E: Okay so let’s talk about this reaction you had when you saw your pictures.
A: *chuckles* Well, it’s just that the .. the bo… the… body. I didn’t see, I mean I couldn’t see them very well, just because… Yeah.
A: And I didn’t have my glasses on.
E: Okay. So what are the-
A: I… Several years ago, I lost 60 pounds. And I was really happy with that. And I have put on probably 20-30 back. And so that’s why I’m not happy with what my weight is. Because I know… I was.. In a better place. So.
E: Okay. Define “better place”
A: um… healthier. And, um, more comfortable with where I was. Cause I lost, you know, 60 pounds is huge. And as I went through that journey, it took about a year to do it. And, um, I felt terrific. And it was… um.. *long silence, crying* looking back.. Sorry.
E: No, you’re totally good.
A: The timing of losing weight was really good, and it was a good thing for me, because by the time my husband was sick and it took a lot more of me physically to take care of him. Um, I realized that had I weighed 60 lbs more, going through that experience, it would have been much more difficult for me to do, physically. Because he was a big guy, and I ended up pushing him in a wheelchair frequently. Um, and so, it was a blessing in my life and it happened at the right time, and I guess I’m just frustrated with myself because I had told myself that I was not ever gonna put that back on. And over several years, I’ve put some of it back on, and so I’m just frustrated with myself. And so that’s the – not – you know, I know I’m not near where I was before, but.. You know. Just a little frustration because I always said I was not gonna go… back. And it just happens, so.
E: Right. Can you… and you can say no. But can you tell me a little bit more about this experience with you husband? You mentioned he got sick.
A: So, um. In 2012 he was diagnosed with cancer, in his leg. And over two and a half years, as he went through chemo and, uh, radiation, and.. It was a two and a half year battle. And the cancer started in his leg, but it spread to his lungs. And therefore, it became more difficult for him to get around, because it was compromising his lungs. Um, so he was tired. And we had a wheelchair. And so, in order to conserve his energy, we… often I would drive him to work, we’d put him in the wheelchair, push him upstairs to his job, and then I would leave him and go to work, work myself, come back, pick him up at work, go pick him up and push him in the wheelchair back to the car, and then we’d drive home. Um, and so it was.. You know, he was not able to do a lot, physically. And so, a lot more was required of me. And, you know, you do what you do, because you love your spouse.
E: And he passed away.
A: He passed away, right .Four years ago.
E: Okay. So you talked about being frustrated because.. You applied a comparison of three different.. I don’t want tos ay versions, but-
E: three different time periods of Amy maybe?
E: Um, and one that’s extremely negative. I have a question. Do you feel like your feelings towards Current Amy are more positive or more negative than before you lost 60 lbs?
A: Um… I mean, it took a long time to get to the weight that I was. You know? 15 years of marriage, and three children, and.. It’s just what it was. I wouldn’t say… I mean, the opportunity arrived for me to start on Weight Watchers at that time and it was good. I.. I think it made me realize a little bit more how unhealthy I was at the weight that I was. And once I realised that I could lose the weight and get to that point, it started a momentum that was really good. And once I got to the goal weight, I felt fantastic. But comparing now… Yeah, um… mmm.. Now to that original time? Um, I don’t know. Somewhat, because I’m frustrated with myself that I’ve let myself get to this point of twenty to thirty pounds more than.. You know, I’d ost 60, and I’ve put some of that back on. So, it’s like… As I’d vowed to myself that I would never get there.
E: So, because of that responsibility that you gave and took yourself, then do you feel in some ways worse about yourself now than you did before you did Weight Watchers?
A: Um, no, I don’t think so. Because I still, I know I’m in a much better place than what I was. And I work out six days a week pretty much, and I’m in a much healthier place then I was then.
E: Did you know that then? Like, if you were to think back to how you felt about yourself then.
A: I was just a mom. And working. And taking care of my kids. And I didn’t think a lot about being healthy.
E: Right, so that’s mys question. If this is current Amy looking back on that Amy, Current Amy feels better about Current Amy, then that Amy.
A: Right, yeah.
E: But how does Current Amy feel about Current Amy compared to first Amy feeling about First Amy? Does that make sense?
A: Yeah. Um.. I mean. I guess I do feel better about myself now than I did ten years ago, because I’m in a better place. Even though, yeah, it’s kind of a.. Graded.. It’s hard to tell.
E: You’re healthier now.
A: Oh yeah, for sure. I mean, I put weight back on, but still, I exercise every day, and I’m aware. It’s just that I like to eat. *laughs* It’s just like “well?” I’m not as disciplined as I was during that time period that I was losing weight.
E: So.. Okay so here’s the pattern that I see in women who have lost a lot of weight. Sometimes, the more weight they lose, and the better they feel about themselves as they do it, the worse they feel about themselves when they’re not doing it.
E: So, how do you combat that? Do you feel like that’s your experience
A: Ummm.. not worse. Because the experiences that I’ve had give me a different perspective. Because losing my husband… you know… you don’t look.. I don’t think I’m as critical of myself as maybe others who would be in the same position, because I choose to be happy. *Silence* And, you know, I currently have someone else in my life that makes me happy, and tells me that I’m beautiful, and of course I’m like “ugh”, but I know that I am. I know that I am. Um, that doesn’t stop me from , uh. You know. But I don’t dwell on that negativity.
E: so.. Define dwell. Because there’s kind of a current controversy right now about dwelling on negativity. If it’s better to acknowledge it but not dwell or if it’s better to only focus on the positive exclusively. Which approach do you take and hwy?
A: Um, I don’t have time to dwell on negativity. I have enough things that I need to do in my life. I need to look for a job, I’m taking classes. And so.. And I’m not.. I’m not a super introspective person. And so I don’t spend a lot of time thinking “oh what if” or “if i did this”.
E: Why, do you think?
A: Um, I never really have been. Because sometimes it’s like, well, I do what I can do. And.. I just do what I can do. And if I want to change something more, I know I have to change something. You know, I have to do something about it. If I’m not happy with where I’m at, I have to do something about it. And I have to get uncomfortable enough with that in order to make a change. So, obviously, I’m comfortable enough where I am now. Do I still step on the scale in the morning and go “ugh, okay. Whatever.” Um, but I don’t beat myself up about it all day long.
E: Okay. So then why step on the scale at all?
A: Because I still have to keep myself… you know, if I didn’t try to… I mean, when I was losing weight of course I did it every day, just to see what my progress was.
E: Right, to measure.
A: To measure that. I still do it now, because if I didn’t pay attention to that, I would really be mad if I stepped on the scale two months later and I’d gained ten pounds.
E: So what if you never step on the scale? Like, because you work out six days a week regardless.
E: So like you said “I do what I can.” So if you’re doing what you can already, what if you never stepped on the scale again?
A: I don’t know that I could do that.
A: uh… because, yeah, that number is kind of important. Even though it shouldn’t be, but it is.
E: Okay. So tell me, what’s the relationship with the number? Why is it important?
A: Well , because I already went through that time period where it was important, and you have that goal every day, and you want to get down and it’s like “oh! Now I’ve lost 40 pounds!” I mean, I remember when I was about 25 lbs lost, I went to a football game at another school, and I tripped going down the stairs, and I fell, and ended up at the bottom of the stairs. And I was able to get myself up and walk away, and I thought, “Man. If I had that 25 lbs still, I would just be lying on the ground going.. I can’t believe I’m in this position.” But.. it just helps me.. Stepping on the scale every day still keeps me ontrack. I get on the scale in the morning before I work out, or eat usually. And then I weigh a little less after I’ve worked out because I’ve sweat a little water weight, and it’s like “oh, okay!”
E: So how many times do you step on the scale a day?
A: Twice, usually. And it’s in the morning. You know, I’m not gonna step on the scale at the end pf the day after I’ve eaten all day long. But usually before I work out and after I work out., Which is kind of a false.. You know, I like to see that change. But I don’t.. I don’t know.
E: So.. when you fell, whether or not you knew how many pounds you lost, you still would have been able to get back up. Like you were able to get up not because you knew how much weight you lost, but because you lost the weight.
A: Yeah, because I was more physically able to do things that I wasn’t able to do.
E: Okay, so, hypothetically, if you were to just throw out the scale and literally never look at it again, never step on it again, how would your life be different? And how would your…
A: idea of myself?
A: Um… it would be very difficult to throw it out. Hypothetically, if I could do it, um… it would take… I don’t know. That’s a hard question. A really hard question.
E: *laughs* take your time. From an outsider’s perspective, if you were to just watch your own life. Watch yourself get on the scale every day, twice a day.. Do you see that adding more negativity-
A: Um, not negativity-
E: -or positivity? Or both?
A: I wouldn’t say negativity because it keeps me motivated. Making sure I get on the scale every day keeps me motivated.
E: What if you feel disappointed?
A: Um… I know tomorrow’s a new day. So, you know, I gained a couple pounds overnight, sometimes it’s water weight from your period, whatever. Or, I know I didn’t eat so good yesterday, and the scale is reflecting that. But, I know there’s always a new day. And there’s an opportunity the next day to do better. I mean, I went through ten plus years, ten, fifteen years of not getting on the scale, and that got me to 240 pounds. Because I was focused not on me, I was focused on my family. Stepping on the scale every day allows me to focus on me, and make sure I’m taking care of myself, and so I think it adds positivity, because I could be the depressed person who lost her spouse and has nothing to live for. But that’s not where I’m at. It’s like, well, I still want to be attractive to somebody. And I don’t want to live the rest of my life alone. Not that I think physicality is what’s going to attract someone to me. The guy that I’m dating, he’ll tell me. “While I think you’re very beautiful and attractive, that is not what initially attracted me to you. It’s how you live and who you are and what you do.” And I know that. I don’t want to be looked at for just my physical self. Because that’s not what it’s all about.
E: Right. So when he tells you that, do you believe him?
A: Yes, I do. I mean, it’s hard sometimes because he’s man, and he notices and he tells me I’m beautiful, and I sometimes push that off. But I believe what he tells me. I’ve been dating him for about 6 months and I know that what he tells me.. I trust him. We’ve had lots of conversations. And he’s in another state. So, he doesn’t see me every day.
E: Would it be harder if he did?
A: I mean, we FaceTime… I don’t know… No, I don’t… I don’t know. I mean, we see each other every couple of weeks… I don’t know… I don’t know. Harder to maintain how I feel about myself?
E: Harder to believe him
A: No, I don’t think so.
E: So if he wasn’t in your life telling you all these things, would you still believe them?
E: Okay, how did you come to that place where you could truly believe that about yourself, that you are beautiful?
A: Um. *long pause, crying* I’ve often – *voice breaks, long pause*
E: I love this, by the way. I love how authentic you’re being and I really appreciate it.
A: Um, I have been told many times throughout my life that I’m photogenic. And, okay. But I think *long pause*. When my husband died, and that time period after… *long pause* Um. *long pause* I know that my Heavenly Father loves me. And that I’m important. And that he’s aware of me. Despite what has happened to me in my life. Um, I know that His plan is better than mine. That’s really what it comes down to. And I know, as I have served [in religious leadership positions for several years, including] for a short time before my husband died. Um, I don’t know. I guess, I know I have a lot to offer people, and I find joy in serving and doing… I don’t know how all this relates, but… what was the question? *laughs*
E: You just keep talking.
E: Your journey to this belief…
A: I think I’ve always known. I think I’ve always had a healthy, confident attitude about myself throughout my life. You know, I’ve worked, I’ve taken care of myself, I’ve almost always had a job. I quit my job a year ago, and not having a job takes a toll on me. Because I feel like I’m not contributing. And if anything, that aspect right now of my life, is something that brings me down, because I don’t have the self confidence *begins to cry* partly because I don’t have that spouse next to me anymore to tell me I can do it. I guess that’s also kind of contradictory to what I’m saying.
E: It’s okay, just talk through it.
A: After having somebody by my side for twenty two years, and then not having that companion and that cheerleader.. You know, he would be the one that would tell me “you have these skills. You can do this,” He would help me sell myself because he knew me. And yeah, that’s something I struggle with now because I don’t know how to put it all together. And part of it is throughout my working life, jobs kind of fell in my lap, and I didn’t have to do a lot of interviewing, looking, and now I have to work at it to make it happen, and I have to make it happen in the next little while, and it’s hard to do without that hand holding to get me down that path.
E: So, do you feel like you associate or dissociate with Amy 60 lbs ago? How do you feel about her now?
A: Um. *long pause* She was a mother who took care of her children and her spouse. And didn’t pay a lot of attention to herself. But I’m not angry about that because I did what I needed to do for that time period. And I know I accomplished the things I needed to during that period of time, and taking care of my children. When I look back at those pictures, I’m like “aaaah” Not happy with the way I had let myself get, to gain that much weight. Um, I accept her. You know, I’m not angry about it. So do I associate or dissociate it?
E: Do you feel like you’re the same-
A: No. No I am not the same person. That was a time in my life that was necessary. And I accomplished things then.
E: So, if you could talk to her right now, what would you tell her?
A: Um, you should take a little more time out for yourself. Because I know how important that is now, for me. You know, even when my husband had cancer, I would get up at 5:00 in the morning and go to the gym or go run or go for a bike ride before anyone else got up, I took that time for me, and I knew I needed that time for me, and I wonder how effective I would have been when my children were small, if I had taken that early morning hour in my day to take care of myself. Because, through two and a half years of my husband going through cancer, I still took time for myself every day, because taking time for myself made me better able to take care of him and my family throughout the day.
E: Okay, so you would instruct her. You would advise her.
A: Yeah. Just take a little time
E: Okay, what if you were to express your feelings about her, to her, what would you say?
A: You’re doing a good job. You’re taking care of your children, which is what that era of your life was for, cause little kids take times, and are in need. But you know, you could have fit some time in somewhere, just to take care of yourself a little more.
E: Do you feel over for her?
E: Okay, so noo kind of tapping into her, what do you think she needs to hear? Maybe it’s the same.
A: Yeah, just, you’re taking care of the needs of your family and the people around you, but take a little time for yourself.
E: So is that what she wishes someone would have told her then?
A: …probably. Whether she would have really made the time… I think, I mean… the most important thing at that time was family, and taking care of family, and working. I was working a full time job. Get up, take the kids to daycare, come home, make dinner, put the kids in bed, and go to bed yourself. You know, and that was the most important thing that I could have been doing at that time. You know, maybe the doing things that I wanted for myself… I sewed clothes for my children, and did some.. Somewhat crafty things. I still did things for myself, but they were things at home, that I liked to do, rather than taking care of my physical body. It’s not that I ignored my needs, but my priorities were different. I did things I could do with my children at home, rather than pulling myself away to go do things I wanted to do. I was never one that did girls’ nights with friends. You know, if I went out, my husband and I would go to dinner or go to a movie or something. I was probably not as important… and you know, you get to that point, being a Mom.
E: So what would you tell other mothers, and young mothers, struggling with the same thing?
A: You really need to figure out who you are and what you need when you are young and your family’s still there, because they’re gonna be gone someday, and you gotta figure out who you are. And realize.. You know, what do women do when their kids are gone from home? Many find themselves lost and don’t know what to do because they don’t have anybody to take care of. So, yes, you need to wholeheartedly take care of your family but you need to have some time to know who you are and take time for yourself, so that future you knows who you are, and knows you’re important.
E: Okay, last question. If someone was to come up to you and say “we are going to redefine the word beautiful, and you get to decide. Whatever you decide beauty is will be universally accepted as beautiful, whatever it is, on questions asked.” How would you define it?
A: Um… beauty can be… it’s not just women or men. But a beautiful person is one who has concern and love and compassion for those around them. It’s selfless. Because that kind of love for others makes them feel loved and would lead them to care for others. There are beautiful people who are not physically beautiful but are beautiful souls who care, and have compassion and concern for others.
E: I’m hearing a lot about love.
A: Yeah! That is.. Someone who can’t feel love for others… beauty is caring for yourself as well as caring for others, and acting on those feelings.
E: I love that. Thank you.