I was just going about ***PANIC!!!!*** my day.

*Trigger warning: panic attacks*

A couple of Sundays ago, things had gone so well. My morning was smooth, church was good, the sun was shining, and I had eaten lunch in time to get to the gym while it was still almost empty. Someone had changed the radio station to something terrible, so I put my ear buds in and started. Fifteen minutes of warm-up cardio, then abs, then arms. I hate arm work, but I’ve bought a lot of sleeveless dresses, and I want to try to diminish the batwings I’ve got going on.

In between sets, I talked to Brandon and Melissa via messaging. I got to the overhead press, the last on my list and the hardest move. After the first set, I let my muscles rest and opened Facebook. A friend of mine posted an article by a woman who had lost 170 pounds. After losing all that weight, she had excess skin that seemed to have taken the place of her previous weight in terms of causing her a lot of anxiety.

“Losing weight doesn’t change anything,” she wrote.

170 pounds lost, and she’s still a wreck about being seen naked at her present size (she’s a 2, which I have never, ever been).

It was the second article I’d read like that in about a week.

And then, without any real provocation, it happened: my hands felt like weightless balloons, and my vision started to seem more 2 dimensional and started shrinking. I couldn’t tell if I was breathing or not. One line floated through my head like visual cartoon effects: “WHAT IF I DO ALL THIS AND NOTHING CHANGES?” My shoulders felt like jelly as I tried to force my fingers to type: “oh God, I think I’m going to have a panic attack at the gym.”

I knew I needed to get out of there, but didn’t know if my legs would walk. “What if I do all this and nothing changes?” I messaged Mary, who I knew without question would pray without details and understand how I felt. Mary is one of those people who seems to have a more direct line to God than I do – like God hears her clearer than She does me. Maybe it’s because I’m right in feeling like Mary gets the “pray without ceasing” command.

“What if I do all this and nothing changes?”

I walked outside, a clumsy walk like Andre the Giant, and sat on the sidewalk. I breathed. I squinted in the sun. I started feeling my shoulders again.

What I’ve realized 53-pounds into this is that I AM changing. Not just in getting smaller, but also braver. In finding out that I am much, much tougher than I thought I was. I can do more – be more – than I thought I could, and that’s powerful and scary. I’m learning what it takes to take care of me and that’s cool.

The not-so-cool thing I’ve learned on my way down the scale is that the insecurities I ignored on my way up the scale are still there. I feel as unattractive now as I did the last time I weighed this much (more than a decade ago). The endless shame of always having to skip to the back of every rack to see if it comes big enough – a reminder that you’re only barely that department. It’s a different kind of feeling than a few months ago when I was shopping at the front of the rack in the “plus-size department.”

“What if I do all this and nothing changes?”

I was determined to not be the fat woman sobbing on the pavement in front of the gym that is right at the busiest bridge in town, just 200 yards from a travelling carnival. I tried to make it look like I’d left to get better signal. I blathered on to Mary about how terrified I am that I’m going to do all this work and in the end, feel like it hasn’t changed anything, that I’m still the same awful me that I was 53 pounds ago, just in smaller clothes. Anxiety is as good a liar as they come.

In the way that she does best, she listened to me go on and on while I trust her heart was praying, and I breathed and swatted away bugs and eventually, I didn’t feel like my hands were numb and my vision tunnelled. I got up and went inside.

“What if I do all this and nothing changes?”

An invalid question, my dear Cindy, because you have already changed. You’ve found out that you’re tougher, stronger, kinder, and braver than you thought. You’ve found out how many people you have in your corner and to be in your own corner, fighting for yourself, not with yourself. You’ve gotten healthier and keep doing more than you thought you could – so the question is invalid. Put it away.

I walked back to the overhead press and started again. Within a few minutes, I got an unexpected (happy) text from someone who always makes me smile. My best friends were messaging me and I had a heart beating and lungs breathing and it was ok. I was ok.

Part of me is still really scared about what’s going to happen, how I’m going to keep changing, who I am going to be when/if I get to where I want to be, health-wise. I didn’t have 170 pounds to lose, but I’m still far from where I want to be. I’ve only known Fat Cindy. Right now, I’m trying to figure out who Less-fat Cindy is. Not-fat Cindy is someone I’ve never met before, but whoever she is, she’s probably not as bad as I feared that Sunday.

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About BearsGrl8

I'm a geek, a "Supernatural" fangirl, a progressive, an introverted loud-mouth, a damn fine cook, a Bears fan, a Blackhawks fan, and a fantastic aunt.

Posted on May 28, 2014, in Anxiety, Growing Up, On Being a Woman and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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