Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Parental Visit, Laced with Fear

I just wanted to thank you all for the wonderful get well soon wishes. I'm feeling much better, albeit still a bit blah.

So, my parents are coming into town tonight. They'll be here all weekend. It will be the first time I've seen them since mid-July, when I was hovering just under the 270 mark. And, I'm pretty damn nervous about it. Mostly, I have a lot of questions about what's going to happen.

First off, will they notice? If I'm honest with myself, my guess is there's a good chance they'll notice. I've lost 13% of my weight over all, and 10% since the time I last saw them. That 10% mark is supposed to be a visible one, and I'd say there's a better than even chance they'll pick up on it. After all, when I last saw them I was wearing a size 22. These days I'm wearing 18s and 16s. When I compare my size 22 jacket and size 16 jacket, the difference is pretty, well, sizable.

And, of course, if they do notice, will they say something? Well, there I'm just not sure. That's not entirely true. If he notices, my Dad will almost certainly say some sort of "You look so nice, Hadley." I don't think I'd get something as blunt as "Have you lost weight?" for which I'm quite grateful. My mom's less likely to comment, if she notices, but it's not entirely outside the realm of possibility.

Okay, so here's the thing: I love my parents. I'm very close to them. I haven't seen them since July, and generally I see them every month or six weeks. The not seeing them was entirely at my behest: I could've gone up to NYC at any point, or encouraged them to come down earlier. There's a reason I haven't seen them more recently, and it's because I didn't want to.

Again, let me emphasize, I love my parents. I've missed them a lot. I've felt quite a few times on this journey like I needed to just go home and see them for a weekend. But now, that I'm about to see them, I'm filled with dread.

I don't want them to know. I don't, don't, don't want them to know. I don't want them to notice. I don't want them to ask. I'm petrified. I am 36 pounds and 94 days into this journey, and I haven't told a single soul. I'm so, so, so terribly scared.

I hate the idea of people knowing I'm on a diet. HATE it.

Back in the day, I used to be incredibly into fashion. I used to be into shopping, being popular, being mean. All the superficial, the New York City, the money, the silly. That used to be my life. When I was 16, my picture was in TeenVogue. I cared so, so, so much about looks.

And then I stopped. I became serious, intellectual. I purposefully went to a college with the unofficial motto "where fun goes to die". Because I was an oh-so-serious person interested in saving the world and changing things and math and economics and serious things. I chose the college I chose specifically as a repudiation of all things New York. I hated what I was at 15, and I wanted to run away from that. (For the record, yes, with a bit more maturity I realize that there's room for some of the fun and that things don't have to be quite so serious. If you can't tell, I'm not quite as into being a super serious person as I was at 18.) And honestly, being fat was part of that. It was part of saying "I don't care about your superficial world. I don't want to be a part of it anymore."

And the thing is, I still don't, really. If you told me that I could lose weight with no one noticing, but still get the benefits of health and freedom of motion/fitting places, I'd do it. The thought of people commenting to each other on "Oh does it look like Hadley's lost some weight" drives me absolutely insane. Sometimes I'll say, oh it would be a nice bonus to be hot, but honestly, relative to everything else, I could care less. And half the days I don't even want it. I'm not doing this to be pretty. I'm not doing this to be beautiful. I'm not doing this to be noticed. I just want to be able to live and have the career I want with size not being an issue. I don't really care if I'm ugly as sin so long as it doesn't hold me back from the things I actually want to do.

I'm scared my family is going to notice. I don't want them to. I don't want anyone to. I am just so, so, so scared.

I have to accept that if I keep going along people are going to notice. They're probably going to comment, too. And I'm going to hate people looking at my body. And I'm going to hate people thinking that I must be on a diet because I care too much about how I look. But I need to keep reminding myself it's worth it.

And it is. Being fat puts me at a disadvantage applying to jobs. Being fat could cause me to fail the Foreign Service medical exam, and if I fail that my dream career is dead. There are also things I love (skiing! swimming! etc) that I either can't do or feel like I can't do because of my weight. My health and my career are worth it. Changing my life for the better is worth the fact that people are going to notice my body changes.



  1. I'm new to your blog but I'm inspired by your progress. I can't imagine your parents wouldn't notice. If your dad says how nice you look, believe him and bask in his compliment. Enjoy the visit.

  2. Whoa there Hadley.

    First of all, I think most people's first thoughts when they realize someone is losing weight are more along the lines of "good for them" or "I'm so glad they are getting healthier" not "oh how vain".
    Now, I realize you come from a different area than I do, but your parents love you & will only want what you want. You want to be healthier (and a side of hot never hurts even if you are in 'serious' mode) & that is always a good thing.

    Second - screw what other people think!
    You are doing this for you, your health, your life, your wellbeing. That is ALL that matters.

    Losing weight is a very personal struggle or journey. We may share many of our dark secrets with others in the blog world, but that doesn't mean we're as open face to face with people.

    For example, my darling husband has NO idea how much I weigh or what size I used to wear because I was humiliated that I had taken such poor care of myself by ignoring what was going on.
    I love him to death & trust him with everything but I just flat out don't want him to know how much I weigh. Now that is pure vanity, but I don't care.

    Wanting to lose weight & be healthy is NOT vain. It is the choice you've made & the right choice for you.

    If your parents are the supportive type, then they will support you in this as well as anything else you do.

    Have faith my dear.
    I hope your visit goes well.


  3. I just found your blog. What a powerful entry. I have those emotions too. I blogged a week or so ago about the same thing, but with not nearly the emotion you present. I don't want people to start noticing either..I don't want pressure. I don't want people I see and know to know I blog about it. People know I've been going to the fitness center, but that's it. They are not privy to my goals, my numbers, my desires. And I NEED it to be that way. I hope your visit goes well. You can do it!

  4. Hadley. Hadley Hadley. There are so many aspects of this post that I totally get, even though I can't exactly articulate why. I know for me it's hard to have people notice, because then it somehow allows them the freedom to offer an opinion. Or to notice again if I backslide. Or to say something that makes me wonder if they WANT me to fail. Or I just don't know what the fuck all, but a lot of it.

    And I just found out my parents . . . read my blog. YIKES!!

    So. I get you. And I really really like you. Thanks for sharing this with us and PLEASE keep us posted.

    Now you are not only my favorite economist, but my favorite person to ever have graced the pages of Teen Vogue, btw.

  5. Hey, yo, by the by, am I missing an email address on here somewhere? Then when you say all the wonderful things you say in MY comments, I can respond directly.

  6. Heyyyyy Hadley :)

    A couple of things. There was a Teen Vogue when you were 15? And I soooo wanna see the pic! Do you have that framed?

    I think its awesome you chose brain over brawn.(Braun? How stupid do I look right now...) I always chose looking pretty and look where it got me. I do agree that when people compliment, their intentions are well meaning.

    Tell your parents about your recent changes. You never know what kind of life changing advice they may give you.

    Good Luck!

  7. I know just what you mean although my fear is for different reasons. All my life I've been anti-diet/pro-body acceptance, militantly so, and to have people see me doing this, people who've had to listen to my many diatribes against the diet industry and fat phobia in general, people who I've even inspired to quit dieting, is really...uncomfortable. That's why I'm embarrassed to have people know that I'm doing this. I wish I could just have the results and then cast some sort of amnesia spell over everyone so they could just forget that I was ever fat. :-)

  8. I get this! I really do... I haven't told many people in my life either. A few days ago I wrote about 'unveiling' myself post winter clothing, partially to avoid the drips and drabbles of people talking. Deep breath, Hadley. You are doing this for the right reasons and that is all that matters. Even if a large part of your motivation was to look good, I wouldn't think that would be a bad thing. And I seriously doubt that two people who love you as much as I am sure your parents do will think of you as superficial. You are doing this and doing it well, and eventually people will notice. Take pride in that! This is a difficult journey and the fact that you have already come so far just proves that you will be able to handle anything - even this dilemma - that comes your way. Hugs!

  9. Hi Hadley!
    I am so right there with you. I HATE people noticing. Hate. Hate. Hate. In fact, I just recently started putting my blog out there in the blogosphere, however no one in real life knows about it. I would DIE if they found out.

    I hate people commenting on my weight, good or bad. I hate the "have you lost weight" question. I HATE IT. It just adds so much pressure once people are onto your secret. I felt so much power when it was a secret.

    There are so many other things too - no guilt if you take a bite into a piece of cake or grab a cookie, no pressure if you fail or put it all back. It is so much easier if no one knows, and for me I do better without that extra pressure.

    Anyway, after so many failed attempts and me getting extremely angry at relatives after they ask me about my weight (loss) during past attempts, my family has THANKFULLY realized that I HATE anyone pointing it out. So they dont say anything. And THAT is the most encouraging thing they can do.

    The other bonus to it is that they do recognize that I am working hard, and often my mom makes sure I pick the restaurant we go to. Thats all the acknowledgement I need.

    Anyway, I totally feel your pain and anxiety here. I'm curious how it goes, keep us posted!

    And PS - I'm 75+lbs in, and its getting better - I dont cringe anytime someone notices (because the more I lose, the more people are ntoicing). I promise. In fact my dad even said something to me (he had NEVER said anything to me EVER any time before) and even though it was super awkward, it felt good to hear my dad say he was proud of me. But I still hate if someone causes a scream and starts yelling how amazed they are in front of other people. I just want to be normal. :)

  10. First off, I'm a guy, so I'm sure my post will be different than the rest of the ladies here. That being said, I want to give you something that I think will prove extremely valuable for the rest of your journey.. a new perspective.

    I think you should want people to notice your journey, not because of any of the reasons you listed, but because of the ones you didn't. I think you are, and will continue to be, an inspiration to those around you. You have no clue how many lives you could potentially touch and change. The first time I lost a good amount of weight I was featured in a news article. I honestly hated the idea of it at first, because I was still overweight at the time. I had just went from OMGTHATDUDEISFUCKINGFAT to hey this guy lost a lot of weight and is still chubby.

    But do you know what happened? I started getting emails from people, who said.. if I could do it, maybe they could to. A few months later two of those people emailed me photos, they had both lost significant amounts of weight. Was it because of me? No. Did I provide them that little push they needed to get started? According to them I did.

    So start sharing your success with the world, it's like dropping a pebble in a pond, you never know whose life it will change.


    p.s. Sorry if I rambled, I do that.

  11. I am just the opposite. Well I guess sort of. But I do love that people notice. What I don't LOVE is that people ask if I'm on a diet. NO. I'm changing my lifestyle! I'm not going back to how I ate before. Being on a diet says I'm going back to my old ways and I'll gain the weight back. I"m NOT going to do that. But also when I think about the time before I got pregnant when I had lost a lot of weight and people started noticing - I stopped. I don't know if it was because I started feeling comfortable or what. I think mostly it was because "gosh, these people think I look great now. I don't need to lose any more weight." Well yes I do. I need to get healthy. I need to do this for ME!

    Thank you for this thought provoking entry. You do not dissapoint me on your blog posts!! Thanks!!!

  12. I absolutely get it. My mother and father held a position in the DC groups that was very superficial. My two older sisters were overweight and were hippie rebellious types. I, however, was tall and skinny and loved clothes. My mom and I had a relationship built only on clothing shopping, beauty pageants, and modeling. When I started to gain weight in my mid 30s, I was terrified to visit her. I knew she'd say something. She did. I remember how she treated my sisters with their weight and I knew that even a few pounds (15 pounds more on my 5'8" frame than the last time she saw me) would be noticed. She had to mention I wasn't wearing a belt. Couldn't I wear a belt? My face looked puffy. My belly looked bloated. Jeez! I was finally in a healthy weight and not underweight any longer. I totally relate to cringing when you don't meet their standards, whether it's your job choice, who you date, or your eventual status in society. I'd suggest you don't draw attention to your efforts at weight loss, but instead if they mention you look like you're losing weight, seem surprised and say "well, I keep pretty busy." This is your journey and your reward. Make the weight loss seem incidental instead of a goal, then their attitude will change too. If they think you're trying to achieve something, they'll want to jump on the cheerleading encouraging bandwagon and asking how much you lost when they talk to you. Making it seem unconscious takes all the fun out of their parade. I gained more weight since my mother passed on (my brother and sister died soon after). My husband told me one day he was not attracted to me anymore because of the weight gain and I was devastated. I told him that if he was going to keep snubbing me, when I lost the weight if he gave me attention, I'd never forgive him for only wanting me when I'm thin. I think it shook him up and he realized how awful he was being. I worry that when I get to my goal he'll be attentive like mad and I'll just be mad that he's (as he said, men are visual) so superficial. I've since decided to say "screw how he feels about my weight loss, I want to be the kind of woman I'd want to make love to" (if I were a man). I want to live in my body comfortably and gracefully and confidently. If others want me because of that, then I suppose I'll just feel more confident still, but honestly I just want to carry less weight on my frame and be willowy again.

  13. Hadley, I can sympathize on a lot of different levels with your feelings. When I started losing weight that final time I didn't tell anyone except my hubby and one or two friends. I was so afraid I was going to fail once again because I had failed about 500 times before.

    But inevitably people did notice. For me it was around the 50 pound mark, and even then, the comments were tenative.

    I'd suggest this to you. What's the worst thing that will happen if they notice? If they don't? Then go from those answers and you may decide that it's all going to be fine.

    It sounds like you really have a good relationship with your parents. As a parent myself, the last thing I would want would be to cause my children stress. And I would imagine your parents are the same way.

  14. I'm new to your blog but I just wanted to say congrats ion your progress so far! And if your parents notice, well, I'm sure it'll be positive!

  15. Hadley, I hope this visit is a breakthrough visit for you. I hope it helps you get through your fear of people noticing, because as you no doubt know, they will notice. I wish I could understand how you feel, but I am just the opposite. People noticing is empowering to me. The best to you during the upcoming visit.

  16. Hadley, a lot of people have said some really meaningful things on here. However, I just wanted to sympathize about not really sharing with people that you are on a 'diet'. For example, none of my family members know, except for my husband, that I blog about my struggles because I don't want them to read it and share 'fake' comments with me. I wanted them to just see the final result, but girl, you are making progress and that's hard to hide.

    Good luck this weekend and I hope it's a positive result. HUGGIE!

  17. I feel the same way this time around.

    In the past people would start noticing and I loved the attention and I think I got lax and eventually gained all the weight back.

    I feel like it's a jinx... and this time I don't want it. I dont want people to comment and notice until I am at goal!!

    Cant wait to hear how it goes on Monday!

  18. Hadley,

    I like how insightful you are. Although I definitely don't think that losing weight in order to be healthy and pursue your dreams is in any way vain, I can relate to your post. No one but my husband even knows about my blog and I like it that way. I feel like I can't say what I really need to say and I certainly can't talk about my weight with the people in my "real" life. In a way I feel like I'm still not owning up and being real, but right now I just have to do it this way. Losing weight is personal, so how you feel is how you feel and that's ok. I hope your visit with your parents goes well and that they don't say a word. :0)

    You are doing great and by the way, I love your name. Hadley has been my top choice for a baby name for a long time but you are the first person I have come across with that name. Love it, love it, love it!

  19. Yah, the whole people noticing thing feels like a double edge sword sometimes. They can get effusive about how much "different" you look with the weight loss. And so the unspoken comment is, actually them comparing you to you looking "worse" the other way.

    So, then what if you gain back the I've done now are you not that great?

    If you don't want the focus on yourself and they decide to compliment you, just say "Thanks" and return the compliment, "You guys look great too! How have you been?"

    Swift little subject change. Hope it goes well for you.

  20. i know how you feel girl, i've been at that place mentally. but you can't let that fear drive you crazy with fear.

    whenever i start to feel anxious about people and how they think of me or what they'll say i remember that people notice things and think about them for probably no longer than 30 seconds. they have their own bs to deal with.

  21. You could always wear bigger clothes that aren't too shapely that will hide the loss to a point.
    I know what you mean though. Some days, I love the compliments, but other days I hate the questions of "what are you doing?" "are you on a diet?"
    That being said, I had a person tell me last month that she had joined WW b/c she saw my progress and I think she has lost 10 pounds so far. I also know that if not for seeing the progress of a girl at work who didn't want anyone to know what she was doing, I would have never had the nerve to start WW.
    So, your changes can have a positive impact on someone else's life without you even knowing it.

  22. I just found your blog and wanted to offer support. I get it. After the birth of my first child, I felt sorry for myself for getting fat for two years and then joined weight watchers. I struggled with the same emotions... I was proud that the plan was working but I didn't want people to notice because if I lost a few pounds and then put it back on again, it would be a failure and everyone would publicly know I failed.. and I hate that. I am now fat again with my second child at two years old... so I am just seeking that catalyst to make me put down the doritos and stop feeling sorry for myself and do it again. Your blog is awesome and inspiring. Keep up the good work and if you falter, it's no biggie... we all do and you KNOW you can do it... just get back up and keep trucking!

  23. Last week my mom said that I seemed to have lost some weight. I was shocked. I usually go home for the weekends but when I was home I tried to hide that I was dieting or working out. Crazy I know but I just feel a bit ashamed that I'm in a weight loss process. I don't want anyone to know or notice, I don't want to talk about it even with my closest friends.
    I think my attitude and reasons are similar to yours.
    Have the best of the weekend! I'm sure it will go well.