Summer: An Open Letter to My Friends Who Have Recently Lost Weight

The author doing what she likes doing best:
Curled up in a shawl and reading.
Skopje, Macedonia, Lile Ordev's flat, March 2011

(I wrote this on June 8, 2011, mostly as a reminder to be kinder to myself – fat or thin.
“This Time Would be Different,” I told myself: I would keep the weight off.
Unfortunately, I regained most of it.
A reminder to take nothing for granted.
A reminder to celebrate life, no matter what, because the tomorrow we are given may not be the tomorrow we expected – or wanted.
In fact, tomorrow is not guaranteed.)

Dear Friends,
Be kind to your former self.
Love her, love him.
Don’t be so hard on that person who decided to take matters seriously and lose weight and gain a healthier body. Remember, it was that brave person who made an important decision to spend a significant amount of money and admit publicly that he or she needed help.
Do you remember that day so many months ago, how tentative you felt about going to Weight Watchers (or whatever program you selected) and how it all seemed so difficult and impossible?
Do you remember hiding in the back of the room, trying not to be noticed? Well, you came back the next week, and the next week, and the next week...
You have made it this far, and it was because of your strong fatter self that you are still here.
So instead of dissing him or her, you should look at that old photo of yourself and thank him or her for his/her bravery and strength.
Don’t focus so much about her big butt or his big belly; forget about the double chin, big waist, and the larger number on the scale; those are superficial things.
Instead, celebrate your improved health and physical strength.
Take that old photo and try to look past the fat and think about the good things that your former self offered.
For example,
Were you kind?
Did you have a sense of humor?
Did your family love you any less when you were fat?
Overall, were you happy with your life?
You offered those positive aspects back then, just as you offer them now. While your exterior has changed, your interior hasn’t changed a whole lot.
Yes, you may have not been happy with your heavier body, which is why you took the important step of doing something about it.
Back in September 2010, I was happy with myself and my life; I had just returned to the States after a fantastic year abroad, where I walked just about every day. Although I was fat, I was fairly fit – had I not experienced a scary health warning, I might have been content to stay as I was.
Maybe your reasons are different from mine, and that’s cool; perhaps you found your own body repulsive or were having mobility issues. We all have our own motivations for seeking help.
However, I fear that if you scorn your fat photographs, you are dismissing an important part of yourself, the very best self who got you where you are today.
Besides, if you find yourself backsliding (and most of us do, if even just a little), you will find yourself closer to the “old” you, and wouldn’t it be nice if you loved that self, no matter what she or he weighs?
In the past, I would ridicule my own “before” photos by posting them on the refrigerator and poking fun of them; now I realize I was indulging in a form of self-hatred.
I won’t do that anymore.
If I post any “fat” photos on this blog or on my refrigerator, it will be in spirit of celebration, not as images of scorn.
Instead, I’ll take out any disdain on my plus-size clothes; unlike photographs, clothes do not represent who I am – I’m the kind of person who must be reminded to buy new threads when my old clothes become threadbare, even when I’m slim.
I’m more likely to shop in my closet rather than at the mall; after all, jeans from 2001 are basically the same as jeans from 2011 [and 2017].
No matter your weight, love yourself, and…
Stay cool!


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