When The Mirror Lies

Battling Body Dysmorphia

You would think that after losing so much weight AND keeping it off for over 2.5 years that I would come to terms with my body image. Most of the time I feel happy and confident when I look in the mirror. But there are those times where I still look in the mirror and see flaws, fat, a muffin top, flab. I thought that those feelings would go away once I’d maintained my weight loss for a significant amount of time. It’s strange when these feelings rear it’s ugly head. It almost always catches me off guard.

I felt that way this week. Logically I looked in the mirror and still saw the same slender, muscular build I’ve had for years. Emotionally and physically? I felt about 20 pounds heavier. Now these feelings could be completely PMS related–although it’s not a feeling I always have during “that time.” Perhaps this feeling is the aftereffect of a vacation where I indulged. Maybe it’s a side effect of the Prednisone I took for a week? It could even be the placebo effect of taking Prednisone– i.e. The common side effect of the drug is weight gain so I think I’ve gained weight. I’m hoping it’s that.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a common thing. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a diagnosed mental illness for people to experience it. In my opinion I think every woman has looked in the mirror and thought “I feel so fat this week” when in reality they are not fat. Hormones, water retention, washing a pair of jeans and suddenly they are a tad too tight = these can all bring up feelings of inadequacy. I wish I could just snap out of it.

Last night at the pool I swam my 1.25 miles at a great pace and it felt wonderful to be back to the routine. While the pool wasn’t quite the same as that amazing experience swimming in Tucson, I have to admit I’d missed my little pool. While I was swimming I reminded myself that no matter what I saw in that stupid locker room mirror my swimming abilities have not diminished. That should tell me something about my body and the state of my fitness.

The dinner I ate after the swim was healthy and low in calories: turkey burger with a side of onion rings (they were 230 calories a serving). Nothing to feel guilty about, yet I did. (Especially the mini Ben & Jerry’s ice cream I shared with Michael.) πŸ™‚

This morning at the gym I reminded myself that if I was overweight again and out of shape I wouldn’t have been able to run 3.25 miles at my old pre-injury pace. Which I did. And it was awesome!

5.2! That’s the old treadmill pace I used to warm up at before I was injured. My body has healed. I’m healthy, I’m athletic. I will never be “Skinny” but I am FIT. Who cares about a little muffin top, right? (Ugh. I’m still trying to convince myself. It’s a learning process.)


I ignored the stupid voice in my head that returned this week and had an excellent run. There were no bouncing ovaries, no cramps, no knee pain, no sore quads. Just good runnin’. I also ignored the Chatty Cathies on the treadmills next to me yapping loudly on their cellphones. I just turned on my tunes even louder and rocked out on the treadmill to some Human League.

All the while reminding myself that I am only Human and striving for perfection is a recipe for depression. No one is perfect. I need to add that to my positive-thinking-mantra. I ran 3.27 miles and then lifted weights. Now THAT’S when my thinking really started to turn around. Whenever I’m feeling depressed about my body or “Fat” lifting weights will most definitely snap me out of that thinking. Lifting weights gives me confidence and I feel STRONG and determined when I do it.

I commended myself for being able to do 4 sets of Chin-Ups. Now if that doesn’t give someone confidence, I don’t know what will!

I felt a million times better about life in general once I finished my workout. I ended with lots of stretching, some yoga poses and the Foam Roller (ouch).

Gym Stats:

Time: 1:32

Calories Burned: 813

I don’t have a magic cure for Body Dysmorphic Disorder. With anything I suppose it’s just One Day At A Time. There are bad days, there are lots of good days. When the Mirror Lies to me I need to remind myself of my accomplishments (like kicking ass at the gym today!).

QUESTION: Do you see something different in the mirror? What do you do when the Mirror Lies?

8 Responses

  1. This post is especially timely for me! I’ve lost about 10 lbs since January (yay me!) and gotten much faster with my running (even bigger yay me!). But then this week I just had to miss my workouts and I was also eating more than I knew I need. Even though my need to miss my workouts were mostly understandable and all were 100% temporary, I was convinced in one short week I would gain all the weight back AND lose all the endurance I’ve built while running. Yesterday I finally went for a run again. I was dismayed that it felt much harder than usual and I cut it short. When I looked down at my pace, I was running 20 sec/mile faster than I had been the week before I took time off! Then last night we went and danced all night (I’m so sore today!). I hopped on the scale and even though we ate an indulgent meal for date night last night, I’m right within my regular weight range. Our minds can play so many tricks on us. I have the belief that if I don’t do everything exactly all the time, I’m going to ruin it. And I think that’s the hardest part about being on maintenance is learning how much flexibility we do have in order to maintain our gains (er, losses!).

    1. Maybe you are right! Maybe it is my mind playing tricks on me because I was out of my routine, on vacation, eating things I normally don’t eat…Only time will tell. I’ll hop on the scale next week and have to face it either way.

      Back when I was running a lot I’d have those bad runs where I just felt like I was running through water and my legs felt like 100 pounds. Then I’d get a great time or something. The brain is messed up!

  2. I’m sorry you’re having a hard time. You really do look fantastic. I do think it’s the change in routine that has you muddled up.

    I have reverse BDD where I always think I look a little better than I actually do (that’s so embarrassing to admit). That’s why I have to rely on the scale to gauge where I’m at. I think it’s some sort of denial/defense/self-protection mechanism to keep me from hating myself and my body. Not like I strut around thinking I’m all that, but I can always find something I’m happy with and move on. I’m my own kind of crazy. πŸ™‚

    1. You know what’s funny? When I was 250 I had reverse BDD too. I thought I was much smaller and “skinnier” than I was. I was in complete denial about how much I actually weighed.

  3. I love this post! I am right there too! I am not or ever will be skinny (I have people tell me that) but I am not. I sometimes have a hard time mentally seeing myself as smaller. I may have a smaller body but my head tells me I don’t…I feel I still have the big stomach, etc. I also struggle sometimes mentally when I run. I struggle saying I can’t do it, but I know i can. Isn’t this weight loss journey/maintance so much fun! πŸ™‚

    You are great and look awesome! You are an inspiration to all of us!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement! It’s nice to hear that other struggle with the same thing. It can be pretty lonely getting stuck in your head.

      For the most part I can get over that stupid voice. Some days it’s just louder. I think maintenance mode can be fun. It usually is too. πŸ™‚

  4. I also get days like these that you describe but quickly make way for thoughts like:
    “You see how much smaller your hips have become – remember how big they were.”
    “Look at how small your bum, arms and tummy have become. You are doing great.”
    With thoughts like this, I demolish these bad feelings and thoughts but totally understand how you feel.

    1. A friend of mine once told me that for every negative thought I have for myself I should list 5 positive things. You know what? It works. I’ve fallen out of that habit but having to list so many positive things keeps me from focusing on the negatives.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge