Struggling with body image

ssurvivor Posts: 152 Member
edited April 2018 in Social Groups
I know this is long so if you want to just skip to the end (that starts "long story short"), I won't get

When I started thinking about "being fit," my primary objective was to lower my BFP (body fat %). Once upon a time, I was an internationally ranked athlete. FF some years, I'm battling cancer, only minimally active and feeling the layers of fluff creeping on. I make small changes to "stop the bleeding," and as I get better, I increase my activity level and here we are. So anyway...when I started, I was utterly "average" (solidly within 25-31%) which, given my history, felt uncomfortably high.

A few months ago, I started a Yoga Teacher Training program with a Ballet studio (i.e., lots of mirrors). As I moved through the program, I happily noticed my body changing and solidly dropped a dress size. Then, a few weeks ago, I got fed up with the toxic, ultra-competitive, body-shaming atmosphere and decided to finish my classroom hours at a more traditional studio (i.e. lots of windows but no mirrors) which was okay as long as I returned for my mentor workshops and lit reviews.

All was great until I went back for my April mentor workshop. For the first hour, I kept wondering if they replaced the mirrors with those mirrors that make you look wider. Then I just convinced myself that I'd gained a wobbly bits. But the rub is that I still feel that way. In fact, I spent most of Friday's class pulling down my tank because I was sure I had some kind of belly hang which is crazy because I know that my body has been responding better to many of the poses that were hindered by my preexisting wobbly bits.

So long story short, has anyone ever struggled with body image after noticing initial loss? Should I be concerned or am I just noticing the difference between my old body (pre gain) and current body because I haven't been looking at myself (full length in motion) for a few weeks? Thanks.


  • ssurvivor
    ssurvivor Posts: 152 Member
    I just realized that I started wearing some of my workout clothes from my training days so maybe it's just easier to see the distance to my goal (I wrote all that yesterday and fell asleep before posting).
  • peppermintcaroline
    peppermintcaroline Posts: 156 Member
    I am average also. And some days I look in the mirror and think "wow so much progress!" And other days... Not so much. Sometimes it is bloating (tom), or eating a large meal. While I try not to depend on the scale, I do remind myself that while mirrors may not lie, perspective does. Try not to dwell, stick to your goals, and carry on.
  • FormerlyWallyAmadeus
    FormerlyWallyAmadeus Posts: 35 Member
    I hear you.

    I have to think about my "why"...why am I doing what I do. And, that has changed over time. The why I've settled on is: I want to be fierce. Not Conan the Barbarian fierce, but strong, agile, with enough physical stamina to do what I want to do every day of my life.

    That isn't dependent upon the way I look, it is dependent upon how I fuel my body, how I care for it and how I strengthen it.

    I also figure this: If I focus on the process, the outcome will take care of itself.

  • RadishEater
    RadishEater Posts: 470 Member
    I think it takes a while to have a change in our minds. I was always the fatter friend, the plumper one, even though I wasn't overweight I have a knack for having skinny fit friends so the contrast between body types felt large.

    Even though I lost weight and have been in maintenance for a couple months now, I still don't always feel as fit as my friends look. I never was one for selfies but sometimes in a more forgiving mirror (because I swear some mirrors make you look bad) I will snap a pic of myself. So even if I am feeling bloated, pms-ing, bad about eating I can look back on it and see how great I actually look, how trim and fit, sometimes it is hard to recognize I'm that person.

    I think the years of thinking I was the fatter friend has made it a very slow mindset change.
  • hotskytrotsky
    hotskytrotsky Posts: 14 Member
    I've noticed that my body image tends to be better after something has changed. E.g. a few years ago I lost a couple of pounds and wound up at my current weight. I thought I looked great and was super happy with my body and fitness level. But now I'm used to it, and I have started to notice the negatives instead of the positives. I think my expectations just adjusted. Since I'm smaller now than I used to be, I also notice daily fluctuations and bloat way more than I did when I was heavier. You said you noticed that your body has been responding better to your yoga practice - I think that's a super good sign about where you're at and sometimes we need to pay attention to stuff like that because we're not very reliable sources for how our own bodies look.
  • ssurvivor
    ssurvivor Posts: 152 Member
    Thanks for the responses. Its comforting to know that others have moments of body insecurity. I think my problem was that I had a whole bunch of stuff going on in my head and my body became the scapegoat (of sorts) for all of that. So thanks again!
  • FormerlyWallyAmadeus
    FormerlyWallyAmadeus Posts: 35 Member
    edited April 2018
    Yep, read that as well. Also, there were some good letters to the editor today one of which pointed out that in academic circles (the writer was at Brown) how it was a matter of principle not to be influenced by beauty ideals.

    I think there has to be a balance, and one which we chose ourselves. How much head space do I want to devote to thinking about how I look? How much of my energy do I want to put into achieving an unrealistic ideal? So, what is "perfect" for me may not be the cultural perfect.

    And, finally, we're all going to get old. We don't have to get old and unfit, but we're going to get old. Unless we're going to go the nip/tuck/filler route we have to accept ourselves for who we are. This isn't to say that we can't work hard to stay fit and at a healthy weight, but age is that final kick in the butt that says: The best you can do/look, is the best you can do/ go out and live your life and stop obsessing.
  • HoneyBadger302
    HoneyBadger302 Posts: 1,677 Member
    You know, before I put on the weight I'm now trying to lose, I still saw myself as "fat." I'd pick apart my little belly bulge, and notice every little bit of fluff. Now, I'd kill to be back there again!

    BUT, and here's the big but, I'm going about it differently, and my life is different, and so is my body. I'm more broken than I was then, and while I don't let it slow me down too much, the reality is there are more limitations now than there were then. I'm doing more "heavy" lifting, and more concerned with strength and training for my sport. I probably have more muscle bulk than I did then, and I've come to realize my initial 'goal weight' may be unrealistic with my current body shape.

    Yes, I'm still overweight for my frame. I have plenty of fat to lose. At a pool party this past Friday, however, where I was surrounded by a bunch of my girlfriends (who are similar ages and in similar places in their lives) I realized I wasn't as large as my *compare myself to all the serious lifters in the gym* mind was telling me. In fact, I was the smallest one there.

    I also realized that I saw these women as beautiful and sexy before, and why should I consider myself anything less, just because I'm not where I once was? Yes, I am still working to get closer to that, but I'm doing some pretty badass stuff right now, and maybe accepting that it's a journey and this is my current place, and being happy with who I am and who I'm working to be is A-OK.
  • mom23mangos
    mom23mangos Posts: 3,071 Member
    OP, I think the fact that you used to be an internationally ranked athlete and probably in superb shape is playing with your mind more than anything else. When you are used to looking/being a certain weight it's very difficult to accept a higher weight. I am on the low end of the BMI range. I'm pretty lean, and yet I still feel fat compared to where I used to be. My fat distribution really changed with middle age and a lot of it now sits on my lower belly. I'm constantly pinching the inch. Like if I could convince myself to lipo that one little area I think I'd be happy. But I'm not going to do it and I try to take WallyAmadeus's outlook. I try to concentrate more on what my body can do than what it looks like.

    You are going through a rough time. I think it's awesome you are getting your yoga certification. Try to remind yourself of the much better you can do certain poses, how much strength and flexibility you have gained. But know if we are all honest, we've been there too. Oh, and the window reflection of my front door and the inside of the work elevator doors are the devil.