Body Image and Loose Skin

20180109aThis is a hot topic these days, as more and more people are going from obese to healthy. I’ve spoken with people who have actually decided against eating healthy because they fear loose skin more than they fear an early death. I wish I were exaggerating, but I’ve literally heard the words, “I’d rather die early than have loose skin” on more than on occasion. I just don’t get it. I have some loose skin, and it’s not so bad.

Warning: this post shows nudity (mine) and a lot of skin (but no private parts).

I apologize for showing so much, but there really is no other way to show my loose skin.

So how bad is my loose skin? Not crazy bad. I have what I call a deflated balloon around my waist and on my lower back, but it’s nothing that I can’t live with. In fact, knowing that it’s not full of all that fat that used to be there makes me happy. Do I wish I’d just stayed healthy and ate right for the past 30 years and never got morbidly obese? Of course I do, but that’s not what happened, and it’s not where I am today. So, wishing gets me nowhere. I have to change how I think about myself and my body.

I’ve come to the decision that I love my body. I love where I’m at. I know where I’ve been, and I know I’ll never be as thin and sexy as some Hollywood hunks out there, but compared to where I’ve been, I’m doing great. My blood chemistry is good, my heart health is great, and I feel amazing. Those are things worth having some extra skin for.

They say that skin accounts for roughly 17% of a person’s body weight. Being formerly obese makes my weight percentage higher, up to 24% (or more). That means that no matter how hard I try, I will be unable to get down to a weight I would be at now if I didn’t have all this extra skin. To get past 165 lbs, I have to starve or very seriously limit calories, and I’m not willing to do that for a number on a device. I’m healthy, my blood chemistry is good, my heart is good, and I feel good. I keep telling myself these things, and yes, it does help.

Same PaleoMarine one year apart. What a difference that year made!

Body image is all in your head. You have to get over your own image of yourself and learn to accept the things you can’t change. I was able to change my body from morbidly obese to healthy (well, still unhealthy by BMI standards, but I am not a fan of the BMI scale anyway, so I ignore that), and my physicals reflect how much healthier I am today than I was. On my last stress test, I ran so long that I asked them to stop only because I was getting bored, not tired.

Loose skin is not the end of the world. It’s a mark of success over bad eating habits or poor nutrition. It’s a sign that you no longer accepted being obese, and that you did something about it. Loose skin means you are healthier now than  you were, and it’s a reminder to keep eating right to keep from filling it back up. For me, it’s all these things.

I’ve been asked if I’ll ever have surgery to remove the loose skin, and I believe that I will not (unless I’m asked to do some shirtless scenes in a movie with someone like, say, Gal Gadot or Margot Robbie. Then yes, I’ll likely get some work done!). I am not vain enough to go through the expense, pain, and discomfort, and quite honestly, I don’t think it’s that bad. I only had to lose 150 lbs. Someone who has lost twice that amount may need to have skin removed to feel comfortable, and I completely understand that. I’m just not uncomfortable in my clothing and in my daily activities enough to warrant such a drastic procedure.

Don’t let the fear of loose skin keep you from losing weight. It will likely not be nearly as bad as you think it will be, and there are things you can do to mitigate the amount of loose skin you’ll have like taking collagen supplements. Also, slow and steady weight loss helps the skin close in around formerly large areas. That’s why people who go through surgery to lose weight often have such large amounts of loose skin; they lost their weight and bulk faster than their bodies could keep up.

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