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We don't see ourselves as others do

The other night my husband let his Chihuahua out the front door to go do his business. All of a sudden Chico started barking and ran toward the corner of our lot. Dan looked out the door. Two women were walking by with a Great Pyrenees dog. Chico the Chihuahua ran right under the Great Pyrenees to give it a sniff. Chico has no fear because he has no concept of his size.

Two weeks ago I wrote the column "Eating to live or living to eat?" I sent it to my editor as a potential column only to fill space on the Opinion page. He e-mailed me saying it was a highly courageous column and that is takes guts to bare the soul about painful things in life. He also said, "I don't expect you to do this, and if you decide it's just too personal, that's OK." And he went on to say, "However, I respect the sentiment and the courage a LOT if you're still OK with running it. You can help yourself, but you can literally help hundreds of people by being real and running it. So I hope you still want to."

I had no problem "exposing myself" for thousands to read in both print and online. I don't regret it. To me, my story is not painful, it is what it is. It is the truth and I accept it. I don't feel brave or courageous.

I have received many positive comments, even from complete strangers. They said they appreciated the honesty and humor. Many said they could never share such things.

Most people have a fear or at least a concern about what others think of them. I call this the "what will they think of me filter." It is also known as the fear of being judged. I was born without it. I also realize that I cannot control other people's thoughts,

especially when I know their judgments are based on their own experiences. Not worrying about what other people think allows me to be creative, artistic and nonconforming. It also helps that I know that my family and friends love and accept me for who I am.

It may sound like I am self-confident or secure but I more than make up for the lack of fear of external judgment. I am my worst and overly critical judge and jury. I analyze what makes me the person I am and spent many years beating myself up.

The past four years I have been uncovering my false beliefs and have been working on healing emotional wounds.

Most people don't like dealing with or revealing what is hurting them on the inside. Instead, we tend to bury those feelings by consuming food or using drugs or alcohol to bear the pain. But I am here to tell you, like an evangelical preacher, that the truth will set you free.

Awareness brings transformation.

It was when my doctor labeled me morbidly obese that I had to face the truth. I tried to deny that my weight limited me. I could still tie my shoes. But as I reflect, my weight has kept me from living life and doing some things I want to do. I want to be a positive role model for my daughter. I want my husband to look at me with that twinkle in his eye. I want to jog to the park with my dog without gasping for breath and my legs feeling like they are on fire.

I am ready for my transformation.

For a jump start, my husband and I are a team in the Biggest Loser weight loss competition held at his place of employment. The title of being the biggest loser by percentage of weight loss and the cash award would be nice. But taking off the excess pounds and helping others on the way will be my reward. Maintaining the goal weight will be the biggest challenge.

My hope is that my journey will inspire others. But like Chico, I have no concept of my size.