Who Sprinkled Eggshells Everywhere?

Friends, do not worry. I am here to assuage your fears and mollify your embarrassment. I am here to banish the eggshells from your path, and inform you that you’re not really making that faux pas you think you are.

Seventy pounds lighter, I am often complimented by those who’ve known me for a long time. “You look great!” they say. And then some of them blink as one and one become two in their brain, and practically before the last syllable of their compliment leaves their mouths, they apologize—”Not that you didn’t look great before, I mean”.

I know, dear ones. I know you mean no insult to Past Me. I know you mean no insult to Present Me. So please, before we go any further, let me explain something.

I. Was. Fat. I was and am aware of this. It is why I had bariatric surgery. I did not like the way I looked 70+ pounds ago. Whether or not you truthfully did, you do not need to worry if you tell me that I look good now. I will not find offense in your words. I. Was. Fat. I hated the way that I looked, and I hated myself for a variety of reasons. Now the Kattworld is a better, brighter place to live in many respects, in large parts because of the weight loss. I am thrilled that so many people wish to tell me how good they think I look. But your doing so does not mean that you will, at the same time, hurt my feelings by inadvertently drawing a comparison between how I look now and how I looked then. I didn’t like how I looked then, anyway, so really, dears, you have nothing to worry about.

So take a breath. Give me a compliment if you feel so inclined. But don’t think that you’ve somehow wounded me in the same breath. You have not. I promise.

And I thank those of you who have proffered compliments for celebrating this change with me. You enrich the experience for me by sharing it with me.

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Only Love Today

I was going to make this part of my last status update, but instead I decided to give it its own entry. The lesson that’s involved is important enough that it should stand alone.

This came to me via yet another friend on Facebook—isn’t social media great?—and is wisdom that I, too, find difficult to follow very often. I am a scheduler—I like to plan things, and I like it when the things I’ve planned happen the way I plan them. While I do not have any children, I think I will begin keeping a look out for that certain expression in my husband’s eyes…and it would not hurt for me to learn how to be gentler with myself.

In her recent blog post, “The Bully Too Close to Home“, Rachel Macy Stafford writes,

I desperately wanted things to be different too. It was time to stop being so hard on my child; it was time to stop being so hard on myself. I prayed I could stand up to the inner bully. I knew I needed an easy first step. I decided to use one simple word: STOP.

Within the hour, I had a chance to try it. The first critical thought that popped into my head arose as I was preparing to leave the house. I looked at my reflection and thought, “You look fat. You can’t go out looking like that.”

“Stop!” I assertively thought to myself, shutting down any further criticisms. Then I quickly turned away from the mirror and recited these words: “Only love today. Only love today.”

If you haven’t yet, go read the full post. It’s some pretty moving stuff.

The reason I wanted to discuss this piece is because I know.

I know that inner critic who follows you everywhere, degrading you and robbing you of your personhood, turning you into some kind of monster. Even seventy pounds later, I still have one of my own—though it is much quieter now, and I have that number I can use as a shield. Even so, I know.

Maybe Stafford’s method won’t work for you…but then again, it just might. It’s worth trying. As I have said, you have to find a way to love yourself. No one else can give you a reason—or the ability—to love yourself, and the world is a much happier place when you feel that love. So maybe try getting your inner critic to shut up for a minute—and be warned, if you don’t already know, it will roar louder the more you try to ignore it, but know this now, you are stronger than it is—try getting your inner critic to shut up for a minute, and see if that works. See if you can still hear the sweet melody that is you behind the diatribe of lies your inner critic tells you. If you can hear it, you can make it get louder.

Either way, at least ask yourself this: What kind of wonderful person might you discover you are if you allow yourself to love yourself?

Status Update #8

Today, Indianapolis is covered in multiple inches of snow, and it is fricken freezing. There was some weak sunlight filtering through the clouds earlier today, and it even managed to find a hole or two to shine through for a second. Now…it’s snowing again. Guh.

None of which is relevant, I suppose, but I couldn’t think of any other way to intro this entry, so…now you know what the weather is like in Indianapolis.

But you didn’t come here for that. So here are some numbers instead.

Weight on day of surgery: 239.2 lbs
Weight last month: 173.2 lbs
Weight today: 168.4 lbs
Total lost: 70.8 lbs

I…wow.

To put that into perspective, my five year-old nephew weighs about as much as I’ve lost. I just…

I wonder if this is a thing that other people who’ve lost a lot of weight go through. I have this really odd cognitive dissonance going on. See, I knew that I was overweight. I have photographic evidence that I was overweight. The clothes I’ve taken to Goodwill for being too large are yet another testament to how overweight I was. But yet I can’t seem to wrap my brain around the fact that my being so overweight was really a thing that happened. It’s…weird.

Anyway.

Because of the weather here in Indy (see, I did manage to find a way to make my babbling relate to the rest of the entry after all), I have not been going for walks or riding my bike. Sorry, twenty-four degrees is a little cold for a walk. I did my time for that when I was living in Cleveland and had to walk to school every day, no matter the weather. So just…no.

But next week I hope to take some introductory yoga classes. I have never done yoga before, but my older sister has, and she’s enjoyed it quite a bit. I believe it even helped her with her own weight loss efforts, so that’s a plus. I shall let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, here’s the usual status update photo.

Status Update #8

I had to shorten this necklace so it would fit properly again. Huzzah!

Your Existential Question of the Day

What does it mean to be “attractive”? This photo series, created by Gracie Hagen, examines this. The series is comprised of artistic nudes, so if you do not care for nudity or are in a space where viewing it would be inappropriate, you should not click the link.

Essentially, this series is all about body language. Hagen photographed models standing in two different poses. First she photographed each of them in a pose that is considered conventionally attractive. I noticed this typically involved body language elements that conveyed a sense of self-confidence and maybe even pride: Chest up, shoulders back, gaze level or directed upward (as opposed to meekly cast down), that sort of thing. So in essence, the models look attractive because they act like they think they are attractive. I have noticed that doing so myself has a similar effect on people. If I act as though I feel confident and attractive, then people respond to me as if I am such.

Conversely, when Hagen had those same models stand in unflattering poses–slumped over, eyes downcast in embarrassment, shoulders down, etc.–they looked considerably less attractive. Which brings to mind the concept of how we cannot expect the world at large to like us if we don’t find some way to like ourselves, first. It is, at any rate, much more difficult.

All of which–for me, anyway–boils down to this:

Find a way to love yourself.

End of story. You may think you are unworthy of love, and a terrible person, and if you’re reading this blog and you do think this, then chances are it is weight and/or eating disorder related. I know of at least one friend of mine who has difficulty seeing the good in herself because of reasons related to her weight and her issues with food. It is a thing. It exists. Do not be ashamed. I have been there myself. And perhaps it is easier for me to say this because I am much closer to the other side than I was nine months ago, but nevertheless:

Find a way to love yourself.

There is a way. You can find it. The world is a much more beautiful place with love in it, and where better to start than with the only person you will always be with for the entirety of your life?

Welcome to December

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Between all the baking I did and the subsequent eating, I gained around four pounds, but that’s ok. Why? Well, for one, it was Thanksgiving. While I was worried about this exact thing happening, I figure that Thanksgiving is one of the three days of the year I should be able to indulge within reason and not guilt myself over it (the other two being Christmas and my birthday). Note the key phrase, “within reason”. So yes, I gained four pounds last week. On the other hand, I did not stuff myself to pain or even real discomfort during Thanksgiving dinner, so I consider that a major plus considering my control issues. Four pounds is not that much. I will go back to following the rules I rather blithely ignored last week, and the pounds should go away again. Plus, my amazingly supportive husband has offered to pay my way into some sort of exercise-related something (I am still trying to find a bellydance instructor, and am keeping my fingers crossed). So I will accept the price of enjoying my holiday-related indulgences last week.

Beyond that, I wanted to share something I found on Facebook by way of a friend. It appears to be public, as I was able to read it, and it very well illustrates something I’ve been pretty irritated by for a while.

When the news reporters interview me in my prison cell, when people are filling out their life or property insurance claims, when my victims’ parents and children and spouses stand up on the witness stand and cry and look over at me handcuffed to my defendant’s chair and beg to know “Why???” I will have an answer for them.

“One too many fat jokes.”

Seriously. We aren’t funny. To me, laughing at a fat person and how fat they are is like laughing at a heroin addict and how addicted to heroin they are, or laughing at a person with Down Syndrome and how Down Syndrome-y they are. In the one case, the laughing person is making light of someone’s crippling addiction, and in the other, they are making fun of someone who was just naturally born different. And in both cases, the butt of the joke didn’t have any say in the matter–you might choose to take heroin, but you don’t choose to be addicted to it any more than someone with Down Syndrome chooses to be born with Down Syndrome. So it’s pretty nauseating to me to see the way fat people are portrayed in the media. I am so happy to see that I’m not the only one.

This actually reminds me of a very interesting conversation I had with my sister while she was in town for Thanksgiving. My sister is a smoker, and mentioned the searing judgement that emanates from some people when they see her smoking. I don’t remember her exact wording, but she did seem to imply that I had no idea what that was like. I pointed out that yes, I actually did have an idea of what that was like. How many times have I been in a restaurant and ordering or eating food and wondering what the people around me thought? How many times have I been at the movies with a bag of popcorn and thought that surely everyone around me felt nothing but disdain for the fat chick who really didn’t need all those calories and salt? Hell, I’ve even been embarrassed about my food choices on my own blog. So it was interesting to connect those particular dots and illustrate how my sister and I had that particular sort of connection going on.

Given the way Thanksgiving went for me, I am now dreading Christmas a lot less. I think I will be even less afraid if I can find a good bellydance or yoga class between now and then. In the meantime, stay warm, everybody.