Seeing with clear(er) eyes
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
I've been thinking a lot about the ways in which my eyes trick me, and how that played a role in all that weight I gained back between 2008 and 2012. I looked in a mirror every day, but it wasn't until I saw a photo my dad took of me that I realized how heavy I had gotten. I'd been subconsciously avoiding cameras (and the scale) for a while at that point, but never really saw the reality of my own reflection.
Many articles explain why we don't like the way we look when we see ourselves in photographs. Part of it has to do with the fact that we're used to seeing ourselves in a mirror (reversed). The mirror also distorts our perspective—we're not seeing the whole picture. I think this is much more true for those of us who are very nearsighted and wear thick glasses. You can see how strong my lenses are when I'm wearing them, because they make my eyes look about half their actual size. Well, guess what? They make the world look that much smaller to me, too, especially at close range. I have to bump up the type size on my laptop to read it. So of course, when I was looking at myself in the mirror, I was seeing that distorted, much smaller reflection. In photos, I can see my actual size much more accurately.
There's an old weight-loss "trick" about using smaller plates. That's not just a trick, of course—it actually works. It's even more important for those of us who are very nearsighted, since we can't accurately judge the size of a portion visually. Here's another trick: I wear my contact lenses when I go to restaurants, so I can see the actual size of the food and plates. (At home, I have specific small plates, bowls, and glasses that I use, because I know how much they hold. I also use a small fork and spoon. You'd be amazed how much of a difference that makes.) We eat out a lot, so it's really important that I have a good sense of the actual amount of food on my plate—something that I was oblivious to for a while, there. In the part of Seattle where I live, most people are young and fit, so at least the restaurants don't tend to serve huge portions, but that isn't true most places, and we travel a lot.
I can honestly say that I've not been hungry even one day since I started SparkPeople. Changing the way I look at food—literally—helps a lot with that. Now I just need to remember to keep looking at the scale from time to time.