Body dysmorphia

Hey all,

This isn't my first go-around on the weight-loss circuit (I put on 40lb. last year of the 85 I lost, so I'm taking it off systematically now), but I had to ask a question for people who have struggled with this. According to my husband, he believes that I am very close, if not at, the size I used to be at when I was at my fittest. Now, considering I have nearly 20lb. to take off until I hit that point, I realize that he may be remembering differently. But he was telling me how wiry I was when I was training for half-marathons, and I have to admit, I have never seen myself that way. And with the way our discussions are unfolding on the matter, it's become clear that the cycle is repeating, because I don't see myself as "looking good" (define that as you will), and all I see is the fat girl in the mirror. Still. When in my brain, I logically know that this isn't the case.

So, to get to my question in a long-winded way: For you body dysmorphics and those of you who are recovering from it, what are some strategies you use to get your brain in sync with your body as it is now? What do you do when you find yourself running into trouble and/or otherwise struggling with it?
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Replies

  • maddyk91
    maddyk91 Posts: 193 Member
    My go-to method when I start to feel unrealistic is to cover mirrors and put away the scale for a while. After a week, it really makes you feel better about yourself and puts things back into perspective of where you are and how you feel about your body while you diet and exercise. And then, when I am feeling good again, I uncover everything and go back to whatever I was doing the week before.
  • michikade
    michikade Posts: 313 Member
    I find that, for whatever reason, the mirror lies but photographs don't. I don't notice upwards of 30 lb differences in the mirror, but I see it in photographs. This works for me personally anyway, but I noticed it going the opposite direction - I suppose I was in denial when I started gaining weight to begin with because I never saw it until I had gotten pretty heavy. I don't know if it will happen when I get closer to goal or not but I figure that's where side-by-side comparison pictures will come more in handy.
  • BZAH10
    BZAH10 Posts: 5,710 Member
    Yes, pictures. I was going to suggest that. Do you have photos of yourself through all these past stages you mentioned? Try comparing them. Also keeping measurements with a cloth tape measure helps. Or, do you have a pair of jeans or shorts that you wore at your "wiry" stage that you could try on now? Of course, don't do any of those things if they are negative triggers for you!
  • Kalikel
    Kalikel Posts: 9,626 Member
    I see change everywhere. I don't see the change like others do - especially out-of-town relatives - because I see me every day, so it's never a big whup from one day to the next.

    But I see differences from where I was!

    Except the tops of my thighs. I swear to God, they look worse than before. They must be smaller. Everything else is smaller. But except for the fact that they don't jut out in a bulge at the top, they look just as fat as ever.

    I don't know if the thigh thing is my issue or what. I am still really fat, so there's that. I hope, in another 30-50 pounds, they will seem less gross.
  • runningagainstmyself
    runningagainstmyself Posts: 616 Member
    Thanks for your comments.

    Yeah, when I start feeling bad I put away the scale. I can't really cover up the mirrors but I avoid looking at them until I feel a bit better.

    As far a photographs? No, I haven't done that. I've always hated having my photo taken, regardless of size. I'm the photographer, not the model. Most pictures I have of myself make me want to cry, so it's pretty hard to change that. I've done the occasional progression selfie, though. Maybe I will start doing it every 10lb. from here on out just so there is some comparison.
  • wkwebby
    wkwebby Posts: 807 Member
    In another thread, someone suggested doing the photos of yourself and when you look at them, look at them upside down when you are comparing. I guess with just the strangeness of the orientation, you have to be more objective due to the perspective. It was an interesting suggestion.
  • Sued0nim
    Sued0nim Posts: 17,456 Member
    My body dysmorphia (if I can call it that) is different from most in that when I look in a mirror I think I look alright...it's only when I actually see photographs that I wonder who that fat woman is who follows me around and keeps jumping between me and the camera

    So I think I agree that photos don't lie
  • michikade
    michikade Posts: 313 Member
    I understand hating having your picture taken -- I absolutely can't stand it either. But in this case for something like this no one else ever has to see the pictures, it's just for comparative purposes. However, if it's a negative trigger then it isn't a good idea at all to do.
  • runningagainstmyself
    runningagainstmyself Posts: 616 Member
    In another thread, someone suggested doing the photos of yourself and when you look at them, look at them upside down when you are comparing. I guess with just the strangeness of the orientation, you have to be more objective due to the perspective. It was an interesting suggestion.

    That is interesting indeed! I may have to give that one a try. Maybe I'll be less devastated. Lol
  • scg17
    scg17 Posts: 88 Member
    I have been doing measurements, and looking for visible muscle. I'm 5'5", 135lbs, and I feel quite chubby--but I realize I'm really healthy logically. So for me, having better fitting clothing and tracking the numbers is more reassuring. I don't know what it would take besides counseling for me to like what I see in photos.
  • slaite1
    slaite1 Posts: 1,307 Member
    rabbitjb wrote: »
    My body dysmorphia (if I can call it that) is different from most in that when I look in a mirror I think I look alright...it's only when I actually see photographs that I wonder who that fat woman is who follows me around and keeps jumping between me and the camera

    So I think I agree that photos don't lie

    This exactly
  • minties82
    minties82 Posts: 907 Member
    rabbitjb wrote: »
    My body dysmorphia (if I can call it that) is different from most in that when I look in a mirror I think I look alright...it's only when I actually see photographs that I wonder who that fat woman is who follows me around and keeps jumping between me and the camera

    So I think I agree that photos don't lie

    This is me. I've lost 29kg and look now how I thought I did in my head when I was 29kg heavier. Photos alwaya surprise me.
  • tomatoey
    tomatoey Posts: 5,459 Member
    Is it dysmorphia that's there outside of a weight loss context, or the usual lag in mental representation of the body that happens with weight change (up or down)? It's super common for people to hold on to older mental body maps as they lose (or gain).

    If it's just related to weight changes, eventually, your kinaesthetic sense of yourself will line up with your ideas of how your body moves in space, and with its visual representation. (That's my rough notion of how it must work.) But it'll take time.
  • IAmTheGlue
    IAmTheGlue Posts: 701 Member
    rabbitjb wrote: »
    My body dysmorphia (if I can call it that) is different from most in that when I look in a mirror I think I look alright...it's only when I actually see photographs that I wonder who that fat woman is who follows me around and keeps jumping between me and the camera

    So I think I agree that photos don't lie

    Omg! Me too! I never *feel fat*. Not even at my heaviest. Okay, except for when I'm super pregnant but I think that is from the awkwardness of it. I still feel like that super hot 18 year old from high school. When I look at pictures I'm like "who is that?"
  • jgnatca
    jgnatca Posts: 14,464 Member
    I don't have this problem, though it takes a while for my mind to catch up to my new body. I hope my suggestions speak truth. There's a TED talk that speaks about gazing at faces to make them more approachable, appealing. I think gazing at our own bodies without judging can have a similar effect. Sort of like mindful meditation allowing any judgments to flow through instead of land. I know that when I've done a life drawing I've grown to admire a wide range of body types for their own artistry. A larger woman has delightfully muscular calves, for instance, to support her frame. A slim male I admired for his angular jaw and wiry biceps. A light sweat creates a sheen that profiles the muscles in new ways. All bodies beautiful.

    When I started out on this enterprise twenty months ago I knew I would be sitting down with a therapist and that probably scared me more than the spectre of surgery. So I prepared myself by standing in front of a mirror and doing a pencil sketch of my outline. It took me about twenty minutes. I do surprise myself over and over again because like most people, my inner self looks a whole lot different than my outer shell. At my heaviest, I did not spend a lot of time in front of the mirror. When I took a good hard look I'd grown and hadn't noticed. But an artist spends TIME with the subject and you can't help but develop intimacy with it.

    These days I have a whole new body with some stunningly soggy bits. When dressed I can do sleight-of-hand with appropriate support wear, but nude in front of the mirror does not lie. I watch how my belly morphs as I suck in my newly developed core muscles. My skin wrinkles and sags like an old suit around my thighs and upper arms. This is me.

    How do I possibly shop for the right size? Every once in a while I spend a few hours with a measuring tape and charts to figure it all out.
  • BZAH10
    BZAH10 Posts: 5,710 Member
    Okay, not sure how this thread got revived, but I was very confused when I saw that I'd already posted on it! Then I looked at the date. Aug. 2014.

    Anyway, topic is relevant because I was just talking to my husband about this over the weekend. I think I look okay when I look in the mirror, but WHO is that in the pictures?! And, for me, it's not just my size that confuses me in pictures, it's my hair or my face or whatever. Looks so different from what I see when I'm getting ready in the mornings. Weird.
  • Need2Exerc1se
    Need2Exerc1se Posts: 13,576 Member
    rabbitjb wrote: »
    My body dysmorphia (if I can call it that) is different from most in that when I look in a mirror I think I look alright...it's only when I actually see photographs that I wonder who that fat woman is who follows me around and keeps jumping between me and the camera

    So I think I agree that photos don't lie

    LOL This is also me. I keep hoping it's the photos are lying and not the mirrors. ;)
  • girlviernes
    girlviernes Posts: 2,402 Member
    The seeing myself as smaller than reality is me as well and it is frustrating because I can't tell a difference after losing 50 lbs.
  • thereshegoesagain
    thereshegoesagain Posts: 1,056 Member
    When I was at 248 lbs, I knew I was heavy, but my mirror always lied to me and told me that I looked ok and I believed it. At least until I'd see a damn photo. Now I'm down 70 pounds and when I look at the mirror, I see a fat woman looking back at me. What the heck?
  • Psychgrrl
    Psychgrrl Posts: 3,177 Member
    Trying on smaller size clothes. My issue is that I was so used to reaching for extra larges, for fit and for coverage so I could hide, that I still have trouble when I go shopping.

    Even if you have no intent to buy, try on some clothes from when you think you were "that size." Then try on smaller ones. I tried on an XS cardigan and it was too tight in the shoulders. S and M fit me. I'm still kinda shocked. Trying on the clothes I'm getting altered (pre-altered) is eye-opening, too.

    I also want stuff to fit now, too.