Unhealthy Obsessing about diet and weightloss

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 21, 2013 at 7:41 PM

This is extremely difficult for me to talk about openly and I'm embarrassed to do so, but I am hoping someone has been in my shoes and can give some positive feedback, advice or encouragement. I am consciously aware that I am obsessing over my appearance in regards to my problem areas and over the weight on the scale. I know that this is not a healthy behavior. I have succesfully lost 25lbs in the last year while maintaining a paleo diet 90% of the time.

I have dabbled in crossfit, aerobic classes, running, spin classes and heavy weight lifting. I have never tracked my calories or my macronutrients until recently (the last week and a half). I was told that I must not be eating enough before this and that is why my weight was not coming off anymore. I am 25, I have hoshimotos (a form of hypothyroidism), I take levothyroxine every day, I am 5'5 and I currently weigh 160.

I gave birth to my son 6 years ago and gained 40 pounds during my pregnancy, my stomach was completely disfigured from my 9.5lb baby, I have a roadmap of stretch marks and extra skin and a c-section under my belt. I have always been self conscious about it. I have talked to my doctor, personal trainers and yesterday a plastic surgeon and all have told me that I will never get rid of this on my own. Deep down, I knew that I couldn't get rid of it on my own before the additional confirmations, but it never stopped me from trying (I'm stubborn). I am honestly a little devastated now that it has officially become a reality, knowing that after all of my hard work and despite what I do I still have to have surgery.

For weeks I have been constantly consumed by thoughts of my stalled weightloss, potential surgery, my inner thighs and the inch of fat that you can pinch from my arm (there are rock hard muscles underneath) and my traps (back fat). I am happy with several other parts of my body, I don't hate myself. My obsessing, actually caused an argument between my boyfriend and I last night (we never argue, he is always very loving, patient, supportive, encouraging and understanding). He said "You're becoming obsessed and this is all you're talking about." I felt ashamed and embarassed and I still do.

I don't know what to do in the gym or with my diet anymore at this point and in regards to my unhealthy thinking, I know it needs to stop, but I don't know how to get over it. I want to lose 20 lbs before I go through with this surgery, but I don't know where to even start anymore. Please be kind.


on April 10, 2013
at 06:28 PM

thank you for your support and understanding and encouragement.

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on March 21, 2013
at 08:10 PM

Sounds like instead of surgery you need to just view yourself the way your boyfriends does. No doctor can surgically implant a healthy body image.



on March 21, 2013
at 07:56 PM

Don't worry. Paleohackers are nice and kind. I can't answer your question but I wish you all the luck.

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5 Answers


on March 22, 2013
at 02:57 AM

I think the first thing I'd do is stop talking to a plastic surgeon and find a good therapist. I also agree with Travis' comments on your post. My concern is that you'll go through with the surgery and end up just as unhappy with your body as you are now. And that, my friend, is an expensive mistake. (Not to mention that surgery is risky and painful in and of itself.)

Body image is so tough. It's difficult, especially, when we start to view ourselves as "disfigured" or otherwise abnormal, hideous, ugly, etcetera. We're constantly bombarded with advertisements saying we're ugly for having "flaws" and that if we only spend some money our problems will go away.

I'm a little older than you (30), but I spent a good deal of time seeing the scars from pregnancy and childbirth as being anything other than disfigurement. I have been there. And it sucks--a lot. The self-loathing is really hurtful in the long-run. (I have the emotional scars to prove it.) Your body has done an amazing thing--borne a child! You are currently dealing with Hashimoto's, too.

Telling you not to worry is going to do absolutely nothing. (I know that, too, from experience.) But please consider seeing a therapist who specializes in body image and eating issues. I spent years in therapy and developed tools to help me through the tougher times. Please try--for your happiness. Your boyfriend knows (not thinks) you're beautiful, and I'm positive your child does, too.

Hang in there.


on April 09, 2013
at 05:05 AM

HI I feel what you feel. I am 46 now and I am not overweight at all my BMI is 19 but I had 3 babies and getting older and have saggy skin on my stomach. Some times I am really embarrassed of it but I am starting to accept that is who I am and living with it. I am very lucky I have a husband who loves and accepts me warts and all. I have learned to appreciate what I have in my life and accept what I can't change. That has taken me a long time to learn, guess age helps.


on March 22, 2013
at 02:33 AM

Maybe pick up a copy of Geneen Roth's book: "Women Food and God" (it's not religious, so you needn't freak out about that if the title puts you off). You're in a battle against yourself right now and no amount of exercise, dieting or surgery will make it go away.



on March 22, 2013
at 02:43 AM

Get some therapy. I'm not saying that in a "you're crazy!" way, but it seems like you're just stuck in a self-repeating self-defeating loop, and that's a relatively easy fix therapy-wise, compared to schizophrenia or other severe disorders. If it is causing strife in your life, it's a problem that you need to solve.

See below. Your activating event is noticing your physical issues. Not sure what belief it is that you have that makes this important, but that is something you will have to figure out. C is the dysfunctional behavior, in your case, obsession over your image. You need to figure out what irrational beliefs you have, such as "I must look perfect" or whatever your belief is, and challenge them, such as "No one must look perfect! No one does." and E - reap the rewards. This is a very simple version, but basically just catching yourself in the defeatist beliefs and challenging them, realizing what the rational belief would be, will do wonders.




on April 09, 2013
at 07:53 AM

Oh, the post baby belly, I'm only 12 weeks out after my second pregnancy, so I FEEL your pain big time.

First off whenever you feel the need to stand in front of a full length mirror and get all critical about the parts of your body that bug you, immediately go hug your boyfriend instead, a good full body hug, and try to imagine the contours of your body via his hands. What you see as a trouble spot, he likely feels as the warm gentle curve of your belly that feels lovely to cup in the palm of his hand if you let him and don't shy away because of self consciousness.

Try to go a week without looking a mirror bigger than what you need to make sure your hair isn't a hot mess. If you start to feel a bout of obsessing coming on, try to consciously shift gears to gratitude mode, and start thanking your body for all the amazing things if does for you every day like breathing, self regulating temperature, pumping blood, the ability to balance on one foot, storing memories, muscles that can carry your body anywhere you want to go, etc. I know it might sound hokey, but just resting your hands on your belly every time you get a chance to and thanking it for all it has done for you might help change the dialogue in your head.

Check out Dr. Daniel Amen's work about ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts). To quote him, "Your thoughts lie to you, they can lie to you a lot." http://ahha.org/articles.asp?Id=100 or if you prefer to watch something http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F90ljFsPXu0

Unless you are very lucky, most of us who have had children have extra skin around our tummies. Maybe you are wanting to wear outfits that show your belly, but personally I just feel blessed to live in the era of Spanx and Mother Tucker tank tops. Historically women's clothing has either been loose fitting in the middle (think long tunics), or if fitted had support garments underneath like girdles and corsets. Shhh.....don't tell the guys, but the whole hourglass figure thing post baby is, and has been mostly smoke and mirrors.

If it isn't a lot of skin, you could try belly binding or corseting to both compress and take gravity off of the skin, and give it a chance to retract as much as it can. I haven't tried it myself but some women rave about doing dry brushing with a soft natural bristle brush in an upward motion every night before bed. Taking extra care to moisturize, and rubbing the areas will bring more blood flow to the area and hydrate/"feed" the skin and improve the tone and look of things. Eating a nutrient dense diet with skin health in mind couldn't hurt either, lots of gelatin, some cod liver oil, plus vitamin C and mineral rich foods.

Did you ever check yourself for abdomonis recti after you had your baby? If the muscles running down the middle of your belly separated during pregnancy no amount of exercise is going give you a flat belly look, and a lot of exercises women do to try and get flat bellies post baby can make the muscle separation worse. There are some things you can do with special tape or braces to try and get the muscles close enough together to reconnect, but usually women need surgery to correct it. And if the skin on your belly hangs down enough to cause discomfort, skin infections, or gets irritated by clothing that can be a medically valid reason to do the skin removal surgery.

I'm guessing the reason you feel crazy is because it sounds like you've tried everything, and think somehow if you just try harder you'll get a different outcome, when really you are down to a multiple choice question: a) make peace with your body b) invest in some support garments or try some belly binding c) do the surgery d) all of the above


on April 10, 2013
at 06:28 PM

thank you for your support and understanding and encouragement.

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