Sure, losing weight is great, but more important is learning to love your body at any stage. To fully embrace themselves – self-perceived flaws and all – 11 women posed nude for Weight Watchers magazine.
Dutchess, 39, set her mind on losing weight after two pregnancies left her with heartburn, back pain, and plantar fasciitis.
“Though my fiancé constantly reminded me how beautiful I was, I had to start believing it myself,” she says. “I could feel how uncomfortable I was in my own body: If I sat down, I’d try to sit a certain way to hid my stomach.”
Now 19 lbs. down, Dutchess can see her mindset starting to change.
“Now, when I look in the mirror, sometimes I see my old self because I was a certain size for such a long time,” she says. “But eventually, I know I’ll only see the new me. Through the process, I’ve learned that there’s no blueprint to life or to weight loss.”
For Ashley, 30, a heart condition requiring four surgeries limited her ability to exercise and keep her weight down.
“I was teased because of my size, and that affected my body image,” she admits. “It has taken a long time for me to rebuild my confidence and believe in my own self-worth.”
RELATED VIDEO: They’re Half Their Size: Meet Our Weight-Loss Winners!
Losing 70 lbs. helped her self-esteem soar.
“My weight-loss journey helped me get stronger each day,” Ashley says. “I felt that I was improving all the time, and that helped me get to the point where I don’t have self-hatred anymore. I can go to a restaurant and eat by myself; I can feel confident talking to people; I can leave a dressing room without tears in my eyes.”
“I finally feel like myself.”
Growing up, Latoya, 29, was called Miss Piggy by her peers.
“I used to be afraid, very afraid, all the time,” she says. “I’d be afraid that when someone hugged me, they’d feel the fat on my body. I’d be afraid when I heard someone call me Miss Piggy because I realized that that nickname was a way to call me chubby without saying it.”
The bulling and embarrassment about her weight led Latoya to try diet pills, which put her in the hospital twice. But now, after losing 43 lbs., she found a new way to look at her old nickname.
“I’ve put a positive spin on that: Miss Piggy is confident, sassy, and fabulous. Go ahead, call me by that name: that’s, finally, a compliment.”
Maria, 29, grew up with a negative body image after some hurtful comments from a friend’s mom.
“When I was 13, I remember another girl’s mom saying to me at dance class, ‘Maria, you would just be so much better if you weren’t so big.’ It stopped me, and I thought, ‘Big? What do you mean?’ ” she recalls. “My mom is a sweet woman, and in the softest possible way, she explained to me that I wasn’t the smallest of the group. I thought to myself, ‘Wow, my body is not right.’ ”
Maria struggled to lose weight the right way, until she figured out the best approach and dropped 24 lbs.
“It took me a while to realize that this was a lifestyle, not a diet,” she says. “I changed my attitude – I started to realize that if I have one bad day, that won’t make me gain 10 pounds. I can be conscious of my habits, without becoming obsessed, and that’s very freeing.”
Kshatriya, 36, felt like she could never measure up to her more athletic sister.
“Family members would say, ‘If only you were like your sister … ‘ ” she says. “I internalized that as, ‘You’d be better, you’d be more worthy of our love.’ I started to think, ‘If I don’t look like her, then I’m constantly imperfect.’ ”
Through Weight Watchers, Kshatriya managed to lose 84 lbs., and completely transform her body.
“The moment when I realized how much my life had changed was when I was using a public restroom,” she says. “After I closed the door, I realized that I had just walked into the bathroom without hesitation, not even stopping to check if I would fit. My body wasn’t touching the walls, there was no handrail – and I cried.”
“There’s so much freedom in my weight loss.”