Friday, March 6, 2009

Smaller than I think

I think everyone has an image of themselves that they carry in their head as the "true" them. In my case, my "true" me is about 145 pounds and 34. So whenever I looked in the mirror, I didn't see my age or my fat. Every once in a while, something would happen to force me to acknowledge it, but mostly I would somehow not see it. I would mentally subtract off gray hairs and flab and concentrate on the parts of me that supported my own world view.

Now I am 140 and for the first time, when I look in the mirror, I think "who is that person?" I am actually smaller than my own mental picture. I'm older too, of course, but I can still ignore that part. After all, my maximum heart rate is the same as subtracting 34 from 220 so that makes me 34, right?

But the weight part disconcerts me. I still worry when I'm walking around work eating a snack that people will be thinking "if she didn't eat so much, she wouldn't be overweight" even though, at the weight I am now, most people are wondering if I'm almost done losing. When buying a wet suit today, the salesgirl kept looking at Smalls even though I knew (from trying one on two weeks ago, that I was actually a Medium in most brands.

So the world doesn't see me the way I see me. When I was fat, they saw the fat and I didn't. Now I'm within 10 pounds of a normal BMI and they see a regular person and I see a slightly tubby person.

The hard part about not seeing yourself as you really are is that it can lead to fooling yourself. When I was 140 before, I looked pretty good. But I couldn't maintain that weight. As my weight kept creeping up, I'd tell myself that this new, higher weight wasn't so bad. I still looked pretty good, in fact.

I told myself that 155 and it was probably somewhat true. I told myself that at 165 even though I was starting to have trouble clothes shopping again and I couldn't fit into off-the-shelf skating dresses. I told myself that at 175 even though I was now clinically obese and stuck in the Plus Sizes. I think I figured it out that I was fat by the time I hit 195 though.

I don't want to fool myself again so I need to figure out how to really see myself. I am practicing. For example, I pick up clothes in the store and guess if they are too small for me, too big for me or just right without looking at the tags. Then I look at the size on the tags to see if I'm right. I'm also making myself really look at myself in the mirror every day.

Some people at goal weigh themselves every day so they can't convince themselves they aren't gaining when they are 5 pounds over their goal weight. I think that would drive me insane, so I will have to come up with another way of making sure I don't start gaining and tell myself it's really not noticeable.

Hey, I just realized this is great excuse to go clothes shopping every other week. Honey, I'm not wasting money buying things I don't need. I'm working on my body dysmorphia!
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