What if she was someone I loved


I first noticed the skin on her chest, just under the neck. It was dry and needed lotion. The rest of her face needed it too. I dabbed a few dots of my favorite moisturizer onto my finger and dotted it onto her temple. The jolt of the cool moisturizer connected my finger to the image in the mirror and the voice, my voice, asking, “What if she was someone you loved?”

Images of my infant children flashed as I remembered lovingly rubbing lotion onto their sweet, chubby arms and legs, watching their faces for smiles, knowing that each stroke was a way of caring for them. I was rubbing in moisturizer and love — connecting with them as I nurtured them. Love is not simply giving, but it is the act of giving.

“What if she was someone you loved?” For a moment I saw myself as I had seen my children. I needed me to be compassionate to my skin that is dry and aging. Instead, I typically just slap on moisturizer, wondering why my skin looks so bad as I look for blemishes, regretting my big nose and thin lips, and casting disdain on the wrinkles on my forehead. Those wrinkles seem to grow deeper each day. I’ve begun to avoid mirrors, as if rushing through a morning routine and not looking might help erase the lines.

Here was a full-length mirror by the window that showed all of the rough stuff, and here was my own voice challenging me to interact with myself as if I was someone I loved. When we love someone, we tend to see their flaws with compassion. In this full-length mirror, I saw my tremendously large thighs, my wide waist, and my thick calves. Earlier in the day, as I folded laundry, I had picked up a pair of jeans and thought, “Gosh, these look small. Are you sure you can wear these? Why do these jeans look so small, but you look so big? Your thighs and hips are huge, but these jeans don’t look so big.” I had kept folding, thinking maybe I should start walking more frequently, and more consistently, and maybe I should see a doctor about whether I might have lipedema. There I was facing those thighs, that waist, and wondering, “What if she was someone you loved?”

That person who wants to love me sometimes wonders, “Maybe your thighs aren’t that big. You wear a jeans size smaller than 60% of American women. You don’t wear the biggest size in the store.” Yet, I know there are much smaller sizes in the stores, too. Sizes that I cannot wear. Moreover, there are women who wear the same size that I wear now who desperately want to lose weight. They begin their weight-loss journey weighing what I weigh now.

“But where did you start?” I remind myself that when I wore a size 24 — 7 sizes larger! — pants, I would have been delighted to be in the size I am now. A physician once reminded me that I’d spent most of my life weighing around 250 pounds (113 kilos). I’d shared with her that I wore a size 22 even in high school and had mainly weighed between 225-265 pounds (102-120 kilos) during the ages of 14 to 45, from adolescence to middle age. I had weighed over 150 pounds (68 kilos) as a 7-year old. She had told me, “For you, this weight is great. You are healthy.” She also warned me, “You’re going to have to work to stay at this weight. Your body thinks it is starving. It will fight to be back to 250 pounds.” My resolve had flashed, “Well, if it can get used to 250, it can get used to 150 pounds, too.” She never responded to my comment.

Since then, I’ve continued to remain faithful to a strict ketogenic diet. Most days, at least once each day, I am grateful for one or more of the fantastic advantages of significant weight loss and reduced pain and inflammation. I can do many things that I couldn’t do before, and I celebrate being able to shop for smaller clothes. I go on and on about the amazing food, increased energy, and what it’s like to no longer be morbidly obese in a society too quick to fat shame. I never miss an opportunity to share the miracle of how keto turned my struggle into my best life.

Yet every day, I struggle to treat myself like someone I love. If I could do that, how different my life might be. When I fold clothes, I might say, “Look at those tiny jeans! Oh girlie, you’ve come so far!” Maybe I might enjoy the touch of my own hands tenderly massaging moisturizer instead of gruffly, hastily, checking off one more task and checking off my inadequacies as I go.

“What if she was someone you loved?” I hope that I’d be kinder and more compassionate. Perhaps I’d prioritize my needs more so that I’d stop working and start walking, maybe do yoga or pilates, and make more time for those in my life who do somehow manage to love “her”. The mirror would remind me less often of how far I need to go and more often of how far I’ve come.

The mirror would serve as a reminder of how I’ve beaten the odds and remind me less of how imperfect my body remains. Fewer than 30% of those who lose 100 pounds (45 kilos) or more keep the weight off for longer than a year. I suspect that treating myself like someone I love would make me more lovable and help me to be more loving towards others.

Yes, I’m stuck with this traveling-companion body, and I have to accept that it may never be the svelte shape of my dreams — a shape that is far easier to love. This body has tried to serve me well, and I suppose that if I can’t be with the one I love, I should learn to love the one I’m with.


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  1. Janet
    Beautiful writing from a beautiful (and intelligent,
    creative, sweet-natured) woman. It brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for your honesty and vulnerability to share your journey with us, Kristie.
  2. Carla
    Dearest Kristie, Thank you for one of the best posts I've read while on this journey. I know the person you are referring to very well and can relate to every step you write about. I have yet to learn to love her, to accept and support her. I'm trying to take care of her as if she were one of my daughters. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It means the world to "her".
  3. Nancy
    What a thoughtful piece of writing. Having lost a chunk of weight myself, and having turned 60, I realize I don't even SEE the woman in the mirror, yet alone love her. I deny the wrinkles that have emerged. I wonder why all my friends are looking older, and I'm not. I see my old body and just shrug and say, "at least I feel better." What would it be to embrace that woman in the mirror instead of denying her her accomplishments and accepting her failures...to acknowledge her youthful mind and aging body honestly and compassionately? When I am gone, few will remember what size I was or how well I aged. They will remember my words and my acts of kindness and perhaps my laugh. I have to see myself through their eyes.
    Reply: #8
  4. Catherine
    One of the best posts I've read on Diet Doctor - thank you for sharing such heartfelt reflections and personal insight.
  5. Mary Heimert
    This was so beautiful. It is just what I needed to hear. I was born with a rare condition called Multiple Hereditary Exostoses which causes numerous bony tumors all over the body. Even though I am at ideal weight, it is difficult to love this deformed body.
    Reply: #9
  6. Sue
    Wonderful and liberating article thanks. Great feedback too.
  7. Judy
    powrful! And so true for me. I have had gastric bypass, regain, been low carb for 3.5 years and regained 10 pounds due to stress I think. (counting carbs and calories carefully). Choosing everyday to love my body as it is .
  8. Kristie Sullivan, PhD Team Diet Doctor
    Yes! Thanks for your beautiful comment.
  9. Kristie Sullivan, PhD Team Diet Doctor
    This is true for me with the back issues I face. I have described myself as a hobbit or even Quasimodo. It is so difficult!
  10. Elizabeth
    Kristie, this post should be recommended reading for all women on this journey who are at a stage of their lives when they feel lost and invisible, not just to others but also to themselves. We lose ourselves in the years of raising a family, being everything to everyone else, holding down a job and then at a certain age, we no longer recognise the face in the mirror, much less love her. The love we pour out on others, without hesitation, we deny ourselves.
    Your writing is an inspiration because it is so honest and empathic.
    Thank you for this post - it is what I needed today.
  11. MaryEllen
    You are amazing and inspiring. Your honesty and openness teaches me self love, a area I’m just beginning to learn! Thank you Kristie
  12. Eileen
    I can identify with what you’ve written as well as most of the comments posted. The inner voice that magnifies our negatives and rarely even acknowledges our positives. Elizabeth’s comment also hit home. How can we love our mate, our children, our family & friends with all of our beings & not have the same love for ourselves. Kristie your vulnerability & honest posts remind us we have daily challenges and that we have to be as kind & loving to ourselves as we are to others. Still a struggle but we are all still learning. Thank you. Happy Valentines Day!
  13. Doris
    Kristie, your words have hit cupids target on this day of love celebration. What a loving gift you have shared with us, thank you.
  14. Tammy Young
    You just don’t have a clue how this means so much to people who are on the same journey . I got up this morning and was frustrated because my size 1x pants were a tad snug and I was thinking how I wish I was smaller .. Then I remember when I was size 4X!!
    That was 18 months ago !! I am 80 pounds down and I do one day at a time !!! I may be flabby and wrinkled but I will take it any day over the constant knee pain , brain fog and depression . I love following Kristie!
  15. Anita
    Thank you, Kristie! I am in a stall at Valentine's Day! It is a scary place to be with all the treats that are so readily available. I am making progress but at a much slower pace than I had hoped. I made your Mud Pie Brownies as a nice special treat and feel empowered to move forward after reading your post. I am a 60 year old woman who knows she will never be the pretty young thing that she sees on the magazine covers but pray I will be a kind, compassionate woman who can share her bit of wisdom with someone who need to hear the voice of hope! Blessings!
  16. Debby
    Thank you so very much, Kristie! Your thoughts echo my own when I have looked in the mirror. Your writings and encouragement have been making all the difference as I learn this way of eating. I love what you share with us on your journey and it helps to keep me on the path. You address the chatter that goes on in my head and it really helps. I found you through a stranger in Costco and though I have only been eating keto for 6 weeks, my daughter mentioned last night that I seemed to have more energy and clearer thinking. Thank you for all you do and share!
  17. Pam
    Oh Kristie! Surely you will leave these ingrained thought patterns self criticism behind. I guess patterns of thought just like patterns of eating are difficult to break. You should write the complete story of your journey one of these days and post it on Diet Doctor...or did you and I missed it? I had no idea you weighed over 150 lbs as a seven year old! But Hey! How many people get back to what they weighed at 7? Thank you for this essay and congratulations on such a spectacular success!
  18. Kimberly Reynolds
    Thank you so much❣TODAY I choose to be someone I love. Someone I love enough to care about to fix. Not just hang on while I love everyone else through life. It is mighty. This thing called love. Sitting here, reflecting on the health I lost because I wasn't someone I loved has touched that depression that lingers waiting on the surface to envelope me and swallow me. Not today. No. Not today. For today there is faith. Hope. And love. With love being the greatest of these. Happy Valentine's Day❣ Keto on to victory!
  19. rowena
    Women that judge themselves or others by dress size should know that the sizes were based on bone structure not the padding. The distance from the center of neck where the collar and breast bones meet out to the point of the shoulder is about 9 inches or 18 inches shoulder point to point so a size 18. This is a much larger woman than one with a 7 inch measure. Even without extra padding I will not be a size 14. This is why dress patterns grade larger at the shoulder until the extra sizes where the extra padding is part pattern basis and our shoulders are not broader just rounder.
    Reply: #29
  20. Rachel King
    Just. .. Thank you
  21. Becca
    This is the best thing I've ever read on this website. Thank you for your vulnerability -- I'm going to take your question as a challenge to do better by myself.
  22. Kanella
    Dear Kristie,
    Thank you for writing what I know to be true; when I was married only a month I remember my husband found me inf front of the mirror in tears . I weighed 165 and told him I felt so fat and ugly. His kind words weren’t much help. 45 years later I’m now trying to embrace myself.
    I started the keto diet at 307 and am down 42 lbs and committed to loving myself enough day by day and living the keto healthy way.
  23. MBC
  24. Barbo's Low Carb Kitchen
    Ms.Kristie you are a loving, giving, and beautiful woman.
    I thank you from my heart for all that you do for
    so many of us LC/Atkins/Keto persons.

    I am 86 and a huge fan of Dr. Atkins. When his book came
    out in early 1970's I rushed out to purchase it. Jumped on
    the plan but had no support from my doctors or my friends.
    His plan was super criticized by AMA and almost everyone in
    the medical profession and even the US Government. Dr. Atkins
    even went before the US senate trying to educate to this way of

    What I'm trying to say to you is thank you so much for continuing
    to educate, teach and in such an understanding and humble way.

  25. Janice
    I’m confused. And sad. Isn’t the Kristie Sullivan in the top picture the same person in the 2 following pictures? You know, the one with the beautiful smile, the dancing eyes, the caressing voice who kept me totally engaged listening to her speak about her struggles and journey, making me feel that to lose 25kg I really don’t have such a high mountain to climb?
    Like others have said, her latest post has touched us all. But Ms Sullivan, may I respectfully suggest you become one of us and carefully watch and listen to the person in your first DD video. She will inspire you, comfort you, wrap you in her warmth and make you want to get up and go tenderly moisturize your whole body........with something beautifully scented.
    Perhaps this time your friend will say, “ it’s not about what the mirror reflects, but about what you show the mirror.” God’s grace.
  26. Nia
    Just beautiful, bought tears to my eyes. Thank you 😊
  27. Kathy
    So beautifully said! This story can be an inspiration for many journeys, not just weight loss! You give me strength! Thank you Kristie!
  28. Patty
    Dearest Kristie, From the first time I saw one of your YouTube videos I thought, “I wish that I was more like her”. You exude love and joy on the purest level. It’s true beauty.
  29. Una
    Well I judge myself on dress size and it has served me very well for more than 60 years. If something becomes too tight, I take stock and then I do something! Size 12 British is my limit.

    Women that judge themselves or others by dress size should know that the sizes were based on bone structure not the padding. The distance from the center of neck where the collar and breast bones meet out to the point of the shoulder is about 9 inches or 18 inches shoulder point to point so a size 18. This is a much larger woman than one with a 7 inch measure. Even without extra padding I will not be a size 14. This is why dress patterns grade larger at the shoulder until the extra sizes where the extra padding is part pattern basis and our shoulders are not broader just rounder.

  30. Kimberley
    Wow......all I can say is WOW. You are singing my song sister. Much love and admiration for your thoughts and ability to put them in written word form. Thank you.
  31. Mitzi Champion
    Kristie, thank you for being brave enough to share this message with all who need to hear it. I’ve learned to love myself, flaws and all. I’m not perfect, but I’m in such a better place than when I started in 2012!

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