You’ve dreamt of this moment… the glorious moment when the pounds drop off and your joy soars. While there is definitely a huge sense of happiness and accomplishment that accompanies weight loss, it’s not uncommon for emotions to go on a roller coaster ride after achieving significant weight loss success. Eating, body image and emotions are so closely tied that it is irresponsible to think that changes in weight is purely physical. Emotions along with body perception and more have to readjust as you become acquainted with your new physical appearance. In order to make the ride a little less jarring, we’ve listed below some common emotional obstacles that weight loss patients may encounter on their journey.
Your relationship with food will have to change in order to lose weight and doing so often creates a sense of mourning and grief. People who must step away from eating certain foods or amounts of food can easily go into a state of mourning. While the change is good, it’s not easy and as with other forms of grief, if you expect it and and allow it to occur in a healthy way, the easier it is to then move past it. So recognize that there will be a grieving period. Let it happen, get it out, have a going away party and then move on.
It is no surprise that food can be a comfort and security to a lot of people regardless of weight. Occasionally it may be more so to those who have been outcast or marginalized by others in society because of their weight. Food never judges and it always present. Eating certain foods can also have a real chemical reactions in the brain that although misleading and fleeting, create a sense of comfort and pleasure. To lose weight and keep it off means seeing food as a source of security and comfort needs to end. This new relationship with food can then fuel a sense of insecurity as individuals find healthier sources of security.
As individuals adjust their relationship with food, relationships with others take on a new shape as well and that alone carries special challenges. Add to that an new body and although good and positive, the new attention and compliments can become overwhelming. It’s not uncommon for some to find compliments and attention actually difficult to accept especially if comments were much more harsh and shameful from the same individuals in the past. Resentment, anger, shame and anxiety can easily accompany or overshadow the positive intentions of compliments and those who experience this should not be ashamed. Counseling and awareness can help individuals understand their feelings and know how to address them better in order to have the best possible outcome of their weight loss. Also, new relationships are likely to sprout after individuals find increased self-confidence and embark on new adventures. Old relationships may change or even die off due to the inability or willingness to adjust to the new changes. Knowing this may happen can help prepare you for the possibility.
After a dramatic weight loss, many individuals find it difficult to identify with their new body. Many describe it as being surreal almost like an out of body experience when they look at the mirror and see a drastically different person looking back at them. Shopping and clothing selection can understandably be overwhelming and confusing. Some wear their old baggy clothes even years after weight loss due to the emotional comfort it provides.
All these emotions and many more are not uncommon on the emotional roller coaster ride that often accompanies drastic weight loss. Knowing what to expect can help individuals who undergo weight loss procedures, like the gastric balloon, brace themselves for the ride and come out smiling in the end. Most weight loss clinics are aware of the dizzying ride many of their clients will take after weight loss procedures which is why the majority strongly encourage and offer counseling with a specialized psychologist or weight loss coach. Take advantage of these services because your relationship with food is just that, a relationship and as we all know, relationships are complicated.