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At long last, the halfway mark. It was a tough summer, full of ups and downs, and that’s never good when it comes to the scale.

I’d wanted to celebrate the 50-pound point by giving myself a gift of some significance – like eyebrows (permanent makeup) – but a reader agreed I should wait until the end, since my face size will continue to change. Anyone know what happens to stuff like tattoos when people lose or gain weight? I bet if you have something like a rose tattoo, then you lose 100 pounds, it ends up looking like a raisin.

Honestly, part of me doesn’t feel much like celebrating because I’d hoped to reach this point in early August – six months into this adventure. I suppose, though, if losing weight were simply a matter of eating better and exercising more, I would have. But we all know it’s more complicated than that, don’t we?

Speaking of psychotherapy (yes, we were), I haven’t seen Tanza in a couple of months, and I’m hoping to get back there next week. My life continues to change in significant ways, and I really need someone who’s been with me since the beginning to help me properly navigate what’s ahead. As much as I wouldn’t mind sharing with you one of my biggest challenges, I can’t, because the other party involved appears to be oblivious. Much as I’d prefer not to care, the lives of others I care deeply about will be affected by my decisions, so I need to be smart, careful and well-advised.

Vague enough for ya?

Yes, losing weight is definitely something to celebrate, but I’m also happy about what I’ve gained – a stronger sense of self, and that includes no longer falling for others’ unsolicited advice about fixing what’s “wrong” with me – typical from interviewers or potential clients – and focusing and promoting all that’s right and pretty cool about me.

For example, two months ago someone told me I came across as “too confident.” I said, You mean arrogant? No, too confident. I’ve also heard I didn’t “seem to want the position enough.” Geez! What does that even look like?

Clearly, if I allowed others’ opinions of me to determine my direction, I’d be spinning like a top.

Yet at this point in my life, I do seek clarity, and for me that means working with a highly skilled psychologist. You will recall that my excess weight is really a form of insulation – protection – and let me tell you, no matter how thrilled I am about squeezing into a pair of jeans I hadn’t worn in two years, I still spent an entire hour yesterday trying to analyze why the handsome Kappa in the checkout line at Kroger turned around just to tell me I had beautiful lips.

Seriously, let me tell you how I still process stuff like this: Why did this guy talk to me at all? Did I do something to make him think I was easy? What is it about my lips? Is red lipstick too sexy? Did he not see my wedding ring? Geez, I hope he’s not still in the parking lot when I go out there.

That’s what goes on inside. What I actually said to the guy was, “I would expect to hear nothing less from a Kappa.” We then both laughed, and I thanked him for the compliment with a glance, purposefully ending eye contact.

Let’s keep it real: One harmless compliment isn’t going to send me running for ice cream, trigger a bulimic episode or feel obligated to engage him further. Those are extreme responses, and yet they’re not uncommon among those who’ve suffered childhood sexual abuse. But as I’ve shared with you, I still have a tendency to give such compliments too much weight (pun intended).

Am working on it, and to say I grow stronger every day really isn’t too cliché in my case. For the first time in my life, I’m able to truly engage other family members and lean on them for support. Instead of shutting down and letting their perceptions be reality, I’ve been opening up so they’ll know the whole truth, warts and all, before passing judgment. What a difference that’s made.

Yes, I’ve lost 50 pounds, and damn proud of it, but I didn’t want to share this out of context; otherwise, this would be just another, boring weight-loss blog.

And we can’t have that now, can we? *LOL!*

Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people  . ~  Spencer Johnson

Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.