If You Do Not Want To Know The Answer, Do Not Ask


300 pounds is hard to hide. No matter where you go, you are taking up more space than you should. People notice severely obese people. We just can’t help it. Even when I weighed over 275 pounds, I noticed other overweight people, secretly comparing my size to theirs. Was my arm that big?  Did I sway back and forth when I walked? What about my neck? “Surely,” I would think, “My hips aren’t as big as hers.”

Was I judging them? I don’t think I was. Rather, I really was trying to gauge exactly how large I was. I found it very difficult to reconcile my previous size with my current size. I just couldn’t visualize what I looked like to other people.

Walking around the mall gave me the opportunity to play a little game with John. He didn’t know he was playing a game – or maybe he did and never let on. From time to time, I would point out an overweight person in the mall and ask John, “Do you think I’m as big as they are?” He’d look where I was pointing, and say, “Oh, no. Not that big.”  I’d be happy for a while, because that person was definitely huge, but then the self-doubt would creep in again. ”What about that person?” I’d say. Again, he’d reassure me that I wasn’t nearly as big as that person either. Every time he reassured me that I wasn’t that large, it temporarily made me feel better. Maybe I wasn’t as big as I thought I was. (Remember, at my worst, I was larger than a size 28.) However, one day I got a perspective that made me wish I had never wondered how I looked to other people.

One day, my perception of myself, got a big fat dose of reality. We were living in Florida at the time, and decided it was time to declutter and clean things up. We gathered together all of our old clothes, shoes, outgrown toys, and unused items and organized them in the garage in preparation for a garage sale. The appointed Saturday rolled around, and people showed up to turn our junk into their treasure.  Sales were brisk, and John and I were pleased with how much stuff was going away.

About midway through the morning, a car pulled up and parked on the side of the road by our house. Exiting the car was a very obese woman, accompanied by some friends or family members. They walked up the driveway; we greeted them, and then sat down in our chairs to chat while they looked around.

The large woman had a few things in her hands and walked over to me. She said, “Do you have any of your clothes for sale?”

I looked at her and said, “Excuse me?” She repeated her question, and I said, “No, I’m not selling my clothes today.” She paid for her items and left.

I whipped my head around to my husband and whispered, “Am I as big as that woman leaving?”  He looked at her, looked at me and said, “I don’t know.”  I said again, “AM I?” He said, “Well, I guess so.” Crushed. I was crushed.

For years I had been trying desperately to see one thing in the mirror, whereas the rest of the world was seeing a huge, large, obese woman. How in the world could I be as big as that woman? I watched her go to her car, gingerly lower herself into the driver’s seat, struggle to reach over and shut the door and leave. And then I knew.  She got into her car the same way I did mine, struggling to maneuver herself in.

I was her.

From that day on I never asked John if I was as big as someone else, because I knew the answer. Year after year I thought about that garage sale day, and year after year I kept gaining weight, wishing something magical would happen.

Have you ever had a dose of reality that you wished hadn’t happen? Diane

29 thoughts on “If You Do Not Want To Know The Answer, Do Not Ask

  1. Susan says:

    Yep, I think we have all had a dose of reality we wished hadn’t happen. Mine was looking at my wedding pictures I couldn’t get over how “fat” I looked in those pictures. I was so ashamed but it motivated me to finally get serious about losing the weight and getting in shape! I’ve been married 15 years now and I still don’t like how I looked in those pictures and I didn’t keep the dress I wore either, as a matter of fact I got rid of all my fat clothes so I have nothing to wear if I ever gain the weight back which I never have.

  2. blackhuff says:

    I had a dose of reality that I would not say that I am glad that it didn’t happen because the dose of reality I got, was my rock bottom and for that I am grateful.

  3. Leah says:

    Shopping for a dress to wear for my brother’s wedding and not finding anything that fit and was age appropriate for me. I ended up with a very classy outfit, but it wasn’t the style I loved and I felt old and fat.

    Like the above commenter mentioned, I hated that day of shopping, but I’m glad it happened. That day was about a month or two before I decided I had to do something about my increasing weight. I was forced to face what I was becoming and it unsettled me.

    There was also a picture from a few months before that… I looked at it and told my husband it doesn’t look like me. What I actually thought was “That’s not the real me..it’s like me covered in layers.” I wanted to cry because I was trying so hard to accept myself as I was, overweight and all.

    Thank you for this post, Diane.

  4. Krissy says:

    The funny thing is that (at least for me) it goes the other way too. As a I start to lose weight I feel changes, and people begin to notice and comment. However, I don’t really feel like I look smaller. This is going to make it difficult to chose an exact weight goal, and will probably have to be done in consult with a physician to make sure I’m healthy.

  5. Mairi Brown says:

    My does of reality came when I wanted to buy a pair of “NYD” jeans and was told by the young sales clerk that they didn’t come in my size. I didn’t like how I felt at the time but it turned out to be my turning point. I went home with a different pair of jeans and decided once and for all I was going to lose my weight and keep it off. I’m still on my weight loss road and its going slowly but I my turning point has given me the strength to go the distance.

  6. Caron says:

    Whenever I would say “I’m fat” my daughters would always respond with “You’re not fat Mama.” They love me and didn’t want to hurt my feelings. Part of the reason I shy away from cameras is that they tell the truth. They took a group picture of us at work and I was appalled at how big I really was. I was still forcing myself into size 14 pants although I did have one size 16 that was so much more comfortable. I think the picture was one thing that got me going plus the fact that I knew three other people in the office going to Weight Watchers and losing weight.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      That was so nice of your daughters to always affirm you. Family can be such a great support can’t it. I know what you mean about pictures being so revealing. I abhorred seeing pictures of myself.

  7. KarenJ says:

    After losing and maintaining 30 pounds for 20 years, I regained almost all my weight over a period of a year. I had stopped weighing myself because it was so painful for me to see the new number which never seemed to budge. My does of reality was when we were packing for our yearly trip to the Caribbean, and none of my summer clothes fit me. I felt this sense of panic as I scrambled to find things I could get away with wearing. Looking at the vacation pictures afterward was no picnic either. I think these “reality” moments are so important because it provides the motivation to get us to take action.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      Those moments are important although they can be hard! I know for me those “reality moments” now are when I hit my “high weight” or feel a tightening in my waistband of my favorite jeans and they get me going right away. I hope you had a wonderful trip to the Caribbean. Lovely place.

  8. KCLAnderson (Karen) says:

    I used to play that game too…my husband didn’t like it. I think more than anything, what bothered him was my complete lack of confidence in myself, not how I looked or how much I weighed.

  9. Fran@ Broken Cookies Don't Count says:

    It’s so hard to really see yourself as you are. I have photos that I want to use to re-do my “about” page. They’re so scary for me to look at now, because I’ve worked so long and hard to NOT look that way anymore. I had difficulty realizing I had actually accomplished my goal. It wasn’t until I saw some photos at myself at goal that I realized I had achieved what I set out to do. Even then, I was reluctant to believe it. I keep needing to see myself as being at goal. Some days I can, some days not. It’ a tough thing. Great story about realization!

  10. Jim Wilhelm says:

    That reminds me of the verses in the Bible where it warns us not to compare ourselves to others; which I think can also work in situations like you just described.

  11. evilcyber says:

    You wrote that you wished this encounter “hadn’t happened”. But wasn’t it also part of your epiphany, that later brought you to change your lifestyle?

  12. Stephanie says:

    That dose of reality came in the form of a comment my husband made…it wasn’t meant to be mean-spirted, but it was the truth, and it was only when I heard it, coming from someone that I knew loved me, that I realized I needed to make a change. And –eight pounds later–I did!! 🙂 Sometimes I want to make the comment to others in my life that I know need to make a change, but I don’t. Maybe I should…I don’t know. It’s hard to hear, and I think it’s equally hard to say.

    Thanks for sharing your story!!

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Yes, the truth can hurt but it is often needed. I remember my son saying I looked like someone in real life or tv and me thinking that person is way bigger! Then it started to sink in….

  14. Tami @Nutmeg Notebook says:

    Yes I have! When I saw photos of myself after our trip to Europe (before digital cameras) I was shock at how I looked. I had no idea how big I was and it was a wake up a call. I lost 47 pounds because of it. It was that event that started me on a path to healthy living.

  15. LovesCatsinCA says:

    What finally motivated me to lose excess weight was super high (stage two top and bottom) blood pressure, daily headaches and fearing I’d have a stroke. But my wake up call after telling myself “It’s normal to gain a little weight after 35” yada yada yada and “I’m curvy” when I had never been curvy and didn’t weigh triple digits till college? The car wash lady.

    Yep, I was at a car wash, in my early 40s, so I was theoretically still in childbearing years, and my “curves” were more like fat stuffed into my midsection and butt. Then the carwash lady asked me when I was having my baby. I WAS MORTIFIED. I took a look at myself sideways and it sunk in that I COULD pass for being around 5 months pregnant.

    Three sizes later, I still carry weight in my midsection and don’t have a flat tummy–but my rear end is pretty much gone and no one would think my muffin top meant I was pregnant. Thank God for mortifying moments!

  16. Joy says:

    Thank you for sharing your story I truly thought I was only one! I still sometimes play that game with Rob. I am lucky to have man who loves me at any weight. And you right I ask him the question because sometimes I have no idea what I look like but really it is so tough to compare yourself to someone else when there are sooooooo many different shapes and sizes of women. I had a dose of reality when I was looking at a picture of myself with all my other girlfriends there was about 10 of us in the picture. I have always been the biggest in the group but in this picture I was so huge!! It really hit home.

  17. E. Jane says:

    I had to smile when I read about your “game” with your husband. I did that too, and I would ask the question even thought deep inside I already knew the answer. My husband always tried to be kind, but now I know I was forcing him into a kind of co-dependency. Reality does bite sometimes, and it hurts too, but denying it does no one any good. Great post!

  18. Taryl says:

    I think my dose of reality is in the form of my ‘before’ pictures. Fortunately I was unaware enough of my size that I didn’t feel the need to critically compare my selves to others, because I was sure I stacked up just fine 😉

    Ignorance was bliss, I’d say!

  19. Natasha says:

    I am just at the beginning of my weight loss journey. I gained a ton of weight due to an undiagnosed disorder. I gained 60 lbs in less than 2 years and I didn’t know why. When I was finally diagnosed, I stopped gaining but am left with a body that scares me. Since I gained so quickly, I have such a skewed body image. I don’t feel as big as I am, I still have a picture in my mind of what I used to look like, but then again I’m running into stuff, like doorknobs, because I need more room to get by things now. I put on a tshirt and think “ok, I don’t look so bad today”, then someone will coerce me into a photo-op and I see myself looking like a whale. My tshirt that I thought was hiding everything doesn’t help the crater that is my belly button that can be seen right through it. I look forward to reading more of your blogs. Thanks!

  20. Mary says:

    I tend to find that most of the time family will always want to protect and encourage you and thus may not tell you the truth when it is actually needed. Sometimes we actually know the truth ourselves and we still ask in order to hear words of encouragement as we are in denial. Unbiased third parties are the best to give us a reality check; no one wants to hear from them though because lets face it, the truth hurts. But whats most important Diane is that you have since lost the unwanted weight and that makes all the difference 🙂

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