the psychology (and physics) of weight loss

“The Psychology of Weight Loss” is the title of a chapter in the Atkins book.  While he did a fairly good job at addressing some of the issues associated with psychology and weight loss, I think there are some psychological concerns associated with losing weight that are difficult to understand unless you’ve actually experienced losing a large amount of weight yourself.  And these psychological issues bleed into the physical issues.

The biggest of these issues, for me, is recognizing the “new me.”  I spend a lot of time staring at the “before” and “after” pictures I’ve posted here, trying to comprehend the “new me.”  It’s like my brain has not yet caught up with the physical realities of my changed body.

Yesterday, I worked out with my personal trainer, who, of course, is beautiful and has a perfect body.  We did “core” exercises together (the “core” includes the muscles in your abdominals, back, etc.) in front of a mirror in the gym.  I had a difficult time looking at myself in the mirror during the workout, because I felt like my body looked so awful compared to her body.

Why do I do this to myself?  I’ve lost 120 pounds, and I still see this fat blob of a body sometimes when I look at myself!  Besides, after what I’ve been through, I shouldn’t expect my body to compare with the trainer’s body; she’s never been overweight a day in her life. My trainer has told me that it’s not just fat I still have to lose to get to my goal of 150 pounds, it’s also “extra skin.”  The skin thing is definitely contributing to my “fat blob of a body” self-image.

While it may or may not fix this psychological issue, I do think I might need surgery to fix the “extra skin” problem.  Nobody ever told me about the “extra skin” problem that results when you lose this much weight.  When I started losing weight, I thought my body would just snap back to its original 130 pound shape, just like it was in high school.  WRONG!!!  I found this article, published in March 2004, after it was too late and I already had the issue.  Somebody I know had a tummy tuck operation after losing 80 pounds, and lost more weight as well as 2 more sizes.

Of course, it is not standard practice for health insurance companies to pay for these procedures, because they are considered “cosmetic” and therefore not medically necessary.  Are they really just cosmetic?  If a tummy tuck could improve my self-image, would that not be considered mental health?  And if I could lose more weight as a result of a tummy tuck, and it puts me in whatever range the powers that be consider a “normal” weight (whatever that means), could that not be considered “medically necessary”?

Sorry… didn’t mean to start a rant.  But, I do think if the medical community wants to keep lecturing Americans about how they need to lose weight (Aggie Doctor included), they need to really find ways to support us both physically and psychologically as we do it.  Just telling people to “diet and exercise” will not help.  I had to do massive amounts of my own reading and research to understand how and why bodies respond to things we do (or don’t do) to them, and I still read things almost every day.

Wow!  No wonder it’s so difficult to lose weight.


3 comments so far

  1. Mari on

    I think one of my biggest fears about losing 160 pounds is the extra skin. Silly as that sounds. But I worry that I will lose all the weight and have hanging, really wrinkly skin. To me personally, that would be worse than what I have now, smooth ~ albeit fat ~ skin. But I have read in a lot of places that the faster you lose it the worse it is.

    I don’t know about myself because I’ve been obese since birth (seriously) so my skin has always been stretched to the limit. It’s not like I was normal sized then gained all the weight.

    It makes me wonder how pregnant women manage to get back to their pre-pregnancy stomach skin without the flabby after-effects.

    I guess I’ll have to do some more research on this.

    Also, if I DO have to have surgery to take care of that problem, I’m going to start saving my money right now. I figure it’s going to take a minimum of 2 years to lose all this weight. If I save $100 a month I should be good to go!

  2. southernfriedfatty on

    Never compare yourself to the personal trainer. They are from another planet.

  3. dmrn0328 on

    Mari — No, it’s not silly to be worried about the extra skin! You are ahead of me… I didn’t know it would happen.

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