I was pondering how to address this topic. I know this is something that really bothers me more than anything that I have gone through. You would think that the weight is the hardest thing to deal with when losing weight. Yet, it isn’t.
For me overcoming judgement has and is the hardest thing I do everyday. When I first started my journey at 589 pounds, I decided I needed to go to the gym. This coming from someone who hid. If I needed to shop, I would do it at 11pm at night, because I didn’t want to be seen. I didn’t want to be stared at. I didn’t want to be judged. Yes, I know a lot of that is within me. But, a lot of it is real. I am 6′ tall, and I was 589 pounds. Oh yes, don’t forget I was 72″ around at my widest. That is a BIG lady. That is someone that garners attention. I get it to a degree. I felt like I was a one woman freak show.
So when I went to the gym, I had a swim suit that covered me from my knee’s to my arms. It looks like a wet suit… I walked into the gym in sweats, and a hoodie. I would zip the hoodie up, put the hat on, and pull the strings. NO one could see me.. I’d punch into the gym and walk as quickly as I could to the locker room, then the pool. Never looking anyone in the eye. To me. I was invisible. If I couldn’t see people staring, then they weren’t. This is how I shopped, head down, never looking at anyone, never talking to anyone. I didn’t want to be seen. I was invisible.
So what happens when you start to lose weight? Your body starts to change.. You feel better about yourself.. Yet you’ve made yourself invisible. That is another mental part of weight loss. Now you have killed your confidence, you can’t look at people, and you are afraid to connect and lose the ability to communicate effectively.
One of the best things to happen to me was hiring Matt Ellison as my trainer. Initially when I started working with him. You work out in the middle of the gym where everyone can see you. I would look around and see eyes. My head would go down and I would start to have panic attacks. My trainer would get closer to me, get my eyes to his and say “Look, it is just you and I here. Nothing to worry about. Lets get this done.” A lot of my struggles with the exercises initially were simply panic attacks. I was so afraid people were watching.
Yet when I worked with Matt, he’d often yell, head up, eyes forward. I didn’t know then the impact he was having on me. It was about connecting to the people in the gym. It was about SEEING people, and being seen. I credit that with allowing me to be able to put myself more out in the public eye. Yes, even walking the 3Day 60 mile walk in 2009 didn’t push me, like working out in the middle of the gym did.
Now when I walk around a store, my head is up and my eyes are forward. I see people, and I know I am being seen. I’m getting stronger about that. But, when I go to new places, or when I do new things. This is where those internal voices come back, they prey on my weakness. My worries about being judged. This is where the panic comes into play. I have tendency to find my head down a little more then my “new” usual. I struggle to talk to people, or when I do I talk really fast. I’m nervous, and I am constantly looking for my way to escape. I become really shy. YES me, really shy.
Socially right now, I am learning how to react and interact with people. Sometimes I feel like I am doing good, and other days I feel like the world is closing in on me. When you see someone who is bigger. Understand that they, just like you feel horrible when they are judged. Just simply say hi with a smile. Don’t judge people for where it looks like they are in their life. You may never know the truth. It could be a woman who has lost 300 pounds and has about 60ish to go, and is just trying to get her body back. Or a man who has lost 300 and is just trying to figure out how to live his life well after being successful in his own journey.
You all know the old saying, don’t judge a book by the cover . Let me tell you this books pages have so much to give. Yet the cover is still a little scuffed up. I will be rebound, but I will never look at people the same way again. In this way my invisible life has been the greatest gift ever given to me, however it is also the hardest lesson I have ever learned.