Happy Independence Day to all our American readers. If you are celebrating the 4th of July, hug or shake the hand of a veteran. Your preference.
I have been reviewing my publication history for Misdirected while outlining my next book. In doing so, I have discovered some…changes in my outlook from last year to this year. My former annoyance with my obesity still rings true. The combined fear and hopefulness regarding the potential outcome of the surgery still feels real to me.
But what is different is my absolute conviction, a year ago, that my physical appearance wasn’t going to matter at the end of the process. Looking at my recent posts, I can see that turned out to not be true at all. Which makes me wonder:
Exactly when did I get so vain?
Now, understand what vanity means here.
I do not gaze in the mirror every morning and think “Damn, I’m hot.”
No, actually, exactly the opposite.
I look at sagging skin. I fixate on scrawny arms and legs. I stare jealously at big, muscular guys at the gym and can only think that I won’t ever look like them.
I have become a body nazi, sitting in judgment upon a population of one: me.
This after I swore up and down that all I cared about was Non-Scale Victories. That I was “Not Waiting To Turn Into Brad Pitt.”
Taking A Step Back
So, let’s take a look at what has happened instead.
For years I suffered from sleep apnea.
Today I can’t remember the last time I used a C-PAP.
A year ago my resting blood pressure was about 140/100 with medication.
Today it is sitting at 112/75, and I haven’t taken a blood pressure med for literally a year.
Once upon a time, I could barely walk to the end of my block and back.
Last week I walked 6 miles in one day and could have done more.
So, why the sudden concern about my looks, for goodness sake?
You Can’t Miss What You Never Had
So, here’s where things get weird. Being obese never bothered me from the perspective of my self-esteem. I have always looked at myself as being…umm…less than attractive. So, being overweight didn’t really impact me very much, in that regard.
But nowadays I keep seeing these amazing before and after photos of my fellow bariatric patients. And the “after” shots seem to always look like supermodels.
Hell, I am living with a supermodel nowadays.
And I am…well, I am back to looking normal. Just with a whole lot of extra skin.
I know it shouldn’t be important to me. I ran a 5K. I will be climbing Sandia Peak later this summer. I am out being active almost every single day – doing things I couldn’t do while I was obese. The way I look while I am doing these things should not matter.
But, somehow, it suddenly does.
Pushing Beyond The External
If I was advising someone in my position, I would tell them that they were already beautiful. I would say that true beauty comes from within. That the world should not judge a person on the basis of their physical appearance.
I now know that person would be thinking that I was full of shit.
Despite that, I need to make the effort to get over my sudden onset of self-esteem anxiety.
A few months back I made the commitment that I would stop using the term “fat” here on Misdirected. I have been largely successful, and I think that Misdirected is better because of it.
So, I will start doing the same thing with myself.
Every time I have a negative thought about my appearance, I resolve to match it with a positive self-affirmation.
I may look in the mirror and think “my arms look terrible.” I will match that with “Yes, but my hands now write a blog that speaks to hundreds of people.”
The thought may cross my mind that I am covered in loose skin. I must learn to match that with something like “The skin is empty because I have extended my lifespan by losing the fat that used to fill it.”
Every time I wish I looked different, I should immediately go do something that I used to wish I could do, but could not due to my obesity. I should still make personal wishes come true. Just different ones.
I will have to teach myself to start being focused on being healthy, and stop being obsessed with being skinny.
After all, skinny is (only) a side effect.
Glad I Can Air This Out,