Skinny woman sees fat woman in mirror

Pant sizes, dress sizes, BMI, pounds, calories, inches – oh the dreaded numbers!

Numbers were bad enough when I had to figure them out in math class. I thought I was in the clear until I had to figure out 2nd grade math! That’s another story. Anyway, I have been all over the board when it comes to weight fluctuating. I started dieting at age 9 as a gymnast. Eating disorders followed for years. I have been in everything from a 2 to 14. I have always had an athletic build and bigger bone structure. I usually have to check the “medium/athletic build” box.

My entire life I have tried to achieve the perfect size. Even at my smallest and ideal weight and size, it turns out it wasn’t good enough. My shape and size changed drastically but my perception didn’t follow. You lose weight but still feel like you are the same size or even heavier?

I still picked out my old sizes when shopping for clothes and believed my body took up more space than it actually did. I discovered there was a reason for this. It was called “Phantom Fat Syndrome”. This phenomenon is similar to when people lose a limb, they experience the sensation that it is still there. People may look in the mirror and still see themselves as big or they believe their body takes up more space than it actually does and compensates. My girl Becca wrote on a great blog on this as well.

I have been stable in my weight for about five years and I am only starting to feel connected with my new body. My brain is starting to catch up but it still surprises me now and then. A couple weekends ago, we went cross country skiing and I went to borrow some of my dad’s gear. I tried on his pants and they were way too big! This wouldn’t of been the case years ago but I forget that I was 20-25 pounds heavier than I am now. I still question when I have to order a smaller size now and still wear baggier clothes. I have conditioned myself to do hide my body over the years.

If you lose any amount of weight, it is essential to work on improving the way you see yourself otherwise there will be a major disconnect. Your body will change but the perception of yourself will not. Also, those that lose weight may undergo the fear of gaining it back and they begin to obsess and think negatively. Our brains have been wired to judge ourselves and think negatively about ourselves so it is crucial to work on changing your script to a more positive one and to take loving actions to help you see yourself differently and feel connected in your body.

Here are some tips:

1. See and show your body

When we carry more weight, we tend to avoid looking at ourselves. We don’t like being in pictures, looking in the mirror, or being in a swimsuit. Start doing things things and repeat loving affirmations to yourself.

2. Stop sucking it in

Women are notorious for hiding and sucking in with control tops, spanx, and tight undergarments. We look for anything to hide love handles, back fat, cellulite, and chicken wings. I have been there and done that and all of these so-called appearance fixing garments do nothing but make you hurt throughout the night and reinforce your negative messages to yourself. Start being free in your body and let it be.

3. Love your parts

This was one of the most important exercises I have ever done for myself. List out all your body parts that you are complaining about and list why you love that part. I did this with my kids as well so they learn to love all of them. I see my body for its function and purpose and not some unrealistic photoshopped display. I love my arms so they can hug those I love. I love my strong legs because they carry me through life and help me kick soccer balls. I love my hands because they look like my dads. I love my pregnancy scars and belly because they remind me that I brought life into the world. I love my breasts because they fed my children. I love my wrinkles because they remind me of my smiles and squinting in the sun. I love my butt because it is strong and keeps me stable. I love my eyes because they are the window to the world.

Whether you are experiencing “Phantom Fat Syndrome” or not, I highly recommend you downloading this printable to start seeing yourself through eyes of love.