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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Identity after Weight Loss: New Definitions

This was a tough post to write. 

Anyone who has battled weight understands the fear, and at times, the demon that lurks around every corner, tempting you with bad choices, and taunting you with your fear of regain and failure. 

For anyone who has known or battled obesity, there is almost always an underlying fear. At least for me, there was...a fear that I would eventually die...that like an addict, I was digging my own grave...with a fork. And while my head knew I had to do something and that I could do something, my repeated failures were resulting in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I have lost and gained back hundreds of pounds throughout my life. When I lost the weight this last time and hit "normal," I had a bit of an identity crisis, because who was I if I wasn’t defined by fat? 
I never knew a healthy weight before. I never knew normal. I didn't see myself as normal. My head never quite caught up, despite what the scale, and others, had to say.

Now that I was a healthy weight, I had to reevaluate who I was, how others perceived me, and how I perceived myself. It was new territory, for sure.
Here’s what I learned.
  1. I am neither defined, nor valued, by the shape of my body or the number on the scale. In the same way I don’t think of my friends and family by their body size or shape, I will not think of myself in those terms either. 



  2. People’s ideas about who you are or who you should be come from their own places of self worth…it’s not about you. I received mostly support from my family and friends as the weight came off. 

    But the closer I got to “normal,” the comments shifted from compliments about my appearance to “concern” that I was getting too thin. 

    A few began to analyze my food with suspicion and made comments about what I chose to eat or didn’t eat. 

    What I realized was that the comments were about where people were in their own life with their own feelings of self worth or the choices they made. People like the idea of change, but the reality of it? Not so much. Once you stop unhealthy behaviors, some see it see it as an indictment of their own.




  3. I am me. Whether I am fat or thin, I am me. 

    At a normal weight, I may be a more active me. I may be a more educated me when it comes to making healthy choices, but I am still me. 

    Chances are, I still have the same hopes and dreams I had when I was fat. I still love the same. I still hug the same. I still laugh at most of the same things. 

    If you loved me then, love me now. And if you don’t, I love me enough to let you go.

Getting to a healthy weight did not make me a better person. 

I was kind then. I was intelligent then. And, as hard as it was to accept then...I was beautiful then. Just not as "healthy."

I accomplished so much more then, trying to prove myself, than I have done so far at this healthy weight. 

And when I "was fat" I did so much more. And I lost over 100 pounds. 

That’s a tough act to follow. 


What can this new me do?



The good news is, I’m still me. And I will move mountains.

28 comments:

  1. I think the hardest part for other people (and sometimes ourselves) to understand is that our body is not who we are, it's where our soul lives. And while I know it's important to be healthy and keep active, when I struggle with weight I always force myself to remember that my body isn't the only thing about me. I just wrote a post kinda like this so this is still bubbling around in my brain lol

    I hope you're feeling good today!
    Sending positive thoughts your way!
    -Chelsea
    chelsandthecity.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi Chelsea,
      Thank you so much for your feedback. It's hard, because in our society, we're so visual. We feel like we are our body, like you said. And we would never associate those we love by their bodies...why do we do it to ourselves. Looking forward to checking out Chelsea in the City. Thanks, again.

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  2. What a great post! It took me years to realize that my physical appearance doesn't define me! Have a great weekend! Stopping by from the weekend wander hop!

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    1. Thank you, Patty. It's hard, because in our society, we're so visual. We feel like we are defined by our body, like you said. And we would never associate those we love by their bodies...why do we do it to ourselves? Thanks again for stopping by. :-)

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  3. With the positive attitude you have - you will move mountains :) Thrilled to hear of your success - weight loss is not an easy thing to accomplish.

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    1. Thank you, Susan. It's been a long journey and it still is, one day at a time. Thank you, again. :-) I really appreciate your support.

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  4. You have such a great attitude about life! I've also lost and gained weight many times, and while I've tried hard not to let it define me, sometimes we need to be reminded that other people's issues with us are usually just that - their issues.

    Great post!

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    1. Hi Jamie! Thank you so much for your kind words. Weight is a funny thing. As much as we try for the opposite, we really do let it define us. It's hard, because in our society, we're so visual. We feel like we are our body, and the thing is, we would never associate those we love by their bodies...why do we do it to ourselves? You are so right about others...their issue is their own; not ours. Thanks again! I really appreciate your visit and your feedback. :-) Please come back again soon.

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  5. What a beautiful post! #3 rings so true for me!

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    1. Thank you, Taylor! I try to remember #3 and remind myself of it all the time. I am me. My weight is neither good, nor bad...it just is. I am me and there is so much more to me than a number on the scale. Thank you again. I really appreciate your feedback. :-) Please come back again soon.

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  6. Such a great perspective! And congrats on your successful weight loss journey!

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    1. Thank you, Stephanie. It's been a lifelong journey, and it continues to be. But it's about health, not a number. Thank you again. I'm so glad you stopped by, Please come back again soon. :-)

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  7. Congrats on your great weight loss...something to be very proud of for sure! I have been on my own journey of weight loss this past year and have lost 38 lbs so far (shooting for another 15-20 lbs this year) and I did it for myself only. I didn't like me when I looked in the mirror and this change was so needed for myself to be happy in my own skin and be healthy as well. I will say I notice I have more patience than I use to and I have learn to appreciate the small stuff and try not to sweat the larger stuff! Keeping a positive attitude is so helpful.

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    1. Thank you, J! And congratulations to you! We can only do it for ourselves...I leaned that too. We have to be happy with and for ourselves. If we find that joy and that peace, we can share it with others. But we have to start with ourselves. Thank you again, and congratulations!

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  8. I stumbled across your blog via The Compass Rose - and I am so glad I did!

    This post really struck a chord with me amd I found the words within it beautiful and encouraging. I would like to lose weigh, but I also like me the way I am, but I do find I have to justify my confidence to those who cannot see how a 'fat' woman can like herself. I do not dream of being thin, but just a bit healthier, and your comment about not being characterised by my body type really struck something in me.

    Thanks for writing this!

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    1. Hi Molly,
      Thank you so much for your comments. Our culture has embraced size bigotry, and it's infuriating. What's important is health and peace within one's self. I would rather be "fat" and healthy than skinny fat. Even at my heaviest, I was more active than some of my thinner friends. And society finds them superior because they fit into a smaller jean size? How ridiculous! We should celebrate health, regardless of size. Everyone is beautiful and to make one feel less than that is criminal.

      Thanks again, Molly, for your visit and your comments. I hope you come back again soon.

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  9. "Once you stop unhealthy behaviors, some see it see it as an indictment of their own."

    True in so many areas of life. I might be quoting you from now on :-)

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    1. Anytime, Farin. As you said, this manifests in so many other areas of life. I should have added, paying someone else a compliment is not a criticism of you. People internalize far too much. Thanks for stopping by. :-)

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  10. (visiting from SITS) I remember hearing that GOOD change is just as difficult for people as bad change. I think of it every time something good happens (like a promotion) & I consider self-sabotaging (so easy to do, consciously or unconsciously). Thank you so much for sharing your story! It will stay with me.

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    1. Welcome, Josie! People tend to be skeptical of change, good or bad. Perhaps it's a control thing? Or criticism of the status quo, which may or may not have been working for those involved. Either way, change can be quite unsettling. For me, it's a sign of growth, but I understand that everyone is different. Thanks so much for stopping by. I appreciate your comments!

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  11. What an affirming and positive post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and wisdom. You are a real role model!

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz

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    1. Hi Natasha~thank you so much for your visit and for your supportive feedback. I don't know that I'm a role model. I only know what I have learned from my experience. :-) But many thanks. I really appreciate your visit and your comments. :-) Have a great day!

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  12. I just stumbled on your post through a link party. My weight is something I have struggled with my whole life as a result of food addiction at a young age due to sexual abuse. I've been big, I've been little, but I've always been me. It's very hard for those around me to understand that because they will always attach my weight to what happened to me. It's a tough shell to break out of. Now, as I battle the weight again, trying to make better choices - those around me constantly want to sabotage. I realize that is their problem and not mine. Your post came at a perfect time. Chrystal @ YUM eating

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    1. Hi Chrystal, thank you so much for stopping by and for your comments. I have also battled weight my entire life. Breaking through the shell lets others know that your past does not define you. Your healthy choices do. You are a survivor and you have the strength to make you life everything you want it to be. Others' issues are just that...their issues; not yours. Thank you so much for visiting and sharing your story. I wish you all the luck as you move forward. I will be following your journey and offering support where I can. Happy Friday!

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  13. Hi Kelly - This is beautiful and so very true. Thanks for sharing with the Let's Get Real party! I'm pinning it to our group Pinterest board.

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    1. Hi Gaye! Thank you so much for your kind feedback and for sharing my post. I hope others find it to be true for themselves as well. Thanks again! Happy Friday!

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  14. A little late to the bandwagon here, but thank you so much for writing this post.
    I've been overweight all my life. It did shape me; how confident I was, how I viewed myself in social groups, what I could and "couldn't" do...
    Over the past three years, I discovered some things about the way my body works, and I changed the way I ate. I ended up losing weight fairly easily, despite many health problems.
    In three years, I got to my "perfect" weight. I ended up having severe health problems and depression early this year, and rather than lose a few pounds and come out feeling better like "normal", my body became nearly skeletal and had my friends and family concerned. I chalked it up to them not being used to my "New" body and couldn't see how bad it really was; mostly because I still didn't see myself as "thin" or at a healthy range... I still pictured myself as bigger, and that losing a little more wasn't such a big deal.
    I've since recovered and gained back to a healthy state, but I still wake up not recognizing myself sometimes. I like my new body, but I often question if that's really me I see in the mirror.
    Shopping for clothes is still a struggle. I only shop for clothes when I have to, so no more than a handful of times a year. I immediately go to "my size", only to have to discover over and over again that's not my size anymore. I can easily recognize myself in old pictures, but I rarely take pictures now and have a hard time seeing myself in the ones I do take.
    I've often felt like losing all that weight caused me to lose something else, but I couldn't really put my finger on it until this morning, when I saw my figure in the mirror this morning and had to look twice.
    I don't think anyone really talks about this side of weight loss, so thank you so much for writing this!
    It's nice to know I'm not alone, and that yes, I still am me! <3
    ~Julianne

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    1. Julianne, welcome, and thank you so much for sharing your story. It's easy to get caught up in numbers and lose sight of the non-scale victories. When we tie our identity to a quantifiable measure, like weight, what happens when that number changes? Does it change who we are? Some people think so, but there is so much more to who we are than any number on a scale. You're not alone. You are perfectly you. <3 Thank you, again. Please come back again soon. It's nice to have people who "get it." :-)

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