Body image issues after losing weight?

This is a subject that I didn’t realize I would need to address but…well…here I am. Does anyone who has lost a lot of weight struggle with body image? A quick summary to help make sense of where I’m coming from. When I was in my 20s-30s i basically lived at my gym (hence the username)…I was strong…I was cut (lifted 5/days a week twice a day on a morning/evening split)…I had endurance (ran 5k on treadmill 5/days a week and also swam 3-3.5 miles/ day most days)…I was at the gym a lot. At my best I even completed a 1/2 marathon with the support of my MFP friends on a group chat. Fast forward I broke my right knee, tore my rotator cuff in my right shoulder, injured my lower back (all work not workout related). I also have an autoimmune disease that put me in the hospital and causes chronic pain. I’m only 5’8” and I ballooned up to 350.1 pounds…I hated how I looked but it was also comfortable in a way. I wore baggy clothes, I stopped getting any attention from people, moved to a secluded area in the woods and basically became depressed and introverted. Recently I started feeling the impact of my weight (dangerously high BP, borderline diabetes, high cholesterol even though I’m vegan and don’t consume anything with cholesterol…the usual problems). I started a new pattern of eating and lost 98.1 pounds through diet alone in just over a year. Now my body has changed significantly. I did powerlifting to add muscle/ bulk and now I’m adding some cardio back and working out more for gains and definition, but I know my body will never be the same. I’m happy to be at this point but still struggling a bit. When I started I made the goal of posting some body pics on my profile (def not to the community forums lol) when I lost 100 pounds…This week
that will happen. So my question is for people who have lost a lot already…how to you feel about your bodies after a lot of weight loss? Do you have conflicting feelings? Pride vs shame? That type of thing…I feel weird even thinking about it because I see people here struggling to lose weight at all so I feel I should be feeling more grateful to have made it this far even though I am not at my goal yet…I have made it to the back 9….back 3 really. I do talk to people (medical professionals) about this but seeing if anyone else will share what their experiences have been and maybe add some perspective to this. I’m usually very prepared for things but tbh I’m blindsided by the mixed emotions this has brought up and trying to process it all has been well…a process in itself to say the least. Thanks in advance for any replies.

Be well everyone,
-J-

Replies

  • MaggieGirl135
    MaggieGirl135 Posts: 946 Member
    It sounds like you’re really struggling and I’m glad you’re getting help. Your weight loss is impressive and working out will help you on so many levels. I haven’t had need to lose a lot of weight, but just wanted to cheer you on.
  • Lietchi
    Lietchi Posts: 5,941 Member
    edited September 2023
    After 15 years of almost non stop gradual weight gain (since college basically) arriving at a BMI of 34, i started my weight loss journey a few years ago. I'm down 70+lbs now, at a BMI of 22.5.

    So, do I have body image issues? Mix of pride and shame? Sure, I have some.

    I'm proud of my accomplishment of losing weight. I did the slow and gradual approach, it required a few years of consistency and building new habits.
    I'm proud of being more fit: I'm a lot more active now, and I'm a runner. Still with a bit of couch potato inclinations, but well managed 🙂 I've always been a very unfit person, even when I was younger and not yet overweight. So that's a big thing.

    I'm ashamed I let myself get as heavy as I did. Especially knowing how easy it was to lose weight, using MFP. My body carries the marks of my former obesity, despite only being 40, irreversible 'damage'. Stretch marks, loose skin. I'm ashamed of how lazy I used to be.

    Despite the regrets, the dominant feeling is: how much better I feel now. Lighter, more fit, more confident. I didn't know how much my weight was holding me back (the gain was gradual) until I lost it. That is the biggest gain for me.

    I hope you can find some positives to focus on, losing 100lbs is a great accomplishment!
  • VRTC1960
    VRTC1960 Posts: 20 Member
    Oh, it's a very real struggle, and I really admire your willingness to own the emotional part of it. I can't say it will get easy, or that you will ever think you're as "hunky" as you were in those early years. But try to look around at others in your current age bracket, you might realize you are pretty ripped compared to your age peers!
  • Livin_At_The_Gym
    Livin_At_The_Gym Posts: 39 Member
    @lietchi: thanks for sharing and I definitely feel the same. I’m happy to have lost weight and am still going strong. I do feel like *kitten* over letting myself get to 350 pounds. It’s pretty messed up but since posting this I have dropped another 15 pounds and am doing a bit better overall (mentally) about it. Thanks again!
  • Livin_At_The_Gym
    Livin_At_The_Gym Posts: 39 Member
    @VRTC1960 thanks and thank you for your continued support :)
  • Livin_At_The_Gym
    Livin_At_The_Gym Posts: 39 Member
    @MaggieGirl135 Thanks! Appreciate you taking the time to comment. I’m doing better with it all. Just the shock of viewing myself now compared to back when I was really fit was messing with me a bit when I posted. Tbh I’m lucky in that I don’t really have much loose skin…a bit but as I continue losing it hasn’t been as bad as I thought :)
  • metaphysicalstudio
    metaphysicalstudio Posts: 293 Member
    Hi, J. Our bodies often change so much in the journey of living. I used to be a bodybuilder living at the gym, too. From the time I was 18-30 I was obsessed with fitness ... Obsessed. I am 43 now and especially in the last 7 years, my body has changed to being unrecognizable. I look like a frumpy, tired, middle-aged woman. I never thought I would ever look this way. But having a different body than I did before is ok. It doesn't mean that my body is ugly or bad or that I am not good enough. No matter what our bodies look like and feel like at any given moment, let's do it best to nurture them and treat them with respect. If you have a victory that's body-related, there is no shame in celebrating that. If you're feeling unsure or confused about you body image now, allow that. It's ok to be confused and unsure. Here you are, a human being, trying to make sense of life on a rock flying through space. Give yourself room to be. Come with your uncertainty, make choices in the moment, doubt yourself, embrace yourself, and go ahead and move through the spectrum of experience. It's alright. Try to allow. I have found that practicing allowing in my life has helped me more than anything else ever has.
  • Livin_At_The_Gym
    Livin_At_The_Gym Posts: 39 Member
    @metaphysicalstudio thanks. Yeah I have definitely taken some time to reflect since this post and gather myself a bit. I’m 46 now and for whatever reason I was picturing this to end with my 26 year old body which is highly unrealistic. I’m lucky since I don’t have much loose skin (not as much as I anticipated anyways) after losing 114 pounds (and still going). I have been trying to treat my body better…been doing acupuncture, going to PT to work on my back issues, and also getting routine massages and seeing a chiropractor. It’s all helped me feel less run down and allowed me to time to feel better and think better. Thanks for the thoughtful reply!!