Monday, March 30, 2009

The First Notice

I've noticed changes occurring in my body for several weeks now and yesterday, for the first time, others noticed as well. 

I wore an old dress to church. It was a dress I got for my brother's wedding in 2006 and I think I've worn it only a few times since then. And it wasn't a dress really but more of skirt and a top. 

I didn't feel comfortable in the outfit when I bought it, but I had to have the outfit for that big day. That's probably why I haven't worn the outfit much since then. Well, yesterday I was sick of my clothes and sick of wearing all the old things I had in my closet. And I happened to try on that outfit . . . and what do you know? It fit. It actually more than fit. Suddenly, I had a new outfit. 

I actually felt pretty too. It was such a pleasure to wear something different, something that felt soft and beautiful and something that made me feel powerful and feminine all at once. 

I felt long and lean and I wasn't even wearing Lycra. 

I also cut my hair this week. I had several inches chopped off and so instead of throwing my hair back in a clip, I wore it down. Between the hair and the clothes, I created a little stir. I think when you look the same week after week after week after week, it is refreshing to see change. And that is what everyone was commenting on. The changes. 

The thing is I've been a bit worried about the comments. Last time (2004-2005), I found myself preening for every look and every comment. I found myself hungry for affirmation and attention. I felt a bit like compliment addict. Always wanting more. 

Two weeks before my big kaboom experience in February 2005, I seemed to be riding a compliment cascade. I couldn't go to church, work or any function without people coming up to me and commenting about the way I looked. Each time that happened, I felt a momentary rush and then I would revert to my head and my obsessive compulsive calculations of how much I could lose and fast I could lose it. Every compliment seemed to heighten my need to continue losing weight. Every comment put just another pound of pressure on me to continue to perform. Every word of encouragement my way sent me just a little bit more over the edge. 

Why did all of that happen? I haven't figured out all the pieces and parts to that puzzle, but here are some initial conclusions. 

  • Wrong focus: My focus was wrong from the beginning. My initial desire in 2004 was to get healthy but as soon as I started to lose weight, that focus shifted from "I want to be healthy" to "I want to be pretty." Well, it is a lot easier to control healthy than it is to control pretty. Today, instead of worrying about how I look, I ask myself more often, how I feel. Focusing on my feelings is something I can always do--big or small--and those feelings inform me more about the world and my purpose in it than how I look. I want to take the focus off how I look. 
  • Perfectionism: The one stunner of an Achilles heel that the plan had that I was doing in 2004-2005 was a phrase called "Perfect on Plan" or POP. I would get on the discussion boards and team up with other members and we would play a game for six weeks at a time where the goal every day was to be POP. POP meant you ate a meal every three house that was measured exactly and that you exercised every day. If you were POP every day, you gained more points for your team. I worked on being POP to perfection. Perfection is a doozy of bomb that will explode in your face the more you pursue it. I'm learning to live imperfectly now. 
I think both of these things contributed greatly to the extreme emotional blowout that I had. Both were fed and nurtured under the bright lights of "attention." 

Which makes me just a bit wary of that kind of attention again. 

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