(Originally published June 2011)
Many thanks to Colleen at Bee Fit for inspiring this post. I just read Colleen’s post about “The Darker Side” of weight loss. It’s a great post if you haven’t seen it: http://www.thefitbee.com/2011/06/darker-side-of-things.html.
Losing weight is such a weird experience. It’s almost like you have an identity crisis. In my case it was like I’d left — or been kicked out of — what I thought of as “The Fat Girl’s Club” and didn’t really know where I fit in the world any more.
There’s something about losing weight that really seems to trigger other people’s food issues (at least in women). You get all these comments like, “It must be nice” or “You’re making me feel guilty eating this cookie in front of you”. People ask you if you’ve had surgery and what your “secret” is and when you say “I’m watching what I eat and exercising” they look away in disappointment like you’re hiding the real truth from them, the one pill or method that will work for them too. Then there’s the “danger” comments like “Jeez, how much weight are you going to lose?” and “You’re just wasting away, aren’t you?”
You can overlook the comments for the most part. It’s the lack of support from people in your life that you thought loved you that’s the hardest. It’s things like when you tell people you’re going to do your first half marathon and instead of being excited for you they say, “Why would you do that?” or “Are you sure you can finish?” Or you suggest taking a walk after dinner and they say, “You were a lot more fun when you were fat. Can’t we watch TV?” That really hurts.
If I wasn’t “The Fat Girl” (as I thought of myself in my head), then who was I? One day I realized it was kind of exciting, I could choose a new identity. It’s like going to a high school where no one knows you, you can be whomever you want to be. I decided I was going to be “The Active Girl”. That transition was harder for me than the actual weight loss was though, and sometimes I still struggle with it, even after 2 years.
It was the right transition though. I love Active Girl. She’s a work in progress, but she’s cool. She runs, she goes out more socially, she does crazy stuff like 24-Hour races, she buys Groupons for weird activities because they sound fun, she wears spandex even if it’s not flattering. Active Girl kicks butt.
Losing weight showed me who my real friends are, and who I can depend on. I’ve lost touch some of my old friends, and deepened my relationship with the friends who supported me in my weight loss and subsequent identity crisis. A couple of friends in particular not only supported me but helped me immensely in that transition, and for that I’m eternally grateful.
Losing weight also spurred me to make new friends, people who are positive and active and enjoy challenging themselves. People who, like me, aren’t waiting until they are the perfect size to live their lives, but people who live their lives out loud, regardless of what other people think.
I’ve got a great group of friends now including several in a group called the Running Chicks. My new friends and I walk or run together, go to the gym, offer each other support and advice on a myriad of issues, share each other’s frustrations and celebrate our accomplishments, athletic or otherwise. My new friends rock.
The old me wasn’t confident enough to have the friends I do now. The new me isn’t self-loathing enough to have some of the friends I had then. I guess the “darker side” of weight loss also led me to the “brighter side” of my life.