Many people deal with the issue of negative or even false perceptions of themselves. Often times, what you see in the mirror is not anything at all like what other people see you as.
Sometimes, it can be so severe it leads to life-threatening eating disorders.
But the phenomena is quite amazing when you think about it. How can you see one thing that another person does not?
The other day, a friend of mine commented on how she couldn’t believe how much weight I had lost and hadn’t realized I had lost that much. I made a comment about how it’s interesting that people don’t really notice until it’s really drastic and she said, “Well, I think it’s more of that people actually never saw the weight when they looked at you, so to them, you still look like you.”
It really surprised me. For YEARS all I thought people could see was an overweight girl– but for most people who saw me day-to-day, apparently that wasn’t the case. The only person who could only see just the weight was me.
My self-perception has always been pretty messed up. For example, when I was a teenager, I thought I weighed the same as Kimberly Locke on American Idol (not in a bad way. I thought she was beautiful and represented us “big girls” well). However, people where rather confused when I shared that feeling. Just to show you, here’s Kimberly then:
And this was me in high school— the time when I thought I was “super fat.”
Basically, while it was okay for me to think Kimberly Locke is a great role model and beautiful, it was not okay for me to think we were exactly the same size. Why? Because we weren’t.
But my own perception was off. What I saw in the mirror didn’t match the outside and thus, I engaged in a yo-yo attempt of trying to lose weight only to gain weight to where I got to where I was earlier this year—the biggest I had ever been.
Unhealthy self-perception can go both ways though. There are people who are morbidly overweight who look at themselves and think, “I’m not that bad,” when really they are at high risk for many health problems.
It’s really hard to find a balance of a healthy perception. It’s a mix of accepting the way you are with the attributes you’re given and the balance of wanting to live a healthy life and working toward achieving that goal.
Honestly, I think “skinny” needs to be taken out of the equation altogether in order to have a healthy perception.
But that brings me to my own personal transformation. I recently had an experience that revolutionized the way I looked at myself. Yes, I’ve lost more than 30lbs, but it’s easy to still think you weigh the same as you did before and lose sight of all the hard work you’ve done up to this point.
You see, I went to my friend’s bachelorette party– which was a blast. We started with a low-key at-home fiesta (piñata included) the first night and then went out dancing the next. We all got dolled up and had a great time. But I have to be honest, in those sorts of settings, I usually feel like that “fat friend.” I knew something must have been different when I seriously was approached by guy after guy who either didn’t see my ring or didn’t care that I was married and wanted to dance or wanted me to go away with them (of course neither happened). At first I was confused by it all. It’s not something that typically happens (then again, I never ever go dancing either so I don’t have a lot to base it on). But it wasn’t until after the night of dancing was over, and I had looked over all the pictures we had taken that I realized— for the first time in a very long time, I didn’t have to feel like the fat friend.
It can be a struggle, but gone are the days where I viewed myself as anything other than what I am. And my sincere hope for everyone else too is to take those negative thoughts about yourself and throw them out the door. It’s important to accept yourself for what you are in the here and now— but it is EQUALLY as important to keep your perception in check and stick to the facts.
This is why taking a before picture and recording your starting weight and even starting measurements are very important when it comes to your weight loss journey. You can look at the facts and take them at what they are— a starting point and the beginning of a great victory. And each time you look in the mirror, instead of seeing someone who is fat, you can see someone who is making progress, who is taking control of their life, and is a gorgeous individual.
This isn’t just a “big girl” problem or a matter of being “skinny” either. I have friends who are easily size 6 or below who constantly complain about how fat they are and how they are embarrassed at their photos.
It’s time to see yourself for what you really are, and if there’s a problem, then work toward making it better. Maybe you are at a healthy weight but you just sincerely don’t see it. Or maybe your weight is fine, but your lifestyle isn’t. Then it’s time to look at the facts about yourself and find a healthy way to make healthy changes. But never is it okay for you to look in the mirror and focus on an image that you could be distorting in your mind. Look at the facts. Make some changes. And then move forward.
And remember, if your goal is overall health and wellness, then “skinny” isn’t the goal. But weight loss will be a beautiful side affect that comes along with your true rewards like more energy, better sleeping, overall feeling better and of course healthier hair, nails and skin (yup! It’s amazing what veggies can do).
So stop with the “thinspiration” and the self-degrading and loathing. If there’s one thing I wish I could do, it’s go back to teenage me and say, “Look, sister. You’re not ‘fat,’ so stop hiding and stop your insecurities. But you can be healthier and this is what you should focus on.”
Focus on being healthy to keep your priorities and sanity in check. And it’s never too late to adopt a healthy mentality. It starts now.