The other day I was thinking about my weight loss experience. I remember how it felt to buy smaller sized pants. I remember how great it was to sit in a chair without feeling like I was hanging over the sides. And I remember having a very hard time perceiving myself as others saw me.
I vividly recall shopping with John for clothes both during my weight loss experience and after I had reached my goal weight. I often times had a difficult time selecting a size. I’d hold up a shirt and ask John what he thought and he’d say, “That’s nice, but you need a smaller size.” “I do?” I’d ask – holding the shirt away from myself so I could look at it more clearly. I just couldn’t picture what size I should be pulling out. Those size small shirts looked wrong to me, especially when I still had the size 3X shirts pictured in my mind.
Sure, I knew that I was 158 pounds lighter, and that my pants were sized in the single digits, but I couldn’t see it. And you know what? Even fourteen years later, I sometimes still have a hard time visualizing myself as others see me.
I know it’s weird, but it’s true. And here’s a great visual on what I’m talking about. When I went ran the Turkey Trot 5K in November, I was standing near these two ladies. I remember thinking to myself that we were all three similar in size.
I honestly wasn’t judging them or anything, but just noticing. When I saw this picture I noticed that I was not actually the same as the other two ladies. And just to prove the point that size does not equal speed – the lady on the left finished waaay before me.
One other thing I noticed was that I need to improve my posture!
As I thought about my size it made me begin to think about whether or not having an accurate self-picture of ourselves is an important part of weight loss success and eventual maintenance.
Does it matter if you have a hard time picturing yourself as you actually are, rather than what you were.
The interesting thing is that I didn’t have a very hard time picturing myself as a morbidly obese woman, although pictures of me during that time did surprise me. Was I really that big? Even though I was formerly an average size, it was much easier to accept my larger size than it was my smaller size. As the weight piled on I knew I was too big for small sized shirts, or regular sized shirts for that matter. I readily made the largest pattern sized jumper I could find accepting that I was fat. But I had a hard time the other way down.
I wonder if my experience is a common one? I have friends who have lost a substantial amount of weight only to regain it within a year or two. They expressed the difficulty they had with believing they were smaller than they had been. None of them felt that their difficulty in seeing themselves as a more fit person had an impact on their regain. I don’t know whether it did or not. I know that my difficulty with seeing myself as others do hasn’t impacted my maintenance, but it still surprises me that I occasionally am startled when I see myself in a mirror or in pictures.
What about you? How are you doing with being able to really picture yourself as other people see you? And do you think that the ability to self-picture accurately is important? Diane