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A New You?

A new you, that's what all the diets and fitness plans promise don't they? But what if the new you is just the old you in different body? 

I set myself a goal weight and stuck to my plan until I achieved it. As you might expect I was really pleased with results and I knew there was no going back to how I was before. I'd heard about people who had lost weight then put it all back on again and I could never understand why until I reached goal weight myself. I started to realise how much of an adjustment being 'the new you' can be. I started to notice things that were uncomfortable and I began to understand why people might revert back to what is familiar. When there's so much to adjust to it stands to reason that if you still lack confidence you might yearn for what feels comfortable. 

Here are 5 things I found disorientating when I lost weight: 

1. Thinking of myself as a 'slim person' 
You may recall from my previous blog about identity (here), how we see ourselves plays a huge part in our success.I was having a regular conversation with my consultant after I'd reach my goal and I was giving her an update on my progress since I saw her last when she dropped in a phrase that made me sit bolt upright. I can't remember exactly what she said but it I heard her say " .....well you're a slim person now.....".  In the context of the conversation it made perfect sense and I guess it was an accurate statement but something about hearing those words said about me felt really weird. It wasn't just that she said it but that she said it so casually like it was a perfectly everyday thing to say about me. In my head I was asking myself the question "is that OK to think of myself like that?" I had a decision to make. It's fair to say I had to play the words over and over in my head a few times before it became comfortable but I decided I was just going to go with it even if it felt uncomfortable at first. 

2. Comments on my size
I was at a gathering with friends and we had prepared a meal together. My partner and I were sat with some people we didn't know so when we got up for desert we did the polite thing and offer to get some for everyone else on the table. The man opposite said: 
"Oh no I can't afford to eat all that stuff with my size, not like you skinny things".  
I guess it was meant as a compliment and I decided to take it as such but it felt odd. First of all, because I am not 'skinny' and also because I was lumped together with my partner who has always been slim and is a distance runner. But it wasn't just the 'compliment' it was the idea of a complete stranger commenting on my body. In the same conversation another person told me "don't lose any more weight". In fact that it's something I've heard a few times. That's something that happens when you lose weight. People start to comment on your body. It's no bad thing most of the time, you have put in a lot of hard work and generally people are lining up to congratulate you on your success. However it can also make you feel scrutinised and for some this is uncomfortable. I had to remind myself that for some of these people, their comments were a reflection on their values and not on my body. 

3. It wasn't muscle
I've always done body pump or other fitness with weights. I think it's great. Not only is it healthy and good for your fitness but it also helps you to feel strong and powerful which is a great feeling, especially for women I think. So you can imagine my disappointment when one day I caught my reflection in the mirror as I was weightlifting and I saw how small my arms were. I'd told myself that most of the bulk in my arms was muscle but when the weight came off my limbs shrunk and I realised that most of it was fat. I'd gone from feeling strong and powerful to feeling 'puny'. It really challenged the way I thought about how strong I was and the impact of the workouts I had been doing. Although it's made me train much better now, for a while I felt that I had lost something that I really valued-it was a sobering reality check.  

4. Changing the way I think about my body
There's no skirting around this one so I'll just say it-boobs! Every woman has a relationship with her breasts and mine changed when I first hit goal weight. Losing weight pretty much everywhere else on my body was fine but this one was hard. I've always liked my curves and I had a small panic that I'd lost them. A friend did manage to calm me down and remind me that I just needed to be refitted and wear a different style of bra. She was right. I hadn't actually got much smaller at all and a correctly fitting bra did make me feel like my old self again but it was a reminder that along with everything that you gain from changing your body, you will also lose a bit of the things you like. It's the same when looking to achieve any goal. You need to think about what you will lose as well as what there is to gain and establish if you are ready to give those things up. 

5. Clothes shopping
I've never been a big clothes shopper and I was looking forward to being able to wear more of the clothes in high street shops. Of course, these days I can but when I first lost weight clothes shopping was a real pain.  
First of all, I had to buy a load of new clothes. For some people this is part of the fun but for me it meant more time and more effort for an activity I don't enjoy and then there's the expense. I couldn't help but think of the expense of replacing my wardrobe. You need to change everything, winter clothes, summer clothes, underwear, swimwear etc etc However above and beyond the inconvenience and expense there were other reasons I put clothes shopping off. 
Clothes shopping was really disorientating. For starters I found that I had completely lost the ability to pick up an item of clothing and know if it fits. I used to be able to skip a trip to the fitting rooms in most shops and accurately find the right size. Even now I struggle to find the right size item by sight alone. Then there's the change in body shape I mentioned above. Not only did I have to buy clothes in a smaller size, I needed to buy a completely different style. When I was curvier I favoured clothes that didn't cling too much. Now I need closer fitting clothes otherwise they don't look very flattering. I find myself seeking out the very clothes I used to avoid like the plague. I've had to completely rethink my body image and the style of clothes I buy. A nice problem to have but for someone who is not a shopper it's a real pain. I can easily see why some people go back to what they know. 

When you think about all these things you can begin to understand why it can be so easy to put weight back on. It's easy to see why people would go back to what is familiar and what feels comfortable. Whether you are at goal weight or still on your journey you need to be able rethink about your body, your values and the reaction you'll get from other people now. So how can you deal with this? 

1) Ask yourself " Is it OK for me to think of myself as a slim person?". There are various stages of this. Where are you? 

  • I will be a slim person 
  • I am becoming a slim person. 
  • I am a slim person at the start of their journey 
  • I am a slim person 

2) Consider how much are you influenced by those around you?  
Are you happy with what you're doing enough to deal with comments from others. 

3) Think about what you will lose as well as what you will gain and decide if it's OK to let go of those things. 

What about you? What are your concerns and challenges?

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