Eyes and Lows
January 15, 2014
Sometimes your eyes can deceive you.
I’m a returnee. I got to goal weight. I had a wardrobe full of size 10 (and some 8s)… But…
When I got to my goal weight I bought a size 10 dress and couldn’t get it on easily… after much wriggling and jiggling I was finally in it, but it had taken so much effort that I looked in the mirror (hot, sweaty and flustered) and I all could see was that my stomach STILL stuck out further than my chest.
It had taken so long to get into it I obviously wasn’t thin enough to wear it… my eyes told me that my reflection still looked fat. It was utterly demoralising.
People had been telling me for a couple of months that I looked great; that I shouldn’t lose any more… but each time I looked in the mirror I still saw “fat me”. The episode with the dress confirmed it.
Completely dejected, my brain came to the conclusion that, even if after all that effort I was still fat, what was the point? That was when I lost the plot. I reverted to old habits (because in my mind the new habits hadn’t done me any good anyway). Compound that with a medical diagnosis that required me to be on steroids… and you can guess why the scales started showing ever increasing weight.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing… you can look back dispassionately once you’ve removed the emotion from an issue and see it for what it was.
My vision got even clearer when, on sorting out my wardrobe to decant all the size 8/10/12 that no longer fitted, I discovered that the dress I had tried on had a “hidden zip” on the side. I had managed to get the dress on WITHOUT undoing the zip. It should have fitted without a struggle.. and I would have been happy
… but I overlooked the zip and then let my brain do the processing based on something that wasn’t accurate. Once I had that idea in my head it inevitable that my eyes would simply confirm what I was thinking.
I’m sharing this with you because it’s really important to base your idea of “success” on a wide range of factors - not just the label in the clothes or what you see in the mirror.
The key to weight loss is well documented… “slow and steady” is proven to be the most effective way of losing weight and ensuring it stays off for a long time… but the problem with slow and steady is that you see yourself every day… you don’t see the fractions-of-an-inch that you lose each week… you just see “you”… And we are terrible at being our own harshest critics.
My “top tip” for those of us who have a long term weight loss journey ahead of us (mine will be at least 10 months before I get to “goal”) is to take a photograph at the start… then every month take the identical photo in the same clothes…. you will get a graphic illustration of how your shape is changing in a way that your brain can process… Of course you could take a picture each month in your “dropped a dress size (or whatever)” clothes… but the thing is the clothes will look as “fitted” as your “fat outfit” did. If you save the clothes you wore for your “start of the journey” photo they will serve as a visual guide to just how your shape is changing.
I look back at photos of the holiday we took a month after I reached goal. I remember it clearly. I spent my time huddling into sarongs and shouting at Lovely Husband each time he snapped me in a bikini… I still didn’t like what I saw in the mirror… I still looked “fat”… But again, that was because I was unhappy that my shape wasn’t the typical hourglass which I had set my heart on.
An hourglass… I’m flat chested and 5’1”. I’m never going to have “ample curves with a nipped in waist”.
At my current weight I have indeed increased the size of my boobs… but the increase in the size of my stomach is proportionate so it still sticks out further… but I have learned some important lessons from my past “success”…
I still have the dress in the spare bedroom wardrobe. I am determined to get into it once again (with the zip undone). I reflect on the episode because it showed me how easily I can be persuaded to believe something to “be true”.
As I struggled to get into the dress I allowed “mis-information” to take over; to cloud my vision and my judgement. My brain processed the struggle of getting into the dress as an “it’s still too small” moment… and once in the dress my eyes, in response to what my brain had told me, made me think that I “looked fat”.
I am sure I am not alone when it comes to trying on clothes and feeling disappointed… but make sure that you are basing your opinion on reality, not what your brain and eyes are telling you. Trust the tape measure. Don’t set unrealistic expectations; Don’t beat yourself up when you fail to match your impossible ideal; Don’t necessarily believe what your eyes are telling you… Sometimes instead of ’believing what we see’… we ‘see what we believe’ (i.e. by thinking “I’m fat”; “I’m unattractive”; “I’m ‘lumpy’ you persuade yourself to see exactly that). From my experience I have discovered that the comments of friends, the tape measure, the loose-fitting trousers are all much better indicators of your weight loss journey.
And when you are looking in the mirror, remember the person looking back is unique, amazing, unstoppable, and determined. Make sure your brain knows it….
With a Hug