I found this picture this morning in the annals of my Facebook photos. It was an outtake from a photo shoot I art directed for the gal in the photo with me. We’d been photographing the DJs she managed in one of the many oh-so-photogenic alleyways in New Orleans on a hot September day. At the end of the shoot we were all having fun and goofing off and the photographer decided to get this shot of the two behind-the-scenes ladies. The photo was taken on September 19, 2010.
I had lost 93 pounds by this time and dropped from a size 24 to a 14 but I didn’t really see it. I knew I was smaller because I had to buy new clothes, because people kept telling me I was smaller, but I didn’t see it in myself the way others saw it. I didn’t own a full-length mirror (or a mirror any larger than the small medicine cabinet mirror mounted over my bathroom sink, for that matter) and the absence of mirrors was deliberate. Seeing this photo was one of the first times I truly saw myself at this size, truly realized how much I had changed. I couldn’t stop marveling at my legs – they were so much longer and thinner looking than I had ever seen them. I shared the photo online and reading people’s reactions to the photo on Facebook, too, helped me to see myself through their eyes.
It is impossible to genuinely fathom the happiness I was feeling at this time in my life, at this point in my journey. Those feelings faded and passed entirely as I fought the battle of regaining then losing weight over and over again. I didn’t know it at the time, but I would only lose another 8-10 pounds after this photo was taken before my struggle to reach my goal and maintain weight loss would begin, before I would begin the cycle of self-sabotage that would ultimately result in my regaining 46 of the 111 pounds I had, at one point, lost. For the past eight years the feelings I most experience with my weight loss journey are frustration, disappointment and pain. It doesn’t feel rewarding anymore, it feels empty, it feels punitive for having regained the weight and failed to reach my goal.
This week, I am (again) at the point of being close to 93 pounds lighter than I was at my highest weight and I have been trying to reconnect with the feelings of happiness I experienced the first time I’d lost the weight, to recapture the excitement and satisfaction of seeing all my hard work pay off. I want to feel pride in my accomplishment, an accomplishment that I genuinely felt was impossible and often, still, feel is impossible. I may never shake the feeling that my success is a fluke, that it is fleeting but I didn’t feel that on September 19, 2010. So, I write this blog today and I share this picture because I feel it is such an important reminder of what truly is possible, of how profoundly one can change, of how much you can impress yourself when you finally see yourself for the amazing person you are.