Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my name. Our wedding date is fast approaching, and I have planned to take my fiance’s last name since we got engaged.  I am not hyphenating, I am not going to use my maiden name as my middle name, and no, I will not put my maiden name in parentheses on Facebook.

Of course, 99.9 percent of the reason behind this is that I am thrilled to become fiance’s wife and start our married life together. But the other .1 percent is because I feel like my maiden name is forever tied to Before Ashley. I introduce myself on the phone using my full name several times a day, and when I do, it makes me think of myself pre-weight loss.

From left are my cousin Jamie, her stepdaughter, cousin Jessie, me and my sister, Meghann. I believe this was taken right after I graduated from high school.

I will be the first to admit it sounds stupid. After all, Maiden Name Ashley is the one who took the initiative to lose weight, has lost more than 100 pounds, ran a 10K. and obviously, is the girl to whom fiance proposed.  And I don’t want you to think I am harboring some ill will complex about my Before self. I remember nodding along as I read Bridget’s post that we should be kind to our before selves.

I would guess I was about 15 in this photo. When I say my full name out loud, this is who I picture. Not the blonde I see in the mirror, whose headshot appears to the right of this post. It’s a very odd experience.

As much as I have written about weight loss since starting this blog in March 2009, I still don’t have the words to describe what it feels like to physically transform yourself. I think that perhaps my experience has been different than some others because I was never the shy fat girl. I have always been an outgoing, opinionated individual. I can’t relate to the stories of staying home and eating my feelings, because I never did. I had the time of my life in college, weighing in at 300 pounds. I am the same person I was prior to May 2005, albeit more energetic. From my own experience and that of a few others I know, the person who’s lost weight doesn’t change that much. It’s the people around you who change their perception of the After You.

The thing is, I know who I am, and I am that person no matter what clothes size I wear or whether there’s a ring on my finger. But some crazy part of my mind links my maiden name to those old size 24Ws … which is why I’m more than happy to leave it behind.