O, The Oprah Magazine: Sexual Confidence: Lori

"I Feel Repulsed By My Body"
Dr. Phil and O, The Oprah Magazine team up to explore the nature of sexual confidence and how to put a little strut in your stuff!

Before she had children, Lori was thin and had a wonderful sex life with her husband, Ed. When she was pregnant with twins, Lori's weight got up to 275 pounds. She was able to lose much of the weight on her own, and after joining the Weight Loss Challenge, she was able to get past a plateau and reach her goal weight of 145.

Lori feels much better about herself ... until it's time to be intimate with her husband. Because of her stretch marks and excess skin, Lori says, "I look like I had an encounter with Freddy Krueger. I feel repulsed by my body." Lori insists that the lights are off when she's intimate with her husband, and she is most uncomfortable about her breasts. "I have a lot of problems looking at them and letting my husband touch them," she says.

Ed is frustrated that their sex life has diminished, and feels rejected when he tries to reach for his wife. He loves Lori and tells her she's beautiful, but says it's a losing battle.

"You have a self-perception and you judge yourself, and that erodes your confidence," Dr. Phil explains to Lori. "How many times have you heard, 'Beauty is in they eye of the beholder'? If you behold yourself in a judgmental fashion where you reject yourself, you criticize yourself, you put yourself down, then clearly you're not going to accept yourself, you're not going to love yourself, you're not going to be proud of who you are and what you have to give in a sexual situation."

Lori explains that because of the difference in the elasticity of her skin, being touched doesn't feel the same, and she doesn't enjoy it physically the way she used to.

Dr. Phil points out that one obvious solution would be for Lori to have plastic surgery. "But I would recommend very strongly against that," he tells her. "You have had a blurred body image and self-image since you were 8. And that has affected your self-esteem, right?"

"I'm sure it has, yeah," agrees Lori.

Dr. Phil explains that Lori needs to work on her internal dialogue. "Unless and until you get to the point where you say, 'OK, look, it is what it is, I am what I am, and I have to love myself from the inside out' ... unless and until you can do that in an unqualified fashion, going and having surgery would be disastrous for you because beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And if you're looking through a filter that says, 'I'm not OK,' then it wouldn't be good enough ... Until you focus on what you do have to give instead of obsessing about the wrapper that you think it's in, you'll never be happy with anything that occurs," he says.

Ed says that they talk about Lori's problem a little, but he doesn't bring it up because he doesn't want to add to her pain. "I just try to make her feel as comfortable as I can," he says.

"And he does," says Lori. "He makes me feel beautiful all the time."

Dr. Phil disagrees. "That's not true. He gives you input, but you run it through a filter that says, 'That's just not right.' You reject that input. He doesn't and he can't make you feel beautiful. Because your internal dialogue is, 'I look like Freddy Krueger just got through with me.'"

"I do though!" protests Lori. "That's my reality and I'm OK with that."

Dr. Phil interrupts her: "But you're not OK with it!" He points out that her husband is telling her that he doesn't see what she does. "You are so much more than stretch marks and saggy skin." The audience applauds. "You are a soft place to fall for Ed. You are an accepting person for him to go and share intimacy with. You are a comfort giver, you are a caregiver. You have so much more to give and offer, but because you focus on the flaws, you are now withdrawing that because logic says, 'No one could want that in this wrapper.'"

Dr. Phil implores her to challenge her internal dialogue so she can be confident about what she has to give to her husband. "Do you have to give him a flat belly that you can bounce a dime off of? No. And there ain't many of those walking around because they're all too weak from hunger!"