I don't own a full length mirror, and so I rarely saw myself from an outside perspective. I avoided pictures as much as possible, or when I couldn't avoid them, I would put one of my kids in front of me to hide myself. On the rare occasion that I did really see myself in a picture, I would be horrified by what I saw. I was disgusted by the way I looked, but for a long time, even that didn't motivate me to do anything about it. Once the memory of the picture faded, my mental perception of myself returned to that of my former, trimmer self.
Eventually, something finally clicked within me and my mind allowed m,y mental image of myself to match my reality. That was when I began this amazing journey to better health; however, losing weight didn't necessarily restore the connection between my mind's perception of myself and my reality. It seems that it only reversed it. I am not sure what did it, whether it was my brutal acceptance of just how heavy and unhealthy I had become, the time I spent looking at my before pictures, or the fact that I forced myself to really see myself for the first time in a long time, but my mind rewired my self image to that of the "before." The "before" me was burned into my brain, and it brought about a huge bout of depression. How could I have let myself get into this horrible shape? Although, I began to feel better about myself as the weight began to drop, my mental image of myself didn't really change.
Sometimes I still picture myself as the before, and It takes me by surprise when I see myself in the mirror or in pictures. I notice things about myself and it messes with my head. For example, when I look down and still expect to see my stomach bulging out farther than my breasts and am surprised when I can't see my stomach at all, or when I notice myself in the mirror at the gym and realize that I actually have a waist, or when I see my legs when I am taking a bath and can't stop staring at how much more shapely they are or noticing that they don't jiggle like they used to.. Logically, I know that I am much smaller than I used to be, but my brain refuses to see myself the way that others see me.
People stop and compliment me every day on how I look. I am terrible with compliments, and never really know how to accept them. Someone will say something like, "wow, you are really looking good," and my brain will throw up that before picture and I'll say something like, "I'm getting there." It's like I can't accept the progress I've made so far because the before still haunts my mind, and I know I still have a long way to go. I wish I could find the balance between my perception of myself and my reality. It's infuriating that I can't.
On the other hand, it has really made me understand something that I couldn't understand before. I used to get so upset when my "thin" friends would complain about being fat. It was like, "well, if you're fat, then I must be a freaking whale." Now I have a better understanding that perhaps they are struggling with the same perception/reality disconnect that I am struggling with. I've learned that we should never discount someone else's struggles because we perceive them to be less than our own. We are all fighting battles that other people can't see or empathize with.
Today makes one week down of my 30 day No Cheat No weigh challenge. I stayed true to the challenge and had no off plan cheats or crossovers, even when I had to give the ACT yesterday and our wonderful counselor brought in glazed doughnuts for all the test administrators. He's very thoughtful though, and knew that I don't eat sugar and brought a giant slim jim for me. It had corn syrup in it, so I took it home to my girls instead of eating it myself.
I am really proud of myself for staying on plan, but not knowing how much I weigh right now is driving me insane! Chris hid the scale from me, and it's a good thing he did because I have the strongest urge to weigh myself. I actually looked around for his hiding place yesterday, checking in cupboards and cabinets, and you had better believe that if I had found the scale, I would have weighed myself. I am trying not to obsess over that number, but it's so hard. I just hope that I will be pleasantly surprised when I weigh in on November 17. As long as I make it under 250 lbs, I will be ecstatic. I probably won't take new measurements until next weekend, but that will hopefully give me an idea of how I am progressing as well.