Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Smile. You are beautiful...

Do we get confidence, or are we already confident?  This was my fortune from the Mandarin yesterday.  It made me think because if someone were to ask me about my confidence right now, I'd have to say that I am not very confident in my own body.  Confidence means different things though.  I have never been confident in my looks.  I've spent the majority of my life morbidly obese. I  have however, been confident in my job and the knowledge that I have gained through years of experience working with the hard to serve population that I do.  

Back to self confidence though.  I am only now starting to switch the way I think of myself.  It's a slow process, moving away from "fat mode".  When I walk into a room, or onto the subway, or out in public and get looked at or smiled at by someone, I automatically think they are laughing at me. Judging me.  I think that they know my secret and can tell that I'm a fraud.  A morbidly obese person living in a smaller body.  Lynda from Living the Life left a comment on my last post (And thanks to all who left such complimentary comments regarding my outfit.  Way to boost a girl's self-esteem!) that also got me thinking...

The dinner looked great and you looked amazing!! Wear that makeup more often - after all the hard work you've put in you deserve to look that beautiful. I was thinking that people (read: overweight people) will see you out looking like that and think "oh that woman has no idea what it's like to have to diet". You will be seen now as a confident, slim woman who has never had a weight problem in her life.

I always assume that everyone I come into contact with knows about my unhealthy past.  I assume they can guess by seeing my flaws.  And trust me, I have tons of them.  But they are only blatantly obvious to me.  A few things happened on Monday that made me realize that no one that I just met would know anything about how I used to look unless I told them.  I work with disadvantaged youth.  On Monday I was in the reception area of my building with a current client that I met maybe three months ago.  While I'm saying goodbye to that youth, I notice a young person I previously worked with, but haven't seen in over a year.  So about 70 pounds ago.  I approach that youth to say hello and he just gives me a questioning look.  Then he freaks out and says, "OMG!  I barely recognize you".  My current client looks back and has a confused look on her face.  She didn't say anything, and walked off, but looked back as he loudly talked about how I look completely different.  I know she's going to have a lot of questions for me the next time I see her.  She's never known me obese.

I was at a committee meeting on the same day and a co-worker who recently got back from maternity leave asked me how much weight I lost.  I told her 125 pounds and the two newest members of the committee looked completely shocked.  They have also never known me as an obese person.  I showed my "Indian Status" card at Walmart last night while I was grocery shopping.  Showing it means I get some of the tax taken off. The checkout girl looked at the card, looked at me and said, "Kudos to you!  You look great!"  I usually get questioned as to whether or not the photo is really me, and mentioned that to her, but she said, "I can tell it's you.  You were pretty in the picture, you're beautiful now."  That was one of the nicest compliments ever! Especially since I was wearing yoga pants and no make-up!

I guess, for me, confidence is something that I'm gaining in time.  I have confidence in other areas of my life.  I'm confident as a mother, as a friend, as a daughter, as a wife, as a youth worker.  I'm not confident as a runner.  That will develop in time.  And my looks and body?  A work in progress for sure.  So back to Lynda's comment.  Although others may see me as confident and slim because they don't know my past, I am far from feeling that way myself.  When I see myself in a reflection, I still do a double take because I see a stranger looking back at me.  I know the person I see looks good, but I still struggle seeing myself the way others see me.  I'm expecting to wake up one day from this wonderful dream and return to my former life of hypertension and obesity. Unless I'm looking in a mirror, I still see myself the way I look in my mind.  And in my mind, I still weigh 290 pounds.

Wouldn’t it be powerful if you fell in love with yourself so deeply that you would do just about anything if you knew it would make you happy? This is precisely how much life loves you and wants you to nurture yourself. The deeper you love yourself, the more the universe will affirm your worth. Then you can enjoy a lifelong love affair that brings you the richest fulfillment from inside out. - Alan Cohen


  1. Leigh as a fellow Pooner I am always inspired by your posts. I totally understand what you are saying and seeing in your minds eye. Beauty comes from within .....mirrors are just reflections of the vehicle in which we carry that beauty............and they are ever changing. Keep looking & keep reaffirming........."This is who I am now" ...
    Thank you for continuing to share your journey so openly with us all.

  2. I agree confidence is built over time. I only became more confident as I got older and that was usually to hide my weight. I do feel more confident as I lose more weight. Especially now that I am doing things I never thought I would! I even registered for my first 5K. Never in a million years did I think I would do that! Thanks for continuing to inspire!

  3. I was just thinking recently about how afraid I was that this is all a dream. I've lost nearly 40 pounds now, and I'm terrified that when I wake up, I'll be back to where I was 2 months ago.

  4. You are beautiful! I'm surprised to hear you say you're not a confident runner, to me you are an inspiring champion of running and positive changes to your life. I imagine the change after a lifetime of obesity has to be gradual, but know that you're an absolute star and have every reason to be proud of who you are. x

  5. Hi Leigh! Well, I'll tell you, the mind thing takes a lot longer than losing the weight. I went from size 18 to size 12 back in 2008. And I just couldn't handle being smaller. It wasn't that I couldn't handle the eating, I just wasn't very comfortable with myself. So my mind sort of settled for size 14 for a long time, several years.

    Only last year was the year where I was mentally prepared to get to where I am right now--size 10.

    Other mind games: I could not think of myself as "athletic" even though I was benching 60 pounds heavier (160 pound bench press) than any other woman in my gym. That took years to sink in too. But it eventually did.

    I guess I would say--just don't screw it up before it finally sinks in. Be okay with the difference in your mind vs. your weight because it will work itself out--eventually. But, like I say, it took years for my body and mind to balance.

    :-) Marion

  6. If you look in the mirror and can't see how pretty you are and what a good body you have I suggest getting your eyes tested or buying contact lenses or glasses.

  7. While I am not yet at goal, my confidence has grown over the last three years as I have lost and maintained my lowest weight. I think it's one of those things that only comes with time. Did you walk into your first day on the job confident of your abilities or were you unsure? Chances are that confidence built up with time. :)

  8. I think for me its like a snowball slow rolling down a hill picking up steam. I'm still only about half way down the hill accelerating but I've come a long way!

  9. I understand the disconnect. It took about a year for me to stop going to the "larger ladies" section of the store after I lost 40 pounds. Usually, my daughter would be with me, and she would ask me where I was going. It was habit I suppose to think I could not fit into regular sizes.

  10. Wow. So interesting. I am very disconnected from my body. A few years ago I lost 50 lb and could not see a difference....then I gained 75 and still felt like I looked the same. U look amazing. No one would know u were obese.

  11. Hi Leigh - I have been at my goal weight now for about a year and only now am used to seeing myself. Last night we went out to our local bar for a meal and I wore my skinny jeans and my dressy top - I looked down at myself and smiled.. I said to my husband how amazed I am every time I look down and see slim legs and slim hips. I finally now go to the small clothes section and pick up clothes that fit me.

    It must be crazy for you having lost so much weight! You might even find people react differently to you - do you remember when Oprah lost lots of weight and many of her viewers switched off? They thought the slim Oprah wouldn't be the same sympathetic person. Even though you don't feel confident, others will assume you are! You are changing not only on the outside but also on the inside. I don't think anyone can lose as much weight as you and remain entirely the same. It is a good thing though - enjoy the ride, you deserve it.