By: Mary Pat Baldauf
That was the third question my internist, Dr. Brad Word, asked when I stopped by Columbia Medical Group for some blood work.
His nurse, Teresa, shot him a dirty look and said, “Why do you ask that just because she’s lost weight? She’s still the same person she was before she lost weight.”
In his defense, Dr. Word always asks me that question; it’s usually about the third one. He is a family doctor in every sense of the word, no pun intended, and when one of us see him, it’s like we all see him. He always asks about the family first; in this case, he asked how my mother and sister were doing. Dr. Word isn’t hitting on me, nor is he a nosy doc; the question and my resulting answer, he says, gives him a barometer my mood.
Back to his question, “Are you dating anyone?”
I laughed it off and gave one of my usual flip answers: “No, can you believe it?” or “Why? Do you have someone in mind?” But later that night, I recalled his nurse’s reaction and wondered if I was really the same person I was before I lost weight.
To quote Madonna, “No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you’ve come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself.” When I compare my self of today with my self from 85 lbs. ago, I’d say that I’m the same, but a little better. Mary Pat 2.0, if you will.
My fundamental self, that person I am deep down, has stayed the same. I still root for the underdog, play Devil’s advocate and use humor to avoid familiarity. I procrastinate. I am competitive, obsessive-compulsive and rebellious. I don’t like the status quo, and heaven knows, I still have the same hips, just a little smaller.
On the flip side, since I’ve lost weight, I’m more direct and stand up for myself more. I am more confident. I take a few more risks. I’m more forgiving of my mistakes, not as hard on myself as before. While my sister would say that I still seek the spotlight, I’d say that I’m more comfortable staying behind the scenes and giving credit to others. On a superficial note, I’m smaller, and my clothes look better. And after years of short styles, I’m growing out my hair.
Not all of the changes have been positive. I find myself less tolerant of those with unhealthy lifestyles. Because I had such an unhealthy lifestyle for so long, I have a hard time understanding that one. I’m also less social because I have less free time and still haven’t figured out how to manage social events that revolve around food and drink.
As I move into the second year of this new lifestyle, the changes are evening out. I’m working on losing the last five pounds and building strength, but the physical changes are slowing down. The things that were first so challenging and disruptive at first – grocery shopping, cooking, working out – have become more comfortable routines. The overwhelming high of “finally losing the weight” is being replaced by the steady satisfaction of attaining wellness and enjoying the resulting benefits. Finally, I’m getting used to the person that I see in the mirror.
But am I dating anyone? Why? Do you have someone in mind?
How have you changed as a result of a lifestyle change? Was that change temporary or permanent? Were the changes welcome or disruptive? What advice can you give someone who goes through a significant lifestyle change?