It was innocuous enough at time time, but in retrospect I realize I may have had something of a break through the other day on that field trip.

I was diving to the site with five other mothers and was sitting next to the one I have gotten to know the best. We text nearly every day as our daughters have become the best of friends and we’re constantly coordinating activities and visits.

Since we had all packed our own lunches, and it was a group of women, it was inevitable that we would start talking about food and dieting and weight.

I’ve spent most of my life ashamed of my weight. I’ve spent the past eight years trying to pretend that I had never been fat enough to need weight loss surgery and hidden from most everyone the fact that I had it. I also hide the fact that I have an eating disorder and when people offer me my trigger foods I dodge and hedge and know that I wind up looking awkward and weird and no one understands why I won’t just take a piece of birthday cake already! I’m self-conscious about my food plan and try to pretend that I’m a “normal eater”. I’ve never been able to stand having to explain my food choices to well meaning people who just end up confused.

But I’ve been thinking lately about the fact that when I was at my thinnest as an adult, the two years between having my surgery and getting pregnant with my son, I was still stressing about my weight. Then, I spent the past five years since my son was born struggling to get the weight back off. On any day of the past five years I probably would have traded my little toes just to weigh what I weighed then.

Now I do. And I’m still stressing about my weight planning to make another push to lose another 10-12 pounds!

It struck me that I’m never allowing myself to enjoy my success.

It’s important to clarify that by “enjoying my success” I don’t mean “eat what I want and pretend it can’t hurt me anymore” which is what it would have meant for most of my life.

By “enjoying my success” I mean being proud of myself for my accomplishment and being proud of my imperfect body.

Back to the drive to the field trip on Thursday… I don’t recall how the conversation began, but at some point my companion was complaining about her weight and how she knows she should cut out the carbs but just won’t do it because she loves them too much. Keep in mind this is a woman who appears to be a tad overweight, but you’d never consider fat. She wasn’t espousing a desire to be thin so much as back to the weight she had been before having children. A common theme.

I joked that it had taken me five years to get the “baby weight” off and that it was only by making some radical changes, and making them permanent, that I was able to succeed. She acknowledged this, but I could see she wasn’t really sold because I only met her in October and she’s never seen me heavier than I am right now in my size 6 clothes. So, I chuckled and said, “I could show you pictures”. She was seems genuinely interested so I pulled out my phone, where I keep two photos of me at my absolute heaviest, and showed them to her.

The shock on her face, in her voice, and permeating her reaction was so intense it was actually funny.

And suddenly, I was really freaking proud of myself. In that instant I saw all of this through her eyes and really felt for the first time how freaking amazing what I’ve done is and what a super accomplishment it is. It felt really good. She laughed a bit and said, in a knowing way, “you keep them on your phone,” and I said, “yep, that way whenever I feel tempted to eat a bagel or pasta or something that I know will harm me I just have to look at it and remember that it’s not harmless for me, it’s too easy to get back to that and I don’t ever want to get back to that again”.

The amazing part was…

I.

Meant.

It.

Suddenly, I was liberated from all the shame, guilt, embarrassment, and doubt of hiding where I’ve come from and why I eat the way I do. Holy cow, it felt good.

So now, my perspective has shifted and my answer, when unknowing people politely push me to take some sort of food that I can’t eat, is going to be simply, “you know, I don’t eat [fill in the blank]” and if they press I’ll say, “thank you, but after losing 90 pounds it’s just not worth it”.

The best part will be saying it with pride.

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