I Never Struggled with Body Image—Until I Lost 36 Pounds

Losing weight didn't have as much of a positive effect on my body image as I thought it would. Here's what happened.

I can’t say that my body was perfect—in fact, it was far from it. But, I dressed in a way that made me feel good and polished. I carried myself with confidence. I was recently dating again and had no problems attracting men. I was active and worked out regularly, but by no means was I thin. I just felt OK with my body being where it was, that is until my life changed.

Inspired by the man I was dating, I decided to try to drop a few pounds. (This part is hard for me to admit because I never thought I would be “that girl.”) Not because he was a fitness guru who worked out religiously, or ate healthy, or even said anything to me about losing weight. (He always told me how sexy and beautiful I was.) I fell in love and, simply, I wanted to be a better person physically, emotionally, and financially because his love motivated me to grow in those ways.

So, I tried a round of Whole30 and lost almost 14 pounds. Then I did another. And another. For the most part, I still eat Whole30 compliant even when I’m not in a cycle with the exception of special circumstances. Down a total of 36 pounds since July 2017, I should be prancing around in clothes I always wanted to wear but never felt quite comfortable in, and glowing all the time because the endless compliments have not stopped. Wrong. I am actually having a harder time with my body image now than I ever had in my life. (To find out if you have a healthy body image, take this quiz.)

I have lost weight before and I have gained it all back and then some. I stayed consistent for some years, but then there would be a large gain or loss. Then it would come back again. Sometimes it was conscious. Sometimes it wasn’t. However, with three rounds of the Whole30 behind me, I have completely changed my life and eating habits. But, to be honest there are some very real factors holding me back from celebrating.

First is the fear of gaining the weight back. I just feel like this would be a huge blow to my self-esteem. Yes, I know how to get back to the weight I am now, but the thought of letting myself down for a few indulgences kills me.

Second, dating again is holding me back as well. (Sadly, the man, who still means the world to me, isn’t in my life anymore.) While I had no problem attracting men before, the pool was smaller for me. Now, I feel like more men will be attracted to my body, making it harder to find someone who admires me for being a smart, accomplished individual, instead of just a “hot chick.”

I am trying, though, to battle my self-esteem the best way I know how to. I weigh myself daily to hold myself accountable. I stay active, running regularly and attending SoulCycle classes two or three times a week. However, I have also started focusing on other things about my body. I pay attention to how strong I have gotten. Or how much more endurance I have as I climb up the stairs or run with my dog. I started tucking my shirts in and wearing things a bit more fitted. I also take photographs once a week to examine the progress made beyond the scale. And, of course, I’m still a pretty cool chick on the inside, too. (Here’s how to boost your body image in 10 minutes or less.)

I’m not really sure when I will be OK with being where I am. I’m not sure when I will be able to fully accept my “new” body. But I’m going to keep focusing on the positive until I wake up one day and don’t even think about my body at all.

Next, a woman reveals her struggle with being a size that many clothing brands don’t carry.

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