Wednesday, May 16, 2012

unrecognizable

For the past five years, I've had the chance to do something really fun. I get to help run a weekend Scouts camp. (Technically, it's a moot. But I digress.) I put in my decade in Girl Guides as a kid, have the 10 year pin to prove it, and thoroughly enjoyed my time. But I bowed out just before high school; my life was falling apart and I needed to regroup and a lot of things fell by the wayside. I never did get that orange belt.

Anyhow, my university roommate is super involved in Guiding, still, and one of her big initiatives is throughing an annual Guiding and Scouting camp. So every May for the past five years, I dig out sleeping bags and air mattresses, pack a bunch of clothing into a weekend bag, show up on Friday and just do what I'm told. I'm your basic lackey: I'll run registration and the cash box, I'll score the parachute game and feel queasy for the people drinking the blender concotions, help out with dinner or just go wherever a useful body is needed.

Last year I got to be in charge of making cotton candy, and I may or may not have eaten an Oh Henry! bar covered in the pink stuff. Delicious. But again, I digress.

This year I threw my back and was told on no uncertain terms that I would not be camping when plugging in the espresso machine made me whimper. (I'm a wuss. It's ok.) It was really important to me that I help at least a little bit, though, so Bunny and I made the drive on to help with the Friday setup. I tied knots in ropes and plugged in a hose - not the most useful I've ever been.

Friday also marked the first time someone has ever completely not recognized me due to weight loss. It's very, very strange. This was followed by about 10 minutes of oh my god you look so good.

I know that none of the many people who have commented on my weight loss mean anything untowards by it. Extended family and acquaintances are really just trying to say something nice to me. When you lose fifty pounds or more (hey: I've got no idea what I weigh right now. I know what the scale said last, but that was months ago) it's a big change, and it would be disingenuous to pretend otherwise. It's hard not to remark on it when the last time you saw me I was in a dress twice as big as the one today.

The problem is, it makes me uncomfortable. I don't like all eyes on me, commenting on my appearance. I feel like I'm being judged. When people tell me how beautiful I look now, I wonder if they're really saying I looked terrible before. Coming from people who never paid attention to my appearance before, it makes me feel as if being "thin" (and I still don't think I am that, I mean have you seen all the jiggles in my belly???) suddenly makes me more worthwhile of their time and attention. But what happens if I stop being thin again? Do I go back to being unworthy?

Then, of course, after complimenting me endlessly, people want to keep taking about it. They want to know how. How'd I do it? What did I change? How long did it take? Really, this is almost worse than the compliments. Yes, I did set out to lose some weight. It also got accelerated by some illnesses, including a stomach issue that plagued me for months and made it almost impossible to eat much. It's hard not to lose weight when you can't eat. I'm being complimented for getting sick. Huh?

There are a few things about my weight loss that I am proud of. I treat a box of cookies or a bag of chips much more reasonably than I used to. I try not to binge eat anymore. I'm proud of that. I eat less processed food. I don't avoid crap or junk food, but I make the effort to make it myself. I found a way to incorporate the dairy food group into my diet.

There are so many things that need to change, health-wise, about my eating though. I need to cut the flipping sugar. My coffees and teas will be just fine without so much. I should learn how to eat breakfast. Breakfast right now is a latte, which is more than I used to manage but still not ideal. I need to eat more fruit, and snack on less junk. It'd be nice if I got more exercise, and was more active in general. I'm working on making that a priority, but the motivation comes and goes.

So I'm not a big fan when someone wants to tell me "how great I look now".

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