Tag Archives: perception

Like The Best Compliment Ever!

Recently, I had two separate friends on two separate occasions pay me the best compliments.

Let me preface this by talking about something else for a minute. I have written the past about having friends, colleagues, etc who only know me as the “after” Colleen. When I show them pictures of the “before” Colleen, they are absolutely aghast.


“OMG! No, that’s not you!”

“Oh I can’t believe you ever looked like that!”

I expect that reaction from people who did not know me before the surgery and before the amazing 127 pound weight loss. What I never expected to hear, but secretly glad I did, are the following comments by people who knew me both pre and post surgery.

Recently, I took the metro to the writer’s group one night. I was approaching the escalators, which I routinely walk up and down, btw, when one of the other AWG members came up behind me.

Right after she greeted me with a, “Hi Colleen!” she smiled and told me, “I’m getting used to seeing you look so small!”

I’m not always used to seeing myself as small, so it really felt good to have someone else say it.  I just smiled and said thank you, but really, on the inside I was doing one giant happy-dance which is probably more reminiscent of Pee-Wee Herman’s Big Shoe Dance than an actual happy dance because I’m a horrible dancer even in my own head, but still, I’ll take it.

The other compliment came from my friend who helped me pack and move my apartment. In typical white-trash fashion, I festoon my refrigerator with magnets and pictures. The magnets mostly hold the pictures of family members, (OK mostly pictures of my niece), in place, but some of the magnets are decorative in the loosest sense of the word.

On the refrigerator at my old apartment was a picture of me and my baby sister at her wedding. I weighed probably 300 pounds at the time. I have posted that picture of me and Jenny before. I was quite fat.

Aug 2010

Aug 2010

The friend who helped me move has known me since 2005 or 2006, which is to say she knew me when I weighed 300 pounds.

She grabbed the picture and loudly proclaimed, “OMG Colleen, I almost asked you who the other person in this picture is.”

I of course replied with, “The bride is my sister Jenny.”

“I know that! I almost asked who this person was!”

She was pointing at the 300 pound me.

“But you knew me when I looked like that!”

“Yes, but I don’t think of you like that anymore. It’s hard to believe you ever looked like this.”

We both laughed and packed the picture and magnets away for the move.

When I’m feeling down because I haven’t finished losing the weight, or feel that I haven’t made enough progress, I think of these two incidents. They are great reminders of how far I have actually come, not to mention great reminders of the fantastic friends I have.

Me at Shenandoah Mountains

Me at Shenandoah Mountains

Is Perception Reality?

How we see ourselves affects every aspect of our lives.  It affects the choices that we make, the clothes that we wear, the friends we choose, where we work, the list is endless.

For years, decades even, I have always viewed myself as the largest person in the room.  Not the tallest, mind you.  That’s something else entirely.  I’m 5’1″.  I am short by nearly anyone’s definition.  Maybe my 5-year-old niece thinks I’m tall, but that view will soon change I’m sure.

I have weighed somewhere between 250-315 pounds for a very long time.  Any time I see pictures of myself, I am nearly always the largest person in the photo.  As a result, I have avoided having my picture taken as often as much as possible.  I posted a picture about a week ago I think of me and a group of women at a friend’s wedding.  I will re-post it here now.  I am the one in pink on the left.


I do not like the way I look in this picture.  I hated to admit that I was really that big.  Having my picture taken was just a reminder.  I felt so unattractive and unhappy.

Recently, a friend of mine in my writer’s group took a picture at one of our meetings.  One of our group members, Jeff Miller, has had some success with his new novel, “The Bubble Gum Thief” and he was talking to us about is experience finding an agent and getting his book published.  (Btw…buy this book.  It’s awesome!)

I am sitting in the “audience” in this picture.  The girl who took the picture posted it on our website and tagged me in the picture.  It took me almost 2 minutes to find myself.  I immediately looked for the largest person in the picture and it was not me.  Not to mention, I couldn’t figure who the biggest person in the picture was.  I recognized the dress that I was wearing before I recognized that it was me.  I am the one in the yellow dress with flowers on it.  I’m on the left.



I was shocked when I saw this picture.  I know people have been telling me how small I am compared to before.  And I do see a difference, definitely, but I am still sometimes surprised when I see myself, especially when I see myself next to other people.  I look almost average.

I know that I have changed, but it may still take a little while longer for my internal perception to match what is actually happening on the outside.