Friday, June 17, 2011

Struggling with seeing my progress in pictures

While I feel great (Ok, not so great this morning as it was a very, very short night), my mental image of myself and what I see in photographs don't jive.

Let me try to explain. In my head, when I started high school and weighed 165 pounds, I felt huge. I had a bit of a stomach, my arms were a bit big, but more. I was bigger than most other teen girls, so I felt super fat.

Here's a picture from that time (on any of these pictures you can click on them to make them bigger).

When I started college, I had gained a bit of weight. I weighed 178-185 during my college years and again. I felt huge. Here's a picture from that time:

When I got married at age 23. I weighed about 185-190 and... I felt HUGE. Here's a wedding day photo:

When I was a parent and married and having kids, I got up to 275. Here's a professional photo from close to my highest weight (with my bestie, Deb) I was about 270 at that time. I felt huge.

But see.... each of these times, I felt really big. I felt as huge at 165 as I felt at 275. While I saw my clothing size was getting bigger, I didn't 'feel' any bigger because I was already fat. Fat is fat. Blubber is blubber.  In my messed up mental image in my head - 165 and a 'little' blubber is exaggerated to be the same as 450 and a ton of blubber.

So, while I feel so much better these days - I have more energy. I don't have achy knees and so on, I sometimes still get caught up in this mental disaster. Yesterday was one of those days. Yesterday I needed to take some photos of something I need to sell and when I went to put the pictures on the computer, I see there were other pictures to import. Those pictures were taken by my husband of when I was cutting our two boys' hair. I felt my heart sink when I saw those pictures. I looked so bad - so huge. They were from only two weeks ago, so I weigh about the same now as then. I immediately went into the mindset of, "You thought you were making progress? Look at how huge you still are? You are still so fat!" I stared at the pictures and really, truly could not see the difference from before and now - over 50 pounds difference. I told that to my husband and he said I was crazy that I look a ton better in those pictures and then I had to laugh, almost cry, "Well, if that looks so much better, I really look like crap."

So, to show what I'm thinking about here. A couple before photos (first two were same day - before haircut and after haircut. Next is a month later at Christmas) and those hair cutting photos from two weeks ago.

In the newer photos I see my saggy, fat arms, my gut and my double chin. In the before photos I see my big arms, my gut and my double chin.

Now, when I sit and compare. OK, I can see a difference, but not as much of a difference as you would expect with over 50 pounds! And I'm not saying that to get attention or for people to come say, "Melissa you look great!" I'm really worried that I can't SEE IT. When I got to 185 over a decade ago, I saw the same fat Melissa. Because - I still had big arms. Still had a stretched out flabbier than it should be stomach and a slight double chin. To me, I looked just as bad at 185 as 235. I know that's not healthy thinking and it worries me that I went back there so quickly too.

And that is where weight loss is difficult. It's not that difficult to eat better and to exercise moderately. It's this mental game that is the tough stuff. We truly are our own worst enemies.

Stats for 6/17/11:

Beginning weight: 255.6  Now 202.2 (53 and a half pounds lost)


  1. For now, while you are in this half-way state of loss, maybe focus on what your healthier body can DO for you, rather than how it looks in pictures. What it can DO is so much more important. You are feeling great, walking long distances, riding your bike, able to run short intervals, off your bp medication. So when you look in the mirror and think "My arms are so flabby." Try thinking, "My arms are getting stronger. They are doing so much work for me." Vanity is a huge motivator for weight loss, I know. I am 20 pounds into the "healthy" range, and still the fat/stretch marks/loose skin/veins on my arms, thighs, and belly bother me a lot. But I feel SO much better, and look SO much better (in clothes LOL). I was running yesterday and looked down at my legs in awe and thought "WOW! These legs are amazing. They carry me fast and far. They are strong." I could feel my lateral abdominal muscles working. My shoulders strong. My arms pumping. Sometimes we have to concentrate on the amazing things our bodies are doing for us and let go of the cosmetic imperfections.

  2. MeeM thank you so much. Most of the time, I can and do focus on the the progress being made. I'm enjoying things like seeing my shin bone making it's appearance. I'm emjoying seeing my muscles move appear from under the fat in my arms and legs and even my abdomen.

    I need to start listening to my husband. He is not the type to compliment unless he sincerely means them. So, that meant for years he never said, "you look nice". Not that he ever said mean things, but he wouldn't give insincere comments. Now, he is beginning to say, "you are looking so much better." And "Look at your muscles there." And so on. Because he is who is he, I know I can and should believe him and try to turn off the negative voices in my head and try to see what he sees.

  3. I think you look great in the bottom hair cutting pics. I can see a big difference. You had a lot of hair in your before-haircut pic!

  4. Yes, I did have a lot of hair - too much. It was thinning too with the low thyroid. I think it's beginning to thicken back up now too.

    With a bit more time and a bit of perspective, I can see progress... but also the journey I still have to do! (but I knew the journey wasn't over, either).

  5. That french horn pic is great. I played alto saxophone in HS and first year of university - I was not a music major but played in one of their jazz bands anyway. I finished up that year of univ. and went into the marine corps for 4 years, and that was the end of saxophone ;(