I’m starting to like how I look again. It’s a strange sensation.

I spent so many years of my life avoiding reflective surfaces. Anything that threw my image back at me was scary, intimidating, and even distressing. I often didn’t recognize myself because my mental image of myself was never fat the way I was in real life. Don’t even get me started on photographs!

After losing 90 pounds 6-7 years ago I suddenly liked what I saw in the mirror, but there was still a measure of disbelief. I had finally come to terms with the fact that I was fat. I think that is part of what helped me finally lose that weight. But, now when I saw a normal weight person looking back at me from a reflection I didn’t recognize her as being me; she was too thin.

I can’t let myself win, can I?

For the past few years I’ve been flinching away from reflections again. I’ve been so desperate to see that normal weight person looking out at me and she hasn’t been there. All I could see was the shadow of myself trapped behind an extra chin and swollen cheeks.

But a few weeks ago, when we had to road-trip to Rhode Island for the weekend I was sick as a dog so my husband did the driving. On the drive home I was alert enough to suddenly catch my reflection in the side mirror out my passenger side window. Imagine my shock when I liked what I saw!

I saw someone with cheek bones, jaw bones, and one chin. My face is square-ish in shape and for the first time in years I could see that shape. It was amazing. I started wondering what other parts of my body actually looked different.

I’ve been slowly examining myself in the mirror in the bathroom to try to learn what I look like.

It’s not about finding fault.

It’s not about trying to boost my self-esteem, even.

It’s not about trying to recapture what I looked like before.

It’s not about trying to reject what I had become.

It is about trying to learn what the reality of my body is now.

Since the last time I was this weight I’ve aged 5 years.

Since the last time I was this weight I’ve had another pregnancy.

Since the last time I was this weight I’ve had another c-section.

Since the last time I was this weight my exercise has changed.

I think it’s a safe bet to assume that since the last time I was this weight my body is different. This same number of pounds may look different on me than it did before. I’ll be honest, I don’t think my skin has the elasticity it used to have.

My arms are thinner, but there are places where the skin is to big and it looks like a raisin.

My thighs are thinner but the skin has lost a measure of smoothness.

My abdominal muscles stretched out a lot with my last pregnancy and they just don’t lie as flat as they used to.

Again, I’m not saying these things to cut myself down. Instead I’m saying these things to acknowledge that I can not be looking for perfection. I will not lose weight and look like Giselle. I will lose weight and look like myself only thinner. The important take away here is that for the first time in a long time I’m happy with that. I think I will like myself, only thinner, and I am taking pride in that, in being me.

I can finally say, without embarrassment or doubt that I look so much better. (And, of course, I look way better in clothes than I do naked and that’s how everyone in the world except myself and one other person sees me.)

I’m coming to accept what I look like and even to like it again. I’ve even been catching myself looking at my reflection in things on purpose because I like what I see. I think I spent a good hour of that drive home from Rhode Island stealing peeks at myself in that side mirror.

It feels good. It feels so much better than what I could imagine my trigger foods tasting.