“You’ve Lost a Wad of Weight, Why Is The Fluffy Chix Living In The Mirror Still Lying To You?”
“Honey, do these jeans make my butt look big?”
My big sissie, Nan, probably heard those same crickets chirping, 30 miles across town. I imagine she smiled a bit, and mentally welcomed Denny to her hell.
As we were growing up, Nan’s main purpose in life was to answer that same burning question before I could walk out the door and meet the world. Every day. Rain or shine. With greater regularity than the mail man.
Nan does not miss having me as a roommate.
I looked up at Denny from where I stood contorting my body, attempting the physical impossibility of dislocating my spine at the waist to pivot my upper body 180 degrees just to see my butt in those jeans.
I quickly noted Denny’s eyes bulging from their sockets, fixed intently on me. His nostrils fluttered very slightly as he sniffed the air for danger. He subtly used his peripheral vision to scan the room for an exit. He looked like a deer confronted by its biggest predator, staring fixedly at the brightly glowing fangs and shining black eyes as they bore into him, and I wondered if this is what apoplexy looked like.
“That’s a trick question,” he said in a calm, quiet, monotone, as if trying not to alarm or incite the rescue panther poised to spring in fury at his jugular.
I did the only thing I could. I gave him my famous DFSW (Delicate Flower of Southern Womanhood) shrug of annoyance that included a little head flip, shoulder shift, and setting of my jaw. Oh, and a very tiny, ladylike snort of derision as I secretly, in the oh-so-private-recesses-of-my-mind muttered, “Coward.” Then I flounced inelegantly out of the room in high dudgeon.
Now look. I weighed well over 200 pounds this morning, bare-ass nekkid and completely devoid of any excess baggage like oh, clothes, or bodily waste. I have a bathroom mirror that stretches from one wall clean across the entire width of the bathroom to the opposite wall, and from counter to ceiling. That mirror never misses a chance to try to mock me whenever I enter its domain.
I have no visual impairment – a little near-sighted but hell, I wear glasses. It’s corrected vision. The point is – well, the point is, I know dang good and well that those jeans make my ass look fat. I also know that sometimes,I can be a real jerk and play mind games with Denny. Old habits die hard. But newsflash – we have food issues, we kinda get that it’s tough changing lifetime habits.
Who among you has never looked in the mirror and been physically shocked by the fluffy chix staring back at you? Don’t you sometimes just wanna smack that image in anger? I mean, how could she let you down like that? She’s such a liar! That’s not how you REALLY look. You feel awesomeful of awesomeness in those jeans and boots. You’re a Texan and proud of it, dangit! You feel mighty in those jeans! And well, that frowning face atop that fluffy body staring back at your fine self can’t possibly be the way you look in real life. Can it?
Of course it can. A person who weighs well over 200 pounds is never gonna have a size 2 reflection. Not in the mirror. Not in real life. Not in a hat. Not with a cat. Never. But who said a size 2 equals perfection? Why can’t a well-over-200-pound woman look mighty fine in her own right?
Ten seconds later, I was back in my jammies wearing my favorite sock monkey house slippers, more determined than ever to never set foot outside the house and to refuse all future invitations to 4th of July barbeques and fireworks displays.
Or was I? See, things are a little different ‘round these parts. The fluffy chix that lives in the mirror is fairly put out these days. She senses she’s losing control of the situation and has stepped up warfare tactics.
I’m recovering from Stage IIIC Breast Cancer and did the impossible – okay, not quite “impossible,” but at least unusual: I lost 45 pounds during treatment at a time when most breast cancer patients gain 10-20 pounds. The Wizard of Oncology (that’s my cancer doc) quite proudly told me how well my tumor responded to the chemo treatment, and that this was highly unusual because most hormone-positive breast cancers don’t respond to chemo with any gusto. My tumor shrank over 50% from chemo alone. I could have told him, “It’s the low carb diet, Wizard,” but chose to save that shot in the arsenal for later use.
In fact, in total, I’ve lost 86 pounds from an all-time high of over 314 pounds. And honestly, I’ve lost portions of those 86 pounds more than once over the past 12 years. The latest re-gain immediately followed the breast cancer diagnosis. I went on what I call my “Make-A-Wish-Diet,” thinking if I was doomed to die, I had no intention of going out on a perpetual diet.
Instead, I began eating the saddest of the SADs (Standard American Diet) – all the delicious crap you could think of in the entire world. I ate it. Sometimes I ate it all within one ginormous 24 hour period. I was a not-so-lean-fat-gainin’-machine. I ate it with glee – and fear of death. And every time I put a bag of Lay’s in my mouth, I wished it wasn’t gonna end up on my ass. Sigh. Yeah, my bad. I’m a slow learner.
But life completely changed with the breast cancer diagnosis and the year-long treatment that came as part of the tag team duo. I’m not the same person I was before cancer. I call it BC and AC – Before Cancer and After Cancer. In some ways, I feel like I found my courage from the Wizard of Oz, or in this case, the Wizard of Oncology.
I realize in retrospect how many times my weight-related lack of self-esteem limited activities, simply because my ass looked fat in jeans. I was a husky kid in a skinny 1960s and 1970s world, and the psychic scars that came along with many childhood experiences of feeling oafish, clumsy, and unworthy, play an incorrect tape loop in my head. Those same bad tapes keep fat-goggles on my eyes.
Why should I care what other people think of me daring to wear a bathing suit at a public swimming pool? Who determines when I can wear a pair of jeans, junk in the trunk or not? It’s 110 degrees in the Texas shade, would it really matter to anyone other than the paramedics if I want to avoid heat stroke by wearing shorts and a sleeveless top? Is sexy a number? Or is sexy an attitude? Would fluffy reflection chix look any different if I stood proudly, shoulders in the upright and locked position with my head held high, projecting confidence?
The well over 200 pound woman in the mirror is not the same 314 pound reflection of her past. And if she was, would that matter?
Life is short, and you only go around once. It’s more than a cliché.
I’ve seen the valley of the shadow. What’s scarier? Death, or having someone look at you and gawk at your size, or stare at you in a restaurant as they watch you eat? Could it be worse than having a child ask in all their honesty and lack of social filters, “Why are you so fat?” Or is it scarier to face the reality of your mortality, knowing that if you died today, you’d die with the regrets of setting barriers to living a full and healthy life – all because of your weight?
Sometimes losing the weight is the easy part. Funny, right? How can anyone call a life-long battle royal an “easy” anything? But really, sometimes the head work is the roughest part of personal weight-loss success. All the experts agree that long-term weight-loss success requires integrating changes not only in diet, but mental, emotional, habitual and physical changes as well. In other words, it’s the mind, body, spirit connection.
It’s like needing a multi-part ticket of admission to the amusement park. Admission comes only if you have all the necessary parts of the ticket. I don’t know about you, but I want to visit that amusement park and ride every ride. And the ticket clearly states that the head work token must be attached for entry.
Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, by David D. Burns, M.D, popularized Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) in the early 1980s. The book is an oldy, but a goody. CBT explores the concept that emotional freedom occurs through understanding that we control our thoughts and emotions.
Dr. Burns outlines the first principle of cognitive behavior therapy,
“All your moods are created by your “cognitions,” or thoughts. A cognition refers to the way you look at things—your perceptions, mental attitudes, and beliefs. It includes the way you interpret things—what you say about something or someone to yourself. You feel the way you do right now because of the thoughts you are thinking at this moment.”
We think, therefore we feel. We are our own jailors. Understanding that I had the personal power to change my reality helped me move out of a victim role, tossed by circumstance and outside forces in a chaotic world. Knowing I had the power to change how I interact with the world and with myself, and understanding it’s precisely how I process a thought that determines my feelings, lent me strength to make lifestyle changes. I had imprisoned myself through my thoughts.
CBT helped me begin the journey to self-love. It’s been quite the journey. It would be great to grasp the concept and behaviors of self-love overnight. But just like our journey in low carb and controlled carb nutrition, understanding our hearts and thoughts comes in baby steps. It’s a process. Some get it sooner than others.
Maybe you’ve fallen a time or two? That’s okay. You get back up. Maybe you beat yourself up a little more each time that happens? That’s okay. You can give yourself permission to be human and imperfect, to fall. No whoopin’s necessary. We’re not perfect and sometimes it takes more than one try to get it right. The beatings must stop.
Maybe your critical self-voice keeps those old tapes running in the background and your fat goggles are firmly in place? Maybe you let how you feel determine what you believe, and further, you let that direct what you allow yourself to experience in life? That’s okay. It’s a journey, and the longest journey begins with nothing more than the smallest step. Change one tiny aspect of any situation and you forever alter the outcome. You rewrite the code that sets history.
You’re taking the steps to eat a healthy low carb diet that allows you to modulate hormones like insulin, leptin, even brain chemistry, through carbohydrate restriction. And, with daily decisions to love yourself, and to live without artificial limits imposed by your warped little mind, you’re now doing the head work too, cheeky monkey.
Now just rinse and repeat.
Success will surely follow.
SusieSnax – Hunger Buster #1 – 2.2 net carbs
Give those Lay’s, Cheetos, and Peanut Butter Cheese Crackers the heave ho! They’re full of broken and trans fats and carbage. Shove a portion of my SusieSnax down your pie-hole and experience appetite satiety for hours!
Serves 3 (Me, Myself, and I) – ok, it really only serves one…
- 4 Pork Rinds
- 1 Tbsp Nut Butter – (lowest carb & fewest ingredients)
- 1/2 oz Cheddar Cheese