You don’t mind having your picture taken anymore. You’re experimenting with clothes and no longer feel you have to wear only black.
You no longer see food as good or bad. You no longer hate yourself for eating a cupcake or feel virtuous for eating celery.
And then, out of nowhere, your pants feel a little loose. Your bra could use some extra hooks to make it tighter. Your leggings don’t feel so clingy anymore. Read my big caveat here.
Losing this weight can feel very weird because your only context for weight loss is from your dieting/ disordered eating past. Losing weight reminds you of those days of calorie counting, over-exercising, stressing out about your weight.
Unexpected weight loss can trigger you into old, diety thinking. You might start thinking, “If I’m losing weight without restricting, what might happen if I just cut out dessert?! I might really start losing weight then!” or “If I just exercised a little more I could get skinny!”
Thinking this way can feel really scary and dangerous. After all the work you’ve done to heal your relationship with food and your body, these old thoughts can feel like a big setback and a sign that you’re sliding into your old food-obsessed, body-hating ways.
But it doesn’t have to mean any of that. So here are a few tips for dealing with unintentional weight loss.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up For Being Triggered
I often say that the first rule of The Body Love Club is to not beat yourself up for anything. (It’s like the exact opposite of Fight Club.)
So you lost a few pounds and you got triggered. You started thinking about inducing more weight loss, how skinny you could get, etc.
Given that you probably thought that way for decades in the past, is it any wonder that you might feel those feelings again?
The unfortunate fact is that in our society, being thinner comes with lots of perks (or privilege). You experience less stigma, it’s easier to find clothes, people give you more compliments and on and on. It’s hard to not feel like you want more and more of that. Even if you now love your bigger body, it’s hard to let go of the desire for more and more of the societal benefits of being thinner.
So if you start to notice these feelings, just allow yourself to feel them. You don’t have to act on them. You don’t have to stop them. Just notice that they’re there, and give yourself a break.
Triggers Are Part Of (Not A Deviation From) Your Body Love Journey
I think we often want our journeys to be clear and linear, but they rarely are.
I have yet to meet a client who went straight from the Point A of body hatred to the Point B of body love without wandering off the path at least once.
Feeling triggered and having setbacks are actually part of this process. For those of you who like visuals, rather than imagining a straight path, imagine a wheel rolling down a path. If you’re at one spot on the wheel, there will be times when you feel like you’re making great leaps forward, and other times when you feel like you’re going backward, even though you’re still rolling down the path.
These moments when you feel like you’re going backward are actually wonderful. They’re reminders of how far you’ve come (remember when you used to have these obsessive thoughts without any context for another way of thinking?) and reminders that you may have some more challenges to work through (how can you work to love your body right now)?
Whatever you do, don’t stress yourself out about slipping into old habits. You are in a new place now. You can experience these feelings without diving back into old habits. You already broke up with dieting and disordered eating. You just have to remind yourself of why.
Go Back To Your Body Loving Techniques
Last but not least, it’s time to dive back into body loving techniques that served you in the first place.
Think back to the tools you used in the past that had helped you become more body accepting. (For some ideas, click here.) Did you say positive things in the mirror, look at body positive blogs, tell your inner critic to shut the hell up?
Go back to the tools you used that had a big impact and use them again. As much as you can, wear clothes that fit and that you feel good in. Use affirmations like, “I love my body at any size!” when you start to feel like you’re fixating on weight loss.
And don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list (below) for more body love tips!
Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight. To learn more about Golda and her work, click here.
CAVEAT: Health At Every Size, body acceptance, and intuitive eating affect different people in different ways, and weight loss should never be the goal (for a gazillion reasons). Please don’t think you’re “doing it wrong” if you don’t lose weight. This article is just meant to help you handle weight loss (if you’re experiencing it) in a less triggering way. Click here to read the rest of the article.