Wednesday, August 19, 2009

You Used To Be Fat?

I'm visiting my mom right now and one of things we do together is go to the pool in her community. There is a small group of women who informally gather and do some water exercises together. It is a really nice group, beautiful location...a lot of fun.

When I was visiting last year Mom mentioned that I used to teach water aerobics, so they asked me if I would teach them a few "new tricks" I did.

This visit, for some reason my mom said "You haven't commented on how much weight Laurie has lost"...and I reminded her that it really hasn't been that much since my last visit (the majority of my weight loss was prior to that visit.)

So one of the ladies asked how much weight I've lost. When I replied 125 pounds they were blown away. "I never would have guessed you were fat before," "Your mother is so slender," "You used to be fat?" were the sorts of comments that arose.

I know that some of the reaction was compounded because they knew I used to be a competitive swimmer and coach. It isn't expected that athletes are fat...we see the pictures of Olympic swimmers and they are all so trim. Well, of course I wasn't of that caliber...and I stopped swimming competitively at 18, so there was a lot of years between then and now to gain even more weight. And truth is, you don't have to be slim to teach swimming--or even water aerobics!

Still, the reaction surprised me at first. Then I remembered having that reaction when I met other people who had lost significant amounts of weight. It is as if we expect to see some telltale sign on their forehead "I USED TO BE FAT." I wonder where we get that notion.

Maybe it is because we think of fat as being part of the person...kind of like eye color! When a person loses a lot of weight they look like a different person--but they don't look like a formerly fat person!

When you lose weight gradually then your mind and body are able to keep in your skin tightens up, your walk adjusts, you become this new person. For most of us there is no physical evidence of our fat past. I actually find it hard to believe that I was that fat person too. It is like another lifetime ago.

I never had that mental experience when I was dieting. Then I would yo-yo 20+ pounds (then 50!) and so I never felt like a healthy person. I always identified as someone who struggled with weight and dieting. I always felt fat...even when I was on the bottom part of the yo-yo.

I believe that is the main reason I was still fat. I never believed I could be otherwise. The key to losing weight and keeping it off is changing your mindset. You have to believe you can do it--that you deserve health. Once you believe those two things then you truly can lose weight and not have to worry about counting calories!

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