So last night after the kids were gone for the weekend, I had Matt help me take some new bathing suit pictures. It wasn’t nearly as scary as the first time because after doing my measurements from beginning to practically the end, I KNEW I would see a huge difference.
And I wasn’t disappointed.
But for those of you who didn’t get the sneak peak on facebook, or those who have come over from FB and want to see the rest of the side by side pics, you are going to have to wait a minute and read what I’m about to say first before we get to the photos.
Because of all the places I expected the parking lot syndrome to happen, I wasn’t prepared to have it go on in my living room last night.
What is the parking lot syndrome?
My, am I glad you asked!
Parking Lot Syndrome: When you know exactly where you park your car at the beginning of a shopping trip, but after finishing at the store (usually totally flustered) you walk out to the parking lot and 2 things happen. A) You cannot remember where you parked your car… and B) You have a hard time remembering what your car looks like because you are seeing other cars that look similar in style but aren’t quite right. When A and B happen, you usually end up walking around the parking lot for 5 minutes looking for ANYTHING in your vehicle that looks familiar to you.
See, all this dieting and personal growth has CHANGED me in ways I’ve never thought possible. At this point in my life, as pleased as I am with the changes on the outside, I am thrilled-to-betsy face-on-the-ground-thankful for the changes that happened in me that no one can see.
-becoming a recovering agoraphobic who now not only leaves her house on a regular basis, but also lets people come inside and even has spontaneous company without having a panic attack.
-being a girl who understands that pain is an important part of life. It is OK for us to be hurt, physically and emotionally, and I have learned to embrace pain when it happens.
-learning that my biggest hurdle with any challenge I face has nothing to do with the circumstances around me. It has everything to do with the 6 inches in between my ears. That headspace is the most powerful weapon we own, and it can be used for evil (negative talk, self doubt, discouragement) or for good (positive encouragement and ego boosting).
I promise I am not going to turn this message into a sermon, but I would be remiss without stating once again that this journey didn’t happen because of me. It happened because I surrendered it to God. I promised Him I would do all the outside work (controlling my food, exercising, etc.) and be determined, but HE would have to make the physical changes happen. I know for a fact that if I hadn’t surrendered this issue I could never have done it. I walked into this diet with the mindset of “I cannot do this on my own. I KNOW THAT. So help me, God. As long as You keep showing up and being faithful, I will never give up.”
I’m not saying you have to believe what I do to lose weight. Lots of my friends believe differently than me, and they have also found success in weight loss. But for me, it took that moment of realizing how inadequate I was and being left with no choice but to just relax. By giving it to God, it took all the pressure off of me to not fail or fail. I knew that no matter what happened, I would see results.
And that, my friends, is exactly what brings us to the parking lot syndrome in my living room last night. Because I had been peeking in my “before” pictures about a half hour before we started snapping the updated pics. (Honestly, I was waiting for my bra lines to disappear. That takes a good while. ;)
So I was looking at all my “heaviest” pictures in a bathing suit. I have looked at them lots of times, but I suppose the scope of my past had not really hit me with the magnitude it was about to come down with.
I got into my smaller suit, posed for some pics, checked them on the camera, and deemed they were ok to use. I plugged in the camera’s memory card, and started cropping the pics and adjusting the exposure (to lighten them up a bit so we could see better.) I didn’t change the dimensions (I didn’t stretch them to make myself look skinnier) and then I compared them side by side with the before.
AND THAT WAS WHEN IT HAPPENED. PARKING LOT SYNDROME.
I saw this one first. The backs.
Because I kept thinking that I still looked like the girl on the left. (Went into the store and parked one place.) But looking at the girl on the right, it’s a totally different car we are talking about. (Walked out of the store and thought where the heck is my car?) It was hard to believe that it was really me. I mean, I KNOW it was me, because I was there for both pictures. (And trust me, you don’t ever forget the emotional trauma of those first bathing suit pics. EVER.) But it just didn’t seem like this kind of an enormous change was possible. I knew I’d lost a lot of weight and a lot of inches, but this was crazy.
Then I saw the side pics.
I knew I carried most of my weight on my belly. And as a recovering girdle addict, I know that I still have issues with how my tummy looks, especially with the excess skin I have. But once I saw these pictures next to each other, I realized that I have nothing to be ashamed of. Flappy excess skin or not, I’m a different woman all together.
Then, finally, the fronts.
Wow. Just wow. It’s not very often my own transformation leaves me speechless, and I think that's because I see myself every single day. I'm used to the changes and don't notice too much of a difference.
But this one just left me slackjawed and silent. And it also made me cry.
Here’s the thing. When I look at the girl on the left, I don’t just see myself. I see a woman who is broken- emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I see a person who looks so uncomfortable in her own skin that it’s painful. I see aching knees and back and shoulders, constant headaches from poor nutrition, and eyes that are swallowed up by a puffy face. I see a woman who is sick and tired of being sick and tired. It’s not that I see a fat girl. I see a sad girl. I know she’s smiling here, but it’s a forced smile for the sake of the camera.
But the girl on the right?
Effortless smiles. Concentrated joy that is exploding from her posture. Thighs that are forever free of chub-rub. Shoulders that have had an enormous weight lifted from them. (And I’m not talking from the weight loss, either.) I see a woman who is confident in herself for the first time.
I parked my car, walked into the store, and came out to find my old keys fit a brand new car.
And now, it’s time to start really seeing what this baby can do.