People always assume that if you are overweight, once you lose that weight, everything will be magical and awesome — and you’ll be so happy. I’m not trying to scare you, in fact losing a lot of weight is great, but there are some aspects to a weight-loss journey that are difficult to deal with. I should know, over a three year period, I lost 145 pounds, naturally, no gimmicks and no surgery.
OK, before that I tried a LOT of gimmicks, but that is a whole other story to tell. Looking back I can see that losing the weight was actually the easy part, life after the weight loss is where it gets interesting.
I typically refer to my heavier self as "fat" or "fat Brenda," but it's not meant to be a bad name. It's just how I've learned to deal with that part of my life. Here are some things I would go back and tell my fat self if I had the chance.
1. Save some money!
You’re going to be losing a LOT of weight, you’re going to need new clothes. Depending how fast the weight comes off, this could happen often. Think of it this way, for every 10 pounds you lose, that can be one full pant size.
So you don't need to restock your wardrobe after an initial 10 pound loss. Hold off for a bit! Also, newsflash, when you do finally work up the courage to go into the normal size stores you do NOT need to grab the largest size on the rack!
After losing 145 pounds, I had no idea where I fit in, literally. I had been shopping in the “big girl” stores for 12 years. I had major anxiety about going into the “normal” sized stores. I thought for sure the sales people would look at me and wonder what that fat girl was doing in here. This didn't happen.
2. You will struggle with your identity.
When you lose a lot of weight you will likely find yourself asking, "Who am I?” You may realize that you now have nothing in common with people you have known forever. It’s OK, it’s called growth; people grow and change and if you aren't able to grow together it might be time to move on.
I had to make some tough decisions after losing weight, I knew that for long-term success I needed to surround myself with like-minded, supportive people. That meant I had to break up with some friends.
3. Eating will never be the same again.
When you are fat, you think people are watching you eat, but they aren’t. When you lose weight, that is when people start watching you eat. It’s weird, but don’t let it freak you out. People do this because they have watched you change and now they want to know how you did it.
I love food and I eat well, 90 percent of the time. I follow a clean diet and I actually eat a LOT more now than I ever did as a fat person. When I’m eating well, people usually ask when I’m going to start eating “normal food” again — which I have come to learn means refined, processed crap food. I just laugh them off. When I do decide to have a treat, people give me weird looks, like "OMG...She’s eating a cookie.”
You can't let their looks or comments bother you. I simply listen and let it roll off of my back. My food choices have absolutely nothing to do with them.
4. You are going to have A LOT of energy.
When you get healthy and lose weight you are going to have a lot of energy. Exercise helps with some of the energy expenditure but you’re also going to need to find a hobby for your brain.
I used to hate mornings, I woke up and felt like I was dragging my ass. Now I’m up at 5 a.m. to go to the gym, because I love the energy rush I get for the entire day. When I don’t get my workout in I actually find I feel sluggish. As for my brain, I am constantly learning. I think it’s important to continually grow and learn for long-term success no matter what your goals are.
5. Mirrors are not scary. Love yourself!
For years, you avoided mirrors, and I'll be honest, you’re still going to find flaws. Changes in the body take time. Embrace the changes that are happening, enjoy the process, and don’t be surprised if other women want to touch your butt.
I was horrified to see how many wrinkles I had, as a fat person I never noticed them, probably because my face was stretched out. My boobs are NOT where I left them years ago — not to worry, that is what Victoria’s Secret is for. I actually do have other women ask to touch my butt. When you go from a 315-pound butt to a perky round butt, people want to know how you did it (for the record — squats, that I how I did it).
Photo courtesy of the author