Have any of you lost a fair amount of weight but haven't quite internalized the "new" you that you see in the mirror? Do you acknowledge mathematically that you weigh less (or possibly weigh the same, but your body composition has changed such that your physique looks completely different), but you feel the same inside your head?
I'm about 132 now. My highest weight several years ago was 158. I know that doesn't sound like much of a loss, but I'm only 5'2", so 26 pounds makes a big difference.
Anyway, when I was younger (and chubbier), I was sort of asexual. The notion that a man would look at me and be interested was so far off my radar the possibility was just nonexistent. (In my mind, at least.) If anyone was ever "checking me out," I wasn't aware of it because it was simply so far outside the realm of what I knew.
Now, though, I actually notice it happening all the time. I've always had poor self-esteem related to body image, but I'm much more comfortable in my skin now than I've ever been before. So I carry myself differently (on good days, anyway...I still have bad, but I think that's only human nature for a youngish woman in our society), and I dress differently. Not showy/flashy and heaven forbid "slutty." SO far from it, in fact. I just dress nicely, y'know? Stuff that flatters my best features. Generally, I'd say that with how great I feel, I just look more vibrant, alive, and energetic, and that, probably more than my thinner shape, is what men are responding to.
Aaaaanyway, I'm from NYC. So the first few times I noticed a guy looking at me as I passed by, my first reaction was, "What the bleep are you lookin' at, buddy?!" And then I thought, Is my fly open? Did I spill something on myself? It took a while before it occurred to me that...holy cow...wait a sec...they're not looking at me because something's wrong; they looking at me because I look good!
It still blows my mind a little. I've been at my lower weight for a while now, but I still feel like "the fat girl." I'm not talking body dysmorphia. It's not that I look in the mirror and see someone who's 4 times my size and literally can't recognize that I'm smaller now. I guess it's more that we tend to focus on how far we feel we still have to go, rather than being proud and amazed at how far we've already come.
(And hey, while we're at it, yes, let's please celebrate how far we've come instead of lamenting that last millimeter of jiggle that no one notices but you. And if you haven't come very far, celebrate anyway! You're here, getting information and starting on a great journey, right? Be proud of yourself for that! We all start somewhere.)
This I can relate to and yet I have never ever talked about this with anyone... (Edit: I think the reason I struggled with this so long in silence is because it sounds 'egotistical' and I was not entirely convinced the changes were 'real' (both in my body and people's behavior around me.) Thank you for articulating this!
I was once 185 lbs at 5"2. Went down to 105 ish... I had never wanted or gotten 'that kind of attention' before, and I was not prepared. My (now) ex husband was very possessive and jealous and insisted on accompanying me everywhere... And still accused me constantly of being unfaithful!(NEVER in my life...)
When I was fat I was one of the guys... Afterwards their bigger wives and GFs didn't like me hanging out with them (yes, even when they were invited)... Despite never dressing suggestively, society seems to make certain assumptions about a more confident, put together woman, especially if she is thin. During this period I still saw myself as fat, which was a problem too.
Now I'm a healthy 125 lbs sometimes 130, with more sculpted (toned, not freaky) muscles. Some days I still think I should go a little lower, but I like my shape and feel great: who gives a damn what size your clothes are or the number on the scale.
Be confident, be yourself. If you are being checked out, just go with it or let it go... Ivecome to realize that others who didn't block this attention because they felt unworthy ( I felt totally asexual too) are used to looking and being looked at. Try not to make too much of it if it overwhelms you. I am an introvert and really don't enjoy this attention, so I don't do the bar scene, etc.
Congrats on the work you've done, embrace who you are now and always :)
It's interesting the extent to which we come to internalize our self-image. My path was a bit different, I went from skinny dorky guy to chubby dorky guy and back to skinny dorky guy. (5 10, up to 212, now 160). Along the way I wouldn't say my self image changed much in any direction. I never saw myself as thin, never saw myself as fat and never really noticed the change other than when you look at photos. That being said, the "dorky" thing weighed on me in high school and later. It took time for me to come to terms with my lot in life. These days, I'd say I have. At 33 dorky guys make more $ and honestly, the people around me seem to be aging much more poorly than I.
Bigger picture, it makes me sad the stresses that you women are forced to endure. It's ashamed there are so many unhealthy pressures, so many road-blocks and so many messages telling you that your worth depends upon the shape of your body. (Witness another current thread regarding breast size, what a sucky way to be judged). As just a random male, I hope I can tell you that in general I, and many men, are much less judgmental than society may suggest. Many women who seem to display a significant level of self-criticism do not deserve it.
I keep telling people this. I have lost 110 pounds in a year. My starting weight was 330. I KNOW the change is completely radical. I KNOW the numbers have changed, but who I am on the inside hasn't caught up to my outside. I still identify as really fat, and I still hate fat discrimination, and bullying, and the whole weight loss industry. Which is probably a good thing, and I hope that I always remember what being fat means to people.
I have many fat friends, who accept their size and feel good about themselves. And they should. My weight loss has been great, but the goal is and has been better health.
But, yeah, when the men check me out now, it takes me a minute to register that it's ME they're looking at. It's weird.
Such a great question, and something I've been thinking about recently.
I didn't come to paleo for weight loss, but I hope you won't mind if I chime in anyway :)
I started paleo partly to resolve some persistent skin issues. My skin looked horrible and I thought about it all the time. It's still not perfect, and it goes through cycles of improvement and remission, but I've noticed that even when my skin looks really good, I still feel very self-conscious about it. Like my entire face will be clear, except for one tiny pimple on my jawline that no one else would even notice, but I will still think of myself as being someone with bad skin. I will check the mirror over and over again to see "how bad" my skin looks and be surprised each time when it looks good. I had to go to an event where I had my photo taken recently, and I was so nervous because I was expecting to be totally humiliated with my horrible complexion, but later when I saw the photos, my skin actually looked great (I was wearing a little foundation, but whatever). I have realized that it's going to take a long time before I will be able to stop thinking about my skin as a permanent problem.
Yes. Even though I have been at this weight for two years, I still find my self image is at variance with the image in the mirror. I lost 113lb. I have some pain issues as well, so I can feel like total crap- and then pass by a mirror and notice that I look great.
Then there is the weird cognitive dissonance of getting frank attention from girls half my age and then being a little upset that me at half my age was starved for that attention- now, of course, it is all a little impractical, though if anyone out there can play Cecily, I'd be happy to play Algernon.
The difference is large enough for me to sometimes worry that my responses in certain social situations don't convey my meaning anymore.
This is really weird but I have the opposite problem. My mental image of myself is still thin even though I'm in the mid 190's at five foot five. I have a hard time recognizing myself in photos.