By Danielle Walsh
ALL ILLUSTRATED BY ANNA SUDIT.
Something good is happening lately -- I feel fitter, happier, and in control. My clothes seem to fit better than they used to and I'm more energized and confident. No, it's not the latest fad diet. I haven't changed a thing about my workout routine. Here's the thing: I no longer own a full-length mirror.
Mirrors weren't always a problem for me. When I was young, I hardly gave my reflection a second thought. I was a skinny kid -- the little girl with a voracious appetite and endless energy. As a teen, I could eat what I pleased: A cheesy Buffalo chicken calzone, big helpings of my mom's unbeatable spaghetti, sandwiches piled high with cold cuts. Even with college nights of heavy drinking and the late-night eats that went with them, I only gained a few auxiliary pounds. In fact, I loved food so much that I made it my job after graduation when I became an assistant editor at a national food publication in New York City.
New York. A job. I was an adult. And, just like that, my pizza party was over.
I started gaining weight -- fast. Pants ripped unceremoniously. Sweaters grew tight in the shoulders. Cellulite showed up in places I never knew it could (Arms? REALLY?!). My identity as the skinny girl who could hold her own at 25-cent wings night, was shaken. My metabolism had come to a screeching halt; for the first time, I felt the need to watch what I ate. But, the "eat what I want, when I want it" mentality was nearly indelible after a lifetime of being able to do exactly that.
I knew I'd gained weight, but I didn't want to let it change my life. I conducted business as usual: Dinner or drinks with friends five nights a week (with guilt-erasing healthy lunches, and a workout here and there). But the one thing that ate me alive was seeing my new body in my full-length mirror.
I'd always been an indecisive dresser, but now it was out of control. Mornings began with me ripping through my drawers and closet for multiple outfit changes and painstaking tweaks. If a pair of jeans made my legs look too thick or a shirt didn't fall perfectly, I'd nix them -- even if, to everyone else, I looked great. The dressing panic became a habit; I was consistently running late for work, missing big chunks of movies, and -- in one extreme circumstance -- losing a reservation at a restaurant because I spent so long deliberating over a dress.