Twice last month I ran into colleagues I hadn’t seen since my surgery in 2010. Both times it took the person some time to figure out who I was. Both people were surprised and very sweet about their confusion, saying how different I looked and complimenting my weight loss. It’s not the first time this has happened and I bet it won’t be the last.
Coming to terms with how different I look to people hasn’t been hard, but a question posed to me during a discussion about weight had me thinking. Someone asked how it makes me feel when people comment on how good I look now. They wanted to know if it made me wonder if that person thought I looked bad before. Thankfully I can honestly say no, that’s not something I had wondered!
At 260 pounds I wasn’t ugly or disgusting, I was unhealthy and overweight. That didn’t stop me from going on dates or meeting my spouse. I think a lot of how people perceive you as how you carry yourself so I always tried to project confidence. Today I can choose to either be skeptical of the comments I receive or be grateful for them and appreciate the compliments. I choose option number two - and who wouldn’t?
It’s flattering when people make nice comments! People don’t have to say anything at all, so I don’t question the person’s intent and wonder if “You look great” really means “You looked awful before. People who have weight loss surgery do so for many different reasons. For health, for vanity, for quality of life improvement, you name it. I had mine because I wanted to feel better about myself, to be able to move freely and not experience limitations, and to avoid the health problems that were starting to develop because of my obesity. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I also wanted to look better!
I’ve said it before - weight loss surgery is a major event that changes a patient’s life forever. The benefits can fill a page, and I’ve been keeping a list of my accomplishments and triumphs over the past two years. When I picture myself in my head sometimes I still have a picture of myself at a higher weight, but that’s ok. That’s who I was for a long time, and I didn’t disappear, I simply changed.
Feeling comfortable in your new skin can take some time, but I encourage anyone who has lost weight by any means to accept the praise and compliments you are given as you go through your journey. When someone says something that is positive and supportive, try not to let any negative self perceptions get in the way of accepting and appreciating others' support. It’s not always easy, but it will get easier as you become more familiar with the new you!
-Written by Bettina M. Straight, Employee Engagement & Communications Consultant, LifeBridge Health, Human Resources
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