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Body Image and Issues after Weight Loss Including discussions about excess skin and reconstructive surgery

Who is this girl in the mirror?

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Old 03-10-2012, 03:54 PM   #1
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Unhappy Who is this girl in the mirror?

I had pictures taken of me when I weighed 290'ish lbs (my biggest was 325) and my husband took more of me today weighing 214lbs.

We put the pictures side by side in paint so I could see the change.

I cried. And cried. And cried.

I don't see the girl in the pictures today. I still see the girl that weighed 325lbs. I'm convinced that's what everyone else sees, too. I know that it's me in the pictures from today, but it doesn't seem like it. I just can't see it in the mirror. It was such a surreal feeling today. I'd still like to lose another 64lbs and if I'm struggling to see and accept me at 214, how can I lose the next 64lbs?

I now know my body image issues run a lot deeper than I could have ever imagined.

I thought I'd be so happy to see the change, but honestly, it scared me. I feel terrified and honestly, just upset by it all. I'm sure other people have experienced this. I'm just looking to see how they've handled it. What helped them accept their new selves.
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Old 03-10-2012, 04:45 PM   #2
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I haven't lost very much yet so haven't had that experience. I do remember watching the Today show and they were showing Al Roker before and after pictures after he had lost over 100 lbs. He said that he could not see the difference that everyone else was talking about seeing in him. He did feel the difference in his body, but couldn't see it in the mirror or pictures.

Press on.
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Old 03-10-2012, 05:04 PM   #3
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The only other time I did a major weight loss, I couldn't see it. I had lost 50 pounds (235 to 185) and I looked the S.A.M.E. to me. Everyone told me I looked different, but I just couldn't see it. And I think that was part of what contributed to my easy demise and gain - plus 40 more!!!! in just 2 years - 90 pounds in 2 years. It's frightening to think about that, but I did it!

This time, I am doing things I've never done before. Giving myself PERMISSION to do things I never allowed myself to do before. And I'm including these discussions with my husband and many of them on my blog. I have taken pictures all along the way. I have taken monthly measurements all along the way and I have written my weight and what I've eaten every single day. I don't want regain and to keep myself from doing that, I have to use every tool I can think of to help me.

One of the things I have never done before is to really look at myself. Like REALLLLY look at myself. I was just doing that now, about 20 minutes ago after I showered after working out. While I still tend to get fixated on all the things that are still wrong, I am also looking for things that have gotten better. And I ask for feedback from my husband - who NEVER lies about such things - not even to make me feel better.

Just now I was looking at my butt and hips and legs from behind. I could focus on the fact I have some fat on my upper hips. I could focus on the loose skin on my inner thighs, but today I was looking for positives. I realized that for being 42 years old for losing nearly 105 pounds, I have almost no cellulite on my butt or legs. I celebrated that my butt isn't very saggy. I celebrated that I can see my ribs above my breasts and that I can see muscle definition. All of these positives. I have to search for those.

Now, don't get me wrong, last May or June, after losing a ton of weight I was depressed by some candid photos taken of me. I still looked sooooooo fat. I saw how much further I had to go. I saw all the flaws and couldn't see the positives. So I have my moments, but I try to move beyond them. I write out my feelings. And I use this site a lot to just express where my head is at.

While I saw that fat girl staring at me, I wasn't hearing what everyone was telling me - what the scale was telling me. I just saw the fat woman. We all have those times, but do this for you, OK? Go to the mirror and find something new and improved. Maybe it's one less double chin. Maybe it's no more rolls. Maybe it's you can touch your toes - whatever it is, celebrate it and hold onto that as that is a victory. And when people tell you that you look great, try to believe them and try to soak it in to start healing the wounds you have.

I am convinced that no one gets morbidly obese unless they have a lot of mental work to do on their self esteem along the way. Most people would never let the weight get so extreme - we did for a reason - protecting ourselves with a fat body, or drowning our sorrows in food - whatever, we have a lot of mental healing to do - and that's the hard part - losing the weight isn't that hard - healing our souls is.

Good luck to you and congrats on your huge achievement so far!
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Old 03-10-2012, 05:19 PM   #4
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Default re:

I'm taking a guess and saying the majority of people who lose weight feel this way.

I'm not sure what will work except for time. I like a lot of the ideas that Berry suggests above. What about maybe putting the picture somewhere where you can see it a lot - forcing your brain to mentally change.

You've done an absolutely fantastic job!

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Old 03-10-2012, 06:43 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vex View Post
I'm taking a guess and saying the majority of people who lose weight feel this way.

I'm not sure what will work except for time. I like a lot of the ideas that Berry suggests above. What about maybe putting the picture somewhere where you can see it a lot - forcing your brain to mentally change.
I agree with Vex that the majority of people who lose weight probably feel like this.

I, too, found it very hard to come to terms with the "new me". I'd often catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and not recognise myself, and twice, my own husband didn't even recognise me when I met him in the street.

I worked on this problem by pinning up my "before and after" photos on the noticeboard in my home office and forcing myself to look at them every day to ingrain the "after" image into my brain. I also decided to tough it out because I was scared that the disconnect might make me subconsciously start eating more so I'd regain and feel "comfortable" with myself again. It took about a year to adjust.

Quote:
Originally Posted by berryblondeboys View Post
I am convinced that no one gets morbidly obese unless they have a lot of mental work to do on their self esteem along the way. Most people would never let the weight get so extreme - we did for a reason - protecting ourselves with a fat body, or drowning our sorrows in food - whatever, we have a lot of mental healing to do - and that's the hard part - losing the weight isn't that hard - healing our souls is.
I totally agree with this too.
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Old 03-18-2012, 05:24 PM   #6
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I've found that it's taken me ages to accept the new me. Until the last week or so I still thought of myself as the old me and that's what I saw in the mirror too. It's taken a long time but my brain finally seems to be catching up that yes, I really have changed a lot and people who compliment me on my weight loss or say I look great in an outfit aren't just kidding me. I spent years hiding behind my overweight self - coming out of hiding is scary as it means I'm having to face my emotional issues and accept me for what/who I am, but suddenly I'm excited by it and feel ready. Totally agree with what berryblondeboys said about healing our souls being the hardest thing.

You've done fantastically well so far and should be very proud of yourself. Give yourself time to get used to the changes as it won't happen overnight.

I like RedPanda's way of dealing with it - the before and after pic thing is a good one.
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Old 03-18-2012, 05:50 PM   #7
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Although I have lost forty pounds, I still see the same person at my highest weight. I'm just hoping after 30 more I at least see a little change.
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Old 03-18-2012, 08:23 PM   #8
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It was so hard, SO HARD to see the new me. I can relate to your post exactly. After a lifetime of being overweight I could not accept that I was "thin." I didn't recognize myself in pictures, or even in the freaking mirror. I still saw the same person I was before and didn't believe that my clothes were smaller, the scale was going down, etc. It was hard to believe it was all really happening.

You notice I used to the past tense. Just recently I have really been able to see myself as others see me, pick myself out in photos or in a group near a mirror. My clothes don't look impossibly small any more and my old clothes look "huge." I can't really explain what happened, but all of a sudden it was as if a switch turned on in my head and my brain caught up.

I even notice it's much easier to give up my old clothes. I had SO MUCH trouble doing that before; it felt like I was giving up something I needed and that was a part of me. Now I suddenly have no attachment to those clothes that are much too large for me to wear. I just want to get ride of them all.

I'm still not there completely though. There are still moments when I feel like the "old" me. There are still times when I do a double take when I look in the mirror or pick up something that fits me, or when I cringe when my fiance picks me up, forgetting that he can do so easily now. I'm still much more there mentally than I was just a few months ago, but I really think that it took time. I needed the time to get used to my new body and the time to accept the fact that this wasn't something that would go away tomorrow.
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Old 03-18-2012, 08:53 PM   #9
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I'm going to raise my hand and also say that I feel the same way. I never knew this was a common thought amongst those who lost weight. I say no matter what, keep going. Use the scale as a good way to keep going. Or check the inches you lose each week.
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Old 03-18-2012, 10:40 PM   #10
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You live inside your body. You see the changes from minute levels so it doesn't appear to change much at all.

We also cannot see what is "missing" or gone. If you can't see it in pictures, try picking it up. The weight you lost? Like in lbs of pet food or whatever is handy.


Quote:
I thought I'd be so happy to see the change, but honestly, it scared me. I feel terrified and honestly, just upset by it all. I'm sure other people have experienced this. I'm just looking to see how they've handled it. What helped them accept their new selves.
Last but not least... think about spending some time with your mental health. I think body image while ABOUT the body, is actually mental health work. And emotional health work. It's not physical health work like weight loss is.

Look at what you are writing -- happy, scared, terrified, upset. These are feeling words, which indicate emotional health work yet to be covered. This is not body work -- you have the scale and photos telling you that that area IS succeeding.

Accepting your new self? That's mental work.

You are correct. It is no unusual to have people on the boards go "I thought I'd be happy when I lost all this weight and I did and I am not!" You are not alone in this process. But don't give up, and keep on! Some only have body work to do, some have body + mental/emotional and or spiritual work to do.

Balanced health across the board means doing something to tend and nourish these separate parts of the whole so the whole CAN be whole.
  • Mind
  • Body
  • Heart
  • Spirit

You sound like you have been doing a good job dealing with the body bucket. What do you do to top up the rest?

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Old 03-19-2012, 01:21 AM   #11
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I feel this way too.

I have lost 52lb, I still feel nearly the same.

I'm slowly catching up... but it's definitely not quick or easy. It takes my brain longer to catch up than it does my body to drop the weight.

It seems like recently I've been doing better. But it's taken about 3 months of nearly no weight loss, to just catch up a little.

I still seem to have a really negative body image. 10 years ago at this weight, I thought I was perfectly normal, cute, thin, hot. But now, I don't feel that way. I have a damaged mental image of myself. Body dysmorphic disorder (sp?). I am determined to get it under control.
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Old 03-19-2012, 08:42 AM   #12
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Ladies, I have lost 90 pounds over the past 5 years...and it took a long, long time for me to realize how I truly look now.

The "aha" moment for me was going to the tanning bed to prepare for my trip to Jamaica, which was last year and when I was around 160 pounds at the time (from 233.9). I was walking down the hall to go to my bed, and in my side vision, passed a mirror in the hallway. A few steps later I had to walk back and take a double take, because I realized it was my own reflection. I almost cried right there...because I realized I was thin. Then, some photos of me performing surfaced on Facebook, and I started realizing how I truly looked...it takes a while, but it WILL happen. I remember specifically the day I was walking through a parking lot, and it dawned on me that my thighs were no longer furiously rubbing together.

It is a process, that's for sure. It WILL happen, though! And when it does, it is a wonderful, wonderful experience.
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Old 03-19-2012, 01:17 PM   #13
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It's common to have a body distortion or dysmorphia. Body issues run deeper than just the weight we hold. You should read some books on body image issues. Last year, when I was going to a therapist about my anxiety and body image issues, she gave me some books to read with some exercises. I don't remember the titles of the books, but they helped and I'm sure they could help you adjust too. Smile
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Old 03-19-2012, 07:22 PM   #14
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I'm not sure how I will feel when I lose a lot, but I have a problem with my body image too. As I gained weight, I didn't see much change. I would look at small spaces and think I could squeeze through but then realize I was much too large. It's like in my mind I'm skinny... a skinny girl is stuck in this big fat body.

After reading some other comments, I'm a little uneasy.
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Old 03-20-2012, 07:17 AM   #15
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I truly appreciate everyone's response. I find some days to be better than others and actually just recently (as in yesterday) started taking Wellbutrin for PMDD. I'm hoping this not only helps me even out my mood when I'm PMSing but feel a bit better about myself.

I understand it takes time and perhaps it's harder to believe because I've tried to lose weight for 10 years and this is the first time it's actually happening...

Again, thank you for the support.
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