Psychologically handling the new me

I guess what I want to know is how normal (or abnormal) some of my feelings are--if anyone else has experienced this.

After almost 30 years of being obese, I have successfully lost 117 lbs. I'm about 8 lbs away from my original goal where I plan to switch to maintenance, or at least reevaluate. It's a number that is still technically overweight but one that I felt good at when I was there as a 20 year old.

But here's the problem--I still feel like the old fat me. And it keeps showing up in ways that surprise me. People tell me I look better, but a little part of my brain says they're just being nice, because that's what you say to someone who has tried really hard. The guy behind the convenience store counter asked me the other day how much more weight I was going to lose. I was so surprised. I said..."You noticed?" and he said "of course, I did." I realized his comment meant more to me than the comments from all of the people who know me, because he knows nothing about me and has nothing to gain by lying or flattering me. So I think, well, maybe I do look a little different.

I've talked to my husband about it and he just says, "look in the mirror!" But the mirror lied to me when I was at my heaviest and it lies to me now. Somehow that image in the mirror is filtered through the brain and changed. So I just ask him to please tell me if I look normal. He says I do...but he loves me and is never critical of it doesn't carry any weight with this demented part of my psyche!

But then something happened today that really almost scared me. I did a side by side picture of a 'before and after' that I posted on another thread here yesterday. (I'll post below again). I was kind of staring at it today and then got lost in thought about weight issues, then came to and looked at the 'after' side. And this thought actually crossed my mind..."I wish I looked like her." It took me a few seconds to realize what I'd done. You idiot, that IS you. But it doesn't matter--as soon as I look away from the picture, I'm just the fat woman sitting there wishing she could lose weight.

For the record, I have no history of psychological or body image disorders. But I certainly recognize there is a problem here in my thought process. Do other people experience this? Will my whole brain 'catch up' to the changes at some point?

My other concern is that with maintenance approaching...I need to be able to switch over, which will be hard if I still can't accept that I'm done with the losing part. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.

SW 300
CW 183
GW 175


  • sbrandt37
    sbrandt37 Posts: 403 Member
    edited January 2017
    I think lots of people experience this to greater or lesser degrees. I have been dealing with it a bit myself and it is definitely taking me some time to get used to the new me. There was even one day when I looked in the mirror and was momentarily horrified by how skinny I looked (at perhaps 220 pounds). I swear I thought my muscles were melting away. Now that my weight loss has slowed as I approach my goal weight, I am starting to get more used to it. Still, it is strange how much I still see myself the same as I did before, even though I have lost nearly 50 pounds.
  • seska422
    seska422 Posts: 3,217 Member
    But the mirror lied to me when I was at my heaviest and it lies to me now. Somehow that image in the mirror is filtered through the brain and changed.


    My other concern is that with maintenance approaching...I need to be able to switch over, which will be hard if I still can't accept that I'm done with the losing part. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.

    I've had a similar experience with self-judgement about appearance when using a mirror. I don't feel like I'm as big as I am when obese or as small as I am when I weigh less. I just look in the mirror and think "meh, not too bad" regardless of my weight. Pictures work much better. If you want to read some other stories, try searching on Google for "opposite of body dysmorphic disorder".

    As for maintenance, I'm getting close myself. I've never succeeded at maintenance. This time, I plan to keep doing the same thing I've done to lose weight, just with a slightly larger calorie budget. As long as I stay the course, I should be fine.
  • sydnisd183
    sydnisd183 Posts: 247 Member
    Owlfan88 wrote: »
    I "only" lost about 35 pounds, so you would think the disconnect would be less (and it probably is LESS), but it's still there. I look at clothes and think, that can't possibly fit me. And then it does or it is still too big! And I've been at maintenance, more or less, for almost 18 months now. Still getting used to it.

    Me too. I started at 192 in April 2016 and i'm at about 156 today. (My goal is 150). I went from a size 18 to a 8 or 10, but I continue to hang on to my 12's because that's what I feel I "deserve" to be in. Also still hang onto and wear my XL and L shirts (even though i'm wearing M or S now). Confession: a part of my mind thinks there's "something wrong" medically with me because I never expected to actually get down to the 150's (I get regular checkups, mammograms, etc and i'm ok though).

    I still see the bigger person in the mirror.

  • ILiftHeavyAcrylics
    ILiftHeavyAcrylics Posts: 27,732 Member
    First of all you look great! Well done.

    My brain caught up about 6 months after I reached my goal weight. I also didn't realize that my clothes didn't fit and were hanging off of me until a friend of mine was like "hey . . . you need new clothes. Those are huge." Don't fret yet. Give your brain some time to adjust.
  • wyhone
    wyhone Posts: 13 Member
    I struggle with this all of the time. I'm a 44 yro, 5'0 female. In Jan of 2016 I weighed 278 and now I weigh 150 (no surgery, no diet plans, so starving; just eating clean and working out consistently). I have worked so hard (as have we all) and I thought that when I got leaner I might have some loose skin, but what I'm left with is way more then I anticipated. My trainer estimates that I'm carrying 15 to 20 lbs of skin, most of it in the area from mid-thigh to just under my shoulders. He told me one day, "I know the scale may say 150, but your actual body is really at about 135; so for a women your height who is weight training and at about 23% bf, you should feel good about that." I know he meant well and I do appreciate it but frankly I don't feel good about that. I used to wear big clothes to cover my fat. Now I wear them to cover up my skin. I thought after all this hard work I'd be able to wear something that wasn't to hide in but after all this time and hard work, that hasn't changed at all. I keep thinking that maybe if I keep trying to lean out more I'll be able to hide it better but who knows. I used to think if I ever got strong and fit that I'd be able to experience the seasons changing into summer without feeling a sense of dread at the thought of a bathing suit, but yet here I am, feeling exactly the same. I try to focus on the positive and most days I do ok, but today seems a little harder and then I saw this thread and couldn't help but be glad to see that I'm not the only one struggling with this.

  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,970 Member
    Do other people experience this? Will my whole brain 'catch up' to the changes at some point?

    I can't answer the second question but I can tell you my answer for the first one, and it's like most people who replied, meaning there's a pattern, and it'll probably apply to you, too.

    I lost a bunch of weight. For a long time, I was surprised every time I walked by a mirror or window. I still felt fat. I didn't feel like my reflection looked. It took about a year and a half for my brain to catch up and see myself as I am now.

    By the way your pictures are incredible. Congratulations!
  • vxCricketxv
    vxCricketxv Posts: 26 Member
    Congratulations! Tremendous job and you look fabulous. I am also experiencing some of the same. I have to stop and study my own reflection, because I don't recognize myself. I have trouble believing what I'm seeing in the mirror for whatever reason at the time. It doesn't help that (the same) people tend to treat me differently now. They open doors, give a simple nod or smile of acknowledgment when I pass by. It's surreal.
  • leanjogreen18
    leanjogreen18 Posts: 2,492 Member
    First you look amazing. I only hope to look as good when I get to my goal weight. I say that honestly!

    Second, I think it will take you time to "catch up" with the "new you". Also part of it maybe fear of going back?

    Keep looking at your before and after pictures.
  • lorrpb
    lorrpb Posts: 11,464 Member
    edited January 2017
    You've done a great job! 30 years of thinking is a lot to reverse and it takes awhile to do this. I'm still working on it. But when I have the negative thoughts, I just remind myself that they are NOT TRUE and I'm still adjusting to the new me. You are what you are NOW, not what you used to be. Post your before and after pics and measurements on your mirror or where you can see them all the time. I hope you kept at least one piece of original clothing to compare yourself to. Take a picture of yourself wearing it now! (Check out my current profile pic.)
    Focus on FACTS and not feelings about your current body. Some days I still feel very fat, and I just tell myself that it's ridiculous and not true and instead I focus on who I am and what I can do now. We can't just "wait" for our brains to "catch up" with the new reality, we have to actively RETRAIN them to identify and celebrate what the new reality is.
    As far as maintenance, you are done because you are done and have reached x goal. You do not need to "feel" done in order to adopt new habits. Figure out your new calorie level and eat accordingly. Set a 5-10 lb maintenance range. If you reach the top of the range, go back to eating at a 250 calorie deficit for a few weeks until you get back to the middle.
  • lorrpb
    lorrpb Posts: 11,464 Member
    edited January 2017
    (deleted, duplicate post)