Saturday, June 28, 2014

Phantom Fat and Fun House Mirrors: The Lag Time Between Weight Loss and Accurate Self Perception

A young colleague at work who has shed more than 50 pounds was recently surprised she can no longer shop at her favorite plus-sized store. Despite the fact she has lost enough weight to create an entire third grader, her mind has not caught up with her new shape.
I have no idea what my co-worker sees when she looks in the mirror, but it is possible she sees a larger image of herself. An MSNBC article called Phantom Fat Can Linger After Weight Loss describes a woman who went from a size 24 to a size 4 and still worries she won't be able to fit into chairs. Like my friend, her mind has not caught up with her body.

Though in some cases this phenomenon is a mental illness called body dysmorphia, it's more likely that both of these women just have a temporary mental lag between losing weight and accepting their thinner selves.

In some ways, losing weight is like giving birth to a smaller version of yourself. It can take time getting comfortable with the new image you present to the world and accepting that the stranger in the mirror is really you.

For those who hold on to extra pounds as a protective mechanism, it may even be scary to be a smaller, more vulnerable presence.

Fortunately, most people who lose weight eventually perceive themselves correctly and enjoy their new shape. Shopping for clothes becomes a pleasure instead of a chore, and you can fit into just about any chair.

When I was a child I had a full-length mirror in my bedroom that made people look more slender than they actually were. My mother's friends would trek upstairs just to see themselves in the magic mirror. It wasn't until I was older and overweight myself that I understood their odd desire to see a positively distorted image, if even just for a moment.

After losing 35 pounds on Medifast, I still find myself surprised that I can wear smaller clothes and suspect the mirror is playing tricks on me.

You can purchase Medifast replacement meals directly from Medifast Centers, the Medifast website or -- for no extra cost -- through the co-branded website of a Medifast TSFL health coach. Medifast does not recommend purchasing its products from third party vendors, but if you choose to do so, you can find them on both Amazon and eBay.

Medifast replacement meals on Amazon

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