I know for a fact that I am not the only person who has a bit of a issue with self-perception. In fact, most women have the same issue. We have a hard time recognizing just how smart, strong, funny, insane, dedicated, out-going, shy, fit, brave, assertive, comforting, kind, controlling, easy-going, technically-savvy (the list could go on and on) we are - or in some cases how much we are not these things. There are definitely situations where being pleasantly un-self-aware is a gift. Your brain is protecting you - because there are occasions where reality completely sucks - and dealing with that constantly will just break you down.
Tomorrow it will have been 3 months (Holy Hell!! How time flies!) since I walked through the doors of fat camp. In that time I have made, what I perceive to be, some pretty great strides. I have lost 60 pounds, I have walked 2 5Ks, I exercise a minimum of 5 days a week for at least 45 minutes of cardio, I insure that I get in at least 60 minutes of activity a day (which is anything that involves moving your ass: shopping, mowing lawn, cleaning, etc). I eat well the vast majority of the time - long gone are the days of 3 fast food meals a day. I "feel" great! My body can do so much more than it could just 3 short months ago.
I look in the mirror daily. I see that there have been some subtle changes in my size. A few people have commented that I look "smaller". Then came the day of my grandparents' 60th Anniversary party, and family pictures. This is where the self-perception issue comes into play.... I was feeling pretty good! I feel slightly more dainty (me...dainty - hahahahahaha), I had done one of my 5K walks that morning - and I guess in my head (shout out to mind-thoughts. I am becoming increasingly aware that I may be certifiable) that meant I would magically shrink to half my size? Not so much. I saw our family pictures about a week and a half ago. I cried. Like seriously sat in front of my computer with tears in my eyes. I am STILL huge! It shouldn't have been shocking - I have only lost a little over 25% of the weight I want/need to lose - but it is still startling when you realize you haven't come nearly as far as you think you have. When the reflection (literally) of your hard work isn't what you thought it was, or what you think it should be. I felt like a loser and a failure - like I was right back to dealing with this insurmountable issue that would never go away!
It put me in a funk. I was cranky, and less than a pleasure to be around. I would go to bed at midnight and stay in bed until 11am. I was still eating low-calorie, for the most part - but was too lazy to go get fruits and veggies (which are a completely necessary part of any balanced eating program!) because prepping them seemed like too much work. I didn't my blog (sorry Amy). I didn't want to do anything. I would force myself to get my rear to the gym. It probably didn't help that the weather during this period of time was less than stellar - cold and rainy. All of this finally came to a head on Monday. I had to have a pretty serious talk with myself. Enough was enough. I haven't worked this hard to get this far to just stop, again! I am breaking the seemingly never-ending cycle of "Natalie the Yo-Yo Dieter". Thanks to some decent weather (honestly - does it get any better than this weather in MN?!?! I LOVE IT!), some strict self-imposed guidelines about hours of sleep (I am not allowed to sleep past 8:30am) and my friend Darcy getting me out on the trails of Lebanon Hills,I finally feel like I am coming back.
After talking to a couple of my friends yesterday, I realized I am not the only one who has been haunted by pictures, shocked by film, tormented by photos. I have friends who have done amazing things - and had those experiences somewhat hampered by unappealing pictures! I have a friend who ran a marathon (26.2 miles....of running....straight!...not over a week - but all at one time!!!), and still didn't think she looked good in the pictures from it. HELLO!! You trained for and ran a marathon!! You look fantastic!! I have another friend who completed one of her huge personal goals last summer - she did a sprint tri-athalon in Hudson. Her problem photo? Well....I'll give you a hint: after you swim, you have to run to your bike...in your swimsuit. I believe her description of the photograph included "cantaloupes" on her inner thighs. Seriously!?! You could do a tri-athalon! You are amazing, and look amazing as well! You could run naked and no one could say a thing! This is what I am saying.... I think we all need to cut ourselves some slack.
Trying to do something different than you have been doing (even something as simple as going for a walk instead of sitting on your couch all day) or training yourself for, and finishing, a huge athletic event deserves respect - regardless of what you think photos may say about you. I am trying to appreciate the fact that I am moving, that I am trying, that I have had some success - but I have even more milestones ahead of me, that I am getting stronger - and most important thing... I had a set-back, and I am still going. I didn't quit. I didn't decide to eat pizza and burgers every day, for every meal. Even if I always look like hell in pictures, I am getting my life back - and that is something to be cherished and appreciated. Unfortunately, there just isn't any way to frame that and hang it on the wall....