Once you lose weight, life will be better, right? This is a common misconception. I was significantly overweight for almost twenty years of my life. I suffered from anxiety and depression because of my impoverished and dysfunctional upbringing. As a result, I turned to food for comfort. It became an addiction and it was almost my only source of happiness as a child. I was bullied in school for my weight, so I never wanted to go to school. I would stay home and eat myself into even more sadness. Therapy, medication, and familial support pulled me out of this state. Once I turned about 15 years old, I knew that I had to change my lifestyle.
I was tired of hating how I looked, being insecure, covering up my body all the time, and fearing the outside world. It is now 15 years later, and I can say that I have lost a significant amount of weight, but I still have many struggles. I still feel many of the insecurities that I had before. I used to think that losing weight would solve all of my problems. Though it has solved many, it has opened the door to new kinds of problems.
1. You hold yourself to really high standards.
Once you have reached your goal weight or somewhere near it, you tell yourself that you will never gain the weight back.
However, life has its ups and downs, so you will most likely find yourself gaining some weight back. The most important thing to know is it is OK to gain the weight back. It is not the end of the world. At my heaviest, I weighed 275 pounds and at 5 feet and 4 inches tall, this was very heavy for my build. So, it was a big success for me to get under the 200-pound mark. In total, I have lost over 100 pounds. Now, if I ever find myself going UP to the 200-pound mark, I panic and feel completely disgusted with myself. Being that heavy is unacceptable to me now. I expect to never go back to that weight, but it is a matter of trust. Learn to trust in yourself that you will stay disciplined and learn from your mistakes. Your weight will not always be the same and that’s OK.
2. People say you’re too skinny.
The only thing more frustrating than being told you’re too fat is being told you’re too skinny after losing weight. After losing weight, I once received a similar look of disgust from a family member that a complete stranger gave me for being overweight. “You’re way too skinny,” I was told.
I was so hurt and shocked. I was hoping to just hear congratulations for all of my hard work, but instead, I felt like no matter what I did, I will never be considered beautiful. Some people can become jealous of your success, while others just have different standards of what it means to look healthy. After repeatedly being told that I was too skinny from family members, I consulted a doctor. She said that I was completely healthy and the people around me are just not used to seeing me at this weight. It can be a shock to other people, especially after a significant weight loss. It’s important to know that you must not lose weight for anyone but yourself. As long as you are happy and healthy, who cares what other people think?
3. You will sometimes still feel overweight.
Sometimes, you lose weight, but you barely see a difference when you look in the mirror. When you have spent many years being overweight, it becomes difficult to erase that image of yourself from your mind. As a child, all I knew of myself was that I was overweight, so it morphed my entire opinion of myself. As of now, I am repeatedly told that I am not as large as I see myself to be. Some people find measuring themselves to be a helpful reminder that they are nowhere near their previous weight. I try looking at old pictures and comparing them to more recent ones. The more exposure that you have to how you used to look helps to remind you of how far you have come in your weight loss journey.
4. You may have to adjust to unwanted attention.
After losing weight, I have had to deal with more attention from men than I was previously used to. I have been beeped at on the road, followed in the store, and ogled more times than I can count. This is almost equally as uncomfortable as the heckling and name calling I received when I was overweight. The looks of disgust I used to get give me just as much anxiety as the “compliments” catcallers now want to give me. It takes adjusting, but once you gain confidence in yourself then you will find these situations to be less stressful.
5. You may develop loose skin.
Depending on how much weight you lose, you may develop loose skin all over your body. It’s a big struggle for me, as no matter how much weight I lose, I still don’t look “normal.” Sagging arm, stomach, and hip skin can make it very difficult to shop for clothes. I still find myself struggling at the store, which I thought would be less of a struggle after losing weight. Forget about going to an event without wearing tights or Spanx. Essentially, if you do not allow your body to slowly catch up with the weight adjustment then your skin will not be able to retain its elasticity. Exercise can help to avoid this unwanted result, such as lifting weights to tighten up. Just make sure that your external struggle does not become an internal struggle.
No matter what, if losing weight is important for your health, do not hesitate. Take your time and fully commit yourself to the healthiest lifestyle choices that you can find.
However, your appearance does not define who you are: your strength does. My insecurities run deeper than my skin, so no matter how much I weight, I will not like what I see in the mirror. Still, any weight loss proves that you have dedication, discipline, and self-respect, which you should be commended for. Celebrate the little victories and the journey that you take. Enjoy the changes that your body and mind will go through. Reward yourself for choosing an apple over ice cream. Look at that sagging skin and tell yourself that this is proof of your success, not your failure. Most of all, it’s important that you love yourself, and your body, no matter what shape you’re in.