On the psychological effects of losing weight that no one tells you about

Anyone who reads  this blog regularly will know that over the last year I have lost a lot of weight. While this has been going on I have put my focus on the changes that have happened to my body, which has completely changed shaped. I haven’t always been overweight so there were large parts of my life where I was much slimmer than I am now. This is the first time I have ever been fit or muscular though and my body as it is now is completely foreign to me.

From every bit of propaganda the media has fed me and I am supposed to be ecstatic right now and feel superior to everyone who is larger than me and be completely fulfilled. I won’t deny that it is nice to feel fit and strong and healthy but I also feel very, very confused. I was posting my outfit of the week blog last week and was about to put my usual tags on it of “fashion” and “plus sized fashion” when I realised that on the smaller side of a UK 16 (US 12), I am no longer classed as “plus size”. Now I don’t really know what I am. (If you ask the NHS they would still say borderline obese but we’ll leave that as another debate). I have found myself a wonderful community of gorgeous, plus sized fashion bloggers and now I feel like I don’t really belong and that I can’t really join in on conversations or questions around weight and dressing to accentuate your fat fabulosity because I don’t have the right. It makes me really sad. I don’t feel at home with the “normal” bloggers and it’s still much easier to identify with fat friendly bloggers.

I am also finding any kind of shopping a baffling and distressing experience. I used to mostly shop online and my favourite shop was ASOS Curve. I still lust after their ranges, which I think are better than normal ASOS… but everything starts at size 20. I used to know what suited my body, what size I was online at my favourite shops and which few high street shops stocked clothes that would fit me. Now shopping is completely overwhelming. I have no idea what suits me or where to start. There are too many options and I have had to part with loads of my clothes that I really wasn’t ready to because I still loved them.

Then there’s the invisibility that comes with being an overweight woman. To a large part of the population you’re just a complete blind spot. Being noticed again is weird and uncomfortable and I still don’t recognise myself in the mirror.

All of this probably just sounds like unnecessary whining. After all isn’t everything supposed to be better when you’re thinner? But I can’t be the only person who has had a real shock to the system after losing weight or has felt confused about their identity. Although I have every intention of continuing on my journey to become a healthier version of myself and to keep building my biceps because I like flexing them, I think it will be some time before I stop missing my bigger self.

Disclaimer: These are my personal feelings about my weight loss. They are not intended to represent anyone else’s feelings about their body or anyone else’s body or about weight loss, weight gain or size.

 

 

17 Comments

  1. Really good post. I suppose on a flip side you can say you’re experiencing both sides of body image and weight, and could possibly have a good idea how it feels to be both sizes, and therefore share your views with other bloggers who worry about their weight. It’s not black and white and I’d imagine being slimmer, healthier will take time to get used to. The important thing to remember is that you’re trying to be healthy, and not aspire to a picture on a magazine cover (that’s probably been air brushed to the max anyway).

    1. Abbi

      That’s a really good way to look at it. It’s never really been about weight for me. It’s always been more about health so fortunately looking like a magazine cover definitely isn’t on the list.

  2. I’ve always had a yo-yo weight which can feel strange. You have people complimenting you when you’re slim but not saying anything when you’re fat. You really get to notice the difference over and over. Its great that uyoure healthier now, that should be the main goal of losing weight

    1. Abbi

      I have found that after you have lost weight some people like to tell you how fat they really thought you were when you were fat but were afraid to say. It’s a bit of an eye-opener. I didn’t actually intend to lose weight . I started out trying to get fitter and the weight loss was a byproduct that I didn’t actually expect. It definitely has to be about health for me because I had an eating disorder when I was a teenager so just “getting thin” has horrible connotations for me. Mostly I want to be strong. My poor husband is constantly being asked to feel my biceps…

  3. Fascinating topic. I don’t think that your post sounds like pointless whining at all. You are right, we are so identified with our body and this identity is so shaped by what society tells us we should strive for, that it can become very confusing when our outside changes and our insides struggle to catch up.

    Also, as i read this post, I kept thinking about how different this is for women than it is for men, and on the behalf of all men, I want to apologize to you for this. Though men across the world are dealing with increased unrealistic body expectations daily, I still feel that the battle for women is different.

    Remember that internally you are a stronger and more colorful person as a result of all your life experiences, including your weight loss. Try not to feel separated from plus sized bloggers. Inside those bloggers have so many similarities to petite fashion bloggers that we barely notice. Our physical shells are so different in so many ways from skin color, to gender, to physical limitations and so much more. People change their hair color, people lose weight, people have plastic surgery. I realize some of these feel like a stretch to compare but my point remains true. You are a beautiful and constantly evolving human being. Give yourself time to adjust. You will find a new niche and maybe revisit old niches with a slightly different seat and view. Great post!

    1. Abbi

      Thanks, Adam. What a lovely and insightful comment. I think it’s definitely a case of my inside struggling to catch-up.

      I agree that men are increasingly being held to high standards of physical attraction but you are right that it is different for women. Society still sees a woman’s intrinsic value as a human being as measured by her attractiveness. A man can mitigate being physically unattractive by being funny or successful or intelligent. A woman can be any of those things and more and people will still judge her first on what she looks like. It is so ingrained in us that I will admit to having to force myself to break some of my own mental habits. It’s like when you meet a little girl for the first time the norm is to say, “Isn’t she pretty” to both her and her parents and she learns that that is what is important about her. We might say isn’t she clever or funny or good at running but we start with isn’t she pretty.

      The more we star to talk about it though the better it will get. I’m choosing to believe that anyway.

  4. This is very interesting. I do not feel at all like you do, but I would think this could be pretty common. It’s like losing your identity which is very tough no matter how/why you lose it. I lost mine by divorce, it was not pretty because my marriage/family was my whole identity (I had nothing else). As for blogging, that is sad for you to lose the plus fashion. I’m between plus and normal too, so I’m at a loss when it comes to fashion also. Although I will admit that I was at a loss when I was plus. I bought the cheapest, plainest clothes I could because I was not willing to feel pretty at all. And the definition of plus seems pretty loose, so maybe the plus community will still be accepting of you. Try to look at shopping as a new adventure. You love adventures! I find clothes shopping overwhelming and always have. But now that I feel better about my body, I try to put some effort in, although not much yet. I have found some things at Roaman’s (catalog/online), a plus line, that flatter my figure. But a lot of their stuff is too long and tenty for me (and old looking). Their sizes go pretty small, they fit me. As for drawing more attention, that does happen! I try to accept it and enjoy it even tho it’s hard. I really need that boost right now (sad to say, hubby’s not very good at giving me that kind of attention). You have earned that extra attention by all your hard work. There’s nothing wrong with people admiring the results of hard work. Great post, Abbi. Really got me to thinking.

    1. Abbi

      I think some of it is because I never felt unattractive when I was bigger and I was still into fashion and dressing to complement my figure. I feel quite resentful of having to give up all my beautiful coats and dresses and being forced to spend money on new clothes when I really just want my old clothes to fit. My new body isn’t just smaller, it’s a completely different shape because of how I have lost weight and even smaller similar things to what I used to wear don’t look right. It’s like I have to rebuild my style, which I have been carefully developing, from scratch. It’s a bit silly but my “look” has always been a big part of who I am.

      I don’t think the plus community will stop being supportive but I think you kind of lose your right to join on on some things if you are not part of them. Like I don’t feel like I get to commend on people’s posts on motherhood because I am not a mother – best analogy I could think of.

      I am very fortunate that my husband appears to think I am some kind of unnaturally sexy creature. He constantly complimented me when I was fat and he still does now. I don;t remember ever leaving the house without him telling me I look beautiful and he claims to come over in some kind of hot sweat every time he sees me in my underwear. Trust me… I know how lucky I am. I am trying to get used to other men noticing.

      I am hoping this is just a phase and once I get my fashion mojo back I’ll stop feeling so awkward.

      1. I can relate to the starting over from scratch! It sounds like fashion is important to you, your style, so hopefully you will get that mojo back soon. I have to say, my overall shape hasn’t changed. It’s a thick middle and even when I’m thinner it’s still thick.

        1. Abbi

          I have a waist for the first time in my life and I have no idea what to do with it. Lol!

  5. Great post! Since loosing weight post 2 kids I’ve had a lot of comments from friends, co-workers and family. What I have found uncomfortable is the number of people saying to me “Wow, you look great, really great” over and over again each time I see them. I’ve gone from a size US12/14 to an 8 recently. Getting new clothing is challenging for me because I didn’t really know what size I was but I knew my clothing was too big on me. I always had a hard time shopping and kinda hated it. I think anyone who looses weight has to re-identify with themselves – at least I feel that way.
    I would hope the plus community would be supportive of you and look to you as a motivator. Never feel bad about being healthy – you are doing great things for yourself.

    1. Abbi

      It’s relentless the “compliments”, isn’t it? Eventually it’s exhausting. I don’t know what to say to people anymore. I mean you obviously start with thank-you but then they seem to want to discuss it in detail and I’m bored with it now. I am a person independent of the 45lbs (20kg) I have lost and I am still the same person I was when I was bigger.

      I don’t feel like the plus community would stop being supportive but there are some things I can’t identify with anymore and I’m going to miss that.

      I am so glad about the health part of it though. I never thought my body could be strong and seeing the things it can do is pretty amazing. I just need to get over the hump. Maybe tonight’s body combat class will clear my mind.

      1. Nothing like a good workout to make you feel a little better 🙂

        1. Abbi

          Oh yeah! It’s my best and my worst class all in one. It’s absolutely brutal but the trainer is a legend and it’s over in half an hour.

  6. We will keep you, Abbi!

    I hate how weight loss is seen as the most important thing that could possibly be going on in someone’s life. I lost 30 pounds in less than a month because of depression, and everyone else thought it was fantastic. ‘Oh, you look so good!’ Um, thanks, I’m also saving money not buying food and saving time not taking care of myself…yeah. This isn’t really a win for me.

    But muscles! I do miss my crazy forearms from tossing pizzas 50 hours a week. I’m proud of your biceps!

  7. First of all, congrats on your weight loss and getting healthy, you’ve done so well, you look amazing! I don’t really have any advice as I haven’t been the “right” side of 15 stone or a size 18 in a looooong time. I’m just going to send you hugs and I hope that you feel happier and less lost soon xx

    1. Abbi

      Thank-you. Any support is lovely. I am trying really hard to just enjoy it and get over this adjustment phase!

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