Welcome to “Slim Chance,” a twice-monthly series in which author Amber Petty documents the happiness and crappiness of losing weight.
Weight: 223 pounds
Lost in 2 Weeks: 2.8 pounds
Total Lost: 30 pounds
Here’s some exciting news: I’ve lost 30 pounds since I started writing Slim Chance!
Slightly more exciting news: I’ve lost 52 pounds total! I’m officially more than halfway to my goal.
To clarify, I weighed 275 pounds in October 2017 and made some half-hearted attempts to weight. I had some success, a lot more annoyance, and had made it down to 253 when I started this column back in August 2018.
Anyway, the fact that I’ve lost 50 pounds sounds so cool. If someone else told me they lost that much weight, I’d freak out with excitement for them. But for me? It kind of doesn’t feel like anything. I mean, I know I’m lighter, and I’m wearing slightly smaller clothes. But I’m not physically “transformed.” I feel like I look pretty much the same. So far, no one has noticed any difference.
I went through old photos to find a picture of me at my highest weight so I could see what 50 pounds gone really looks like. And guess what I found? Nothing. I had zero pictures of myself from the past year.
The combination of working at home and succumbing to depression meant that opportunities to be photographed were at an all-time low. And I hated how I looked, so if someone did bust out their phone to take a pic, I’d either find a way to hide behind the tallest person or offer to take the photo for everyone as a sly way to stay behind the scenes.
At the time, the idea of seeing myself in a photo was horrible. Now, it makes me sad that all those undocumented months are gone.
I had made myself invisible and was on track to stay that way as long as possible. Luckily, I got help for my depression, which made it easier for me to focus on my health. Now, instead of hiding all my body shame, I’m airing all my weight issues for everyone to see! And it’s made things so much better.
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As a person who has now lost a significant amount of weight (though there’s more to go), here’s a piece of advice: Take pictures. Not so you can have a “before” and “after” that’s super impressive, and not so you can look back on your heavy pictures and think about being a loser.
Take pictures now because you deserve to be seen at any weight.
When I first began my weight-loss attempt, I was so scared to weigh myself or take pictures. I thought, Hey, if there’s no real evidence of my weight gain, maybe I can pretend it never happened! But once I actually knew my weight or saw a photo, I felt better—eventually. Did I cry when I saw 275 on the scale? Yes. But after the tears, I felt better knowing exactly how much I’d gained. Instead of thinking, Oh, I’m some giant whale-human hybrid, I thought, I weigh 275 pounds. It was a plain fact, and oddly, it took away some of the anxiety and guilt.
After I decided to lose weight, I made an effort to take more pictures. When I started Slim Chance, I posted a leggings-and-sports bra photo on Instagram. This seems pretty innocuous, but I’ve spent my whole life hiding my stomach. I don’t mean just wearing baggy shirts—I’ll physically hide my stomach behind a throw pillow every time I sit on a couch. Even when I sit on my own couch when no one else is home!
So exposing my midriff was a big deal, and I sat back and waited for the abusive comments. They never came. People I knew were supportive, strangers reached out, and everyone had nothing but kind, encouraging words for me. I had kind of thought the sight of my flabby alabaster tummy would cause blindness and vomiting, and instead, people were just nice. It reminded me that my view of my body was (and still is, though I’m getting better) distorted, and that I’m perfectly presentable at any and all weights. I think that pic garnered the most likes of anything I’ve posted.
After combing through old emails and a half-working computer, I found a few full-body pics when I was 263 pounds. I tried a boxing boot camp that required pictures and a weigh-in:
First of all, what kind of monster takes pictures crouched down by the floor in a fluorescent-lit room? Seriously, the guy taking the pic was on his knees, taking the photos from the worst angle on Earth. You have a group full of women who are insecure about their bodies. You gotta photograph us from eye level, at least!
Then, just so you can see what 40 pounds gone looks like on me, here’s me now in that same outfit:
Sure, it’s different, but I still look very similar.
Now, I’m not sad that I don’t look like a totally new person. I know I have about 50 more pounds to go, and this is just one big milestone on the way to my goal.
What’s really exciting to me is that I’m feeling so much better emotionally.
I still don’t have the “I wake up with so much energy” feeling. A lot of workouts are still really hard, and my first instinct is still to hide behind someone in a group photo. But I’m starting to accept my body. I can’t say I love it just yet, but that awful hate and shame are definitely gone. I’m not obsessing over every meal, and I’m not dejected when I don’t lose weight fast enough. I feel more peaceful, as though I know I’m doing the right and healthy thing for myself and everything else will fall in place in due time.
So I’m congratulating myself on working so hard on the mental side of weight loss. I’m super happy with how far I’ve come. And I’m definitely not going a year without pictures ever again.
Amber Petty is an L.A.-based writer and a regular contributor to Greatist. Follow along as she shares her weight-loss journey in her new bi-monthly column, Slim Chance. Take singing lessons from her via Sing A Different Tune and follow her on Instagram @Ambernpetty.