Finding Myself Underneath the 50-Pound Mask

Are you walking around masking your true self?

I have struggled with a weight problem my entire life. However, it got worse as I got older. It’s funny because looking back at pictures when I was younger and even in my late teens and early 20s, I wasn’t overweight. I was just heavier than my sisters or some friends. I was still in a healthy weight range, but I had body dysphoria, in some respect; I thought I was heavy.

In reality, I was just a tad bit above normal weight for my height. I remember my physician – at the time – said to me during a physical that I needed to lose about 10 pounds and start adding weight training to my exercise. I thought I was obese. The sad thing is that what I thought I was, I became.

I’ve been trying to find myself underneath the 50-pound mask. The reality is I’ve been carrying around way more than a 50-pound mask for years, but it was when I was about 50 pounds overweight that I knew that hidden underneath the extra fat was the person God intended me to be. 

Today, I often think about a quote from St. Catherin of Sienna, “Be who God meant you to be, and you will set the world ablaze.”

I wasn’t what I should be and hadn’t been for a long time. In March of 2023, I made an intentional decision to go on a specific weight loss plan to better myself. With every pound melted away, I began to see more of myself.

I am nearly 40 pounds lighter and closer to taking off the 50 pounds I put on since I got married more than 19 years ago.  I was overweight even before I walked down the aisle.

With each layer gone, I get more of a glimpse of my true self with the gifts and talents God gave me but have never truly used to their greatest potential.

What masks are you wearing that cover up your true self?

Several years ago, when I was editing a local women’s health magazine, I wrote about my struggles with my weight and how I wore the fat like a badge of honor. When you are overweight, you can’t hide that you have an issue. It’s not like someone who is an alcoholic who can sober up for an event or a drug addict who can conceal pills or needles. A shopaholic can hide the shopping bags. Some smokers are so discreet that not even their closest friends know they smoke but just because some masks are not so obvious doesn’t mean you’re not covering up your talents. Weight loss, for me, also means living up to my greatest potential.

When you are overweight, everyone can see the cover the up – it’s like I’ve been walking around with a costume for decades and the world gets to finally see who has been underneath all along and I get to find myself.

I thought about writing this once I hit my goal weight, but this could be a long journey and if I can inspire others by sharing my story, I will.

I am excited to get on the scale every morning instead of dreading it because, with every pound loss, it’s like slowly unwrapping that Christmas gift.

However, it’s still a struggle and I don’t have all the answers or the perfect formula for getting healthy. I am figuring this out as I go along and getting the support I need. I don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all approach. If there was, we wouldn’t have an obesity epidemic.

I will try to keep you posted as I continue and as I head towards living up to my greatest potential. Weight loss for me is about becoming the best version of myself. It is knowing that when you reach a major goal, your other goals seem more achievable.  The journey is more than just trying to reach a certain number on the scale, it’s my overall well-being, about my mind, body, and soul.

As a coach, I help clients reach goals, set expectations, improve their communication, work within their strengths, and build strong teams. Some of those clients are walking around with their masks, afraid to be vulnerable, to be wrong, afraid to fail, to say the wrong thing, or to make a mistake so they walk around with masks. The first step in creating strong teams is to create trust and trust takes truth and vulnerability. Patrick Lencioni talks about this in his book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

Each goal set requires an action plan to take and a specific one. With weight loss, that plan includes an eating plan, not only what you are eating but when you are eating and NOT eating.  I do intermittent fasts. The plan includes drinking lots of water and exercising – for me, it means walking with God. I pray on my walks and weight training while watching my favorite shows. Everybody Loves Raymond reruns are among my favorites.  

We all need to figure out what has created the costumes we wear that cover up our true selves. For me, it’s my emotional trigger. I am identifying those triggers more and more with each day. Once we understand the layers of our masks, we can begin peeling them off and discover who God created each of us to be.

Vanessa Denha Garmo is the founder of Epiphany Communications: Coaching & Consulting where she serves as a communications strategist, content creator, and coach. She is a certified life and leadership coach as well as a certified Strengths Coach and a facilitator with the Achieving Balanced Well-Being program. She is an Emmy Award-Winning Documentarian. She hosts the weekday radio program Epiphany on Ave Maria Radio and It’s Your Community on WJR 760 AM, 96.3 and 93.1 FM.

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