Social Question

keobooks's avatar

Has your body ever physically changed so much that your entire life seemed to change?

Asked by keobooks (12293 points ) August 19th, 2012

I spent most of my life as a very thin person. Until I was 25, I weighed under 100 pounds for most of my life. Until I was 30 or so, I was under 120 pounds. But due to a metabolic disease that went undiagnosed for a long time and didn’t respond to medication while I was pregnant, I have gained over 100 pounds in the last 5 years or so. I will soon be going to an endocrinologist to get a better diagnosis and treatment plan. Hopefully, I will start to lose weight. I don’t want to go back to 120, but 150 – 170 sounds positively svelte to me.

I feel like the world is a totally different place for fat people than it is for thin people. It’s not all bad. But I feel more invisible than when I was thin. People tend not to look at me like they used to. I get ignored overlooked unless I make a big noise. I still think of myself as petite and cute and sometimes it’s shocking when treated like a fat lady. It’s also odd to see that fat lady in the mirror because my brain still thinks I’m about 130. I can’t recognize myself in pictures or point my face out in a crowd.

I was just wondering if anyone else had their body change so drastically that the world almost seemed a totally different place for them?

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16 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Does aging count?

keobooks's avatar

@gailcalled – I think so. I mentioned it earlier but my grandfather seemed to have his brain locked on how he looked at 25. He wasn’t senile a day in his life or anything, but he said he would get shocked seeing himself in the mirror and also had trouble recognizing pics of himself because he was looking for the 25 year old. When he went to the hospital in his 80s and was a bit out of it from pain meds – he kept asking why he was in the ward with all the depressing old people.

Ponderer983's avatar

This may not be exactly what you are looking for, but I was confined to a wheelchair for a few months after a surgery. You definitely realize how differently you are treated, and you need to see yourself for that time period as a handicapped person.

keobooks's avatar

@Ponderer983 Good one. That’s more of what I was thinking of. Things you never noticed before like curb cuts are prominent. Did you notice that people treated you differently – like maybe they talked a bit louder or slower? Did people avoid eye contact and try not to see you?

This is going to sound weird, but I think people treat me as if I’m not as intelligent. Like if I were smart, I wouldn’t be fat or something. So people don’t treat me like I’m mentally disabled, but they do seem to slow things down more or assume I’m more interested in trashy TV than books.

I just thought of another good one. I had a friend who was in a car accident and lost his front teeth on the steering wheel. He had to wait a few months for the swelling to go down before he could have replacement teeth put in. He said people treated him like a Cletus when they saw his mouth. He said he still won’t smile and show his teeth because it was so embarrassing for him he worked really hard at not showing his teeth during that time.

MilkyWay's avatar

Yup, I grew hips…
Now I feel boys staring at me sometimes. Boys who I’m best friends with and who play football with me… puts me off sometimes :/

Sunny2's avatar

I changed, not physically, but mentally. I felt invisible and not worth noticing and people weren’t noticing me as they had before. A friend helped raise my evaluation of myself. I began walking with my head up and a sense of self worth and I noticed people noticing me. And even at my age, they notice. I like that.

Supacase's avatar

I went the opposite way – overweight to thin. It is a totally different world for fat people. Life is easier to navigate and less humiliating now. People are nicer and in general.

I continued to feel like the fat me for a long, long time after I lost the weight even when I looked in the mirror.

Blackberry's avatar

The transition from handsome to drop-dead gorgeous was quite an inconvenience for me when I would go out in public.

JLeslie's avatar

Yes. When I developed a chronic illness including chronic pain in my girly GYN parts it changed my life. I felt how I identify with myself, how I think of myself, did not match my physical body, nor the person I was as a woman and SO. It sucked and still does. I hate it. If I think about I can go into a state of mourning over my loss. I am stunned this is part of my life still now, even though it has been years.

The other big change was developing muscle troubles which changed me from a strong, able to work on my feet all day, to someone who can’t do physical work for more than an hour without some consequence. It has been better lately, but still I am limited compared to my past. it affects when I vacation, I can’t do long walks through cities and touring museums all day or all day in Disney without taking significant breaks to make sure I don’t over do it. Seats with very little leg room are difficult for me on planes, in old theatres, if I have to sit a long time.

The worst thing is with both conditions no one can tell you have it by looking at me, which I prefer if I have to choose, but they also don’t take the pain seriously either.

Shippy's avatar

I can’t picture your weight gain as we work in kg’s. But yes I have been super skinny and I am very tall. I have been average and I have been plump. (Due to bipolar med’s). I loved being plump as my boobs grew! I was not treated any different apart maybe from people commenting on my boobs. Which annoyed the heck out of me. Now I am slimmer and I feel more random. I loved my curves. I want them back.

Aging I also feel I am not treated any differently. Unless I am blind and can’t see it. Most of my friends are in their 30’s and see me as the same age. I told one, one day I will die and they will be shocked when they are reminded that I died of old age!!

Mariah's avatar

Oh yeah. The first would be when I was on IV nutrition for two months. I was able to go about my life “as usual,” but with a little backpack full of fluids on me at all times, connected to my arm via a fat tube. How vulnerable I felt! I was suddenly so aware of everyone moving around me. I was terrified of getting it caught on something.

There were other complications, like getting dressed and undressed (try to take your shirt off and the sleeve stays stuck on the line), showering (had to keep that arm out of the shower to keep the dressing dry – do you know how hard it is to apply shampoo one-handed??), etc.

Ohh, not to mention how different life is when you aren’t eating anything! It feels so fundamentally wrong. And you don’t realize how much your routine is centered around meals until you’re not having them. It was bizarre, to say the least.

The next big one was having an ileostomy for 7 months. You’d think after that long I’d be over the hyper-aware phase, but I wasn’t. Felt like I had a dirty secret under my clothes 24/7. Ohh, and then being rid of it after that time. My body felt so shiny new. Nothing had visibly changed to any outsider, yet I felt so much more beautiful.

Jeruba's avatar

Your life can change in an instant, without having any time at all to get used to it or any opportunity to deal with it incrementally.

One thing that will do that is being diagnosed with something that requires strong treatment measures and/or forces drastic lifestyle changes. Diabetes, for instance. Cancer. Lung disease.

Then there are injuries that require major adjustments, either for a period of time or permanently. Spend a few seconds falling or crashing, say, and then spend months, years, or the rest of your life with workarounds.

And pregnancy will do it for sure.

I’m living with several things of that sort (not pregnancy). Two things really stand out to me: how skilled we are at redefining “normal”—that is, adapting—and how casually we take for granted the good health and strength we enjoy, until something happens.

I sympathize with your case, @keobooks, and at the same time I have to say you are fortunate that you have a condition you can reverse by choice and your own action. I wish you success with your program.

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laurenkem's avatar

Yes. In 2006, I was happily marching along at about 140 lbs., a size six. Fast forward to a month-long hospital stay and I was 95 lbs. Yikes! I’m 5’8”!

For medical reasons, it took me 3 years to gain 35 pounds, and I’m now around a size 6 again. But yes, it did mess with my mind. I actually started to think I looked good at 95, even though my friends were telling me differently.

Now that I’ve gained some weight, everyone tells me I look much better, but I’ll be honest here, and please don’t bash me. Part of me wishes I was still a size 2.

I know, I know! I’m dealing with it!

noraasnave's avatar

My situation is oddly similar to @keobooks; In the Marine Corps the standards are built around ‘ideal’ body fat percentages based on height/weight. I was 190 lbs 5’10” probably 10% body fat around a year ago, which is acceptable by the existing standards.

Fast forward 6 months. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis while taking two 8 week college courses, being an active soul mate, a dad, a full time Active Duty Marine, and…slightly overwhelmed.

I was still hitting the gym a few times a week, verses everyday. I quit running every afternoon. I started drinking a ‘drink’ or two a night verses the usual a drink or two a week. My weight moved up to 217lbs and 30ish body fat percentage. In the Marine Corps, it is always open season on ‘fat people’ even though I didn’t consider myself obese, i now fit the description per the standards.

Though the judgement wasn’t waiting for me everywhere I went (there are no standards out in town), my own self-recrimination seemed to follow me like a shadow. Just to give a little more information I could still do 15 pull ups, 100 crunches in 2 minutes, and run 3 miles is around 25 minutes.

Everyday I looked in my mirror, seeing myself based on how I felt about myself and it felt terrible. I learned not the trust the mirror, but instead to listen to my body.

Counseling helped me deal with the other issues that overwhelmed me and made my weight a concern. Now I making steady progress toward health through swimming 3X a week with an instructor, and kayaking 1X a week. The workouts usually change every week in aquatics so it is interesting, challenging, and fun.

I fought hard internally to come to the realization that the USMC standards, the scale, my weight are measurements of my body, not a measurement of who I am.

People still generally follow my lead in how to treat me, so I walk with confidence knowing that these measurement don’t define me…and actually there is nothing quantifiable that does.

I feel the pain, surprise and anguish in your words @keobooks. I hope my experiences can be of some assistance. I have a lot of hope for you that you will find the path back to the health you desire in your journey.

Ponderer983's avatar

@keobooks I think because my “injury” was obvious, as I had a brace on my knee, I didn’t experience people talking down to me (speaking louder as you mentioned). And some people looked at, other people didn’t, others you could see the look out of the corner of your eye. You can tell people are inquisitive about seeing someone in a wheelchair and want to know why they are in that situation.

I truly believe that everyone, at some point in their life, should spend a day, or even better a week, in a wheelchair and learn from the experience. What I found was the different levels of help people extend. There were some people that went out off their way to help me with a door or up a curb, and others who sat there watching me struggle and did nothing. Before my surgery, I think I was someone who if I was there I would help, but wouldn’t go out of the way. Now, I will go out of my way to help someone, because I can’t tell you the amount of gratitude I had towards the people who lended a hand.

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