Two weeks ago was my eight-year anniversary with the gym. Since I wasn’t sure what the appropriate gift would be for a store, I decided to skip the flowers, jewelry, or promises that I don’t intend to keep. But I did take some photographs to commemorate the event.
Eight years ago I was 250 pounds and would get a little winded by the 15 steps up to my apartment. When I had to go up two stories at work, I would pause right outside the door at the top, to catch my breath before talking with anyone. I blamed the wrong angle of the camera. Or an outfit that didn’t fit right. Or I just avoided mirrors and cameras, so that the image in my mind could be the one I pretended was real. Those 3X tops and 22W pants were just running small due to fashion. I had bought a mansion in Denial and was adding some electric fence to keep any truth out.
Today hover around 159 pounds, within 10 pounds of the goal I initiated 8 years ago. My tops are large and my pants are comfortable at 10. The shorts and tank tops that for years seemed impossible are part of my regular wardrobe. I bought my first tankini last week; and even better I’m prepared to wear it in public. Yesterday I ran 6 miles with a friend, and easily walked around my apartment last night. I know with 100% confidence that I am healthier and stronger than I was 8 years ago. Heck, probably than I was 16 years ago.
But there is still work to do. Yes, I’d like those 9 remaining pounds to be resolved. But even more the focus is on the doubt that continues to creep into my mind. When I look in the mirror, I can see strength and change. But when I run in my neighborhood, I feel judgment of others about why that fat girl is running so slow. When I walk through a clothing store, I still have to remind myself that I can shop in the general section now, rather than the plus size area I started using in high school. When someone comes to sit beside me on the couch, there is a moment of fear about whether they will fit or if I take up too much room.
I spent almost two decades in denial about how unhealthy I was, so it makes perfect sense that it will take a while to accept the full truth of what has changed. Until I can remember the truths from the mirror, I’ll keep a set of my old clothes on the back of my bedroom door. Everyday they remind me of who I was, who I am, and who I am going to be.