04/25/2013 08:04 EDT | Updated 06/25/2013 05:12 EDT

How Losing Weight Almost Made Me Lose My Mind

low section closeup of a woman...

By Andrea Ashby

So I stood there, pantless and confused.

Looking at my reflection, I didn't see anything drastically different about my appearance, as I had always known it to be. I concluded that I was maybe slightly thinner than usual, but my stride told me that "slightly" was a bit of an understatement.

It was during my routine walk to work one day, that my body really shocked me. As I paced onward, I noticed a very strange sensation -- or rather, the absence of one. And that was the fact that my thighs weren't touching.

For all of my life, my thighs have always made contact as I walked. Sometimes more and sometimes less, but always at least a little bit as a subtle reminder that my legs were present and accounted for.

Until they apparently weren't.

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And so I rushed home that day, perhaps with a little more enthusiasm than usual, and pulled down my pants immediately to see what was the matter. It was as if I needed visual confirmation that my legs were still operational, but my body and my mind seemed to be in two very different places.

Now, I do not consider myself a small person. I never have. I was always known as the girl with the ass, and was accustomed to having it be the subject of comments made by friends, family, acquaintances, and even strangers. Though it was physically a part of me, I also felt like it was a part of my identity. It was bountiful. It was mine. And I wasn't afraid to show it off.

It was never my intention to make my ass smaller. But as I stood there, pantless and confused, I realized, somehow it had happened.

Months before, I had decided that I was tired of feeling lethargic and bloated all the time. I started to move more and eat less, and my shape gradually changed as a result of that. Over the course of about a year, I had lost around 30 lbs, and I'm willing to bet that the majority of that came strictly from my ass and thighs.

Hearing others describe me was extremely strange. At times, I wondered if I was seeing the same person that they were, or if my mind was simply under-reporting whatever transformations may have taken place.

It was surreal. The body that I had had owned all my life suddenly seemed not to belong to me anymore. It was as if it were somebody else's. Its legs were slimmer, its stomach was firmer, and apart from the physicality of it all, even its perception by others was completely different.

People started telling me that I had "lost so much weight." That I looked "so different." But I really didn't know if they meant such comments to be complimentary or insulting. My mother told me that I "lost my ass."

To have some people around me make it seem like the change was odd, or even wrong in some way, was difficult. I had changed, they had noticed, but not everyone necessarily liked it. Should I have been lamenting the loss of body parts that made me who I was, or had I become a new and improved version of my previously pudgy and decidedly-less-desirable self?

It became apparent to me that something very odd happens when you lose weight, and especially when you lose a lot of it. You look at yourself every day, so it's hard to keep track of what's normal for your appearance.

Mentally, it was almost as if I had switched teams. In my previous state, I used to tell myself that my shape was realistic. That my body was that of a "real" woman's. That I should be proud of it in comparison to the slimmer, straighter silhouettes I'd see in editorial spreads or on red carpets.

Though I wouldn't have admitted it at the time, I harboured a silent resentment against skinny girls. I assumed that they didn't eat, that they were just born that way, and that they likely had bitchy attitudes for no reason whatsoever.

All that changed suddenly when I had to alter those assumptions so that I wouldn't hold those feelings against myself. It wasn't about "teams," because there were none. Slim ladies didn't congregate at night to plot the demise of curvy chicks, and vice versa. One wasn't better than the other, regardless of my irrational (or even instinctual?) need to frame other women as competition. And that was a relief.

On the front of me-versus-others, this realization brought me a great deal of self-acceptance. But my mind still had a hard time catching up with my body when it came to me-versus-me. I didn't know it was even possible, but you can feel like a fat kid on the inside, and a svelte adult on the outside.

When two impulses from completely different places clash, that's when I feel it most. And especially when it comes to food. The thought of pizza makes my mouth water, but it also conjures up a huge PROCEED WITH CAUTION sign in my brain.

Even further to mind versus body, the impulses are at odds in past versus present. I think about what I would have done before, what I believe I should do now, and evaluate how both will affect my future.

My relationship with food is something I continue to fine tune on a daily basis. It can be really difficult to reconcile what I practice with what I preach. Hell, it even makes me feel like an imposter at times, but I suspect that's something I'll reconcile eventually. It took me years to develop those habits, so I don't expect them to disappear immediately, regardless of what I look like.

I'm not a fat kid, but I do love cake. And with the help of moderation, I don't have to feel like an undercover pudgy person walking around in a skinny suit.

The Purple Fig is a community where women share personal and relatable stories; no ego, no shame. We're about life, love and all of the stuff that makes us yearn, squirm, and giggle. These stories make up the authentic and intriguing journey of a woman.

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