Identity Crisis

At what point does your weight start defining you?

At what point does your weight stop defining you?

This week in therapy, I talked about how I felt as though I never let my weight define me in the first place.

My family did that for me.

How?  I was always called “La Gorda” as a kid growing up.  Hence the name of my blog.  I was either “the smart one” (because I started reading when I was a year and a half old and haven’t stopped since) or “the fat one” (because I’ve always been fat).  And that’s how family and family friends identified me.

I chose to identify myself as “the smart one.”  And I threw myself into being good at schoolwork and eventually, my professional work.  It has worked for me for nearly 40 years.  But the fat has been leaving me for the past 8 months, and now I’m hearing things like “you’re disappearing on us” and “look at you, skinny!”

And I don’t know how to handle it.  I don’t like it.

I never identified myself by thinking of myself as The Fat Girl, I think, because I chose to identify myself as The Smart Girl instead.  I have also had trouble visualizing myself as large–I never could perceive myself as large as I am (and have been) because when I look in the mirror, I see myself as two-dimensional rather than 3-dimensional.  I still struggle with this as I continue to lose weight and take up less space.  Looking in the mirror every day is a surreal experience because I have a hard time believing that this body is really mine–it’s a body I’ve never seen and don’t recognize.  Yet I wake up in it every day.  And every week, it changes.  I mean, try to imagine what goes through my head each day:  waking up to a new, unfamiliar body every single morning.  Seeing an unfamiliar face in the mirror each morning, and trying to accept that it’s the face that’s always been there, just buried under layers of fat that are slowly melting away leaving behind the bones in its wake.  It’s truly a surreal thing to experience.

Might I add, it’s hard to get used to.  It’s hard to hear people say “hey Skinny Minnie!” or “hey there, Slim!” on a daily basis.  It’s somewhat uncomfortable.  I hate it.  They never said “hey there, Chubby!” or “what’s up, Fat Chick?” before, so why start defining me by my weight now?

I didn’t like being identified by my weight when I weighed 400+ pounds, and I don’t like being identified by it now that I weigh 150 pounds less.  And I’m still so far from my goal that I can’t be comfortable being called skinny, because I’m not.  Thinner than I was a year ago, yes.  Skinny?  Hardly.  Calling me skinny at my current weight is just as bad as a thin person proclaiming that OMG I AM SO FAT after they’ve made a food baby in their belly, knowing they’ll not gain an ounce afterward.  I’m not skinny and don’t want to be.  I just want to be healthy.  But no one goes around calling each other “hey Healthy!”

The essence of who I am has not changed–I am still the smart, witty, generous, loving, loyal, caring person I have always been.  I just exist in a smaller body now.  I think the only aspect of my personality that has changed is that I am more apt to take time to do things for myself because I am putting myself first.  I’ve also noticed my “fuckit” threshold is much lower now than it ever has been but I think that started to happen once I turned 40 last year.  🙂

I’m still about 80 pounds away from my goal, and I’m just wondering when the weight-based definition of me will stop and the acceptance of the smaller, healthier version of me will start.  I suppose that it starts with me accepting that the increasingly smaller body I’m currently inhabiting is where I will live the rest of my life, and that I need to accept this smaller body as the new me.

It’s a hard thing to learn, but something I need to learn so I can teach others to do the same.

Today’s eating was pretty good.  I was a protein beast today, getting in 105 grams of protein, 41 grams of carbs, and 38 grams of fat.  Calories eaten:  916.  I decided on a soup and salad for dinner (Rotary meeting night, so dinner out) but I forgot to snap a picture of my soup. 😦

image

Today’s food choices, from upper right: mini Italian chicken meatloaf; multivitamin and calcium supplements x2, iron supplement; roasted turkey breast and Trader Joe’s Monterey jack cheese stick; mixed green salad with cheese and croutons; honey soy chili marinated boneless skinless chicken thigh and snap peas with carrots. Not shown: bowl of chicken tortilla soup.

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