Archive for the tag - body dysmorphia

Still See My “Fat” Self in the Mirror?

I recently came across the following email in my inbox from a blog buddy named Tom:

This year I grew tired of being obese decided to make a complete lifestyle change. The weight came off very fast. I am now nearly 60 pounds lighter, and I am enjoying and have embraced my new healthy lifestyle. I am very close to my personal target weight. My friends, family and co-workers all comment on my new slimmer me. How come I am having trouble seeing that person? I am well aware of my weight loss and that old clothes do not fit me as they once did so how come I still see a fat person in the mirror? What can I do to help see the new me that everyone else can?

Having struggled with my weight for many years during childhood, I immediately related to and understood Tom’s situation.

I sent Tom’s question to Diane Petrella, MSW, my good friend and contributor to The Davey Wavey Weight Loss Program. Diane is a renowned psychotherapist, author of The Inspiration Diet and a weight release coach – and I knew that she would have some great insight and recommendations.

Diane noted that, for Tom, the weight loss was rapid:

That’s great on one level, as seeing rapid results inspires confidence and motivation. At the same time, our minds have to “catch-up” with the changes made to our bodies.

According to Diane, Tom’s experience is not unusual. And, speaking from personal experience, I can attest to it; even after losing weight, I continued to see myself as chubby.

Diane continued:

Many people see themselves as “fat” even when they release a significant amount of weight. This is because the inner images we hold of ourselves are very powerful. Even when there is concrete evidence, as in the numbers on a scale, our mind can distort that reality to fit our self-perception.

To move forward, Diane recommends a strategy of recording your success in a weekly log. By keeping track of your weight, changes in clothing sizes, compliments and other improvements, you’re able to use these as evidence of your new weight.

Moreover, Diane encourages people like Tom to make new affirmations:

When you catch yourself saying, “I’m fat”, tell yourself, “Stop. That’s an old way of thinking. I release that thought. I am healthy and fit.” When you first say this, it may feel contrived. That’s OK. Say it anyway. Act “as if” it is true, which, in fact, it is as confirmed by the physical evidence you have. After a while saying these positive affirmations, and seeing yourself as thinner, will feel more natural.

Like so many things in life, it takes time. Diane recommends a prescription of gentleness and patience, noting that “it takes time to change your thoughts and beliefs to support your new self-image.”

If deeper issues are involved, such as trauma or abuse, professional support may be necessary. And if a distorted self-image becomes emotionally crippling, such as body dysmorphia disorder, seek out professional treatment.

Can you relate to Tom’s experience? If so, let me know in the comments below.