Post-Op Week 51: In Which I Travel and Think About Empathy

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This week’s progress is good, considering I was traveling the last three days of the week. I am away from home so this week’s series of photos is at my mother-in-law’s, which made it challenging to know where to stand and all that. So there’s no good comparison between this week’s photo and last week’s. The stubborn pound and some that I’ve been struggling to get off finally took its leave, and the scale has headed down again.

I’m hoping to hit my doctor’s goal by the time I see him next Thursday for my one-year follow-up appointment, but being away from home this next week might stop that from happening. I did pack workout clothes, my food scale, my bathroom scale, and sleeve-friendly snacks to try and stay on track. While I am here, I will be doing the cooking so that will make things a bit easier. The end of the week will be tougher as we’ll be in hotels and at the mercy of restaurant menus. At that point it will be entirely up to me to make good food and activity choices. So far, I haven’t done too badly. We are heading to a local gym here in town to get a guest pass for the few days that we are here so that we can continue the fitness routine we have established.

Vacation is not an excuse to go off the rails; it is a challenge to live everyday life away from home. Weight loss doesn’t rest when the end goal is so close you can feel it, and I refuse to allow this trip to give me license to undo all the hard work I have done for the past year.

Something I have been thinking about a lot lately is empathy. I was running errands at Target the other day, and noticed two different women walking in as I was pulling in to the parking lot. Both of them were very overweight, and waddled as they walked. My first thought upon seeing them was thank goodness I’m not that big anymore. This is the prevailing thought that runs through my head any time I see really big women while I’m out and about. I don’t know why, but I feel bad for thinking this. I have to remind myself that not so long ago, I too was that large (or larger), and I have to remind myself of what it felt like to be that big.

It was absolutely miserable.
I was in constant pain.
When I moved, I lumbered along ungracefully.
I looked as awful as I felt.
People with their prejudicial eyes stared with contempt and disgust.
People judged, silently and not so silently.

And I’m trying so hard not to judge them when I see them because I know all too well what it feels like to live in that body. It is a constant internal fight for me, because I’m looking less like them and more like the rest of the world. And unfortunately, the rest of the world doesn’t look too kindly at fat folks. I try to think less like the rest of the world, and more like someone that’s walked in the shoes those women walk in every day.

But I also have to think like someone who’s trying to avoid being that big ever again. To maintain my success, I can’t let myself start thinking about food and activity the way I did when I weighed 200 more pounds. I can’t go down that path again, and I have to fight every day to make sure it doesn’t happen. I never want to forget what it was like to exist at 440 pounds, so that I don’t go back there, EVER. It’s both a mental and physical struggle.

I have to find the balance between empathy and judgment, and I need to learn this soon. I don’t want to be like the people who once stared at me with contempt and disgust, who had no idea what life was like in a body that was twice the size it should have been.

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