As much as people consider being overweight an aesthetic and physical concern, it can’t be doubted that obesity weighs on the mind almost as much as it does on the body. This is why even after getting weight loss surgery like duodenal switch or gastric sleeve so many people experience negative self-perception or struggle with “phantom fat,” the idea that you are still carrying around your excess weight even after you’ve lost 100 pounds or more.
This isn’t something that everyone who goes through weight loss surgery experiences, but it is something that is more common than we would wish. Even those who are otherwise able to embrace and celebrate their weight loss without reserve might relate to feelings of uncertainty or dissociation with their new body when they first view themselves in the mirror. Experiences like this occur on a spectrum, but they are common and need to be emotionally addressed.
“What we see depends mainly on what we look for” –Sir John Lubbock
Even after losing weight, too many people think of themselves in a negative light. Many people look at dimpling or baggy skin and can’t see through these small flaws to acknowledge how far they’ve come in their weight loss journey. Some are hesitant to attempt shopping for clothing again after years of struggling with obesity, and settle on the pleasant but awkward feeling of wearing clothes that are too loose for them. Hiding your new body under layers of baggy clothes doesn’t help you embrace what you have become.
Hiding from your weight loss success and bombarding yourself with constant negative thoughts will only impede your weight loss progress. Simply changing your mode of thought to being more positive, encouraging and accepting of the changes your body is going through can make a big difference in your weight loss progress.
Here are a few mental strategies to help you embrace how far you’ve come:
- Notice the Small Things: In all of the big changes you’ve had to make after getting sleeve gastrectomy or any other type of bariatric surgery, it is easy to overlook the small steps you’ve taken. Give yourself a pat on the back the next time you realize you are looking forward to a workout, legitimately enjoying a salad or order water instead of soda. Once these small steps become habits you are on the road to long term health, so be proud of them.
- Compliment Yourself: Every time you begin to knit pick at your body, force a compliment instead. Doing this simple activity can turn your negative thoughts into positive ones.
- Journal and Review: When you are feeling down or can’t see your progress, go back through your journal and read what you wrote when you just started out on your weight loss journey. Think about how proud your former self would be of you now, and try to thrive off of that.
What other tactics do you use to encourage yourself when negative thoughts take their toll? Share your thoughts and experiences in a comment below.