For everyone who has lost weight, there is an individual story and individual reasons for losing. When I was first on this journey and would see someone post on sites how proud they were for losing 14 pounds and getting to their goal weight or struggling to lose 10 pounds I would want to reach through the screen and pound the shit out of them for worrying about what I perceived as such an insignificant amount.
Of course, my perception is completely different now. And I've come to realize that there is no right or wrong with anyone's personal journey.
What I do know, though, having interacted with hundreds of people who have lost weight over the last 5 years as that those of us who were morbidly obese have our own special mental demons we deal with. And sometimes I forget that people who have not been morbidly obese - even those who have fought with their weight - don't understand at all.
When I was obese, people - strangers - would scream things at me from cars. I got so used to hearing "Moooooo!" when out walking I came to almost expect it. There were also comments from family and strangers alike - both to my face and behind my back when they thought I couldn't hear. Each time was like a knife in my heart.
Several years ago I got on a plane and took my seat. The guy next to me and his maybe 4 year old son were in the other 2 seats. The man gave me a horrified look as he saw me settle in and tapped his wife who was in the row ahead and loudly informed her that he was going to look around for another seat so he would "have some room". On the flight home a petite Asian woman kindly offered to share her tray table with me for my drink since my stomach was way too large for the table to come down. I'm not sure which experience was more humiliating.
One Christmas my uncle gave Marc and I a gift certificate to Texas Roadhouse. I had never been there before and they only had booths. I had to literally pull my fat in with my hands and squeezed into the booth - I was in agony the entire dinner. I couldn't even breathe.
And then there was the time that I needed to drive Marc's car - a Honda - and my stomach pushed so much against the steering wheel that even with the seat all the way back - I couldn't turn it. Marc just stared at me as I sat there so ashamed. We made it home - barely - with me cranking the wheel with both hands at every turn.
How about the time I went to the amusement park and the bar wouldn't close over me on a ride and the guy came over and had to brace himself and pushed as hard as he could to make that bar click, while everyone else on the ride stared.
I could go on and on with stories like this. And being obese comes with special things that no one thinks about - like not being able to reach around to wipe yourself or having to hold fat up to wash in the shower.
And then I lost weight. People don't stare at me and giggle to one another when I eat in public. I can buy my clothes at regular stores. I don't live in fear of not fitting in a tight booth. I can walk without sweating and being in constant pain. I don't have to worry that if I fall in the snow I can't get up. Men howl instead of moo at times. I walk with confidence instead of shame. I don’t think daily that Marc deserves better. I have earned keys to the kingdom.
It’s great – but for someone like me there is the constant and ever-present TERROR that it could all disappear. That I am living on borrowed time and as easily as this new life was given it can be taken away. I sometimes feel like obesity is just waiting to strike again. An inevitable destiny and that this has been a cruel joke – let her experience a fantasy and then yank it away. And I will be back to the old life.
I'm not looking for sympathy here - I have to own that I CHOSE that life and I have choices now. But I hope it does explain why even minor setbacks - like not being able to run - throw me for such a loop. Why in my mind gaining 20 pounds is a disaster. It represents so much more then it would seem to...