4 Ways to Be Body Confident When Your Illness Makes Your Weight Fluctuate

I always considered myself to have high self-esteem. I enjoyed taking care of my body with healthy food, regular exercise and grooming. Introduce a chronic digestive disease and suddenly all that goes away. I’m left a skinny, weak and depleted version of myself. Add in a few scars from surgery and I find myself with the worst self-esteem I’ve ever felt. I always lived by the philosophy that if you weren’t happy with something, fix it. But when it comes to chronic illness, control is taken out of the equation. So I am stuck with my body the way it is. And I firmly believe I deserve to love it.

Every chronic illness or medication affects the body differently. For me, weight loss was my most dramatic change. And thanks to a few courses of prednisolone and other medication, I have also had periods of fast weight gain. I keep a few different sizes of clothes in my wardrobe, because I never really know what my body will throw at me. It’s taken me almost two years to find some confidence again. I can’t say whether what I did will work for you, all I can do is provide some insight and remind you that you too deserve to love your body, even if it’s not the body you may have hoped for.

1. Tone down social media.

Social media plays a huge role in low self-esteem. Instagram is the biggest culprit, ranking the lowest in a self-esteem study. Being sick all the time means you have lots of spare time to flick through social media. It took me a long time to realize that seeing perfect, fit, healthy and strong people flaunting their bodies all the time on social media was influencing me to feel like I would never be good enough. My cure? A social media cleanses. I unfollowed, deleted and unsubscribed to anything making me feel unworthy. I even changed my preferences for things like advertising to make sure no weight loss or fitness ads would come my way. It made a real difference.

2. Have a pamper day.

I was never much of a girly-girl, but since I’ve been sick I just love spending a day completely on me. I have a long bubble bath, followed by nail painting, face masks, magazine reading and rom-com watching. I put on my favorite outfit and do my hair and makeup as though I was well enough to go out somewhere and just enjoy feeling dressed up. I used to buy nice clothes and let them sit in my wardrobe waiting until I felt better. Now I wear them to help me feel better.

3. Buy clothes for your new shape.

Every shape suits different clothes and styles. I used to be strong and fit, so looked good in sporty, short and tight-fitting clothes. Putting on those clothes in my new skinny body made me feel weak and embarrassed to go out. I slowly learnt to embrace my smaller figure with relaxed and beachy clothes and switched to high-waisted pants to cover my scars until I feel comfortable enough to rock them. A different body shape doesn’t mean a bad one. If you’ve got new curves or weight that wasn’t once there, rock it! Every body is beautiful. You just mightn’t be used to yours.

4. Smile when you look in the mirror.

This is something people just don’t do enough of! Giving yourself a little smile boosts your confidence and helps you get though the day. It might sound silly, but looking at yourself and baring a big grin can go a long way. If it was a smile from an attractive stranger, wouldn’t it make your day? Make your own day!

Getty Image by Qvasimodo

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Gastroparesis

envelope with red hearts spilling out

What I Wish for My Loved Ones Who Are Affected by My Battle With Gastroparesis

Valentine’s Day comes with mixed emotions for me, as it is also the day I was diagnosed with gastroparesis, and, so, my thoughts and attention naturally turn to my own struggle rather than toward my loved ones, whom I sometimes forget live with this illness, too. But this February 14, I would like to focus on [...]
silhouette of a woman sitting by a window

The Moment I Realized My Gastroparesis Was Here to Stay

A couple months ago I added gastroparesis to my list of diagnoses which already included Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and POTS. By the time I sat across from my doctor as he told me I had gastroparesis I had spent a long two months wondering what was wrong with me. This illness came on suddenly. It seemed [...]
watercolor painting of a woman with red hair wearing headphones

3 Ways I Cope With Anxiety Due to the Unpredictability of My Illness

Today marked the third week of this new semester at my university. I’ve always loved school, but this semester I was anxious about. Last semester I added gastroparesis to my list of chronic illnesses. Due to how sick I became I did not end up doing well last semester. The uncertainty of not knowing what [...]
watercolor illustration of a woman with short dark wavy hair

My Body Is a Wonderland: Learning to Advocate for Myself While Battling Chronic Illness

When I was diagnosed with gastroparesis, my gastroenterologist told me I may never get better and recommended that I take a medication to help my stomach function. The first recommendation was an antibiotic with every meal. I didn’t want to do this, so she then recommended taking metoclopramide, a medication that hospitalized my maternal grandmother [...]