How you look VS how you THINK you look

mlrtri Posts: 397 Member
How does your mental image of yourself ( how you think you look) compare to the real you (how you actually look in a picture)?

Mine are WAY off. I hated pictures before I started losing weight because it hit me in the face with the reality of my actual size. I have lost 10 lbs (45 to go). I know that isn’t a lot but I feel SO much better. My core is stronger. I stand up taller. My clothes fit better. I just had in my mind that I was looking a lot better. I saw a picture of myself from a family thing this weekend. I did look a little better. But there was not anywhere near as much improvement as I thought.

Does anyone else have this? Does it ever improve?

I have read posts where people who lost all their excess weight still feel they are overweight.

Do any of us feel the way we actually look?

I long for the days when I see a picture of myself and don’t cringe.


  • mlrtri
    mlrtri Posts: 397 Member
    That made me think about how I felt when I was a healthy size. I would pick at myself then, too. It wasn’t depressing to see a picture but I would pick on other things.
  • spiriteagle99
    spiriteagle99 Posts: 3,491 Member
    I still tend to think my legs are much larger than they actually are, probably because when I look at them, I'm looking down from above. When I see a photo or look at myself in a store window, I am always a bit surprised at the fact that they aren't huge.

    OTOH, I still don't like photos of myself because I do look so much older these days. I always tossed out photos taken of me; now I just don't allow my photo to be taken. At 65, wrinkles and gray hair are a given, but a lifetime of being outdoors every day without sunscreen has definitely had an effect.
  • Lietchi
    Lietchi Posts: 5,004 Member
    edited June 2022
    Oh boy, difficult issue :smile:

    When I was obese, I hated the way I looked and avoided pictures. However, when I look back at those (very few) pictures now, I've discovered that I didn't *truly* know how heavy I was then, it's only now that it really hits me.

    When I started losing weight (after 10lbs) I was so proud and felt so much more confident. My BF's reaction: "hm, you think you can see a difference already?"

    Now, 75lbs down, and my mind still plays tricks on me. I'm still sort of surprised when I catch a glance of my reflection in a window or mirror. But when I look at myself in my usual mirror at home, I see myself as less slim than in those fleeting glances outside my home. Perhaps it's just a consequence of my mirror not being full-length, who knows.

    My general feeling of myself is slim overall, but I have moments where I feel my stomach 'blubber' sticks out or my arms are fat - those areas still carry some fat, but my mind probably exaggerates the amount.
    Seeing myself naked is the hardest part, confronted with the remaining stubborn bits of fat, and seeing excess skin sag depending on how I hold myself (pro tip: don't look down at your stomach when doing planks :tongue: ) In my eyes I look more slim dressed than undressed.

    It's a tricky thing, I'm still inching down in weight because I feel I still have some fat to lose, but I'm also very conscious of the fact that my mind may not be my best friend. I take progress pictures of myself, because those do look different from when I look into the mirror, it helps me keep a somewhat balanced perspective.
  • quiksylver296
    quiksylver296 Posts: 28,425 Member
    edited June 2022
    I'm in a weird place right now. I feel like I am very fat, as I am at my highest weight ever. But because I've been lifting heavy for over 6 years, I don't look like the weight I am. I don't look in the mirror like I want to look, but I also don't look as bad as I feel like I do. If that makes any sense... :D
  • Chef_Barbell
    Chef_Barbell Posts: 6,647 Member
    I'm in a weird place right now. I feel like I am very fat, as I am at my highest weight ever. But because I've been lifting heavy for over 6 years, I don't look like the weight I am. I don't look in the mirror like I want to look, but I also don't look as bad as I feel like I do. If that makes any sense... :D

    This is me exactly right now 💯
  • mlrtri
    mlrtri Posts: 397 Member
    Thank you for sharing. I am feeling great so I feel like I should be looking great, too. But it took time to get here it will take time to get back. I am learning patience. I am also learning (or trying to learn) how to celebrate the small goals which will help me accomplish my big goals.
  • bojaantje3822
    bojaantje3822 Posts: 258 Member
    My body looks fantastic in pictures taken head on but I look awful in pics taken at an angle, any angle, imo. I look slimmer in windows than in the mirror. Sometimes I look slimmer in the mirror than in pictures, sometimes it's the other way around. It doesn't help that my mind-body connection is awful and I've never had any concept of how much space I take up or how I move through the world. Even when I exercise I don't truly feel what's going on, which muscles are working, what I'm supposed to feel when stretching. It got better with time but I'm still nowhere near other people. At least I've learnt to recognise how my core feels tightenee vs untightened so I no longer accidentally let go while squatting... oops.

    My confidence doesn't come from the weight lost according to the scale or tape measure or how I look. Some of it comes from my fitness and strength gains measured during exercise but the majority of it comes from my fitness and strength and weight loss and body composition changes measured by touching my body with my hands. When I first started squatting, the outer edges of my glutes started feeling stronger and smoother to the touch. Then my leg muscles felt different. Now I can feel my shoulder bones, my hip bones and my ribs with my hands under the fat. And my arms muscles in different positions are starting to take shape. I sorta see my shoulders look different, more muscles and slimmer, but my touch makes it way more obvious that my body is changing.
  • mlrtri
    mlrtri Posts: 397 Member
    I am not taking progress pictures. The future me may regret that. But I don’t want to get bogged down by scale and pictures. I want to lower my BMI and improve lab results. Improved physical appearance will follow. But it is crazy the discrepancy between how I feel and how I look. I wander if I will ever have a healthy viewpoint.
  • IAmTheGlue
    IAmTheGlue Posts: 695 Member
    A funny thing happened today. My 4 year old took like 20 random pictures with my phone while I was getting ready to take him to the store to pick out his birthday cake. Only one was of me and it was pre-make up/ hair care.

    One… I’m significantly thinner than I feel. Two…. Dang I’m old. Lol I was shocked by the picture for both the exhaustion on my face (to be fair I’m going through something physically/ medically and I feel run down) and my size.

    When does your brain catch up? Idk. I prepare to shimmy through places I don’t feel like I should fit and there is actually plenty of room. Sometimes I go through those type of places just to see if I can fit… try to fix my brain.
  • jopa17
    jopa17 Posts: 147 Member
    I take regular progress pics (Photo Friday) and it spurs me on to push myself every week to lose more...
  • threewins
    threewins Posts: 1,287 Member
    I was thin for a lot of my life. So in my head, I'm still thin. However, when I look in the mirror I see the truth. I've asked my long distance girlfriend to delete a few photos of me from her Instagram. I made a sexy video of me in the shower for her. After watching it, I deleted it, unsent.
  • mlrtri
    mlrtri Posts: 397 Member
    Thank you for sharing. It will be interesting to see what my mind does as I cont to improve my health. This process, for me anyway, is much more mental than physical. I can deal with a hunger pain but focusing on my weaknesses has been hard - but necessary.
  • Walkywalkerson
    Walkywalkerson Posts: 453 Member
    I look completely different in my head than I do in reality- in my head I look so much younger and slimmer lol!
    I look so different from so many perspectives - in the mirror or on a selfie I don't look too bad because I'm controlling it - but a picture that someone else has taken is pure horror!
    And I don't even recognise myself in a video that someone else has taken- it's just awful!
    I've created this imaginary much younger, slimmer version of myself in my head haha

  • Xellercin
    Xellercin Posts: 924 Member
    I have a pretty realistic sense of what I look like and I'm quite comfortable with it. But I've done a lot of work on my emotional relationship with my body. Not to like it more, but to just stop investing so much of my energy and self worth into my appearance.

    It's perfectly okay to not find certain parts of my body attractive. Most of my very favourite people in this world are people I don't find very attractive, and it doesn't make me adore them any less.

    I like that the healthier I get the more attractive I get. I LOVE that quitting alcohol made me look so much younger that my friends and colleagues were convinced I had had cosmetic surgery. That's just fun. But not getting a cosmetic benefit wouldn't have made quitting less worthwhile.

    If anything, seeing that dramatic improvement in my face made me feel horror at what years of what I thought was moderate drinking must have been doing to my internal organs.
  • Deni_R
    Deni_R Posts: 66 Member
    When I was at my heaviest I avoided photos and found looking at any that were taken incredibly depressing as my mental image never matched the person I saw.

    I'm part way through my weight loss (25kg lost) and I'm feeling pretty good but the mirror still isn't showing how I feel inside. I do take regular progress picture and apart from my face I don't see any difference in the mirror but my clothes tell a different story.

    I do wonder how it's going to be when I get to goal (which is still 50kg away). I've never been a healthy weight in my adult life so it's probably going to take a lot for me to reconcile internally.
  • Decoy152
    Decoy152 Posts: 43 Member
    edited July 2022
    Hello Mirtri, what a great conversation thread, a lot of insight shared here. In my experience self perception can and does improve through the very same level of self awareness your post and the subsequent conversation this thread discusses. I am down 50lbs over the past 2.5 years and at one point actually over shot my weight loss goals I believe due in part to misperception of my own appearance or at least some level of disassociation. Like you I did not initially take deliberate progress photos. I regret this as they may have helped calibrate my own perceptions as I progressed. However, by the time I did finally step in front of the camera, encouraged and cajoled by peers, I found it to be a very useful and self calibrating process. Engaging with others and photo documenting seems to have forced some level of objective logic to counter my inner perpetual critic. For me it is an ongoing sometimes discomforting but ultimately beneficial process. Keep up the great work.
  • melto1989
    melto1989 Posts: 140 Member
    I hate how I look overweight and not overweight. I just don't have good self esteem. In the past when I'm actively losing weight I feel great and I think I look good until I see a pic or look in my mirror. I'm not sure if it's in my head because other people tell me I look good I'm 15kg overweight from having a baby recently and when I was a healthy weight I would feel as good in person and on pics but dislike other things