Last night, in an effort to chill out after an intense day of practicum rehearsals and High Holy Day prep, I was playing around on Facebook. I clicked the "View Photos of Me" link on my profile, where I looked through all 546 photos of me placed on Facebook since my account was created my senior year of college.
What you are about to read will either sound completely crazy or completely identifiable to you: There is a night and day difference between the person I was in college and the person I am now. Here's the crazy part--I didn't notice it until I looked at my pictures last night.
As of yesterday, I have lost 117 pounds since June 27, 2007, the day I left for Israel.
Until I looked at those pictures, I had no idea just how much weight that really is.
That's a PERSON.
I literally carried the weight of another human being on my bones for 25 years.
The person I am now and the person I was then feel like 2 completely separate people, even though they're both me. The old Tracy feels so far removed when I look at those pictures. Yet I look in the mirror and still don't see the Tracy I see in the "now" pictures. My body is living 100% in the moment. My brain is not.
It's very confusing.
As I was lying in bed last night, I kept thinking about the reasons why I haven't told very many people outside my 3rd year class at HUC about my weight loss. I couldn't think of a single reason why I had to keep silent anymore. When I casually mentioned it to the rabbi I'm working with this year (in hopes of advice on how to ask congregants to cook food I can eat whenever I join them for dinner), he said "Tracy, you should be shouting that from the rooftops!"
There is a part of me, a part I keep buried way down deep, that is embarrassed to admit that magic number of 117. While it is fun to watch people's eyes light up when I tell them, there's also a moment when they realize (and I am reminded) that I once weighed over 300 pounds. That while 117 pounds is an amazing achievement, I still have a long way to go, therefore I must have been REALLY heavy. That I once really was the girl you see in the pictures from college and before I left for Israel.
The thought of that makes me so sad.
It's hard to look at those pictures nostalgically, thinking about the good times and friends I had in college. Instead, I cringe, seeing only the morbidly obese woman trying desperately to detract attention from her weight by coloring her hair and hiding behind friends. It's hard to think of the sweet memories when all I can think about is that girl who was hiding under a blanket of 117 pounds, praying no one would notice, praying I looked different to the outside world than I did in those photographs.
The really strange thing? Very heavy people tend to see themselves in their minds as thinner than they really are. Now that I'm not as heavy, I see myself FATTER than I really am.
My mind was messed up even then, in a way that is exactly the same even though it is very different. When I looked at pictures back then, I was always shocked and ashamed at how big I really way. When I look at pictures now, I'm still shocked, but in awe--in a good way--of the way I look.
I am 20 pounds away from weighing under 200 pounds.
I haven't weighed under 200 pounds since I was a CHILD--literally, I weighed around this same weight when I was in the 3rd grade.
Today, when I was at school working on my practicum, I told 4 people about my magic number. One of my favorite professors, one of my 4th year colleagues, and 2 of the new 2nd year students I had just met (who happened to overhear my conversation with my 4th year friend.)
I loved watching their eyes light up in amazement.
I didn't allow myself to pay attention when they put two and two together.
I wanted to enjoy those moments without the icky stuff getting in the way.
I think I am going to start spreading the word, naturally, when the right moments pop up. It's time that people know about the huge part of me that's simultaneously missing and yet very present in my life, whether or not they want to literally picture it for themselves.
Though, to my loyal readers and support system, I invite you to check out the "then" pictures. I think you'll be quite shocked also, even though you've been along for the ride the entire time.
I'm really doing this. It's working and sticking and I'm healthier and stronger and happier than ever.
Who'd have pictured it?