Total Weight Loss

Monday, May 9, 2016

Perception vs Reality

I've done a lot of walking down Memory Lane these past months as we packed our childhood home to move my mother.  She kept all of our report cards and lots of our artwork and tons of photographs.  I grew up with certain perceptions of my life and that of my sisters.  As we sifted through the mementos, I learned that some of those perceptions were not, in fact, reality as reflected by what my mother saved.  Here are a few of my perceptions of childhood:
*My older sister was photogenic; and, I was not.
*My older sister was artistic; and, I was not.
*I was smart.
*I was clumsy.
*I was fat.

It is true that my older sister was and is quite photogenic.  I don't know where I got the idea that I wasn't but that simply was not true.  I was a cute baby, toddler and little girl just like both of my sisters.  We all three went through that awkward middle school transition from little girl to young lady.  None of us was any worse than the other.  I once called those middle school years "The Big Uglies" in reference to myself.  The picture, I most hated from the eighth grade won't win any prizes for beauty, but it isn't horrid beast I remembered.  What changed?

My older sister is a good artist.  She was told from a very young age that she was, so she developed that skill.  Looking back at my artwork from the early years, it was just as good as hers.  I somehow got the message that if she was pretty, or artistic, or anything else, that slot was taken and I could not be 'it' as well.  I think that is typical second child behavior. 

I was smart and I have the report cards to prove it.  My sisters were too, but they were more social and outgoing.  I was more school oriented so I got better grades.

I was probably a little more clumsy than my sisters because of my hips.  There is no real documentation of this.  But I was told I was, I believed it so I was.

Same with being fat.  I was NOT fat.  I have a round, youthful face.  I did not like it growing up because I was always thought to be younger. Of course, I embrace that now, as I was told that I would.  The chubby cheeked nature of my face, I think, created a sense of heaviness all over.  Since I was not skinny and angular like some of the other children, I must be fat.  I got this message from many different sources.

The children at school called me fat.  In the fifth grade, I remember the boys making up a chant and beating the desks in a rhythm chanting "Fat Mama, um, a hubba, hubba."  Over and over.  It brought tears to my eyes but I would laugh along with them so as not to let them know they'd hurt me.  I thought it would make them stop.  It didn't.  I remember telling my mother and she laughed.  That hurt even more.  My mother does not remember that and insists that if she laughed it wasn't AT me.

Still, my mother was constantly on me to lose weight.  She took me to the doctor in high school and insisted that he put me on diet pills.  This was the era of height/weight charts based on body frames.  The weights were quite low particularly since I was considered to have a small frame.  I was in the overweight category for my body frame, but I was a long way from obese at that time. That was the first formal eating plan I remember, designed to make me lose weight.  I didn't.  I gained weight.  

I probably weighed around 145 lbs when I was taken to the doctor.  It was probably more than most girls and significantly more than some.  I felt fat, but the pictures do not support that feeling.  After the episode with the diet pills, I gained nearly 30 pounds.  I remember that I graduated from high school weighing 174 lbs.  I worked hard to lose weight before starting college.  I was able to maintain at 160 to 165.  Folks, I looked fine in the pictures from that era.  In fact, I'd love to get to that weight and stay now.  I think the problem was, I was just bigger and curvier than the other girls around me, so I thought I was fat.

Although, I am broken hearted for all the wasted years thinking I was fat and I wasn't, I can't change it.  I can only move forward from where I am right now.  I am telling myself constantly that I am strong fit and healthy.  The words we tell ourselves and believe from others are hugely powerful.  I am NOT and never was the nerdy, fat, klutz.  I weigh more than I should but that does not define me.
I am not using the scales as a measure of success.  I will still weigh, but I'm not sure how often.  Instead, I am going to focus on what I can control in addition to the messages I give myself -  like going to the gym or walking in the neighborhood. Both things are low hanging fruit right now.  The weather is great for a stroll around the neighborhood.  School is out so no worries about parking for the gym.  I am focusing on being healthy.

I am also no longer putting off this or that until I lose weight.  That is silly.  I'll do what I want to when I want to.  I need new clothes.  I have worn out my larger clothes because I only have a few and refused to buy more at this size.  I changed my mind when I saw a woman at the grocery store who was quite attractive.  She was dressed quite fashionably, had her hair and nails done nicely and was made up to look her best.  She was also a plus sized woman.  I know I can look good too if I stop putting off trying until a certain number appears on the scales.

I'm going to take a few weeks to get some benchmarks for just how much I can comfortably do physically, since the hip issue is real.  I dug out my pedometer which needs a new watch battery, which means a trip to the store and thus another day or two on starting that.  Once I get an idea of what I can do naturally and comfortably, I'll set some goals to stretch myself.  My plan is to have some definite goals to work towards in a few weeks.  Then I will do a post with my goals and incentives.  Something like walk X times, or average X steps, or go to the gym X times, or maybe some combination.  If I reach my goal, I'll get a new outfit.  Maybe it will be a smaller size or maybe it won't. I know that I will be stronger, fitter and healthier.


  1. THIS!!!! I weighed about 30-40 pounds more than my friends growing up, so I was the fat one. But we were almost all the same size. Looking at pictures now, it is so apparent, but it really messed with me. I'm just now getting over all of it!!

  2. We had some similar things happen this weekend. I came across some pictures from "back in the day" when I thought I was fat. Not even close to fat...

  3. I always weighed 20 pounds more than ALL of my friends in school, yet we wore the same size! None of them called me fat but rather would carry on about how unfair it was that I weighed more than them but wore the same size. So that was good. But I still felt fat, as I guess every girl does at some point in her life. My best friend and I often say we wish we were "as fat" now as we were back when we THOUGHT we were fat! We looked great!

    I'm sorry you have that rude memory of those kids in your class. I was always made fun of for being flat chested. I hated it! But I would laugh along and even cut jokes about it myself to the guys so they wouldn't realize they were bugging me.

    I look at women even heavier than me all the time and wonder how they look so good and fashionable! I try to buy new things, but I always feel like they look so awful on me. Minds are terrible!

  4. What a fabulous post!!! We live up to the preconceived notions and expectations (ours and sometimes other people's). Good for you for breaking free!!!!

  5. We walked similar paths. My sister always thought me to be the smart one because she felt our parents made over my grades more. I don't remember it that way. I finished college, she did not. I remember her being the artistic and pretty one. Because people made over her unique looks and gave her art lessons. She had Dark complexion and blue eyes. She always had a boyfriend. I did not. Looking back, she was certainly more confident and outgoing than I. More talented? Nah. Differently talented, sure.

    Amazing how we get these things in our heads. So hard to get them out.

    Now I see that I encourage my kids where they have natural interests. Judson, music. Ansley, art. Turner, performing arts. Not because one is better than the other. But because they will apply themselves more if they are interested. And the more they apply themselves, the better they become.( And I won't spend money if they won't apply themselves. ) I only wish I knew how to encourage Ansley to be more outgoing. She is talented but extremely shy. I don't want her to look back and say "if only".

    It's tough growing up. Sometimes I wonder if the Mork method wouldn't be nice. Starting out old and getting younger. The old adage of youth being wasted on the young.

  6. Jease, I could have written this myself. I remember going to figure out an eating plan in elementary school (misery!), and lots of shaming for years from brutal kids. I hear ya.

    I'm working on trying to alleviate some major hip pain as well. It's not easy, honestly - and of course gets worse with age. But, we can keep plugging on, sistah!

  7. I sooo relate to this post. I wrote something similar a long time ago, how I remember being so fat as a pre-teen and teen. But the pictures show otherwise. Funny how we form these perceptions of ourselves, not just about looks but about talents or lack thereof. This was interesting to read and I enjoyed the photos in the next post too. Thank you for sharing.