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My body, myself

I don’t feel like a fat girl anymore.

When I walk into the grocery store and see myself on the closed circuit security monitor hanging above the welcome mat, I know that average-sized girl in the black coat is me and I’m not surprised. I am surprised that I feel this way. Back when I started this journey, I was concerned a part of me would always think of myself as the fat girl.

I’ve read other weight-loss blogs where the authors have lost lots of weight and still have trouble thinking of themselves as a thin person. They are constantly surprised that they don’t have trouble fitting in chairs or cars. This weekend I attended a play and didn’t even think about the fact that I wasn’t spilling out of the seat or banging my knees into the head of the person in front of me, not until a larger man sat down two seats next to me and experienced all those problems. I feel very comfortable in my body and I believe my self-image pretty closely matches my actual image.

I have some guesses as to why this is. First, I’ve lost the weight slowly so my mind has had time to adjust to the changes. There were certainly days when I wanted to lose 3 or 4 pounds a week, but the slow and steady way worked pretty good for the tortoise and it seems to have worked pretty well for me. If I’d gone to bed weighing 372 and woken up weighing 186, not even Freud or Jung could have been able to help me with my body issues. Another advantage is that even though I was overweight and obese for most of my life, I was only morbidly obese for maybe 3 or 4 years. Perhaps if I’d spent a decade or more at over 300 pounds it would be more difficult to make this adjustment. But I’m not sure if my mind every fully accepted the fact that I weighed 372 back when I still did.

I also look in mirrors constantly. Last year the mirror in the ladies room at work went missing for two days and I nearly threw a tantrum in front of the paper towel dispenser. How was I supposed to check out how cute I am? Take a look in the toilet bowl reflection? My apartment’s dressing area has a huge mirror that I adore, though I might feel differently if a tornado were ever to blow through town. It’s positioned so I can see it when I’m cooking in the kitchen, so I frequently check out my ass while I’m sautéing chicken or chopping up red onion. Maybe I just like to check to make sure I’m still thin. I’m starting to feel compassion for Narcissus because it’s becoming quite clear how you could fall in love with your own reflection.

Lastly, exercising has made me very familiar with my body. I know what it’s capable of. I know I can run 3 miles. I know I can bend my leg up at a right angle to my body. I know I can squat and stand up without pushing off of the floor. Me and my body used to be estranged, like I was a brain squatting in a run down tenement, but now we’re best buddies working in synch. I know it very well and that includes knowing what size it is.

So, you can count me down as a total freak because not only am I comfortable in my body, I love my body too. I should probably check down below and make sure I’m still female. Such a state of existence doesn’t seem possible for a woman in today’s world. Just admitting that I love my body seems rather bold. It’s a bit frightening too because I don’t know if people will actually believe me or understand how I could love such an imperfect object. But you can see it’s true when you look at my smile in my fat pants photo. I wish I could tell everyone how to get here, but the location doesn’t seem to show up on Google maps. I guess you’ll have to find it yourself.

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34 Comments

Debbie • February 27, 2007 at 10:26 am

You must be reading my mind, Jennette. I was going to post shortly on something very similar.

Self-image is what it’s all about. The fact that you can accept where you are so readily and actually love your body without feeling like you’ll always be fat suggests to me that you’re going to stay thin.

I’m really happy for you.

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Lisa the Waitress • February 27, 2007 at 10:45 am

This post was so awesome. Good for you, and I am glad you are sharing your feelings with everyone. It is so great that you are able to have this kind of confidence, and I hope you continue to share it with others.

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psychsarah • February 27, 2007 at 11:02 am

I’m happy to hear that its possible to get to this great place that you are in now with respect to body image. I still struggle to “get” what size I am now. I never thought about it much when I was fat, but now that I’m on the road to thinness (I feel about “average” these days) I often ask my husband if someone we see is about my size, so that I can wrap my head around what other people perceive when they see me. It’s a tricky one.

I hope the feeling lasts for you too (it certainly sounds like it will-you sure have your head screwed on straight!!) For the longest time I was pretty excited about how much better I looked (I admit I was checking myself out in mirrors perhaps a little too often for a while), but then as I plateaued I started to see what I had left to lose and my body image did another nosedive. It’s like I had habitutated to the size I am now and want more loss to feel good again. I know this is a vicious cycle and I hope I can stop it at some point! As always, you’re an inspiration and an example of how it can be done. Thanks!!

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Roz • February 27, 2007 at 11:18 am

I think I never really got to the point where I saw myself as a fat girl. I was always surprised when I looked at myself honestly and even now, when I look in the mirror, I see the bits that I want to see.

I agree that losing the weight slowly helped you get used to the changes in your body, otherwise your mind has a completely different view of yourself than your body.

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Charity F • February 27, 2007 at 11:55 am

I totally hear you on the mirrors thing. I started looking in mirrors ALL THE TIME after I lost the big amount of weight. My face had all these weird BONES in it all of a sudden. I felt like the vainest person in the world. But maybe I was just actually having some love for my body and I just didn’t recognize it!

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mal • February 27, 2007 at 11:56 am

This may come off as flame-y (though it’s not meant to be), but to me this is one of the biggest arguments for losing weight through diet and exercise rather than surgery.

Lots of research has documented that rapid, extreme weight loss has a high rate of relapse and most speculate that it’s because people don’t have time to adjust to their bodies as they change. In general, we simply aren’t emotionally prepared to experience such a dramatic shift in the one characteristic that is such a big part of our personal identity.

On the other hand, in our society, most don’t have the patience it requires to consistently post 0.7-, 1.3-, and 0.2-pound losses every week for 1-3 years until they reach their goal. This is a big problem, and I’m glad to hear that you have overcome it.

That’s one of the reasons I find your story so inspirational. You just started, stuck with it, and saw it through to the end.

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Aunt Annette • February 27, 2007 at 11:56 am

Could it be that the play you saw has something to do with your ruminations on your womanhood and your self image? I’d love to hear your thoughts on that subject, if you are inclined to go there. Your Mom told me that your friend was in the same play that I was in, but in a different city. One piece in particular spoke about our culture and fat people, and tossing back milk shakes to expand our thighs.

Love, from Aunt Annette, aka the British woman in “The Vagina Workshop” from “The Vagina Monologues.”

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Janice Bridge • February 27, 2007 at 12:44 pm

Body image is tricky. . . .how we get to be the size we are at any one time in our life has a huge connection with that image. Individuals who are severely over weight often experience a distortion factor that is similar to the distortion of those who are severely under weight.

When shown photos of others who are anorexic, and anorexic can ususally arrange the photos in increasing or decreasing levels of ‘over weight’ – but is unable to place herself correctly in the spectrum

When shown photos of others who are over weight, an obese person can ususal arrange the photos in increasing or decreasing levels of fatness – but will be unable to place herself correctly in the spectrum.

Looking in the mirror – frequently- is one of the exercises appropriate to absorbing your own body image. . . .and people who are severely overweight have a tendancy to avoid looking in the mirror to do anything but put on lipstick or comb hair.

Liking your body; enjoying how it feels when you walk, sit, stand, climb stairs; appreciating how it looks in new clothing; connecting to what hunger and satiety feels like, are all part of becoming the person who carries this body. . . that is now NOT obese, but pretty close to ‘average for an American” and on the way to fit and flexible!

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bitchwhoblogs • February 27, 2007 at 12:48 pm

Congrats!!! I find much inspiration in your self acceptance and celebration. Its a beacon of light for me in my journey. This morning- I caught a glimmer of a post-fat girl identity. The scale read 173 down from 220 which is down from an even higher weight. I finally grocked that even the professional stylists were telling me I am a size 8/10 or 6 with vanity sized lines. And my husband made some reference to me being ‘skinny’ for the second time this week. And I finally got it.

I am also taking my cue from you and looking the mirror more and I am not seeing fat so much. I am starting to feel like the not-fat-girl. My office chair has tons of room in it now, I can do inversion poses in yoga without having my rolls cover my face and block my breathing and I am changed.

Your blog has helped me accept that. Thanks

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Vamp • February 27, 2007 at 12:57 pm

This is exactly the post I needed I think.. Last night I took some deliberately unflattering photos of myself since I am still in the beginning stages of my weight loss.. and I can barely look at them. It’s horrifying really! I’m going to have to print this post out and when I get down or frustrated I can re-read it and know that it won’t be this way forever and that in a couple of years I’ll be able to look back and see how changed my life has become. Thanks for posting this!

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enid • February 27, 2007 at 1:00 pm

what a great post. enid thinks that you are showing people the way to go, even though the place isn’t on a google map.

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Chris H • February 27, 2007 at 2:54 pm

You are not alone! I sometimes (no frequently) think I must be the most vain woman out there, cos I just love mirrors too! I get a real kick outta seeing my reflection now, and I am not afraid of cameras anymore either! Isn’t it just the most fantastic feeling! And I did check out “down there” cos I hadn’t seen it in bloody years, lol.

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Bree • February 27, 2007 at 2:55 pm

As always I so enjoy your posts.

I remember feeling beautiful and proud of myself when I lost the fat. Learning to accept that I was no longer fat was hard and look at me now. It’s a real bi***ch to admit that I’m fat again. I honestly never thought I’d be back in fat sizes.

Please everyone don’t go back like I did! I’m trying so hard to find whatever it is that I’m lacking so I can lose it again.

You’re awesome PQ! Keep it up!!! You have helped so many people see the way.

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Ezpy • February 27, 2007 at 3:00 pm

Wonderful entry. I’ll totally cop to spending a lot of time looking at myself in mirrors. Also to never having totally accepted myself as being as fat as I really was. Despite starting at 367 I always saw myself as I looked at 270. And, on a lot of levels, I’ve liked my body for a long time now, super morbidly obese or not. In fact, I feel really sorry for how hard it had to work when I was really heavy, you know?

Then again though, I don’t think I’ve accepted where I am now either — mostly because this weight / size doesn’t exist in my adult reality. And there is a fear that it’s just another dip and the slow creep will start again. What you write about the length of time at a certain weight / size makes sense to me.

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vickie • February 27, 2007 at 3:53 pm

GREAT POST and congrats for loving your body. I applaud you. I feel that way too – but it took me until within 7 pounds of goal to learn to love my belly.

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MyMomtra • February 27, 2007 at 4:19 pm

WOW! Good for you…I know exactly how you feel…I recently blogged about it on my site. It took me 1/2 again+ as many years as you are alive but I got there. You are so right…it is the journey not the destination…The destination is good though isn’t it? Anyway, just wanted to let you know thatI think what you you are doing is marvelous. I only wish I had addressed this problem at your age before marriage and kids. I’m doing it now…no time like the present right? I don’t even know you but I know your struggle and I’m so happy there is one less person having the troublesome thoughts of seat sizes and “fitting” in.

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Natalie • February 27, 2007 at 4:37 pm

Wow, wow, wow! It has been a year or more since I read your blog last and I am stunned & thrilled that you have come this far!!! Great job. What a lot of hard work. Unfortunately, you and I have switched places a bit. I was in my 180s for a long time before a knee surgery & medication that made me gain weight and blah blah blah. And now I am pretty urgently desperately scrounging up the motivation to start really changing my exercise & eating habits. Reading this admirable success really helps! Enjoy your success. It’s awesome.

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dee • February 27, 2007 at 5:06 pm

you are a godess and an inspiration to us all!!

GOOD FOR YOU – WELL-PLAYED and WELL-DESERVED!! What a beautiful post, it makes me smile from ear-to-ear that you achieved so much and are basking in your hard work!! GOOD FOR YOU!!!

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Les • February 27, 2007 at 5:15 pm

Self esteem is so important. In order to make a difference, you have to feel good about yourself.

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summer • February 27, 2007 at 8:18 pm

Well, if I looked like Katie Holmes in glasses, i’d love the way I look too! :)

Seriously, you look great, and it’s probably also because you feel great on the inside. All that exercise and healthy food must make you feel awesome, plus the weight loss, PLUS a book deal at age 26!

Question: I’ve never seen you do a “what is up with these jealous-ass heifers in my life” post — have you experienced weird moments of jealousy? You have achieved something that many, many people desperately want. A lot of people find people in their life who knew them heavy go a little bonkers when they lose weight. My sister lost a bunch of weight in college and her sorority sisters got insane and jealous and accused her of anorexia, even though she was perfectly in shape and healthy. They call it “sabotage” on the weight watchers message boards.

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Patty • February 27, 2007 at 9:50 pm

It’s great to hear you love mirrors and love yourself. That’s hard for a lot of people to say. When I was at my heaviest I would catch a reflection of myself in a store window and think ‘who is that chubby lady’ as I was think when I was younger. I hated mirrors. But, now, though I’m in the process of losing wt, I will see myself and think ‘I’m looking better every month and it can only get better from here’. I hope I can one day get to where you are and feel that way about myself.

Way to go PQ!

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Patty • February 27, 2007 at 9:51 pm

I meant Thin when I was younger. I need to spell check!!

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ell • February 27, 2007 at 10:43 pm

Fabulous, baby!

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Cindy • February 27, 2007 at 10:59 pm

Whoa! Do I have a LOT to learn from you!!! I have lost 122 pounds in the last year and a half—slowly, the right way, etc… so I have had time to adjust to the changes as they’ve happened, too. But, and it is a big BUT—I HATE to see myself in the mirror and I cannot look at pictures of myself now. They freak me out. I do not love my body and in some ways feel like I look worse now than I did before. Part of it is my age, I’m sure. I am nearly 46 and I was overweight(morbidly obese) my whole life, so there is a lot of saggy, baggy skin and fat deposits still. I’ll never look normal, ever. And if I wouldn’t have surgery to lose, I am certainly not going to have surgery to look better, either. But my looks are my biggest regret in all this: and the fact that I care so much. I hate that I worry/think about this at all. But I do… I have another 30 pounds or so to lose (50, if I believe those god-awful wretched BMI charts, which I don’t…). I can’t imagine how much loose skin I’ll have then… I just ordered the pilates DVD that you suggest, so maybe I’ll be able to do some tightening up with that. But all the pilates in the world is not going to fix this mess… Thanks for a wonderful, inspirational , funny post site. You are marvelous!

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Megan • February 28, 2007 at 12:37 am

I’d be checking out my ass all the time, too, if it weren’t so hard to reach around to see it! If anyone deserves to feel beautiful, it’s you. After all this hard work, you deserve to be proud of yourself and how you look. You’ve EARNED the right to check yourself out. One of these days I’m going to be right there with you, drooling over my hot body. (Well, not that YOU’d be drooling over my body; you can drool over your own.)

Since I’m totally “with the times,” I give you a big YOU GO GIRL for being so awesome and having such an awesome attitude.

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BrightAngel • February 28, 2007 at 9:35 am

I also love my body and mirrors.

I have been size 6 petite ( 5’0″ 115 lbs) for more than a year now (2 yrs ago 190–and 14 years ago 271), and I still gaze at every reflective surface available. I choose to dress in fitted clothing that covers and flatters my body. I also accept and respect my body’s “defects”. Yes, I have some loose skin, stretch marks and wrinkles from aging, but while I know my body is not perfect, it has taken good care of me all through my life, and I am very happy with its current Excellence.

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Aunt Donna • February 28, 2007 at 10:15 am

Woo hoo Jennette!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Congratulations on this wonderful achievement — you look fantastic!

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metamorphose • February 28, 2007 at 3:06 pm

Oh you love that body, girlfreend!

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denise • February 28, 2007 at 11:18 pm

Hey, great post! Wow, amazing. I read this site called Fitsugar.com and you may like it. Its all sorts of things related to health and fitness, but its not like hardcore, you know? Anyway I just thought I would pass the link along FitSugar.com.

Congrats on being comfortable in your bod!

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Amanda Jane • March 2, 2007 at 4:19 pm

Pasta Queen, you have no idea how much I needed to hear what you wrote in this post, especially in the very last paragraph. I was a bit slack this last week and I was being self destructive, to the point of where I was asking myself why am I bothering with the weight loss. I KNOW how to get where you are too… I just have to keep reminding myself so I won’t lose the way. You inspired me so much, I got off of my fat bum and went to the gym after procrastinating for more than a week.

Thank YOU so very much! Amanda :)

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the veggie paparazzo • March 4, 2007 at 4:55 pm

Great post–I am so happy for you that your self-image has kept up with your loss. And once again you have used analogies beautifully.

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Melissa • March 8, 2007 at 1:15 am

When you said you didn’t weight 300 some odd pounds for over a decade, did that mean you more of a normal weight an then got bigger? Or were you always big from childhood?

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PastaQueen • March 8, 2007 at 8:38 am

Melissa – I was fat from about 4th or 5th grade on up. I was in the 200’s for most of high school and early college. Near the end of college I got above 300, but was only in that range for maybe 4 years. It’s hard to know for sure because I didn’t weigh myself often.

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Lily • March 8, 2007 at 2:31 pm

It’s good that you are so in touch with your body. I know a lot of people (myself included) who ignore it. Maybe because they’re busy or they’re trying to avoid a painful subject.

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Comments are now closed on all PastaQueen entries. The blog is an archive only so I don't have to deal with spammers. For fresh discussions please visit my new blog JenFul.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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