I won't pretend to know what it's like to be 100 lbs overweight, but I do know what it's like to look in the mirror and not recognize the person looking back. It was during my first pregnancy when a combination of taking the phrase "eating for two" a little too literally and retaining what seemed like gallons of fluid caused me to swell up like an inflatable balloon and gain 50 lbs. It might not have been so bad had I not overheard the whispered comments of concerned relatives or had to endure the endless questions about whether I'd been tested for toxemia. (Yes, I had, no I wasn't!) Instead of looking in the mirror and rejoicing about the life growing inside of me all I could do was stare at the stranger, the sad, heavy girl who appeared one day and wouldn't go away.
I couldn't have been more disappointed when I stood on the scale for the first time after my son was born by cesarean section and saw that I'd only lost 12 lbs. More than half of the weight was the baby. I shuffled back to my hospital bed feeling defeated but at the same time motivated to get those pounds off and welcome back the girl I'd been before the pregnancy. While the doctor said no exercising for 6 weeks there was no reason that I couldn't lose weight by watching my diet, or so I thought. On Thanksgiving day, 4 weeks after my son's birth, I hadn't lost a single pound. Talk about discouraging. Eventually, by working out religiously 7 evenings a week I was able to finally say goodbye to the stranger in the mirror.
While it was a relief to say goodbye to the big girl in the mirror, I'll always be grateful that I met her. She taught me compassion. She taught me that words hurt, even the hurtful ones that came after the weight loss. "I was so worried about how big you got." or the lighthearted "My daughter called me yesterday and said, 'I'm retaining so much water, I look like Karen.' " made me recall the pain of feeling less of a person because of my size. You never really get over the hurt that insensitive comments cause.
No, I don't know what it's like to be 100 lbs overweight but I do know what it feels like to be the fat girl in the mirror.