There are so many positive aspects to losing weight. Not only does dropping the pounds help improve your health, it gives you more energy and helps your clothes fit better. But it also brings up some deeper body image issues. It means accepting your new body, especially if you were used to hiding behind the relative comfort of layers of clothing and fat. It means coming to terms with yourself as “thin” person instead of a “fat” person and being comfortable with the positive comments people make about your weight loss. And it also means giving yourself the time necessary to learn to live in your new body. Losing the weight and changing a lifetime of unhealthy habits is no small task. And since losing weight (and keeping it off), is not something that happens overnight, you may not notice the gradual changes that come along with that. If you were always used to hiding behind baggy clothes, it may be an entirely new concept to be able to wear more form-fitting attire (and also learning to accept the newfound attention that comes with that). It may mean becoming comfortable doing activities that your weight may have made almost impossible in the past, such as running, skiing or dancing, or even just hitting the beach in a bathing suit instead of a loose tank dress. If you still have weight to lose, you may tend to focus on the changes you still need to make or imperfections that you perceive instead of the positive changes you’ve already made. Here are some of my suggestions for ways you can learn to improve your body image and embrace the changes you’ve made so far:
- A picture says a thousand words. Dig out some old photos of yourself. Take a new photo of yourself, and compare the difference. You may be surprised at how much you have changed!
- Update your wardrobe. Are you still hiding in your clothes you wore before you lost the weight? Treat yourself to new clothes that actually fit. There really should be no need to hold on to those old “fat” clothes, since your goal is to never be able to fit into them again. Clean out your closet and donate your old clothes to a homeless shelter or charity.
- Hold on to one reminder. While you are in the process of purging your wardrobe, hold on to one piece of clothing that truly shows how far you’ve come. If you’re ever feeling discouraged or insecure, just pull out that piece of clothing to remind yourself of how much weight you’ve really lost.
- Hit the gym. You may have more energy now that you’ve lost weight. Put this extra energy to good use by adding some exercise into your routine. Lifting weights may help you firm up the excess skin you may have from the weight you lost, and a brisk walk or run will also help you tone up and feel great.
- Lift your weight. Have you lost 20 pounds? Or maybe even 50 pounds? Grab a dumbbell or similar weight to get a true understanding of how much excess weight you have lost. Think about how you used to feel when you were carrying around that excess weight on a daily basis.
- Start journaling. If you aren’t keeping a journal already, now is a great time to start. Use a journal to express your feelings about your weight loss. Write down how you feel now versus before you lost the weight. Make a list of all the new positive things in your life. This doesn’t have to be just about losing a few clothing sizes, but have you noticed you have more energy? Is it easy to keep up with your children? Are you sleeping better? Has your performance improved at work? Do you feel more confident? Seeing this on paper makes it easier to embrace and accept your new body and life.
The bottom line is that losing weight can be a life-changing experience that may take some time to get used to. Try some of the previous tips, and know that learning to embrace your new body image is just as crucial to your long-term success at weight loss as is counting net carbs. These are all important steps toward ensuring the changes you make are changes you can maintain for a lifetime.
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Tell me how you learned to accept your new body and weight loss. I’d love to hear! Please share your thoughts with the Atkins Community and also let me know what you’d like to hear about in the future.