I still have trouble with space. At 280 lbs it was easier. I knew I would need a seatbelt extender in a plane. I knew I needed at least a XXXL shirt and I knew the jeans at just any regular store would not fit. I also knew not to try to sit in a chair with arms or share a seat with anyone. I knew these things and so I compensated. I asked for a seatbelt extender the moment I got on a plane so as not to draw attention to it. I didn't go in to regular clothing stores and for the most part, I preferred to stand. There are some of these things that I have overcome losing all this weight but there are many things my brain has not adjusted to.
There are things now that are more complicated and some things I just have been unable to let go of. Here are 5 things I struggle with despite having lost over 100lbs.
Personal space: When I was obese there was a natural space that was created by my oversized body between my face and that someone else's. I never had to think about how far or close was appropriate when speaking to someone as there was a natural barrier there. Social situations seemed easier in that stead as it just was the way it was. I couldn't stand too close as I would have been touching the person in front of me. Now I find myself constantly second guessing how far or close to stand to someone. I'm never sure what is an appropriate distance and find myself at times feeling like I am standing too far or too close for comfort. I worry about having bad breath and invading people's space. Things I never worried about before because there was an automatic space created by my large body.
Sitting down in a chair: I know, I should be able to feel comfortable sitting in a chair but those rickety folding chairs... When I was obese I would avoid them at all costs. I was convinced I would break one under my weight or topple one over as I was sitting down. No matter how carefully I sat. I'm pretty sure that at my current weight I wouldn't be able to break one if I tried - unless it was already broken - but that fear remains. I take such care when sitting in them and the slightest creak has me second guessing the whole situation. I also have issues with chairs that have arms on them. I cannot say I have ever gotten stuck in one but I am constantly afraid that today will be the day. That my ass will get stuck in a chair and they will have to cut me out of it. It sounds ridiculous but I still cannot look at a chair with arms and know for sure whether or not I will fit in it. It causes me anxiety and I actually miss knowing that those chairs were off limits.
Clothing shopping: I used to be able to hold up a shirt or pants and know at my large size whether or not they would fit. It was like a magical gift that I can't return. Now I never think something is going to fit. I still buy clothes that are two sizes too big because my brain has not caught up to the size of my body now. I have trouble believing that my body will fit into a particular piece of clothing. I have trouble believing others when they think a piece of their clothing will fit me. I was so much bigger than other people for so long that I can't quite conceive of being the same size as other people. I still have a moment of anxiety every time I go to buckle my seat belt in a plane where I think it might not be long enough.
My power: This one has been a hard one for me to come to terms with. As a bigger person I was constantly moving almost three hundred lbs around. Moving that much weight around all the time will make you a pretty powerful person. It was like wearing a 100lb weight vest all the time. No, I wasn't doing much cardio at that weight and going up a flight of stairs was a challenge but I was strong. I mean really strong. I was able to move furniture on my own and have even stacked a washer dryer on my own. Ikea has a lot of rules on their furniture about how many people it should take to move their boxes and assemble the pieces but those rules did not apply to me. Now that I have lost a lot of the weight I have to work at it constantly. Even though I am much more active then I ever was I find myself struggling to keep my power. I need help now to move some furniture items or to put my oldest up in to his top bunk bed. I can still do it but it feels like more effort then ever before.
The space I take up: I spent all my years as an obese person trying to be smaller. I would try to take up as little space as possible on public transit, on the sofa, at a party or at a dinner table. I wanted more than anything to be able to pull my legs up and hug my knees while balancing on a chair. I would dream of being small enough to sit like that - I can now but never actually do it. I spent so much time trying to make myself smaller and take up as little space as possible that when others took up the space they were completely entitled to I got frustrated and annoyed. Trying to be so small was painful for my big personality but at least my body matched it. I had a big personality and an even bigger body and I was absolutely no threat whatsoever. I was firmly friend status for everyone I met. People opened up to me more, confided in me and I felt accepted everywhere. I was miserable and it made people feel better about themselves. I struggle now with how to appropriately display my big personality in my smaller body. I feel at times like I don't match and so taking up space is still hard for me.
Though some of fears and feelings will probably never go away I am working on them. I am working on feeling like me no matter my size. I'm practicing putting myself out there in a new smaller body with my same big personality. I continue to go to the gym and work on keeping the power I can and improving my movement patterns and cardio. I'm still careful when I sit in a rickety chair but am totally aware that I am not the only person with this fear and I try on all my clothes before buying them so I don't bring home things that don't fit. It's one day at a time with these things. It always will be.
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