Reflection

It’s a jarring feeling, really. That groggy moment when you first glance in the mirror in the morning and have a single, fleeting moment when your heart stops because the face staring back at you is not your own.

But it is.

It isn’t a horror movie. That’s me. That’s who I’ve become. I’ve just come to a point where my brain has not yet caught up with my body, which is a well-documented phenomenon in weight loss. Cognitive dissonance.

I’ve been struggling with my weight loss lately. When I started my new job, I instantly gained 8 lbs. I wasn’t too worried. I figured it was a fluctuation, not a gain. After all, I was putting my body in the shittiest of all possible environments for weight loss: from a fairly active job to a sedentary one, struggling to get enough sleep, choosing “easy” foods (AKA “sodium enriched”) because I was exhausted. I figured if I stuck to my calorie goal, it would come off almost (but of course, not quite) as quickly as it came.

Except it didn’t. It stuck around.

And I do mean stuck. It seemed like no matter what I did, how many days a week I dragged my already-exhausted body out of bed to go to the gym, how many days in a row I abided by my calorie goal… It seemed like suddenly none of that mattered.

I’ve always described to people that my weight loss comes in “stalls” where my body kind of hangs onto some pounds for a few infuriating weeks, and “whooshes” where I wake up and suddenly feel skinny, and the scale confirms that some obscene amount of weight has “whooshed” off of my body.

I have recognized this pattern over and over and over again. But am I reasonable and rational about this and just keep playing the game until my body decides to “whoosh?”

Of course not. But gosh, that would make my life so much easier.

So I was stalling. And of course, panicking, which comes hand-in-hand with stalling. This stall was lasting longer than the others, which was normal for a major life change like a new job with increased responsibilities and a whole new schedule.

For awhile, I tried to just ride it out. Just keep doing my thing and wait until my schedule and anxiety level calmed down a bit. But every time I stepped on the scale, there were those 8 lbs just staring back at me.

I got discouraged, which is always when the negativity starts to creep in like some creepy dude in a dark alley. Go ahead, might as well go a little over today. Heh. It’s not like religiously sticking to your calorie goal is working.

And then came the little cheats, steadily repeated for a few weeks.

I reached out to my friends and comrades on MyFitnessPal. It takes a village, and as always, my village came through.

“Change something – but don’t quit.”
“Doing what gives results is the only way to get there eventually. If I do the opposite, I’m guaranteed not to get there.”

But two responses with the same theme just punched me in the gut in a way I absolutely wasn’t expecting:

“Take some time to really reflect on how you felt the day you started.”
“Do you remember 160 lbs ago how you DREAMED of being where you are today?”

And it all came flooding back. All at once. In one, extremely emotional wave that I am just now processing through writing this.

I feel very disconnected from the girl I used to be. In many ways, I felt like I had to cut that girl who I was completely out of my life because that is the nature of changing yourself.

I catch myself often looking at that girl with derision and disdain, much like the way other people often did due to my weight. Heck, even when I was that girl, I didn’t think she was worth very much. I’ve shuddered at the number of calories that girl ate daily, how much she just unthinkingly consumed. I’m shocked by how gullible that girl was, thinking some diet pill or magic superfood was going to cure her of her fat. I’ve scoffed at the weak, lame excuses she sometimes made.

But I’ve never really given that girl credit because that girl is me. I can’t compliment myself. I can’t even accept compliments from others properly. I have this annoying habit of trying to correct people when they think I’m special.

That girl gave me a gift, and I accepted it, but never thanked her.

I previously wrote the post “Fuck You, Future Me.” It’s time to acknowledge past me.

That girl was brave. She looked in the mirror one day and said “No. No more. I don’t know what to do yet, but I know it isn’t this.”

She was so eager to do something. In my very first blog post, I wrote:

“So you have to start somewhere, and I sure as fuck did better than I did yesterday.  So even though my exercise can be summed up as “Two humiliating minutes,”  I’m gonna call it a win.  Because I got up and did it.  Which is a start.”

In the beginning, everything was hard for that girl. Much harder than any of it is today. The gym was downright painful, both physically and emotionally. Her joints ached, her muscles didn’t know what the hell happened, and she was acutely aware of the fact that people were mocking her.

She had no idea what she was doing in terms of eating. Calorie counting wasn’t even something she had considered. That poor, naive girl thought “I’ll eat a bunch of quinoa and kale. Those are healthy, right? The more quinoa and kale I eat, the more weight I will lose, right?”

But she kept going. She was willing to change everything because nothing she was doing was working. She kept learning. She experimented, failed, got back up again, researched, and found what worked for her.

She was miles further away from the goal than I am now. Sometimes, the mountainous task seemed completely insurmountable, and yet she believed that one day, she would reach her goal. She believed that the power was inside of her. So she made one good decision after another, and those decisions, painstakingly repeated, formed the foundation of her new life.

And I never even acknowledged it. I just took the pretty dresses and the compliments and ran.

As motivating as it is to say “don’t fuck over future you,” it doesn’t require you to really feel anything. Future me is a complete stranger. And fucking over a stranger is way easier than fucking over a gullible yet well-intentioned girl who gave you a gift that changed your life.

No more. No more fucking over past me. No more throwing her gift back into her face. No more undermining the hard work she did for me. I will arise. I will persist. I will transform into the person she dreamed I could be.

Because I owe her one. I owe her everything.

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Kitty (3 years ago)

Oh the tears! This is an amazing post. I want to stand on a chair and cheer for your past, future, and present self. For mine as well! I’m adding this post to my list of reminders for when I need a reboot. I’m so glad you’re in a better place tonight. Keep moving forward.

Brittany (3 years ago)

Ashley I am sooo proud of the hard work you have done and the results it has gotten you! You have something to be happy for and deserve a pat on the back for your determination and commitment!!!! Congrats girlfriend!!!! You r rocking it!!!

Leah (3 years ago)

That is a truly beautiful piece of work. Thank you for sharing your soul in such a public way. You have inspired me.

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