Body Image and Issues after Weight Loss - When your brain and your sight can't agree about how you look

10-08-2011, 04:23 AM
I've recently come to notice some things about the disconnect between my head and my sight with regard to body image. On one hand, I often feel like a thin chick. And especially when I was growing up, I really didn't ever see myself as a fat girl, I just saw myself as a normal girl. Granted, I was quite overweight, but it took some rather mean remarks from some other people before I realized just how big I was. It was like I was blissfully unaware until the age of 17 or so.

Even to this day, I feel that there is some sort of gap between how I actually feel I look and how I do look. For example, I often feel like a normal chick, but I literally HATE any pictures of myself, because I have yet to see a picture that doesn't make me look ugly. I feel like I have a beautiful face, but I can't stand pics of myself because I hate the fact that I look so ugly. It's been weird also for me to start recognizing that I am not some normal cute girl, and I absolutely hate the idea of being ugly. And it sucks even more to be feeling so vain! Anyone sympathize? How do I let myself feel like a pretty girl?

10-10-2011, 12:57 AM
I feel the same way, but it's not because I ever thought I was thin. Believe me, I know that I was fat. (Still am! :lol: ) But I was always surprised when I saw pictures of myself. Somehow I thought I carried it better? Haha, I don't know.

But I've always felt that I had a pretty face, and lately I'm realizing that's not true. I have a lot of skin problems since I had my children. I have really dry, flaky rashes on my nose and cheeks. It looks horrible and I don't know what to do for it. I drink lots of water and sometimes I use moisturizers. Oh and I have really frizzy hair that I can't do anything with.

I'm hoping that it will improve at least a little when my face starts to really thin out.

10-14-2011, 05:08 PM
I have this disconnect too. It let me get fat.

As I was gaining weight I didn't realize how huge I was getting. I got to well over 200lbs and thought I looked 'ok'. I knew I was big, but I didn't realize and was in denial that I was in fact obese. I've never thought I was pretty though, because I'm simply not.

As I've lost weight it's sort of unfortunate that my perspective is going the other way. I don't think that I look 'ok' despite losing and now being only 10lbs away from a 'normal' BMI. I think that I look bigger and more disgusting than ever. I remember being this way when I was younger and got down into the 120's and still thought I was huge.

IDK what to do. LOL

10-16-2011, 09:56 PM
What an interesting post. I totally know what you mean. I sometimes still have days where I feel fat, despite the fact I am literally half the woman I seed to. We need perspective I think. I have to dredge out my fat photo to remind myself how far I have come.

I always look rough in pictures :( but then that is self perception right? I know that can be WAY off at times.

10-17-2011, 01:51 AM
Like everyone else, I totally know what you mean. When I was fat, I was never "that fat" and now when I'm smaller, I'm not "skinny enough"
The female brain is a funny thing

10-17-2011, 02:35 AM
I can relate to this in truck loads!

I never thought I was THAT fat ( when in truth I was huge).
And I still feel either
a) quite thin ( not true either I am somewhat less fat but no where near normal)
or b) the same as before - no different to my before weight.

And sometimes I can feel both these things is a day, an afternoon, an hour!!


10-17-2011, 09:13 AM
I have the same issue. I am more critical of my image in the mirror than I ever was when much heavier.

Guess now that I have worked hard to get slim, I am always on the watch for the "fat look" and very hard on myself if I think it's coming back. Also my fat clothes hid a lot--my slim clothes aren't so forgiving.

As others have noted on this topic, it's also the female brain at work! I just have to accept it and be thankful that things are far better than they were.

10-17-2011, 09:56 AM
Yup, me too. In denial on the way up. Very aware of the less perfect areas now.

And if I go up just a couple pounds, I feel ginormous.

The good news is that I now have some good days as well as bad days and if I think about it rationally, I know I look pretty good for my age.

10-17-2011, 10:06 AM
I definitely went through this too. At my highest weight I was in some major denial about my weight and looking back at pictures then is pretty shocking! That being said I can also look at picture thorough my journey and see the improvements that I made. I'm sure that with your 50lb loss that you've seen some major improvements!

Also, I think you CAN be cute and overweight. It really comes down to how you dress, how you carry yourself etc. I've seen women who just look amazing at higher weights. I wasn't one of them but I also had no clue how to dress that body and put about zero effort into my appearance.

Besides, it looks like you've done an amazing job so far with losing weight. Keep it up and I'm sure that your mind and body will come into sync at some point. I should warn you, though, sometimes the opposite happens. Sometimes as you lose you focus on your flaws more and then feel larger than you really are. I've been through it as well as many others on here. For me lots of pictures and well-fitting clothes have been the best solutions to getting my mind lined up with my body.

10-17-2011, 09:45 PM
I'm not more critical of myself, but I'm also not seeing the extent to which I actually do look smaller. I tried on jeans today in essentially my smallest adult size, and I saw belly flab-- which, yes, is there. But still.

10-18-2011, 02:24 AM
I was just trying to figure this out recently!

At 185 pounds, I didn't feel "that fat" (it is quite big for a 5' tall woman). It seems like I couldn't see myself as I really looked. I thought I looked a little chunky, but close to normal/fine/average.

Now that I'm on the way down, I still feel so terribly fat, all the time (after almost 45lb loss!). It's now like I still can't see myself. I'm very close to normal looking, I have a large frame (5 feet tall with a 6 inch wrist). Yet even though I am very close to normal weight range, I still just am having a terrible time being okay with my body.

Weird thing is, I wasn't fat for a terribly long time. I gained 45 lbs between 2003 and 2010. Took me a pretty long time to pack it on. And only about 1 year to take it off.

I suspect, because I gained slowly, (6-7lbs a year) I never really noticed a big difference in my weight going up. So I still saw the same 130 ish lb woman in the mirror every day, until the scale finally set me straight.

When I finally realized I was heavy, I started working on it, and 10 months later, I am almost done. Now, because I have lost quickly enough, I think my brain has not caught up to the change.

Maybe soon I will be able to see a 140lb person in the mirror? And in 2 months, a 130ish lb woman again? Maybe I will be as happy with my body then, as I used to be at the same weight 7-8+ years ago?

I don't know. But if anyone has any hints for overcoming this strange perception issue, I'd love to hear it. This is my very first experience with something like this, and it is SO ODD. Never would have ever imagined I could have an issue like this. If someone had mentioned it to me before, I'd have pitied them, and wondered how anyone could be unable to see themselves for what they really are. I guess you really must walk in the shoes before you know what it's like. I am working on looking at myself, and really seeing myself every day. I can only hope this will help, and I will be able to just see "me"- not what I "think" I look like, but what I actually look like. :/

I think, this problem might be related to body dysmorphic disorder in some way?

10-18-2011, 08:30 AM
Yes i have this issue too. I knew i was fat (at my highest around 300!) but i was in denial or something about how bad it had really gotten. i avoided photos for years but one was taken and i felt sick when i saw it. Now that i have lost 150 pounds i still feel "fat" and have a hard time seeing what everyone is talking about when they say i am "small". I am still overweight for my height but i am the thinnest i have ever been in my adult life. It's so weird how our minds/self image work.

10-20-2011, 08:58 AM
I am very happy to see this post, as I thought I was the only one that has this mind/body disconnect. I have been overweight my entire adult life would lose down to my smallest size 12 just to gain it back. I knew I was overweight and my highest weight was 196 but my "normal" for me was always 187 which is where my body always ended up and I honestly I knew I was overweight but did not see myself as big even though I wore a size 16 I thought my legs and butt was the only thing heavy, I know look back at those pictures and am SHOCKED how I looked……..I have made it to goal and have been under goal for several months now and for the FIRST time in my life my shirts, sweaters are smalls and my Levi’s are a 4 and yet all I still see is the large thighs and flab on the belly.

The difference is now when I see a picture of myself I am stunned at how thin my neck, face are. I can’t believe that is me, but when I look in the mirror or look down at my body I HONESTLY still see that size 16 thighs and rear end. My brain knows I am no longer fat, but my eyes still see my body as very heavy in the same trouble spots as before.

10-20-2011, 11:53 AM
It's funny. Before I never thought I was "that bad," and I was and still am shocked at how big I was in photos. Now it's the opposite. I can't believe how tiny I am in photos. Sometimes I don't even recognize myself.

About a week ago I bought a dress for my high school reunion. I tried it on in the dressing room, took a picture of myself with my phone and sent it to my fiancee for his opinion. Yesterday I was going through the pictures on my phone and I glanced at the pictures of me in the dress. I immediately thought: "Who's the chick in the dress..?" before realizing it was ME.

I'm down to a size 6 or an 8. That's down from a 16/18. I still can't quite wrap my head around it.

11-01-2011, 08:41 PM
The mind is a funny thing. I struggled with this exact thing and even started a thread about it earlier this year! I went backpacking this summer and was carrying half of what I had lost on my back. It was very heavy! I told myself before setting out that I was carrying only HALF of what I had lost and was going to emerge at the end of the trek believing I was a normal size and looking great.

By about km 15 with my back aching and every muscle in my body screaming I realized for real how big my accomplishment was and just how much I had lost. At 40+ km and nearly complete (3 days) I knew I would never be the same again. I am here now a healthy weight (much fitter too!) and realizing just what I can accomplish and how great I look. From that day on I was happy in my tank tops and shorts. I wore my nice dresses and stood tall with pride. People started noticing and complementing me more - bosses who generally never have anything nice to day were giving me kudos on looking great! :carrot:

The moral is; Decide for yourself you look great and are healthy and trim! Obviously do not go back to your old ways because you have "arrived" but continue the path you have begun. YOU are the one who will have to change your perceptions.

FWIW I have been on subsequent backpacking trips but it was really only the first one that meant so much to me mentally. Plus, my companions are not going easy on me anymore and I now have to carry a third of what I have lost! :D

11-01-2011, 08:48 PM
I have this , especially in the gym when im looking my worst , no make up baggy clothes etc........i can see im losing weight but those awful mirrors just make you feel so bad when theres skinny minis all round you :mad:

11-02-2011, 01:19 AM
I can relate to this in truck loads!

I never thought I was THAT fat ( when in truth I was huge).
And I still feel either
a) quite thin ( not true either I am somewhat less fat but no where near normal)
or b) the same as before - no different to my before weight.

And sometimes I can feel both these things is a day, an afternoon, an hour!!


I can agree with this! I have periods of days or even just hours where I feel sooo thin (at least in comparison to almost 70 lbs. ago) and other days where I feel like a beached whale :/

11-02-2011, 03:41 PM
Me! I have decided that I'm recovering from FATOREXIA. I thought I was all hot and sexy in my size 16's heck, isn't that the norm? Isn't that what we are told? But now that I'm down to a 12 I am so critical of myself and can't believe when I see pictures of myself now that I was really THAT big! Where was my head? Now I'm seeing how much more fat I need to lose. I see how good I look now, I'm leaner and down to a 12 BUT I have to remind myself that I have so much more to go before I fall back into my Fatorexia way of thinking. It's challenging that's for sure!

11-09-2011, 03:47 PM
Oh man I can totally relate. In both ways:

In high school, I lost 20 lbs by self hypnosis and it happened pretty randomly and I honestly didn't even notice it. I was the thinnest I've ever been at 116 lbs. Except when I saw myself in the mirror I still saw the bigger self, and I was self conscious. I thought I was fat. Now I look at pictures from back them and I'm amazed at how thin I was and how on earth I could have thought I was fat. Sad story lol

Then, I started gaining weight in college and I started feeling goof about myself. I felt pretty, I felt thin, I felt good. Until one day I saw picture of myself and there I was, back to where I started - 15 lbs packed on in 3 months. But I still didn't feel fat, I thought, it's just a bad angle, the weight isn't correct, I still look good, no worries. Then I gained more. And now I'm like wow I cant keep lying go myself any longer. I need to lose weight. So this is where I am now.

11-09-2011, 04:20 PM
Yup... I ask myself everyday when it'll go away. I still look in the mirror and see a 300 lb woman.