Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Invisible me

This post has been floating around in my head for at least a month.  I need to finally get it written down because it's keeping me a little preoccupied.  It's a bit of a difficult post for me to write and I hope I can keep my thoughts organized enough to make sense.  Sorry if I ramble.  Here goes!

Since you all know my story from reading My Life in Pictures, Part 1 and Part 2, you know that I have spent the majority of my life obese.  Obese and invisible.  Now how does an almost 300 pound woman go through life invisible?  Well I'm actually not, nor have I ever been invisible.  I just felt that way.  People ignore you, look through or past you, smirk at you, make judgements about you.  Generally, they treat you like shit which in turn makes you feel small and invisible.

Now I've always been a pretty vocal person.  Probably because of the line of work I do.  I work with a vulnerable population and have never been shy when I need to advocate or speak up on a client's behalf.  Me on the other hand? I've rarely stuck up for myself and often ignored any snide comments made my way.  If someone made a comment about my appearance, my heart would start to race, I'd pretend I didn't hear and I'd get as far away as possible.

Once I started noticeably dropping weight, things began to change for me.  I started getting better service in stores and sales people would go out of their way to help me.  I had never truly experienced hospitality like I do now.  Complete strangers talking to me on the street, saying "hello", commenting on the weather, beginning conversations in elevators.  You get the picture. Pretty much every person I make eye contact with smiles at me.  I get this treatment from both men and women.  This is all completely foreign to me.  I had no idea that the general public is so friendly and outgoing.  But only if you are a "normal" looking person.

I don't think I will ever feel comfortable with the new found attention that I get from men.  When they make (usually) sexual comments to me (I work in the heart of downtown Toronto and there are plenty of shady characters near my work), or call me terms of endearment even though they don't know me, it makes me feel like my former fat self being called bad names because of my size. My heart starts to race, I pretend I didn't hear, and I get as far away as possible.

I am exactly the same person I was 110 pounds ago.  I'm married to a wonderful man, I'm a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend. None of that has changed.  Only my appearance has changed, and although there is a noticeable difference, I still have the same values, hopes, dreams and morals.  No matter how much weight I lose, that will never change.

We all have struggles and demons  Some of us more than others.  My daily struggle is food.  Even though I have been following a healthy lifestyle for over a year now, I struggle just as much with food and the desire to binge as I did when I weighed 300 pounds.  That's the honest to God truth. People I see frequently think that I have this iron clad will power.  I do not.  Everyday is a struggle and I live with the fear that I am a hairsbreadth away from a binge that will throw me right back to where I started.  That is the scariest truth of all.  That I am thisclose to reverting back to old behaviours.  That is why, for those of you who continue to ask and wonder, I CANNOT have just one.  Phew, that wasn't as hard as I thought!


  1. You are more confident now. Maybe that is why people take notice. You were a fragile flower that bruised easily. Now you won't take Sh*t from no one:) But underneath all 110 pounds gone, you worry that you could fall back into the old habits. That is because most of this is still new to you. I guess I'll be reading you for maintenance after you reach goal. Interesting post, thank you for sharing, you have a lot of interesting stuff to say. And I'm not just saying that because you are skinny:)

  2. Good post. Those who have been obese face this same challenge so don't feel like you are alone in the battle. Just remember that no one puts the food in your mouth but you. It's a big responsibility and a daily stream of choices. You are in new territory and it will take a while to feel comfortable there. Your mind is a powerful part of you - use it to maintain the resolve you have been using all along. I pray about it asking for the strength I need. Those prayers have been answered. Be careful out there today.

  3. I keep saying, because it is true, that you have to be consistent. You have done that with amazing results. Maintenance is more of the same.

    The other thing we need to succeed is the "art of recovery." If we have a treat once in a while, we cannot afford to go down that slippery slope into a binge. If we know for a fact that we cannot handle straying one little bit, then that's a good thing too. We just stick to the straight and narrow and on we go. You can do this. :)

  4. I've been reading your blog for awhile now, just wanted to say I think you are amazing. I don't see you regaining due to your love of running now. You have a gorgeous face, but I thought the same thing looking at the heavier photos of you. I know you will continue to inspire us.

  5. I've always been very outspoken and confident at work but painfully socially awkward. I'm getting better but it takes time. :)

  6. Leigh - your post is amazing. I know exactly how you feel - except I went from being "visible" to "invisible" (and now back to visible!). I was slim until just before I had my children, and it honestly took a great number of years before I looked in the mirror and saw a 250 pound woman! My confidence was totally knocked and 12 years later (70 pounds lighter!), I'm still recovering.

    It's a shame that you have to be slim for the general public to treat you normally - but I think there are so many stereotypes associated with those who are overweight, even I find myself passing judgement on others now (and then quickly reminding myself that I was once in their position!).

    I also understand how you feel about reverting back to old behaviours. As someone who has lost a load of weight previously, only to put very nearly all of it back on, I can honestly say that it is a daily struggle. But I think the difference now is that we've both found exercises that we absolutely love and have made changes to our eating that we can keep up for life.

  7. I really love this post. I hope everyone reads it. Leigh Anne is an icon. This post is brute truth. She is 100% correct. It is a sad world that we live in when people are invisible because of their weight. I have been there too. I have not changed inside either. I feel I am a pretty decent person and I am not judgmental. Life is too short to make judgements on people because of how they look, whether they are big, small, awkward, gay, bi, race, handicapped, or their lifestyle. I know what it is like to be invisible too. I think we all do. It's unfortunate that people have a hard time treating everyone the same. I agree with Leigh, I am not invisible anymore. Lots of people, friends and strangers alike. want to talk to me and meet me now. They go out of their way to say hi. In stores the clerks will help me before they help a larger person. I find that disturbing. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy people commenting on how good I look, especially the ones I have known all my life. I admit that I like it when the odd woman glances my way. Been a long time since that has happened. The sad part is even the people I have known forever have more time for me now. I think that says something about physical appearance. I always try look deeper into a person than their physical appearance or any of the other things I mentioned above. There is good in EVERYONE, sometimes you have to look for it but it is there. I am very thankful to Leigh Anne for this post and I am thankful to Leigh Anne every single day for being the best she can be. I love Poonapalooza. I read every post. Leigh Anne is my inspiration. I wish I had her drive to success. I have done very well on this plan but it scares the crap out of me too that I could fall off the wagon again. After saying what I just said, this may sound selfish and judgmental but I never want to go back to being the big guy ( 313 lbs ) I used to be. ( Now 206 lbs )I like how I look and feel now. I like wearing smaller clothes. I like my energy, I like what I eat and I know it is good for me. Most restaurant food disgusts me now. I agree 100% with Mary@awalkinthewoods comments.
    I will never become a judge of people based on size, race, sexual preference, job status, life status etc. I love who I am and I think that is why I am successful on this plan.
    Back to Leigh Anne for a moment. She is a wonderful person, woman, mother, wife, coach, she is caring and compassionate and loves life. She is my motivation. And by the way, You look fantastic Leigh Anne. You are a beautiful young lady. I enjoy your life in pictures. When you were younger and larger you were just as beautiful as you are now but I know you are much happier now and that is important.
    Thanks again for being here for everyone and thanks for Poonapalooza.

  8. Holy crap......are you me or something? I cannot explain how this is EXACTLY how I felt for years on top of years. Advocate for my students? yep. Advocate for me? NEVER.


  9. My friend, Cat and I have had this discussion many times as we have lost weight. It is amazing.
    I also feel like I am just shy of reverting abck and gaining all te weight again. It is a battle every single day.

  10. When you get into your 50s, you'll be invisible again. There's no room in this world for women who are no longer sex objects. Fortunately, I've got a great husband who still thinks I'm hot. But out there in the world, I'm invisible.

  11. Anonymous, this is very sadly true. I see men falling all over themselves for the young girls, rushing to open the door for them, etc. Looking at it another way though, it is sort of freeing. When you are young,men are always watching everything you do, making comments to you etc.; but I feel a lot more comfortable going about my daily life now.

  12. In other words, they go against the grain of the careers their parents had.
    Anna had been looking through my phone while I was
    naked. The Bull's Head Pub, Bangkok.

    Feel free to visit my webpage ... redtooth pub quiz answers