Looking at the same me
You may have read my previous posts about having both of my knees replaced last year. It was a life changing event, and the ripple effect is still being felt.
One of the big outcomes was my weight, more specifically, how much I lost of it.
I've been overweight most of my life, and I still am. But I knew from conversations with my doctor that the operation and then recovery would be so much better for me if I lost some weight. Concerns about the operation (anaesthetic was always a problem for me in previous operations), physical recovery capabilities and then wear on the new joint - all very real and valid problems to face.
So I started to diet in September, well before the operation in May. It was slow going, and when you are significantly overweight, its not something that shows which is pretty un-motivating in itself. Progress did happen, and when I went in for the operation I had well and truly started on the journey.
It was after the new knees were in that I started to see big changes, and that's because of my new mobility. I was pretty determined too, so I was really moving from day 2, and haven't stopped since. I even go to a gym!
What is surprising for me is peoples attitude to my weight loss.
There are a few different categories of attitude.
1. Don't even notice
These are my favourite group, which is why I'm writing about them first. They don't mention the weight loss, and I think its because they probably don't even notice that much. I'm just the same me, and that hasn't changed. These are my absolute besties in life, and our conversations are just the same as always, where are the next holidays, who's turn is it to make a cup of tea, what are the kids up to. Mum stuff that is so normal and reassuring.
2. On board the support train
These people notice, and they are my support team. They don't bang on about it, but will say nice quiet things like, you look really good, I'm proud of you, you look so healthy, I love your positive attitude. There is a lot of pride, and its almost as though they were part of your journey, cheering you on all the way. There's a lot of love here. Its a bit embarrassing for me though to talk about it, so I get all weird and hate the niceness of the feedback because it makes me super embarrassed. Oh well, its all coming from a good place.
3. You've suddenly become someone to notice
These are definitely my LEAST favourite people. Have you ever noticed people who suck up to the boss/most important person because they think out will make them popular? These are those kind of people. When I was overweight, they treated me as though I was stupid, as if fat equalled dumb! They overlooked me and in fact sometimes embarrassed me by 'trying to help' me. As if I wasn't self conscious enough about being the largest person in the group already. Or even worse, they are crass enough to ask me how many kg's, and then insist on knowing when I demure politely. ewwwww. #shamefile
Isn't it strange that people equate looks to smarts. It's so judgey-mcjudge. There is no scientific proof that being fat also means having a layer of fat around your brain. I'm still exactly the same person I was before, just without so many layers. What a shame and waste for them that they didn't value what I had to offer just because it wasn't wrapped up in a pretty parcel. Plus the effect they had on me - this made me so much more reclusive.
Its hard not to remember those attitudes - from work colleagues through to sales people at shops. I have worked hard at moving on using tools like a gratitude journal, and relying on my support team - my family and close friends. I'm so appreciative of the whole new life that the operation opened up for me, and I'm making it count.
So if you are a fat shamer, or judge other people because of looks, you need to change. Does it really matter? Create positive energy around yourself and your friends by being genuinely kind and thoughtful, and definitely don't underestimate the brain power of someone just because they are a plus size. Because you can choose to lose weight but you can't always lose a sucky attitude.
I want to say thanks to everyone who noticed but didn't make a big deal out of it. I've never wanted to share photos (too embarrassing!) but talked to a friend today and she said stop being a hero. People want to celebrate with you. So here they are.
If you have gone through a journey that you are proud of and want to celebrate - post your pics and story here too. There are couple of my friends I'm super proud of and I'm going to name you! I love what you have done in your lives, and I want to showcase you too. xx
Carmen - you look amazing, and I'm so proud of the way you owned your health. You've already shown you are a responsible and caring mum with your knowledge and care for Josh, and now you've made your own life a better place. Always put the oxygen mask on first, so you can take care of your family, and that's what you've done. You are amazing.
Lee - I feel so amazed at what you are doing. Through adversity you have come through a stronger and healthier person. You are definitely a great role model. And there is so much more for you to discover, how exciting! Life is good.
Michelle - You have struggled with your weight too, so I see an affinity between us. You are a hard worker with a good job, and you have shown your beautiful girls what a healthy and happy lifestyle can do, and shown them how to be confident and well adjusted women. Congratulations, I think you are a champion and you look amazing.
Shana & Maree - I'm so proud of you. I love you and working with you, and your efforts at the gym really inspire me when I'm tired and want to give up. Thank you, I love that we are friends.
Anna - my accountability partner. I think we will be friends for life. So proud of you and everything you do.
Last, Celeste. My mum thinks you're a little crazy and I would have to agree with her. You have changed my life for the better, and I can't remember what it was like before, without our crazy conversations, ideas and strange names. You are pretty unique and special, but also intense. And you definitely would never have considered me to be less smart just because of how I looked, so thank you.
My family have always been a big support, and the biggest thing I can share is to make sure your support team is strong, and that you let them help you. I couldn't have done this without Craig, Beth and Ben who all played a big role in my recovery and then journey to health and fitness. Plus mum - the superstar who still comes to stay for the weekend just to help out.
So there it is. Yes, its hard to believe but it still happens. So if you see someone overweight, don't sympathise, don't judge. Just let them get on with life. And be respectful. That's not so much to ask, is it.
I'd love to hear from you, let me know what you think. Laurel xx