Your life will be PERFECT when you drop a ton of weight, right? It’s life changing! Yes, it does change your life in a lot of ways but there are downsides to losing weight that are rarely talked about.
We’re more familiar with the warnings that your life WON’T necessarily be all “fixed” after a significant weight loss. A lot of this comes from the biased assumption that you made yourself fat for some particular reason and there’s something wrong with you that will still be wrong at a lower weight. First of all, there was nothing wrong with you to begin with. You would just be healthier at a lower weight. Your health is what gets “fixed” and that does happen to come with a lot of benefits. Being overweight can make you feel pretty bad. A biased assumption is that we “make” ourselves fat out of self-loathing and depression. I believe that weight is its own stressor and we may become depressed from the effects of being overweight. You can feel physically limited, you can experience anxiety that your health is not good or it’s going to turn bad. It can bring a lot of worry into your life especially that nagging feeling that you have to “do something” about your weight. But consider this. Eating better quality food will make you feel good every day, getting regular exercise releases a lot of stress and lifts your mood overall, and being physically lighter just plain feels better. When you bring that into your life, ENJOY THE HELL OUT OF IT and don’t bother with anybody who keeps telling you that you have to “work on your issues” or nothing else matters. Because here’s what really does matter. We all deal with something. And we all eat for emotional reasons, that’s part of being human. But we put on weight for a myriad of complex reasons and over time, the weight takes over. The anxiety and worry and diet mentality can begin to dominate your life. Moving away from that takes weight off your shoulders and your mind. You just might become more popular and nice to be around because you release a lot of worry. And that baggage we all have? You might think about it in a different way if weight and worry about weight stop taking up so much space in your head. So just go with it. Being fat was never “proof” that you were weak and broken.
The people in your life? Now there’s another story. Here’s the deal. The people you meet AFTER you lose lots of weight will treat you differently than you may have been used to. They don’t know the “old” you. Again, just go with it. Don’t be so quick to announce to everyone you meet that you “used to be fat.” You run the risk of being permanently associated with who you “used” to be instead of who you ARE. Trust me on this. You’re going to find it’s part of moving on from the past. The one pitfall is if you discover that some new friend has biased attitudes against fat people. You’re in a great position to set them straight. And I’d advise that you do it without revealing that you used to be fat. You can put them in their place more effectively if they don’t think you’re just trying to defend yourself. Go ahead. Make them feel like the most ignorant, hate-filled fat shamer on the planet and you enjoy every second of it.
Friends, family, and co-workers are another matter. I recently read a HuffPo article by a woman who was whining about how much people were insulting and offending her by what they were saying after she lost 80 lbs. She needs to get over it. I’ve always said losing a lot of weight in our culture is like winning the lottery. People are going to be all excited for you and what they’ll say will be reflective of their own biases, their insecurities and vulnerabilities, and yes, what they would fantasize for themselves if their lives took a major change. So reduce the stress on yourself and don’t try to make it a teachable moment for everybody. You’ll encounter certain types.
There are the Gushers. They’re so happy for you, it’s all so exciting! They’re not thinking that you existed in some pit of gloom before. It will seem like an ass-backwards compliment as if they thought you used to be really ugly but honestly, they’re not thinking that. Don’t stress the political correctness. They’re just happy for you now so thank them and tell them you FEEL great and you FEEL HEALTHY. They might make your weight all they talk to you about so get control of the situation and change the subject.
The Judgers will look at everything you’re doing. They’ll ask why you’re not dressing a certain way or why you’re eating what you’re eating or why aren’t you taking advantage of doing certain things they think you “couldn’t” do before. The Judgers may be with you the rest of your life, always quick to remind you that you could “get fat again if you eat that.” What you say to them will depend on who they are. If it’s someone you can be firm with, make it clear you don’t need it. You’ll make your own choices, end of discussion, thanks very much. If it’s someone who will require more tact, do your best. Just don’t put up with it. This one can be very serious. You might lose relationships over it.
The Entourage thinks you’re in the spotlight and they want to share the glow. They will announce your new claim to fame to anyone and everyone. This is bound to happen to you. All you can do is take them aside and explain that it’s your business who you tell and no, it doesn’t matter how proud they are of you. It’s not theirs to go around talking about. Make it clear this extends to also talking about you behind your back. Yes, this can be really unpleasant.
The Fans want to know how you did it. They think you have a secret. Tell them the truth. They’ll quickly lose interest.
The Shamed are embarrassed for themselves to be around you. These will be people who struggle with their weight themselves. They may think you will judge them or their own insecurities will simply make them too uncomfortable. If you notice someone starts avoiding you, do what you can to make time for them and say NOTHING about your weight or food or exercise or anything. If they want to ask questions, give them honest answers and be really kind. Hugs are good.
And finally, a huge piece of advice. Don’t believe your own hype. You may feel really incredible but keep yourself in check. Where you used to stand out as the fattie in the room, now you blend in with the crowd. Your manner probably will change in some ways and you will feel happy and excited for yourself. Keep yourself grounded. Please don’t become an evangelist and really, really don’t flood your Facebook page with inspirational quotes. When the newness of it starts to wear off, you’ll realize working to maintain a significant weight loss is going to humble you pretty damn quick.
Come here, gimme a hug.