When You Couldn't Imagine and New You, and Now Can't Identify with the Old

Of all the things that I’ve experienced since starting the ketogenic diet, no change has been more profound than my internal image of myself. When I was large, I went to great lengths to avoid seeing anything that might show me how I actually appeared. Mirrors, plate glass windows whilst walking down a sidewalk, well polished silverware. Any reflective surface was scrupulously avoided by averting my eyes or allowing my pupils to go unfocused. Cameras and photographs were strictly verboten. I wanted to have plausible deniability of how much weight I was carrying, of how nearly perfectly round I had grown. As long as I couldn’t see it there was a slim chance it wasn’t true. It was the self-image version of when a young child covers her eyes and thinks if she can’t see you, you can’t see her.

This, of course, was folly. While I tried to avoid objective confirmation that I had become a truly heavy person, even while realizing that 24W jeans are not worn by ‘normal’ sized women and that fear of breaking flimsy bistro chairs at trendy wine bars shouldn’t be a thing, I’d figure I couldn’t be that big because… well, where’s your proof? I was playing at holding two opposing thoughts in my head at the same time. F. Scott Fitzgerald is quoted as having written that doing such is a sign of great intelligence. In my case, more a case of extreme denial.

The truth is, I couldn’t escape my mental image of myself. Seeing other people, going about their lives, walking around in trim, fit bodies, viewing movies or television shows where characters flit about, light on their feet, appearing immune to gravity so easily did they glide across a room, only made me more aware of how bogged down I felt. Physically cemented to the floor. I couldn’t image myself doing things like sitting crossed legged in a chair and then popping up to hustle to turn off the oven when a timer went off, or walking our dogs with friends without becoming so winded that I’d simply withdraw from the conversation as they magically would be able to both and talk at the same time. The thought of being whisked up in my husbands arms was beyond the realm. I simply couldn’t imagine myself smaller. Not even in my dreams. 

After having inhabited that body - and having those sad images of myself inhabit my brain - for nearly 30 years, it would be easy to assume things were set in stone for me. I had come to that conclusion. The idea of being the largest person in a room, of not fitting in airline seats without encroaching over the arm rests, of fleeing the moment cameras came out (and now that everything is a camera, just torture!) was, simply put, who I was and always would be. I couldn’t conjure seeing myself as a smaller person. Like trying to image the color orange if you’ve never seen it.

The really amazing thing is that now, having lost so much weight (115.5 pounds from my heaviest, about 97 since starting the ketogenic diet) I can’t imagine having been my former, large self. There was a time when if I accidentally saw the rare photos of me that slipped past my defenses I’d spiral into despair. And not just kind of. One of the worst bouts of depression I experienced was after seeing a photo from our daughter’s wedding. It devastated me and I came as close as I’d ever be able to imagine believing that my husband, children and the world would be better off without me. But I can write honestly here that looking at photos from my past impacts me not at all. The fact is that, for all those decades of not being able to imagine a new me, I now can’t identify or imagine the old. The human mind’s ability to adapt to new surroundings is stunning. From moving from the Arctic to the Equator or amputees learning to walk again to picking up new languages to shedding a fat parka and not being able to remember what carrying around all that freight felt like. 

All of this is by way of telling you that, if you are where I was before taking up this nutrition protocol - and to remind, it’s keeping total carbohydrate intake to 20g/day or fewer, eating fatty sources of protein, eating only when hungry and stopping when satisfied - and can’t imagine being a smaller, trimmer, happier version of you, know that you can absolutely do this. 

If I can do this, you can. I promise. I know it in my heart. There’s nothing special about me or about the many others who have found success on the ketogenic diet. Have faith in the process, in the science. In yourself. Conjure up images of you, light on your feet. Shopping in the ‘normal’ section of store. Being swept up in your lover’s arms. Dreams do come true. 

Dare to dream.

Disclaimer: I’ve been fortunate to have had the time and resources to research the ketogenic diet, also known as LCHF (low carb/high fat). The information I share is based solely on my understanding of that research. We are all responsible for our own choices, including what we put in our mouths and there’s no substitute for each of us checking things out ourselves. And I’m not a medical professional in any way. Go Keto With Casey is not a medical site. “Duh,” you might say. But best to make it clear to all.  I welcome questions, comments and even civil criticism. I’m still learning. So, if you have something to add, go for it. Links in this post and all others may direct you to afflilate links, where I will receive a small amount of the purchase price of any items you buy through those links. Thanks!