So you’ve lost weight, you’ve become healthier, you’re a few sizes smaller… but you look in the mirror and you think you look exactly the same? Has anyone else been in this boat? It’s something that’s nicknamed ’phantom fat’. After losing a few dress sizes and adding a decent amount of muscle to my frame this happened to me. Within the first month of starting training I lost 11cm from my waist by eating a moderately healthy diet and exercising two times a week (that’s nearly 3cm a week gone, crazy). Fast forward a year to now, every part of my body is smaller and leaner than it was, and I have only just started to accept that my body has changed and become totally comfortable in my skin. There are so many articles online along the lines of, “this is why you’re not losing weight”… but what happens when you’ve lost the weight but you don’t see it in the mirror?
What is it? ’Phantom fat’ is the experience you have when you’ve lost weight, but when you look at yourself you don’t think you have, largely due to the fact that your brain takes a much longer time to adjust your spacial awareness. People might be commenting on how good you look, but in your head it doesn’t feel like it. You have more weight too lose, there’s a bump here, a lump there, it’s not good enough, nothing is ever good enough. Every time you look in the mirror you pinch and prod and wonder what things would look like if they were a bit smaller or a bit more toned, it’s endless and it’s exhausting. If this type of thinking is not brought under control it can lead you along a dangerous path, so it’s best to start getting it sorted out while you still can.
Can you fix it? To stop yourself from thinking like this you need to adjust your behaviour and recalibrate the way your brain imagines your body. This is what I’ve done to get it under control and accept my body and be happy with how it looks:
1) Every time you find yourself picking on something bad in the mirror stop, breathe and focus on something you do like. Remind yourself often of the things you like about your body. Avoid thinking negatively, your mind is incredibly powerful so don’t let your life be ruled by bad thoughts.
2) SHOW YOURSELF what you actually look like, even photos can be deceiving sometimes. Get someone to trace your outline on a sheet of paper, or something I like to do is measure my waist and then show myself how small the measuring tape is, then readjust the measuring tape to what my old waist measurement was, the difference is crazy, and it makes me really proud because it’s so much easier to see that there is a difference.
3) Get some new clothes. Yes you ‘are’ actually that size now and those new, smaller clothes do fit you.
4) Eat healthy and get plenty of sleep. I know this might sound a bit left-field but making sure you are consistently eating foods that will nourish your body as well as getting enough rest will allow your body to think more rationally and hopefully reduce the amount of anxiety you have towards your body.
5) Time. It takes time for your mind to adjust to your new size, much longer than it takes to actually lose the weight, be patient and stay positive.
Has this happened to you? Leave a comment and let us know! You're not alone!