Where’s the New Me in the Mirror?

Zach J. Payne
Oct 10 · 3 min read

I recently wrote about my weight loss, and the trouble that I’m having with it. And I think I finally touched onto one of the reasons that I’m struggling with it so much.

I keep expecting to see somebody new in the mirror.

For the vast majority of people, a loss of 77 pounds* would be drastic. (I’m assuming I’ve lost more since I wrote that, since I’m losing at about a rate of a pound and a half a day. But it’s not official until I step on the doctor’s scale.) You would see that kind of loss on their body. Hell, most people would look like a completely new person. But I just look like me.

The same ol’Oompa-Loompa me. Judge for yourself:

On the left: June 1, 2019, before I started the diet. On the right: October 10, 2019, as I’m writing this essay. Other than lighting and facial hair, there isn’t much of a difference. I might even look worse now. (Photos from the Author’s Extensive Selfie Archive / AESA).

Sure, I feel a little bit better since I’ve taken that picture. I can walk a little bit further without having to stop. But I don’t trust my own subjective experience of my body. I hate my body too much for that. What I feel doesn’t matter.

Instead, I’m looking for some kind of external proof. Whether that comes in the difference in how people treat me, or just the fact that I look noticeably different in the mirror.

With 99 people out of 100, this much weight loss would be absolutely transformational. They would see something for all of the effort that they’ve put in. They would already be a completely and totally different person.

I’m still me. No changes yet.

And seeing that change would create a kind of positive feedback loop. When you can see something good happening, that serves as a kind of intrinsic positive feedback look.

Recently, my dear friend Shannon wrote about how much she’s struggled with being on a diet similar to the one that I’m on, and it’s beginning to click: it’s a easy to realize that you need to make a change in your life, but it’s really damn hard to keep making that change continually, especially when you’re not seeing any kind of change.

It’s so easy to throw up your hands and say fuck this nonsense! Especially when there’s something really tempting about the temporary comfort that exists at the bottom of a party-sized bag of peanut butter M&Ms.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to do that.

I felt like that needed to be in big letters.

At this point, I’ve invested too damn much into this process. I’ve made myself too damn miserable for too damn long, just to relapse back into my old ways. Even if I do want to eat an entire carrot cake and lick the cream cheese frosting off of my fingers.

I’m not kidding. Junk food has a lot of real estate in my brain, especially while I’m not eating it. I don’t know if that will ever change. I hope it does.

But for now, I’ve got to keep taking one difficult day after another, and keep waiting for that different me in the mirror.

I hope he shows up soon.


Zach J. Payne is, to borrow the words of Lin-Manuel Miranda, “a polymath, a pain in the ass, a massive Payne”. He is a thespian, poet, and writer for young adults. He is the #2 Ninja Writer. He is not looking forward to having to rewrite this bio once he’s skinny and the “Hamilton” pun no longer works.

Follow along on his adventure, and receive his Query Letter, Deconstructed.

Zach J. Payne

Written by

Asexual/Queer. Essayist, Poet, Playwright, Writer for Young Adults. #2 Ninja Writer.

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