A couple of days ago I went clothes shopping for myself, in the company of a friend of mine. This was a momentous occasion because I hate shopping, and I definitely hate shopping in the company of other people. Mostly because I am not all that happy about my body, but also because I don't want someone else making me try on things I do not want to try on. I want to go to the mall with a bunch of money, and come out of it with yet more jeans and t-shirts and a big sigh that there was NOTHING there which was suitable. However as we all know, the word of the year is PROGRESS - and so this had to apply to my wardrobe as well. Thanks to my tendency to throw things out, for the past several weeks I've had a closet which contained the following:
- Two pairs of jeans
- Two pyjamas
- Two long sleeved black t-shirts
- Some long sleeved shirts which don't fit and/or are stained
- A couple of polar fleecy items for warmth
- Two dresses
- Undies which are too big
It takes mental effort to: NOT eat 'just one more' square of chocolate, to get your ass to the gym in the morning, to control your emotions, to let go of the mental protection which being fat gives you, to not be hurt by well meaning comments, to accept compliments, to eat mindfully, to celebrate the losses and not be laid incapacitated by the gains...in short, losing weight and keeping it off IS ALMOST TOTALLY A MENTAL EXERCISE.
Let me tell you, I didn't recognise that woman in the mirror today. Not at all. Physically she looked kinda like me, but mentally she was really struggling to accept what she was doing there - she felt a bit like an imposter. I spent my day walking into a dozen or more NORMAL people stores. I walked in there and tried on things I never thought I'd be caught dead in (hello, horizontal striped dress!). I was in normal stores and I was being asked if I needed a MEDIUM. I was being told to put down that XL top, because "you'll be swimming in it!" and so on and so forth. WHOAH there, this is not what I'm used to. The whole experience (while overall wonderful) was uncomfortable. Scary. Strange. CONFRONTING.
I'd be lying if I said I did not want to come home from the shopping and stuff my face full of crap which is bad for me because of all the emotions that shopping brought up. I really, really wanted to. I DIDN'T, but I wanted to. Losing weight - regardless of the method you choose - is an incredibly difficult thing to do but it's not at all about the food or the exercise. It's about the triumph of mind over matter and it DOES NOT STOP just because you have reached your goal weight. I pass by my reflection every day in shop windows and I do a double take. I have no idea what stores I should or could walk into. I don't really know if something will fit me just by looking at it. I still assume I will not fit into chairs with arms on them. I am amazed when I'm not tired after a short walk. People say nice things to me and I think I don't deserve to hear them. I think that in normal stores they will look at me and say, "Sorry, we don't carry your size." I assume that things won't fit before I've even taken them off the hanger. In my head I'm still fat and I may always be. Don't let ANYONE tell you that weight loss is about eating right and exercise. Sure, those things are a big part of it - but by far the hardest part of all is the mental strength it takes to get through each day, to accept the major changes you and your body are going through, and to just maintain that mental strength for the REST of your life.
So - I bought the horizontal striped dress. It's super cute, will work well for the summer, and I'll feel just a wee bit saucy wearing it...but every time I put it on, I'll have that self doubt (does this look okay? REALLY?) and I'll probably be mentally waiting for someone to tell me it's not flattering. It will take diet and exercise to keep me the right size to fit into that dress, but it will take mental exercise to get me to not only want to wear it, but to feel like a million bucks in it.
Speaking from experience, I can tell you which one of those tasks will be harder than it seems - and it's not the hour I'll spend at this gym today.