Permanently Different On the Outside

I’m going “home” in just … 6 days, not that I’m counting of course… we are headed to Arizona and New Mexico, the whole lot of us! As you may or may not know, I am originally from New Mexico, but as it happens it was cheaper to fly to Phoenix rather than Albuquerque and this way we have a damn fine reason to take the kids up to the Grand Canyon on the way to visit family and friends.

I haven’t lived in New Mexico since 1986, when I left right after school. I never really appreciated it whilst growing up there (and mind you, I was born there, then moved to Illinois where I lived from the wee age of 1 to 10 years old and then we moved back after my parents divorced) and I don’t think I really missed it much when I was living in Chicago (at 18 -21) or during my time in Portland, Oregon (21-25). I think it may have been around the time that I came here, to the Netherlands, when I started to realise how different I was from the Dutch and in fact from other Nationalities in general.

My parental units (both of them) live near enough to each other that I can stay at one’s and visit the other’s without much hassle. Usually we are also able to use any vehicle we would need (like last year driving around in dad’s fancy sporty BMW) and they are civil so it’s not like I’m in trouble with one or the other dependent on where I stay. I know some people go through that and I’m lucky enough that I don’t have that issue.

The last time we were in the States together, all four of us, was six years ago. I was just thinking back about that time – to be honest I know I was absolutely miserable in myself. Not only physically but mentally. It was a rough trip as well. I mean, not totally awful, but the P was 5 and T was 8, which is a VAST difference to the 11 and 14 that they are now! The hubs and I (who was “boyfriend” then) were definitely still finding our way as a couple and I was most definitely finding my way as stepmom. I wasn’t feeling super great about myself already for a few years and you could see on the outside that I wasn’t happy.

You know, I do truly believe that we wear our “fat” as a sort of shield, another way to communicate stuff to the outside world. Not only was I weighing in at 101KG, I was biting my nails, my skin was an absolute wreck (I was scratching myself, subconsciously partaking in self-mutilation), I was drinking a lot of alcohol and I was smoking. You can SEE that I’m unhappy; though I tried to smile the sadness was just looming underneath.

I often wonder how in the world did I make it through that period in my life and I know that Hubs had a lot to do with it. I also somehow started to believe in myself again, maybe because I was starting to feel like my life would be ok, and it certainly helped when I started working for my current employer in 2007.

There are countless times that I said “THIS TIME IS DIFFERENT!” that I would scream from the rooftops that I knew exactly what I was doing and how to do the right thing. There were the endless occasions where I thought that ONLY Weight Watchers was the right way. None of those times really seemed to stick. There were definitely a couple of years where I said “I’ll start again tomorrow”.

I meant to start before I went “home”. I didn’t really want my family to see me that way. The time I traveled to see them before 2006 I weighed about 72KG. Pardon the pun but in 2006 there was a huge difference. I was embarrassed. I was wearing my hardships directly on my body.

With the last 2 years that I’ve plateaued and worked hard for no real significant weight changes I can finally appreciate that, while not perfect, it really does seem like this time IS different. That there are changes on the outside of my body that are permanent. Changes that reflect who I really am and a real, honest, happiness level. Not fake, not forced. It’s OK that I’m not at my goal weight; I’m working on the inside along with the outside and many people don’t have that luxury at all. In fact, a lot of people lose the weight and then struggle HARD to still figure out who they are emotionally, mentally and the weight creeps on again. I’m practicing maintenance.

This reflection of me is gone now. I’m not NEW or IMPROVED. I’m actually finally getting to just be me now. That’s a great feeling. I think this is what my family will see when we make it to Albuquerque. Real happiness and not a mask.

8 thoughts on “Permanently Different On the Outside

  1. Loved reading this post. I so hope I achieve that level of self acceptance within the next year or so. Thanks for being so inspiring! XX

  2. Wow what a difference in you -both- mentally and physically! I hope you have a wonderful time on your trip, your family are going to be shocked! :) Glad you are happier now, it really really shows!

    1. :) thanks Tammy! Most of them have seen me since the last time I was there (last year) but some haven’t. I tend to avoid family as much as possible when I don’t feel good, but let’s see what happens this time around!

  3. Renée, you are an inspiration! Somewhere on your blog I read you “used to be a little pouffy”, or something like that, and I was never quite sure what that meant, because some people say they’re overweight when they’re 3 kilos over their target weight, and I’d be happy if I was 10 kilos over my target weight, and I’ve got a looooong way to go to reach that. I never met you when you looked like you did in these photos, but I’m sure you were the same bubbly person you are now, because that is the real you. Yet I recognise that many people gain weight while unhappy. I initially put on weight without really realising it, when I was unhappy in Hamburg and not eating properly because I was always rushing out the door to school and back and grabbing junk at the station and in the school cafeteria. I’ve never felt as if I’m a comfort eater, though, unless my kids were really obnoxious and took far too long to go to bed in the evening; then the only solace was chocolate and a cup of tea. I do enjoy eating and food, and not necessarily healthy stuff, and for me, the weight isn’t a shield, it’s just something that’s crept on and is hanging around, enjoying the party. I gave up on being unhappy about my weight years ago and decided to have fun and enjoy my life anyway, wear the clothes I want to wear (not necessarily covering up the wobbly bits). I do want to lose weight because it’s healthier, but unfortunately, being happy isn’t the key for me; more exercise and better food choices and self-discipline are, and I know you do all of that too. And I guess that’s where the happiness comes in, because it’s difficult to be disciplined when you’re unhappy. I’m glad you’ve found happiness in Holland, because I have too!

    1. ah Sarah, thank you so much! After I hit publish I wondered if I wasn’t coming across the right way… I hope people don’t think that ALL of us overweight people use the weight as a shield or comfort eat out of only unhappiness. When I was 22 I was already joining weight watchers and back then I probably weighed what I do now. I lost weight and then a couple years later it came back in a similar fashion – work, school, rushing around, grabbing anything there was to eat and usually not healthy. When I came here I was already more than I weigh now, but not quite my highest (that was 1994). In 1999 back to WW and finally lost a good chunk of weight (no pun intended) AND kept it off and funnily enough I met Tammy at a time that I was also what I would consider for myself to be “skinny” but more like just at a normal weight range. I seem to ALWAYS put weight on when something BAD or very stressful happens in my life and then it’s really more not caring or can’t be bothered rather than comfort eating. I have never been much of a binge eater though admittedly on occasion I have eaten packs of cookies or whole bars of chocolate. This last big weight gain, that got me up to 100 KG was really an all time low in my life. By 2006 I’d already been in the deep end of it for almost 2 years. It took me another 3 just to say “enough” and get my self-dignity back. Has the weight made me unhappy? Definitely. I honestly can not say I will ever accept my weight at more than it is now again, it would mean giving up on everything I believe in, literally turning away from myself. We are all different and we do things for different reasons, so I can appreciate where you are coming from for sure. In the end it IS healthier for you (me, us) to be NOT overweight, plus we want to be around for our families as long as possible, right? We owe it not only to them, but to ourselves too. It has to be the right time though, or it will be tough to find that motivation and discipline that you really do need. I think it’s great too that you have happiness here, because it is SO important for our emotional well being!

  4. I’m actually choking back tears because family are with me in the same room, but I feel the words you wrote speaks to my soul, Pinky.

    You have as always my admiration, and respect for the courage to write as honestly as you do. You inspire in the way, I wish I would be able to. You are courageous and strong in the way, I am still working hard on to consistently be.

    We do not have the same details of our journey but nonetheless I am on the same journey myself. Thank you for being a constant beam of positive energy and inspiration.

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