Body Image After Weight Loss Surgery
The first few years after weight loss surgery is a time of continuous transformation. There is a transition in diet, physical activity levels, lifestyle, and also body shape. Because of this evolution, many patient struggle with the idea that they are in a smaller body. This can even bring on feelings of self-consciousness or feeling mentally uncomfortable with the idea of being a smaller person and getting more attention.
Additionally, naturally, we all tend to be our harshest critics, constantly comparing ourselves to others or judge ourselves for not measuring up to certain ideals. The struggle with positive body image can be a major barrier to overall life happiness and self-esteem. Before taking another look in the mirror, consider these suggestions for moving towards a more positive body image:
Practice positive self-talk
Now, this may sounds a bit hokey at first, but it's extremely important, practice positive self talk. If you find yourself constantly saying or thinking things such as “my stomach is too big,” “my arms are too saggy,” etc. practice taking a moment to stop yourself and say something completely opposite or positive instead. Can’t think of anything positive? Fake it until you make it. Even though it might not feel genuine, forcing yourself to be positive will get your brain moving in a healthier direction.
Make a list of positive things
Write down at least 10 things that you like about your body and the person you are. This could include your eyes, your strong calves, your sense of humor. Save this list to your phone or post it next to your mirror. Every time you’re not feeling so hot, take a look at it and remind yourself of these things.
Acknowledge your body’s abilities
Your body is amazing. It's capable of so many things like helping you dance, laugh, play with your pets, smell delicious aromas, hear beautiful music and more. In an effort to practice more positivity, take moments throughout your day to practice gratitude towards your body. You can use phrases like, “I am thankful to have such a strong, capable body" or "I am grateful for the ability to dance and play."
Focus on improvement
Rather than focusing on what you think are problems, acknowledge what you wan to work on and focus on the ways you can improve it. If you can’t improve it, practice loving it for what it is.
Get rid of the negatives
As you lose weight and change body shapes/sizes, there may be some individuals in your life that have an opinion on the matter. Friends or family might not be as comfortable with your new attitude or look or they might be fearful of the light this sheds on their state of health. If these people are meaningful to you, you don’t need to dismiss them out of your life entirely, but if you can, try distancing yourself from them or having an open conversation about the matter.
Find people who motivate you
Find someone who inspires you on your journey to better health. Feed off their positivity and let them motivate you. If they are accessible in your life, get out there and spend more time with them too!
Choose flattering clothing
Wearing baggy clothes can make you look bigger than you are. Instead, try dressing for your body type. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money buying new clothes that might be too big in a few months, try checking out a thrift store, clothing swap, or deals at discount stores.
Do something kind for your body. This might include a bubble bath, massage, or just relaxing and starting a new book. Taking a break and focusing on yourself is part of a healthy lifestyle and, can help you feel physically and emotionally recharged.
When someone gives you a compliment, receive it graciously. Responding to a compliment with something self-deprecating is not only negative, it also strips the joy away from the person giving it to you. Accept the love you’re getting...you deserve it!
Unplug from social media
If you find yourself constantly comparing your life, body, or possessions to others you see online, take a break from social media. These images can be inspiring and motivating to some, but for others they can prompt feelings of negativity towards their own body. Give yourself some time to focus on yourself and if and when you go back to social media, make sure to keep an eye on how your feeling.
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