My wife eyed me critically Friday morning and said, "You look skinny."
Objectively, I know that I do not, by any stretch of the imagination, look skinny. I'm still bulbous and gourdlike. If I were a woman, folks would probably think I'm about seven months pregnant ... and in dire need of electrolysis and a wig.
My wife didn't mean it in an objective sense, of course. She meant it subjectively. I'm 32 pounds lighter than I was on April 1. She'd noticed the difference.
Knowing that didn't change how I reacted to her comment. I said something like, "No, I don't." I may have ended it with: "I'm fat."
I say things like that every time someone compliments me on my progress. It has nothing to do with modesty; it's about how I see myself.
Last week, I sat down for an interview with Republican gubernatorial candidate Mary Fallin. She praised my efforts as Ken 2.0. I said, "I still have a long way to go."
"You're doing great," she said.
"I hope I can keep it up," I replied.
A day or two later, I ran into one of the newspaper executives in the break room. "How much have you lost so far?" she asked. When I told her I'd lost 32 pounds, she said something positive that ended with an exclamation point and added, "You should be proud."
I said I'm not losing weight quickly enough.
This kind of negative thinking is not helping my efforts. I've written before about how part of me doesn't seem to want me to succeed. It'd be easier to give up entirely, to go back to eating whatever I want and whenever I want. I've given in a few times recently.
I went four months without eating at McDonald's once. I've done it four times in the past couple weeks.
Fast food isn't a treat for me. It's a punishment I inflict upon myself for some sin, real or imagined. I have a bad day at work and sabotage myself with bad food. I miss a workout and think, "Why even bother continuing?"
That same impulse fuels my poor self-image.
The other day, I heard something a Weight Watchers instructor told her class.
The instructor, a therapist, said it takes 20 compliments to override the emotional damage caused by a single insult. That rings true to me.
My wife can tell me I look good all day long. Others — sources, co-workers, friends, readers and supporters — can say I'm doing great.
It won't matter. Not until I believe it myself.
Staff Writer Ken Raymond began a yearlong weight loss and fitness journey on April 1. Here are his stats:
Height: About 6 feet 1 inch
Beginning weight: 307 pounds
Current weight: 275 pounds