felt a growing resentment towards those who urged me from my infancy to lose weight, and those who’d lost weight themselves and constantly congratulated me, because of what no one ever told me about losing weight.
No one told me that seeing myself as beautiful now that I’m thinner would affect how I see myself in memories and in past photographs.
Or how judgmental and cruel I would be to myself, even though I know now that my previous weight wasn’t my fault.
No one warned me that the desire to lose weight doesn’t stop with the first major chunk; any sort of curves I see on myself I find myself despising.
I find myself cursing out clothing designers when I go shopping because I know that certain areas of clothing are sized especially small and that even though I’ve lost near forty pounds by now, certain smaller sizes that fit me elsewhere don’t fit me there.
No one told me I would fight a constant battle to not make my new weight an obsession.
That I would compare old photographs with new ones and beat myself up if I noticed I’d gained a few pounds back.
No one told me that I would wonder, in an even greater way now than before, why the men I’d loved left me.
Because, for the first time in my life, I can see a spark of beauty in myself that I’ve never seen before. If you were beautiful all that time and didn’t know it, why did they leave? It must have been me. There must be something wrong with me.
No one told me how much relatives’ compliments would hurt.
After they’ve mocked you and hounded you about your weight since your earliest memories. Suddenly you’re accepted after dropping these pounds because, for one reason or another, you just weren’t good enough before.
These same people that feign remorse when they discover they somehow made you upset.
It’s not like cheating on a regular diet; cheating on gluten or dairy is the difference between getting a good night’s sleep or being up all hours of the night with body aches, a migraine, and a very unhappy stomach.
No one told me how lonely holidays would be.
When most of the food served is completely out of your range.
When so much of holidays are surrounded by food, you give in because the estrangement from those around you is so much more pronounced than it normally is. And then you end up sick.
Needless to say, I was not prepared for the new fights I would fight in learning just how wounded my self-image was and how badly I needed to change the way I see and speak to myself.
There are a whole set of challenges to losing weight and keeping it off, and I don’t mean the weight on the scale.
It’s the fear of the scale.
It’s the fear of the looks on other’s faces if they see you and think you’d gained all the weight back.
It’s the shadow of your former self, that you loathe and feel guilty for loathing, that hangs behind you.
It’s not just the size of your clothing; it’s that you’re faced undeniably with the reality that you hated yourself for your weight–and to hate anyone, especially yourself, for such a superficial reason makes you sick.
But you’re still petrified, frozen in white-knuckle terror, at becoming that way again.
I am genuinely working hard on loving myself for myself, weight or not. At seeing myself as a worthwhile person, no matter what size clothes I wear or if I can fit into a bikini. I am trying to, as St. Catherine of Siena puts it, see myself in the “gentle mirror of God”.
If I could give any piece of advice, or word of warning, to those who are struggling with weight or after losing a lot of weight, I would tell you to gird your loins for the change in battle ahead. Any sort of change brings about conflict.
I would also say this, something I wish I had been told growing up:
You are beautiful, right now, just as you are.
And I mean that from the bottom of my heart.
There is nothing wrong with you.
If you want to change yourself, change! You do not need anyone’s permission, and you are always loved by the One above, no matter what.
You are you, no matter your weight, and I am so grateful that you are here, taking up room in every manner, in matter, time, and space. Don’t ever let someone make you feel guilty for existing.
You are loved, you are beautiful, you are amazing.
In another quote from St. Catherine, I will say this, both to myself and to you:
“What is it you want to change? Your hair, your face, your body? Why? For God is in love with all those things and He might weep when they are gone.”
Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-girl-fat-fitness-42069/