Here is the harsh reality – any man or woman who has lost more than 100 pounds to reach their ‘goal weight’ will NEVER look the same as someone who has maintained that goal weight for their entire lives. Well, perhaps with surgery, skin removal and liposuction they can get pretty close. Nor will they look the same as they thought when they started the weight loss process.
Over at New York Magazine there is an article detailing this experience for one woman who has pictorially detailed her size change through a long series of changing room photos, and later detailed her post-loss body in a series of nude photos. As she notes:
The “Changing Room” photos place Kozerski in the conventional story our culture tells about weight loss: the no-brainer cause and effect of “Look Great, Feel Good!,” as cheerfully suggested by People magazine’s weight-loss cover stories and The Biggest Loser’s original theme song. The “Half” photos, by contrast, explore Kozerski’s surprise at eventually finding that happily-ever-after image lacking.
“Everything starts sagging, and you’ve got stretch marks, and clothes fit differently, you’re kind of panicking, and you’re saying, ‘Am I doing the right thing? Because this shirt doesn’t look right,'” she says. “I was very, very – I don’t want to say depressed, but I would get really down on myself about, like, ‘I’m not doing this correctly,’ or, ‘This isn’t what it’s supposed to look like.'”
As I noted in my first ‘Running Story’, I lost more than 175 pounds during 1989 and into early 1990. When people I knew saw me, they were stunned at the differences, and I got loads of compliments … and also comments and observations. Things about the proportions of my body – my head, neck and so on. I know part of it was them seeing me differently, but part of it was physical – my body needed time to adapt.
And your body does adapt for the most part – I haven’t gotten a comment about my head looking out of proportion with my body in 23 years. But there ARE ways the body never adapts. Your skin never seems to truly forget. I have stretch marks and loose skin – nothing compared to the woman from the article, but enough that I know my body will never really look the way I would like.
If I had a dollar for every time Lisa has told me ‘it is just loose skin’, the kids’ college funds would be over-flowing with cash. I like to joke with myself that at best I have a 4-pack! If you look at my ‘about’ picture you see me as I am – thin and fairly well defined. Yet when I come back from a run, I can see my ab definition mixed with a ‘dunlop’ (your belly done-lopped over your belt)! Again it isn’t a huge problem – that orange shirt is fitted and not hiding much!
It is a reminder that actually applies to everything – we get a mental picture in our heads: if I do this, that will happen. Whether it is money, a job, a romantic interest, a house, car or whatever … even as adults we attach unrealistic expectations to these things, and buy into the images pushed by people who make money off of us grasping at those dreams. If you wonder why so many people fail at weight loss even after a huge success … this ‘post loss depression’ feeling certainly plays into it.
I had taken a couple of other pictures that I guess I’m not really ready to share, but I found a perfect one from the Wineglass Marathon. At this point I weigh 200 pounds less than when I graduated RPI and 100 pounds less than when I turned 46 in April 2012. Here I am going across the bridge towards Market Street and the finish, and if you look at my inner thigh you can see the significant amount of loose skin I am dealing with.
Running and eating healthy are two big things in my life right now, and for nearly 25 years I have done my best to keep my weight under control. I know that my body will never look like that mental image I had way back when I started – but that is OK. I am very healthy now, and in the best shape of my life. I have a great many things to be thankful for in my life with a great marriage and wonderful kids … so if I have to deal with loose skin and stretch marks, that is something I can handle.