Saturday, April 12, 2008

Post Weight Loss Dysmorphia

For those of you who don't recognize my uniform, this is me... or I should say... this is my torso:



These were all taken tonight. My feet are about 5" apart... I don't know why you'd need to know that but just in case. I weigh 111 pounds, am 5' 3" tall, have 20.6% body fat, I have a BMI of 19.7, and am a size 2 (all my measurements are up in the sidebar if you're curious).

I mention this because I just watched these videos and the girl in them at the start of her journey has a BMI of 22 and 29% body fat and I thought she looked great and do NOT see myself (or maybe should say I don't perceive myself) as being any thinner than that. I still don't. I even know somebody in real life who is my exact same weight and height... and I have always thought that they were "really thin" and yet I don't see myself as looking like she does. As if I mysteriously weigh the same and yet might look 15 - 20 pounds heavier.

I was at Kid's dance class today and after class I looked at myself in the huge wall of mirrors and thought "my God I'm actually a really tiny person." Not thin yucky thin by any means but when I saw myself I thought that no one who saw me would ever think I was fat or big just... tiny. But it is still hard for me to feel with certainty that I look that way. I mean, I see my reflection everyday, but since we don't have a full length mirror, it is only in bits & pieces, and I guess I don't absorb it really. I think I am most struck by the reality of my thinnest when I'm out of my natural habitat. And I have to say I do look significantly heavier on my videos and I generally take that to be my "real" external look and kind of forget that A) the camera adds 10 pounds and B) using a wide angled lens zoomed on to my torso adds the 10 pounds to my stomach!

And I'm not saying that I think I'm fat or that I see myself that way. I'm just saying that my brain has still not caught up to my weight loss. My mental image of myself is still heavier than my actual self. I spent the majority of my life being pretty average weight wise and feeling a little fat or critical when I saw my reflection. Two years ago I weighed 126. I got pregnant and gained 52 lbs. I gave birth on January 31st 2007. Ten months later I had lost 68 pounds. So in just over a year and a half my body had not only created a child but had put on and taken off a tremendous amount of weight. And I think it has been more than my brain can really compute. I spent 10 months gaining about a pound a week and then 10 months losing about a pound a week... and even though I've been maintaining my weight for the last 4 months I still can't really believe it or own it yet.

It really makes me think about the Biggest Loser contestants who lose 100 pounds in 4 months. That is such a fast transformation... I wonder how they handle that and if it ends up backfiring later.

FYI I am not posting these pictures to try and eek out a whole bunch of "you look thin" comments... I'm not really sure why I'm posting them....
I think I might have more to say on this subject in the morning...

22 comments:

Deb said...

First, I am impressed that you wear a belt. I just haven't been able to wear one since my kid was born -- they feel confining? I don't know...

Anyway, I totally understand the lag. Most major life changes take some adjustment. Like "I'm a mother... OMG... I'M a mother" took a few months. Homeownership was another one that I recall. So why wouldn't it take you a while to adjust to being a hot momma in a sizzling size 2?

Mrs Furious said...

Deb,
Nearly six years later I still go "I'm a mother... OMG... I'M a mother"!

Mrs Furious said...

Oh and I must wear a belt since I have a man's lower half and my waist is virtually the same as my hips and my pants can slide right off!

Sandcastle Momma said...

I know what you mean about your brain catching up with your weight loss. Many years ago I lost 50 pounds and I knew I wasn't fat anymore but it didn't register until I was trying on new clothes and I brought size 9's to the dressing room. They fell off of me and I ended up in a size 5 - which absolutely blew me away. It was like a light bulb went off and I realized I'm Skinny! Unfortunately I've gained 25 of those pounds back over the years and now that I'm an old broad I'm having a lot of trouble getting them off again LOL But I also think that if you've ever battled weight you never really see yourself as being as thin as you are. And to be honest I've looked at other pictures you've posted and I've wondered why you seem to think you need to lose weight LOL

Feener said...

i was just thinking about body image. I know i am thin. instead of hating my body b/c i have a tummy from having babies and eating my chocolate. instead of hating my flat boobs, i thought while at the gym and running, why not be happy with my body ?? hello, light bulb. i am lucky, i am thin and i don't have to work to hard. no i am not in the best shape, no i don't have the perfect body, but by god i don't look hideous. yet, i look to the models or better now i look at the athletes, oh why can i not have a flat stomach. well i can if i want, but i really don't have the amount of time to get it that flat, but i can improve it and that is what i am doing.

i never enjoyed my body when i was younger and i should have, i was thin and i was able to eat anything under the sun. instead i focused on being flat chested and hated it. NO more, i like my body and that is that. at age 40, after having 2 kids, i weight 113 pounds and i am about 5feet 4 inches. i should be proud of that !!

katieo said...

Just the other day I was in a store and grabbed a size "small" shirt to try on. For fun. I didn't actually think I'd fit into it. I just thought oh, maybe I can use it as a measuring point or something. It was tailored and I just didn't even see how my arms would fit into it.

Of course when I put it on I just stood there in the dressing room in disbelief. I stared at myself and my first instinct was to think, "Oh, maybe the size is a little off, I'll try another one just to be sure..."

Anonymous said...

I understand this completely.

With me there is also a flip-side. Pre-kids, I lost some weight through exercise (running). I weighed 120-125 (I'm 5'7") and still really never "got" that I was thin. I was told all the time: "oh, you are too thin, blah, blah, blah"

I slowly crept up to 135 or so after marriage and at the time of my 1st pregnancy. Lost the baby weight. Then had #2. Lost the weight again.....

Then s-l-o-w-l-y gained to 155...yiiiikes!!!

I'm strong, muscular, so this weight isn't awfully horrible on me, but I'd like to lose.

This is where the flip-side comes in. I'm still shocked at times when I see myself in the mirror and think....geez! I'm really *that* big??

I guess I still see myself (in my head) slightly smaller. Ya know, my abs were always my best asset, now they are jiggly soft abs, that shake when I run.

Sigh. I think the dysmorphia can go in so many directions.

Sorry for the long comment! I think about this topic alot. :o)

Lisa

Haley said...

Oh yeah, definitely still in denial about wearing a smaller size. I sort of feel like accepting the new smaller size is setting myself up for disappointment when I gain the weight back (which I still haven't been able to convince myself I have the drive and power to prevent). In most ways I'm an optimist, but in this area it's been hard to think positively about longterm weight maintenance -- I've just seen too many people around me lose weight and then regain it after a year or so.

Eeek, sorry about being a downer -- that was less than inspirational, wasn't it!?

Mrs Furious said...

Haley,
I think that might be a big part of what it is for me too. I might as well think of myself as 15 pounds heavier... that way if I can't maintain it I won't be too devastated. Not that I don't want to, or think I can, just pessimistic thinking I guess... or protective...



Sandcastle Mama,
If I'm watching one of my videos I tend to start to think I really need to work on tightening up.... if I look at these pictures then I can see that I'm fine. I do still want to try to improve my fitness and lower my body fat (only because I'm hoping it might help with my loose stomach skin... or empty it out...or something). But in general it isn't that I think I should lose more or even that I need to.... it is just that I am so used to thinking I do (from years past) that I just kind of always operate in that mode... plus like I said before I'm always a wee bit nervous that if I don't try for a new goal I'll backslide and gain it back.

Robin said...

I completely understand what you mean. I feel like I look exactly the same as I did when I was 30 pounds heavier. Obviously, I don't. I am three sizes smaller, but I just can't get my head around it.

I also wonder once I reach my goal (which is less than 5 pounds away,) if I will feel thin, or if I will feel like I need to lose 5 more. I guess we'll see.

Oh, and I think the people on Biggest Loser absolutely have trouble realizing they are smaller. One recent episode, Ali didn't want to take her shirt of (and work out in her sports bra) even though it was really hot because she felt too fat. She looks incredible, she just doesn't realize it yet. I can't imagine losing 100 pounds in less than 5 months. It's crazy.

Robin said...

ugh...of = off

Mrs Furious said...

Everyone I didn't respond to:
I'll get back to you tonight!

Mrs Furious said...

Feener,
you should be proud :)

I often think of all the time (years) I spent being dissatisfied with a perfectly nice figure and it was such a waste! I hope my girls can somehow grow up and avoid that.



Katieo,
my first thought when I saw my reflection was that surely the mirror was one of those "thin" mirrors!



Robin,
well as you know I did end up going down 8 pounds from my goal weight. Mostly because when I got there I could see that I really did have fat to lose on my torso. Even though I have a hard time recognizing my thinness I don't think I need to lose anymore. You know what I mean? Once I got to 110 I knew that was where I should stop and I haven't wanted to go lower. BUT I do still want to improve my fitness and increase my muscle mass.... and get a tummy tuck ;)

Mrs Furious said...

Lisa,
Hey thanks for the comment :)

I can see where you are coming from. And have been there myself! I think any kind of slow weight/loss is almost imperceptible when viewed on a daily basis even by our own spouses!

Sandcastle Momma said...

You have a good point about backsliding, Mrs. F. I know that's what happened to me. Once I realized that I was as thin as I wanted to be, I quit thinking about diet and specific exercise and now here I am - fat. Oddly, what is bothering me most these days is not that I need to lose 25- 30 pounds but that I am so jiggly. You'd think being fat I would "fill out" my skin but no - I'm flabby LOL I did get an exercise bike yesterday and am determined to firm this ole bod up. As for the loose stomach - my SIL has had 4 kids and has the flatest, firmest stomach I've ever seen but she is obsessed and does 500 crunches every morning and 300 every night, without ever missing a day. Let me know if you find a better way because I just can't do that LOL

Mrs Furious said...

Sandcastle Mama,
Oh I've got a better way... it's called plastic surgery! Just as soon as I get Baby weaned (no time soon...) and I managed to trick someone into funding it... I'm all set! ;)

Mrs Furious said...

oh shoot... Momma not Mama!
Sorry :)

emmyjw said...

You are seriously tiny, but I know what you mean. I have viewed myself as fat for so long that I forget that I am a lot smaller than I used to be, I routinely buy things too big and try to hide myself but sometimes I catch sight of my reflection and think who is that? It is a strange phenomenon.

Cara said...

I definitely know what you mean. I often think about what I must really look like to other people, and not the weird image I have in my head.

Mrs Furious said...

Cara,
well the other day I was looking at the pictures of you on your trip... and you do NOT look like you need to lose weight. I have no idea how tall you are but if you tell me I'll tell you what weight I'd guess for you...

eurydice said...

i just watched those videos last night... and i thought the girl was really extreme in her dieting. i just bought a size 0 skirt, and there is no way EVER EVER EVER i would eat only 500 calories a day, especially not when exercising!

i think she was just going at it too hard, trying to lose too much weight in too short a period of time. it's ridiculous. obviously some bodies cannot be that thin, and some can. i am like you - no hips. i just bought jeans in the children's department of h & m. yes, i have the lower half of a fourteen year old girl, haha, but i'm not starving myself at all! the thing i didn't like about the video was that she gave the impression that you have to starve yourself in order to be thin. not true!

ps. omg! so thin in your pics! ;o)

Mrs Furious said...

eurydice,
thanks! coming from you that is a serious compliment :)

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