By PATRICIA MILLER
Overweight people spend a lot of time thinking, “If I could just lose the weight I’d be happy.” We seem to think everything will be unicorns and glitter, so to speak, if we could just lose weight. It is rarely explained that the real challenge lies ahead.
Six months into my journey, after losing close to 100 pounds, I felt physically amazing. My mental status was a different story. Not only did I continue to view myself as obese, but I had become obsessed with watching the scale numbers drop. I developed an eating disorder (Body Dysmorphic Disorder) in the following months and had two emergency surgeries.
I was scrutinized by people I thought would love and support me. I had a lifelong friend tell me I was a disgusting person for having weight loss surgery.
I also had haters, boy did I have haters. This was evident after being featured on billboards in Connecticut supporting my hospitals bariatric program. You see, it took me a hot minute to grasp how we play a role in people’s lives that we sometimes don’t realize. I was the “fat girl.” I was always the biggest girl in the room and for many people in my life, this made me “comfortable,” meaning I made others around me feel better about themselves.
Suddenly, I was not that comfortable for them anymore. My successful weight loss made them feel inadequate or unhealthy. I went from fat girl to “that girl” on the billboards. Some people were jealous, others were angry. I would hear things like, “Why HER? Why is SHE on the billboards?”
Some cafeteria employees at my children’s school even told my children to tell their mommy to eat more because “she’s too skinny and she looks sick!”
Ironically, I have been judged and bullied more since losing weight than I ever did while obese. I know that’s hard for a lot of people to believe or even understand. I smile, greet and talk to all women the same as I always did. I now find larger women are more likely to turn away from me or give me dirty looks. I’m not sure whether it’s because they’re shy or feel insecure or just plain don’t like me because I’m not the same size as them anymore. It doesn’t get easier. My feelings are still hurt and I have to remind myself it’s more about them than me. I no longer make them feel “comfortable.” To them, I represent hurt, discrimination and insecurities. If they only knew where I once was.
At the end of the day, it’s about who and what makes you “comfortable.” This can change and sometimes end relationships, even marriages. You constantly hear, even from me, that weight loss is a lifestyle change…in more ways than you can imagine. What you must stay aware of is that the healthy alterations will eventually fall into place. One day in the future, you will be pleasantly shocked by the strong person you have become thanks to these changes!
Patricia Miller is a WISFA chapter development officer and can be found on lnstagram at @worththeweightmedia