Living the dream – but not without hardship: stories about self-directed weight transformation from severe obesity
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionPsychology and Health. 2022, . 10.1080/08870446.2022.2090562
The objective of this narrative study was to explore experiences and assigned meanings in stories about self-directed weight loss (WL) maintenance after severe obesity (SO). Design In-depth interviews were conducted with eight women and two men, aged 27 to 59 years, who had carried out self-directed WL from SO for 5 years or more. Two themes ran across the stories: Fear of weight-regain, and food and emotion. We performed a case-based narrative analysis of especially rich interviews that illustrate these. Results pointed to persistently cultivating new competencies, establishing new eating habits, re-establishing old physical-training habits, and forming new relational bonds. Participants reinvented themselves and their lives. However, the stories are not all about transformation, but also about new and old health problems. Conclusion The study directs attention to ‘different obesities’, not only to initial weight from which WL takes place, but also linked to the experiential horizons that the persons embody from childhood on. Furthermore, there was no way back in the present stories, always haunted in the wake of the lost weight. A double burden imposed on the person with obesity related to meta-stories in society deepens the understanding of this imperative: being vulnerable health-wise and exposed to stigmatization.