Written by: Cally Worden
When you are trying to lose weight, your focus is on driving down the pounds. But when you reach your weight-loss goal, the recognition of the transformations that have occurred in your body and in your life, can come as a bit of a shock. Many people who have successfully shed excess weight report feeling lost in their new body image, still thinking of themselves as overweight. What follows is a selection of advice from those who have been there on how to help your brain catch up with the changes in your body.
Reflect on your Weight Loss process
The lifestyle of people who carry a lot of excess weight, evolves in a certain way. Sport, exercise and healthy eating don’t tend to form a big part of their world. Eating is often a focal point of life, with comfort food, super-size portions and ‘all-you-can-eat’ menus playing an important role in their social life. Physical pursuits are typically low on the agenda. Support networks will generally comprise friends with a similar outlook.
Tackling an excess weight problem means making significant changes not just to your diet, but also to your life. As your journey progresses, friends who are unable to be supportive of your new approach to healthy living may fall by the wayside. A fresh approach to food and exercise will force you to redefine the norms of your life. This may be a slow process, and one whose changes creep up on you unnoticed, until you finally realise that very little in your life is as it once was.
Dramatic body change
Such dramatic change can feel uncertain and, coupled with this new, slimmer, alien body shape can cause a drop in self-esteem and confidence. Which seems strange, given the efforts you have gone to in order to achieve your weight-loss goals. Taking time to reflect on your journey is important, and can help you to reconcile why you felt the changes were necessary, and help you to recognise just how far you have come.
One popular way to do this among the newly-slim is to pull together a range of photos of yourself that present a dramatic and uncompromisingly visual record of your physical changes. Those who have followed this process through say it helps remind them of why they embarked on the journey in the first place, and reaffirms their decision to make the necessary life changes, however painful some of these changes may have been.
Get a Grip of the Weight you Lost
Being confronted with a physical manifestation of the weight you have lost, can be a very powerful tool in rebuilding confidence. If you have shed, say 50lb, then lining up 25 bags of sugar will show you just how burdensome that weight was to carry around. Simply seeing the weight you have lost represented in this way can boost your pride in your body and sense of self-worth.
Pick a Situation …
Many overweight people don’t feel so good about themselves inside. Over time this damages confidence and self-esteem. One of the huge benefits of successful weight loss is the sense of empowerment it delivers. Imagine a scenario now where you may need to be assertive – it’s likely that the new slim you will feel more able and ready to state your point and argue your case. Now reflect back to your former super-size-self, and imagine being in that same scenario. Chances are you would not have responded with the same degree of confidence. Recognising that weight-loss has brought other benefits such as this into your life can help you to accept the changes that were necessary to get there.
Engage a Professional Shopper
Fashion habits form over many years, and it can be difficult to jettison the approach you took to shopping when you were overweight. It can be hard to make yourself believe you can look good in those skinny jeans, and easier to opt for loose, baggy items that hide your body. A professional shopper can help you with this. They have a knack for selecting styles and colours that suit and flatter your body shape, whatever it is. Your mind is relearning modes of self-appreciation, and sometimes it’s useful to get a little help with that.
Keep a Physical Reminder
Part of significant weight loss is addressing the issues that led you to gain the weight in the first place. Reaching for food becomes a habit in many people when stress bites, and each individual has their own triggers. Knowing what drives your desire to head for the fridge is the key to stopping it happening. When you feel the urge to do this, try taking a temporary deviation to the bedroom, and fish out an item of clothing that you wore when you were at your most overweight. Put it on. The loose, baggy feel serves as a stark reminder of how far you’ve come, and the effort it took to get there. Many who have successfully lost weight say that this is one of the most powerful actions they can take to prevent them falling of the food wagon.
It seems that while losing the weight is in itself a massive achievement, the secret to maintaining that success is to learn to adapt to the new norm once you have reached your goal. This useful advice from those in the know really works. If you have any other tips or advice to help keep the weight at bay then please share.