The fat girl
Have you ever heard someone refer to you as “the fat girl/guy”? If you have, you know how painful this adjective is. Being fat in our society is painful, but being thin doesn’t solve the problem. I always imagined that once I lost weight I would feel confident and secure with myself but I’ve learned the hard way (like I always do) that it takes more than dieting and exercising to improve your self-esteem.
TV makes it look so…simple
Television has impacted the way our society views everything, including significant weight loss. I remember spending evenings with my roommate Kaci in Cleveland watching The Biggest Loser. I used to leave the room for the workout portion of the show and return just to see the transformation. The show compartmentalizes the experience of losing weight into the following categories:
1. I’m unhappy and unhealthy
2. I work out and change how I eat
3. I’m happy and healthy!
It would be great if life’s experiences fit into these pretty little categories, but unfortunately they don’t. After the weight is gone, and you see yourself in the mirror as a new person, you seem to find more things you want to work on. This experience is not uncommon of people who lose weight especially significant amounts of weight. Unfortunately there isn’t a show following people after their weight loss, and while there are successful people there are also people who continue to feel unhappy despite their new appearance ultimately leading to destructive behaviors and weight gain. I’ve learned the hard way that you have to do more than just eating right and exercising after you lose weight to get used to your new life. Apparently it’s just as important to focus on your thoughts as it is to focus on your actions as you move forward in your “new skin“.
Don’t gain it back!
A woman I used to work with would greet me each morning, compliment my weight loss, and always end our encounter with “don’t gain it back”. While I’m sure she didn’t mean to be offensive, I found her comment rude and felt pressured by my new appearance. It’s a scary thought to imagine that all of the hard work I put into losing weight could be taken away with just a few bad choices on a daily basis. I’ve seen stories of others who’ve regained weight, and I myself previously lost a significant amount of weight in a short period of time only to find myself heavier and unhealthier than ever just a few months later. The difference for me at this point in my life has been my commitment changing my lifestyle. Every day I make better choices about eating and exercising, and it’s the little choices that will help me to maintain my health and fitness in the long run.
The new me…
The challenge after the weight loss for me this time has been how to match the old “fat” Jessica with the new “skinny” Jessica. When I speak about myself in the third person I’m referring to my personality, my values, my beliefs, and all the things that make me recognizable (besides my looks) to those who know me best. <When I use the words “fat” and “skinny” they are in quotations because that’s what adjective people have actually used to describe me.> People act in accordance with how they are perceived by themselves and by others. My perception has been drastically altered as my appearance has changed and it has been anything but easy to get used to this change. Over the past year I’ve been uneasy about how to interact with peers, and about how to deal with compliments. I’m ready to move forward as the new Jessica, to reflect on who I’ve been, who I am, and who I want to become, and most of all to become comfortable with my new looks while remaining true to myself.
The next chapter
This week I was contacted by staff at Equinox and the New York City Parks Department after I sent my story of successful weight loss to Shape Up NYC. In one of my first posts I highlighted the free aerobics classes offered by Shape Up NYC, and I know that I would not be where I am today without my fitness instructor’s Lynze Schiller/Jenn Hamlin and the community of my Harlem Hospital Shape Up NYC class. In the coming weeks my story will be published, and I hope that those seeking change can find motivation through my experience. I’m looking forward to a new future now, and I hope to continue helping others with their weight loss goals by becoming a Certified Personal Trainer. I have a lot of work to do in the coming weeks, and I’m excited to move forward on a new path personally and professionally!