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The emotional toll of major weight loss

Jul 3, 2024

Accepting the new me – spoiler alert, it took time

Leading up to surgery, all I could think about was how good I’ll look when I reach my goal weight. The anticipation of hitting that magic number, knowing everything would then be perfect.

Well, the day of surgery had been and gone, and much to my surprise, I realised I was not 100% happy. The excitement leading up to my procedure had diminished – why did I feel kind of empty?

Yes, I was happy that I could begin to wear what I wanted. Yes, I was happy that compliments rained upon me. And yes, for what felt like the first time, I was visible to the world. But the reflection in the mirror said otherwise ... the reflection wasn’t me ... why was I feeling this way?

My weight loss was supposed to be the panacea to a lifelong battle I had with me reflection, and shouldn’t my self-esteem issues have dissolved with every gram I had shed? Shouldn’t I be like a new-found influence – selfie at every turn and total self-adoration? At least, that’s what society had sold me, and by society, meaning family and sometimes frenemies. So where was this new-found confidence I thought I would have, that I could pour into a bikini?

Well, it was about six months away and it was going to take some work to get there!

Losing a significant amount of weight in a much shorter time than ever before left me with imposter syndrome. I found myself thinking how long will this ‘thinner’ version of me last this time? It wasn’t my first rodeo at losing weight, only to find it again with additional reinforcements. I almost didn’t want people to congratulate me, as I knew I would only fail them and have those around me stare with knowing eyes when the weight rebounded. Why was I still thinking this way?

A very long history of diet culture was an exceptionally hard habit to break. It was time to act!

Slowly, I started with positive self-talk. Really looking at myself in the mirror, saying out loud what I appreciated about my fitter, stronger, leaner body. I unfollowed people on social media who were not good for me. I embraced self-care. I began making short, medium and then long-term non-weight related goals for myself. I shifted my focus from the number on the scale, to instead, asking how am I feeling each day. I acknowledged my emotions and took time to sit with them.

My past habit found me sitting in the pantry thinking about my feelings, and let me tell you, this never ended well!

I reminded myself about the reasons why I chose to have bariatric surgery in the first place, and how now I have this amazing new tool to use at my disposal. Slowly, I began to see myself in the reflection of the mirror again. The same me, except a new, stronger, positive me that was now in control. I saw the new me that was proud of my decision to have bariatric surgery. 

Funnily enough, the person I no longer recognise, is the woman I see in photos prior to my surgery.