Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

I'll start with the facts. I've been on here a long time now and I've lost a lot of weight over the course of a year. I'm 133 pounds now. Overall, I feel better about myself and the weight I've lost. I feel better in clothes. But it's a very calculated emotion. It's, "I've lost 30 pounds overall and I fit into x size." And there's pride in this feeling but it's like, "i worked at this and got this result" like with anything else we do in life. it doesn't reflect into my daily life like I thought it would.

I lost weight before and i'm back to that size where I remember being happy and whatnot. But I don't feel that. It's getting harder and harder to look at my reflection. When i do look in the mirror, it's like i said, calculated. I can't focus on what i look like. i go through the regular grooming motions. When I look at myself, I don't see the progress, I actually feel like i'm 165 pounds again. I hide behind a lot of baggy clothes and long sleeves and pants. Showering makes me want to cry because I feel like my body is this large mass. I stopped seeing 'progress' a few months ago. I had to stop taking weight loss pictures because I don't like seeing myself in clothes much less with less on. And I don't really understand it. I'm worried because this feeling has slowly been building to the point if I go out, i'm that girl you see with her head down, doesn't make eye contact, walks quickly to what she needs or whatever. At work, i'm in a different mindset, I work and do my job and i'm nice and polite. But when i'm alone, I avoid going anywhere unless it's with my boyfriend. And it's all because I feel uglier and fatter somehow. These are seriously the best words I can use to describe it.

I guess this sounds dramatic but it doesn't matter what people tell me. You're thin, you're this, you can see the progress, etc. I have become obsessed with logging food and if I can't log it, I won't eat it. if I do eat it, i'm beating myself up for hours.

I feel rational with like, yes I've lost inches, look you can compare. Three inches down here or two there. A size down here. Five pounds lost since this day. This many calories today. But it's so calculated! Like it's a math problem, it's a habit, routine now. But internally and externally, this 'data' does nothing for me. it's really affecting me and I've always been insecure, what woman hasn't? But it's worse and i'm worried.

Any advice or if anybody can relate...please help.

Replies

  • DBL_IronDog
    DBL_IronDog Posts: 115 Member
    Unfortunately, I go through this somewhat as well. I've come a LONG way though with a lot of positive self talk and redirecting my thoughts. I am still so far from where I want to be mentally and physically though. Its hard, and its real. I am just now starting to look up this disorder myself in hopes that I can be completely free of it somehow. I'm sure mine comes from all these bad childhood tapes about what a man is supposed to be and look like. And I never felt like I lived up to any of it. So anyway, I feel you here and I'm a friend if you need one.
  • blues4miles
    blues4miles Posts: 1,481 Member
    I think this is common after weight loss for people who struggle with body appearance issues already.

    Could you try an exercise, like maybe once a day look at yourself in the mirror (doesn't have to be naked) and say something out loud that's nice about your appearance? Just 30 seconds of staring at yourself once a day. And maybe say something nice about yourself that ISN'T based on appearance, while also looking at yourself in your own eyes.

    Also it's not really a help for body dysmorphia, but many women who find themselves still unhappy with their appearance after losing weight have had success with weight lifting. You won't bulk up, I promise. Maybe see if you can get New Rules of Weight Lifting for Women from your local library, it has good background in the beginning. Other free programs on the internet like StrongLifts or Starting Strength would also be good.
  • hillabeans23
    hillabeans23 Posts: 37 Member
    Oh my god thank you! I'm so glad someone else gets it. I started looking it up too and taking quizzes/reading about it. I definitely have some childhood insecurity issues too. I don't think I got the support I needed from my parents about beauty, inside and out. And being bullied most of middle school and the first part of high school wasn't helping either. It's really nice to hear that a guy struggles with this. As a woman, I mean, I don't know how I'm supposed to look anymore. And even though I really have come a long way physically and mentally, this issue slammed into me like a ton of bricks. I mean what do you do? You said you try to change your thoughts concerning the issue. I feel like I have the, like I mentioned, 'data' approach. But what do you do when you're feeling so overwhelmed I guess?
  • ARGriffy
    ARGriffy Posts: 1,002 Member
    This is such a sore subject for me. When I put on size small clothes I should feel great, instead I put them on and look at the fat bits of me that are left and fixate on them! Its like I wish I could borrow someone else's eyes and look through them instead to get a true view! All I can recommend is keep at a healthy lifestyle which picks up your endorphins and mood and praise your body for what it's become. Don't go down the "pursuit of perfection" route because realistically, you won't get there. This is what I have to remind myself of all the time!! Good luck Xxxxxxxxxxx
  • hillabeans23
    hillabeans23 Posts: 37 Member
    blue4miles:

    An exercise like you're saying might be helpful. I won't lie, sometimes I look in the mirror and try to look into my eyes and i'm just like, your eyes are too small, you're lucky they're a pretty color or else no one would look at you. (unfortunately this how bad it is) But I can try harder. Try something like you're saying.

    And I do actually weight lift. I'm following the Jillian Michaels Bodyshred Program right now (don't know if you've heard of it) and I've done other home based weight videos so I'm not scared of weights. I've moved up to 15 pound ones but I don't know if you mean, lifting at a gym or exactly what lifting exercise you mean. But curls and flys and deadlifts etc. I do all that.
  • peaceout_aly
    peaceout_aly Posts: 2,018 Member
    I'll start with the facts. I've been on here a long time now and I've lost a lot of weight over the course of a year. I'm 133 pounds now. Overall, I feel better about myself and the weight I've lost. I feel better in clothes. But it's a very calculated emotion. It's, "I've lost 30 pounds overall and I fit into x size." And there's pride in this feeling but it's like, "i worked at this and got this result" like with anything else we do in life. it doesn't reflect into my daily life like I thought it would.

    I lost weight before and i'm back to that size where I remember being happy and whatnot. But I don't feel that. It's getting harder and harder to look at my reflection. When i do look in the mirror, it's like i said, calculated. I can't focus on what i look like. i go through the regular grooming motions. When I look at myself, I don't see the progress, I actually feel like i'm 165 pounds again. I hide behind a lot of baggy clothes and long sleeves and pants. Showering makes me want to cry because I feel like my body is this large mass. I stopped seeing 'progress' a few months ago. I had to stop taking weight loss pictures because I don't like seeing myself in clothes much less with less on. And I don't really understand it. I'm worried because this feeling has slowly been building to the point if I go out, i'm that girl you see with her head down, doesn't make eye contact, walks quickly to what she needs or whatever. At work, i'm in a different mindset, I work and do my job and i'm nice and polite. But when i'm alone, I avoid going anywhere unless it's with my boyfriend. And it's all because I feel uglier and fatter somehow. These are seriously the best words I can use to describe it.

    I guess this sounds dramatic but it doesn't matter what people tell me. You're thin, you're this, you can see the progress, etc. I have become obsessed with logging food and if I can't log it, I won't eat it. if I do eat it, i'm beating myself up for hours.

    I feel rational with like, yes I've lost inches, look you can compare. Three inches down here or two there. A size down here. Five pounds lost since this day. This many calories today. But it's so calculated! Like it's a math problem, it's a habit, routine now. But internally and externally, this 'data' does nothing for me. it's really affecting me and I've always been insecure, what woman hasn't? But it's worse and i'm worried.

    Any advice or if anybody can relate...please help.

    I can most definitely relate. I often times wonder if other people are being honest, or if they are just telling me things in order to make me "feel better" about working out so hard. I have not lost a significant amount of weight, and have actually gained about 9-lbs. of muscle after starting a regimen of heavy lifting. I feel like I will never be good enough, or be at my goal. If I go one day without working out, or attempt to not log a food/meal, I have extreme guilt and beat myself up emotionally over it thinking that it is going to be detrimental to my progress (even though clearly, it is not). You are not alone. Even though I know it feels like it a lot of the time. I try to focus on becoming stronger, and less on my body, althought I won't lie - that is very difficult. You want to see progress quickly. You want to be at your goal quickly. And when you realize it takes time, it is harder and harder for you to view and accept that progress. Maybe try looking at before and after photos? I always say I wish I had taken a before picture because that would make me feel so much better about where I'm at now versus comparing day-to-day.
  • hillabeans23
    hillabeans23 Posts: 37 Member
    ARGriffy:

    That's what I do. I do wear more smalls than anything else but I don't like wearing them. And I do fixate on what I haven't lost physically in addition to all the other crap I focused on before. It's really hard. As I mentioned, where I used to see progress when I first started, I don't feel or see it rationally anymore. I do feel larger, bigger. I'm like, look at your stomach, your legs, (insert body part), you're fat. You still look like you did thirty pounds ago. And then I get on the scale and i'm like, that reads 133 or whatever. And then I look at my measurements and i'm like, your waist 28 inches or your thighs are 21 inches. Or your arms are 11 inches. And that is small, well I mean smaller. And still in the mirror, I feel huge.

    I still feel better eating right or working out. Or i'll go on a walk if I start getting overwhelmed and the activity makes my brain feel better. Or I focus on my muscles working as I walk or something.

    Haha, perfection. I don't know what perfection is anymore. I'll never have the big boobs and the small waist and small thighs but a huge butt like the perceived picture is. I think I did that a lot more when I was younger and then when I started working out and eating right, I realized you can't pick and choose. So now, I focus on my body fat percentage and certain measurements. Because that's what I want. Or perfection is being able to do a one armed push up or something. Haha.

    I wish when I looked in the mirror or someone gave me a compliment, I would admire it. Now I find myself telling myself, your face will always look like this and your skin like that and you can't afford plastic surgery which was never something I even thought about. And then I say, so you better keep losing weight and stay freaking small because that's the only thing you have going for you. Which is so harsh and cruel! But i can't stop it. And then I struggle with when I first started losing again and say i lost five pounds or ten pounds, I was so proud of myself! And so happy and regaining confidence. And now I think of when I weighed 140 pounds and I was feeling better or 'pretty' and I hate that I felt like that. So i'm beating 'me' up all around.
  • hillabeans23
    hillabeans23 Posts: 37 Member
    peaceout aly:

    Something that always bothers me is when I first got down to this size at 20, my family was like, you're so beautiful! you look so great! And now, i'm that same size, actually more 'in shape' and they're like, yeah you look okay. Or someone will ask if I've lost weight, and i'm like, I lost thirty freakin pounds psycho! And they reply, oh well you don't look that much different. I have literally cried over responses like that. I also get mad at myself because I've definitely worked so much harder this time around to lose the weight. Getting older? Yay?! And though others don't see it or congratulate me like I thought they would, I don't amp myself up either. I have looked at before photos because I have some, and they just make me mad. Body shaming and slamming myself to nth degree there.

    I'm great at telling other people who are also on a fitness journey positive things. Whoever will say, I ate so bad! I haven't worked out in 2 days! The scale went up from this past weekend of crap etc. And i'll say, you physically cannot gain weight in a day. Or several days. Get back to your routine and you'll drop. But for me, it's hard to eat a freaking cookie let alone go out to eat a restaurant that doesn't have nutrition info. I'm definitely the same way, if I miss a workout or miss logging a meal, I get so mad. It's hard to even cook for myself something like pasta, because it's really hard to measure all that. I stick to things I can measure.

    It seems the only time I feel good about myself is when instead of modifying a workout, I do it the 'harder' way and when I realize I can do it, I get so excited. Because I obviously got stronger. Or something similar with working out and nutrition. With clothes, it's not that way. I put on a pair of jean shorts the other day and they fell off and instead of saying, wow Hillary great job! you need a new pair of jean shorts! I say, your thighs are two different sizes do you know that? You can't wear jean shorts anyway. (My thighs are two different sizes too, one is half an inch bigger than the other one. Is that weird?)
  • hillabeans23
    hillabeans23 Posts: 37 Member
    Thank you to all by the way for such encouragement, understanding and advice! It truly means a lot.
  • Itreadlightly
    Itreadlightly Posts: 96 Member
    That ( Body Dismorphia) is a danger in dieting for most women. All the emphasis on looking good. And it turns out getting to good is not good enough.
    The disordered thinking precedes the disordered eating. I don't think there is an answer- here we all are obsessed with the process ( logging- eating- lifting- cardio- etc) what do we live for? We seem to live for the day(s) we get it it right and to beat ourself on others for for messing it up. It is all insane. We will never get "there" ( good enough)
    It is all so unhealthy but here I am am doing the deal - for what? If I knew how to eat like a "normal" person I would not be here. I lost that ability the very first time I did a diet to look as good as the other girls as a teenager. Still chasing the "look good"40 years later.
    Dieting made me sick and I don't know how to get well.
    So I walk and log and am just grateful I have this tool (MFP) so I can feel secure that I am not hurting myself with every bite I eat or every extra lbs I lift .
    My thought: if you diet and exercise for self esteem then you will suffer from body dismorphoia. Accept that. It's like a scar - won't go away. Acceptance makes it fade in importance because it is now part of you.
  • BZAH10
    BZAH10 Posts: 5,596 Member
    First, NO, it's not weird to have one thigh a half inch larger than the other because I'm the same way. Or maybe it IS weird, but if so then at least you're not alone! :)

    Sounds like you are very intelligent and knowledgeable about yourself and your mind set. That's a good first step. Seems like you may have a combination of body dis morphia and low self esteem. There are online resources and reading materials to help rebuild your self-esteem and that may be a good start.

    In the meantime start practicing positive self talk and thoughts and purposely eliminate the negative ones. It's not easy, but as with anything else, if you are consistent it works. Talk to yourself as you would a friend or as you said, to others here that are feeling down and negative. Fake it until you make it, right?

    Give yourself time to adjust and heal and try to NOT let the impulsive, thoughtless reactions of others affect you. Nine times out of ten they aren't really thinking about how you will react when they make a comment. It's generally just the first thing that pops into their heads.
  • UnicornAmanda1
    UnicornAmanda1 Posts: 56 Member
    I can relate!!
  • blues4miles
    blues4miles Posts: 1,481 Member
    blue4miles:

    An exercise like you're saying might be helpful. I won't lie, sometimes I look in the mirror and try to look into my eyes and i'm just like, your eyes are too small, you're lucky they're a pretty color or else no one would look at you. (unfortunately this how bad it is) But I can try harder. Try something like you're saying.

    And I do actually weight lift. I'm following the Jillian Michaels Bodyshred Program right now (don't know if you've heard of it) and I've done other home based weight videos so I'm not scared of weights. I've moved up to 15 pound ones but I don't know if you mean, lifting at a gym or exactly what lifting exercise you mean. But curls and flys and deadlifts etc. I do all that.

    Yeah I think just focus on saying positive things outloud. Don't worry if inside your head you are still critical right now. Just start with what you can do, don't say anything negative out loud.

    Not familiar with bodyshred (I'd have to look it up). But Stronglifts is for example squats, bench press, barbell rows one day, then squats, overhead press, deadlifts two days later. 15 lbs is pretty light. I mean better than nothing, but lifting heavier and doing compound/full body lifts you will start to see more changes. Like I'm squatting 60 lbs right now and that's considered ridiculously light, most people would be squatting a lot more, but that's a starting weight for programs like that.