Wednesday, April 24, 2013


I have always been really hard on myself--I think this is a common issue with women.  We tend to not cut ourselves any slack, and be our own worst critics.  That is definitely true for me--I'm constantly down on myself for not trying hard enough, not doing enough, not being enough.  I've always taken some solace in the fact that I knew I was harder on myself than anyone else was--which to me meant that even when I thought things were bad, at least other people didn't know the extent of the issue.  I felt this way about my weight for a really long time--I could see under my clothes, but thankfully, no one else could...and I thought I did a good job hiding the weight and still managing to look decent.  Plus, I always hoped people would give a mom with three kids a break in the weight department--yes, there are those super skinny new moms (and my mom was one of them...why did I not inherit that gene???), but it takes most moms some time to work back down the scale again.  So I figured between my efforts to camouflage my excess baggage and the fact that I had three little one surrounding me at all times, I was probably safe from the judgments of others because of my weight--if anyone even noticed, they would just chalk it up to having recently had a baby.  They didn't need to know that my youngest baby was 2 years old, right?

I've had a revelation in the last two days, starting with the blog I wrote on Monday--I was writing about that shirt that no longer fits me, and I went searching through my old pictures from the fall to see if I could find a picture of me wearing that shirt to post on the blog.  I couldn't find a picture of me in that shirt specifically, but I did find a picture of me in a similar shirt from the end of September--same brand from the same store.  It was a rare picture, because Dan had the camera and was taking a picture of me from afar--it wasn't a posed picture with the kids, which tend to be the only photos I make it into.  We were at the pumpkin patch with Dan's parents, and they had pony rides--I took pictures of Abby and Jake riding the pony, but then Alex needed a parent to walk alongside the horse for his ride, so I handed the camera over to Dan and took the walk around the ring with Alex.  I remember Alex's cute reactions to riding the pony, and having a good time with him--wishing the ride was longer so that he could continue to enjoy himself.  I don't think I ever even looked at my photos from the pumpkin patch after I downloaded them from my camera, so scrolling through them on Monday, I actually studied them for the first time--and I was specifically looking for pictures of myself, which is unusual.  What I saw in those few pictures of me in the pony ring made me re-think what I had thought at the time to be true--that I was good at hiding the weight so that people looking at me couldn't tell I needed to lose a few pounds, and that I still managed to look cute:

this was the first photo, and I thought not so bad

hmmm...from the side, I can really see how tight that shirt is

I honestly had no idea this is what I looked like at the time

tight pants, tight shirt...overweight girl

yeah, this shirt doesn't hide anything

You might be looking at those pictures and thinking, "Oh, she's too hard on herself--she doesn't look that bad."  Or you might be looking at those pictures and thinking, "Wow...she was totally deluding herself!"  If you're thinking the first thought, you are too sweet and also in denial.  ;)  I know it could have been worse, but I look at those pictures and see who folks at the pumpkin patch that day saw--a girl who is obviously chubby and uncomfortable...and not at all who I thought I was portraying at the time.  For someone who is so hard on herself, I totally didn't see that when I looked in the mirror--the weight had crept up slowly, and again, changes over time are hard to notice when you see yourself every day.  It was just a few weeks after those pictures were taken that I had a "rock bottom" talk with myself in my bathroom--I had weighed myself on my old scale, and I was scarily close to weighing 170 2 pounds close.  It freaked me out, and I took a pen and wrote the number "170" on the inside of my left index finger, where I would see it all day and constantly be reminded that I needed to make some changes.  I started the food journal.  I lost 5 pounds in 10 days.  Then I gained it all back in the form of Halloween candy and general gluttonous indulgence, and the idea for Challenge #2 was born.  I needed to hold myself accountable, and I needed to be ready mentally for a serious attempt at regaining my health.

I had those pictures stuck in my head all Monday and woke up yesterday thinking about them--I couldn't shake how blind I had been to the obvious issue.  I took Jake to gymnastics yesterday morning and was watching Alex play in the waiting area there--about halfway into the hour-long class, a woman whose daughter is in Jake's class came over to me.  I've seen her every week since Jake started taking gymnastics back in September, but I've never actually spoken to her before, so I was very surprised when she said, "I just wanted to say that you look really fantastic--I can really tell you've lost weight.  I noticed it last week, and thought I would just come say great job this week!"  I told her how much it meant to me to have someone who didn't know that I've been on this journey notice my progress and comment on it.  She asked what I have been doing to lose the weight, and we talked about different gyms and exercise classes, and how hard it is to make time for ourselves when we have young kids--we chatted for the rest of the class time.  I walked away from that conversation with two predominant thoughts:  1) that total stranger made my day (and possibly my last 3 months of effort!) by stepping out of her comfort zone to approach me and let me know that she saw a difference in me; and 2) that total stranger saw me walk in the door back in September and took note of that chunky girl...enough so that she noticed when the girl wasn't so chunky anymore.  It sort of brought my own feelings on those pumpkin patch pictures full-circle in my mind--yes, I was in a bad place back then that I may not have acknowledged fully, but I've really committed myself to being healthier, and have the improved version of me to show for it.  Other people can see it, even when I can't see it in myself yet--and I'm just so glad they are seeing the happier me this time around.

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