Change ain’t easy. For the most part, as I shed those pounds my life became lighter in every way. But what had never occurred to me was that I would not be the same person. In the full perspective, it was liberating, but there were moments when it took me by surprise.
I was in the airport waiting for a flight when I walked by a fellow who had been my massage therapist after a car accident I had suffered in my early twenties. I saw Nick every week for a year, and every second week for another year after that. He was a good friend, but we had lost touch over the years. I smiled and said hello and gave him a big hug. As I released him, I stood back and saw that he was staring at me intently. In a rush, I realized he didn’t know who I was. I stood staring back and smiling and watched as his eyes widened, and he questioned “Alicia?” My smile widened further, he returned my hug and we sat down to get caught up. He told me that he did not recognize me at all and that finally it was my eyes that clued him in as to who I was. It was flattering, but also disconcerting. Nothing was the same about me; only my eyes. So, who was I?
Acknowledging and accepting a ‘new me’ was part of my journey that was unexpected. It made me recognize further that I was deeply unhappy when I was overweight. A co-worker once told me that she loved the ‘new me’ because I was so much less controlling. I was stunned by that comment – had I been so controlling? – but, upon reflection, I realized she was right. My behaviour and certain attitudes had changed.
I was contacted by a woman once who had lost 80 pounds and had gained it all back. As we discussed her journey, I asked if she knew why she had gained her weight back. “Yes”, she sobbed, “I remember the exact moment. It was when a family member told me that I had changed so much that she didn’t know who I was anymore. I remember going into a panic because I hadn’t realized I had changed in any way other than losing weight. It was clear she didn’t like the new me. The 80 pounds flew back on.”
It was safer that way.
I have learned over the years that the only constant in life is change. There is a lot of fear associated with change. But fear of the unknown is paralyzing, and does not support our best self. If we can embrace change, welcome it even, then there is no limit to the person you can choose to become.