A few years ago I lost over 50 pounds though a combination of making healthier eating choices and incorporating exercise into my daily routine. I’ve managed to keep the weight off since that time but I was unprepared for some surprising issues that came with the weight loss.
1. Social Isolation. After you start making an effort to eat well and respect your body it can be difficult to hang out with your friends who eat out regularly and drink until the wee hours of the night. I love having fun and can still party with the best of them but when drinking started interfering with my workouts the next day and the lack of healthy choices on restaurant menus suddenly became more apparent to me I realized I would have to cut back on the time I spent engaging in social activities. To avoid feeling isolated you can seek out ways to meet new people who share the same healthy lifestyle habits you now embrace. Try out some new classes at your gym, begin a yoga practice, or even become a member of an online community.
2. Accusations. Every day at work I bring my own lunch and a few snacks to keep my metabolism revved up. I can confidently say almost every person in our office has made some comment about my eating habits. “Why do you always eat a salad you’re so thin?” Yes, that’s part of the reason why I’m thin. “Oh don’t ask Erica if she wants any of the cake she’ll just say ‘no’ she’s so healthy.” (Well that sucks I was really looking forward to treating myself to a small slice!) Even well-meaning friends can say things that make you feel like you have to justify yourself and your lifestyle to them. Anticipate some negative reactions to your weight loss and understand that most people will not truly try to hurt your feelings but there will be some who may be struggling in their own relationship with food that will want to criticize you.
3. Hyperaware of faults. This was the hardest struggle for me. When I was overweight I saw myself as precisely that, overweight. I didn’t particularly hate my arms or my thighs I was just heavy all over. Once I started losing the weight I suddenly became hyperaware of all of the ‘problem’ areas. My legs and arms started showing definition but my stomach was sluggishly playing catch-up in my body’s fitness race. My self-esteem actually dropped some after the initial high of weight-loss subsided and I was left overanalyzing everything left I needed to ‘fix’. I also had to come to terms with some of the things I’ll never be able to fix (hello stretch marks!). Finally, I had to retrain myself to focus on the amazing progress I had made and realize my main priority is health; having energy throughout my day, eating to nourish and fuel my body and enjoying the tremendous improvements in my mood thanks to proper diet and exercise. If I can look in the mirror in the morning and feel beautiful – what else matters?