Getting Back Your Confidence After Bariatric Surgery
June 1, 2023
Written By: Carley Salas MS, RDN, CDN
Edited by: Janet Klein, MS, RDN, CDN, CDCES
Whether you have been overweight most of your life, or have gained weight over the years, it has most likely had a negative effect on your self-confidence. The way our society views overweight and obesity can be very damaging to one’s psyche. Fortunately, things are finally starting to change with clothing stores, commercials, movies, and magazine advertisements showing more inclusive body types that are a realistic representation of what the average person looks like. The body positive movement is helping spread awareness that your size does not determine your worth, your success, or your intelligence.
Conversely, just because you lose weight, does not automatically mean you will be radiating confidence. Having confidence takes time to develop, and is something that can take a little work. Following bariatric surgery, patients experience rapid weight loss of anywhere from 60-100+ lbs. This transformation can occur within 12-18 months after surgery, depending on a person’s physical activity level, age, and medical conditions. Sometimes the way a person perceives themselves needs time to catch up with the way their new body looks. The way you see your body is not always a correct representation of what you actually look like to others. Having positive body image is key when it comes to overall happiness, psychological health, and having self-esteem.
Here’s a couple tips to help you feel confident in your new body!
Surround Yourself with Positive People
It’s important to spend time with people that give you energy, rather than take it from you. Spend time with friends/family that help you see the positive side of things, instead of those that like to complain or think negatively all the time. If you are active on social media, seek out people that promote body positivity to help you gain confidence in yourself, and know that you are more than just your appearance. Surround yourself with people that will be your biggest cheerleaders to help support you after surgery.
Do your best to ignore any negative commentary about bariatric surgery coming from people who you have no choice but to encounter; i.e., work cohorts. Ignorance and/or jealously can be fueling their negative energy towards you. Rise above it and show them that they cannot defeat you. Either ignore their comments, or use it as an opportunity to shine a positive light on the benefits you have experienced since having the procedure.
Sometimes negative self-talk and poor body image stems from comparing ourselves to others. Unplug from social media and stop scanning the internet for pre- and post-surgery photos to compare yourself to! Everyone is unique and on a different journey towards health. Compare yourself to you and no one else – it is not a race to see who loses weight the fastest. We all want those results quickly, but faster is not always better. Think about where you started vs. where you are now, and how far you have come.
Practice Positive Self-Talk
It is completely normal to have days where you feel confident about yourself, and days where you don’t. If you find yourself picking apart every flaw you think you have, recognize it and then stop! Instead, focus on your positive qualities and the things you love about yourself! Maybe you love your hair or the color of your eyes, etc. Forcing yourself to acknowledge and say something positive about your body will begin to break the habit of negative self-talk, and eventually get you to a point where you celebrate all of the amazing things your body does for you on a daily basis, instead of tearing it down.
Wear Clothes that Make you Feel Good
Clothes are meant to fit your body, not the other way around! Don’t stress about the size on the tag, just wear what makes you feel your best. Don’t buy clothing that is too small with the hope of fitting into it, no one needs that kind of added pressure. When it comes to women’s clothing, the sizing is extremely inconsistent from store to store, and brand to brand. Sometimes even within the same brand a certain size may fit you in one style and not the other. No one is going to know what size you are wearing, but they will notice how good you look wearing it with confidence. Don’t let the size make you feel negatively about yourself. Buy clothes that fit you well and make you feel good!
Wear comfortable clothes when exercising that provide support for your workouts. Just relax and enjoy exercising without criticizing your appearance. It will take time for you to see results and embrace the new you. Remember that no one is staring at you in the gym, everyone is there because they want to better themselves and are not focused on what others are doing.
As you’re working to build up confidence after weight loss surgery, it’s important to be patient with yourself. You may be working to undo years of negative self-talk and that is going to take time. It can be easy to focus on the negatives after surgery like having loose skin, but I encourage you to spend time reflecting on how far you have come, and all the things you are able to do and experience with family and friends now that you could not do before surgery, and be proud of your accomplishments!