You know what’s frustrating about weight loss and keeping a healthy mentality? Hint: It’s not trying to stay away from junk food. Maybe that used to be my issue, along with many other emotional factors.
After 8 months of living a happy vegan lifestyle, for health and yes, ethical reasons, and after losing 62 pounds, I sometimes look in the mirror and see no difference. I literally will go through photos to try and compare the differences. Sometimes it is too obvious for me not to see I used to be heavier, but more often than not, I can’t see a change.
The last time I had lost a good amount of weight, which was 7 years ago, I received compliments continuously. It reinforced the fact. When I would look in the mirror, I would then see it. Back then, I was surrounded by people used to me at my heaviest though. I was around long time friends and family who knew the struggle I faced my entire life.
On this tiny island in Florida where I didn’t make friends right away, there are people who didn’t know me through my weight loss, or can’t really see it because when they see me, I’m dressed in old, black work clothes that are now baggy. Granted, I have also received compliments here and there—especially from my roommate, who knows every detail of my childhood struggles. What I do get complimented on in Florida is my behavior—my creative vegan recipes, my healthier eating, and I know that really means something special.
It means I am conquering the battle I have fought and lost over and over again in the past.
However… my mental self-image needs to catch up. There are days where I will look in the mirror and see the change, see my beauty, regardless of weight. And like most people in this world, there are days where I pick myself apart. I don’t do that often, even if I am feeling bad about my reflection, I will try and talk myself up, as if I was talking to my best friend or my sister. It helps, but I still feel the burden I always felt – I am overweight.
When I hear the word “fat”, I still get hurt by it, and feel self-conscious, as if the mere mention of the word, in any context, is describing me.
What I do know is, I’m still battling – the way I was taught to think of fat, and fat people, and my own body, and ugly and beautiful. How many times do I remember trying on a trendy top as a young girl and my mother would object. “It hugs your belly.” “It’s backless. You have to wear a bra. Your boobs are too big not to.”
I always agreed with her. Things did hug my belly. My boobs were big and I wouldn’t dream of not wearing a bra. Oddly enough, my mother picked out my prom dress, which was backless – she wasn’t happy about it, but she agreed, there was no way I could wear a bra with the dress. And you know what? Nothing happened! My boobs didn’t suddenly jump up and hit someone in the face. They were safe and secure with little room to bounce inside the bodice of my pink dress.
My mother meant well. She did. She had her own battles with her ginormous boobs and weight. I get it. She worried about me. I grew up thinking that if I wore clothing that hid my features, especially my stomach, that no one would notice it. My weight would disappear.
Well, obviously, it didn’t. People still knew what was underneath the loose clothing. I finally found my style as I grew up. I showed off my boobs, maybe too much sometimes, because I was no longer ashamed of a part of my body. I embraced them just like I am starting to have pride in my butt. As much as I dislike Nicki Minaj, she’s made big butts a good, healthy thing again. Though, I still prefer Sir Mix-a-lot’s take on things.
As for my stomach, this is the hardest part of my body to accept. It’s shrinking, but I don’t know if it’ll ever be washboard-worthy. That’s okay. I know that, and I remind myself of that. I am proud of the progress I have made, but when I put on a shirt and it fits great in all the right places and my eyes only focus on my midsection where it actually lies against it, like it would on anyone’s stomach, and not billowing away from it, what do I do? Disregard the clothing item because, gasp, people can tell I have a belly? Well, crap, wearing a baggy shirt and trying to cover it doesn’t prevent people from realizing that. I don’t want to be self-conscious any longer.
With that said, I don’t think I could be one of those girls who wears crop tops and bikinis. I give them a lot of credit, but I am just not that bold. I want to wear things that I feel good about, and that is my goal from now on: to feel good about my body. I will never go back to the style-less choices I was forced to wear growing up. I’m not saying if I put a shirt on and all I want to do is tug on it to stretch it out or feel self-conscious in any way, that I will ignore it. I’m talking about when I put a shirt on, and I feel good about it, but all I hear in my head are what others might say about it.
This is a new generation. A new mentality is spreading around. There will always be someone who doesn’t like the way I look or you look, but that’s their problem. You make damn well sure you like the way you look, but more importantly, love the way you feel in your skin.
That is what really helps me, reminding myself that heavy, thin, tan, pale, blonde or brunette, I am beautiful regardless. Accepting myself before my weight loss is the key to continuing on. That just reinforces a healthy mentality and lifestyle. I have lost over 60 pounds, not because I was focused on losing weight, but because I was driven by feeling good about doing something for animals, the environment and my health. Losing some weight was just a big bonus.