Nobody’s Perfect: Accepting Your New Self Image After Weight Loss
By Marilyn Giordano, RN
Can you love your body even though you want to make changes to it? Yes, you can!
Having a goal of improving your body, doesn’t mean that you don’t love yourself. Instead, think of it like this: by continuing your weight loss journey, you understand how important it is to stay on the right path. But…
It is difficult for some patients to accept their new body after weight loss because they are still carrying excess weight. It starts right after surgery with struggling with the intake of fluid to avoid dehydration. Then progresses into eating small amounts of food that they are not able to enjoy due to changes in taste. They are struggling in this first step of their new life and are still carrying excess weight.
As they begin to lose weight, it is at first very exciting as they watch themselves slim down. Patients begin to lose more weight, and their clothes become baggy and do not fit right. A trip to the clothing store can be stressful as they realize they no longer fit in the larger sizes, and they have to venture into an area with clothing sizes that are unfamiliar to them. They may even become overwhelmed and decide not to purchase anything at all. Some patients have admitted to having an anxiety attack before leaving the store. As they continue to lose weight, they may notice their skin becomes loose, making it difficult to fit the excess skin into their clothing—which can be very uncomfortable.
With the rapid weight loss, patients are faced with many questions from others as to how did they lose weight. They may hear questions that might be insulting or compliments they are not ready for. All of which can add emotional stress to an already difficult lifestyle change.
Bariatric surgery is a major event in a patient’s life that can be very stressful not only physically but emotionally as well. Obesity is a lifelong disease that surgery, a healthy diet and medication alone cannot cure permanently. But, it can improve a patient’s chances of living a longer, healthier life. Along with the physical improvement it is important for the psychological healing and acceptance of their new body image as well. Patients are advised to attend follow up visits, not only with their surgeons and PMD, but with a nutritionist and most importantly a psychologist. This helps them to learn how to accept the ongoing changes in their body image and how to deal with the excess weight that may result from weight loss surgery. They may also consider the possibility of more surgery to remove excess skin as well. Being healthy emotionally and physically will make the continuing journey to a healthier lifestyle not only easier, but a happier more pleasant, successful life journey to a lifetime of wellness.