What it’s really like to lose a lot of weight: The good and the bad
I’m celebrating the tenth anniversary of my weight loss and healthy living transformation. Up until then, my weight was constantly up and down, by as much as 100 pounds. I yo-yo dieted and had trouble sticking with exercise. But finally, all that changed. And today, I’m a Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor, helping others in their own journeys.
Losing weight and getting fit isn’t easy, or none of us would have a weight problem. It takes dedication, perseverance, and work. But I started small, kept going, and so can you.
There was so much more to this transformation than just the scale. I emerged from this experience as a whole new me.
I wish I could have had a glimpse into the future to see what life would be like after the transformation. That’s what this story is about. Here’s the truth about what it’s like when you’ve lost a lot of weight.
The best parts of losing a large amount of weight
I feel so much better, physically. I no longer have indigestion, sore knees, stiffness, swelling and other issues I used to. I have a lot more energy. Because I feel better, literally everything and everyone in my life benefits because I have more to give.
I feel so much better, mentally and emotionally. An interesting thing happened. As I grew stronger physically, I grew stronger emotionally. I’d never before realized that we have a powerful mind-body connection. It’s amazing the difference that daily exercise and a healthy diet makes on your emotional wellbeing. Research has proven how good it is for your brain health. This was one of the biggest surprises of my weight loss transformation!
It’s easy to shop. Imagine walking into a clothing store – and everything fits and looks good! I used to dread shopping because I’d have to try on countless outfit after outfit to find something that worked and that I felt was flattering. I never really liked myself in most clothes I tried on, and often they weren’t comfortable either. Now, pretty much everything looks and feels great.
I look better. In terms of being a size, I’d rather be, sure — I’m much happier with the way I look now than when I was overweight. Absolutely. But it’s more than just that. Good nutrition and exercise made my skin and hair healthier, too. It gives you a glow from the inside out. I look and feel younger than before. Aging backward? Sure, I’ll take that!
I’m stronger. Ladies, you won’t get bulky by working with weights! Strength work has definitely benefitted my everyday life. One small example: I used to struggle with putting a case of water bottles in the grocery cart at the store, and someone else would have to bring them into the house. No longer. As a woman, feeling stronger is empowering.
I have more confidence. When you feel strong and fit, you carry yourself in an entirely different way. I used to shy away from opportunities that I don’t anymore.
I have a feeling of accomplishment from overcoming what felt like the biggest personal burden of my life – constant patterns of yo-yo dieting and a large weight gain, and the crushing defeat of feeling helpless to overcome it. Finally ridding myself of that intense, secret emotional and physical burden felt amazing and still does.
I no longer binge eat. Friends, that feels like true freedom. I suffered silently for years from disordered eating that started in adolescence, not realizing that that’s what was going on.
I no longer avoid mirrors, cameras, and social situations. I can’t emphasize enough how fitness and having more confidence has changed my outlook and quality of life for the better.
“Today I enjoy being able to do activities I never used to do – like hiking with my family at our beautiful state parks.”
I no longer feel awkward and unathletic. I grew up feeling that way and it carried into adulthood until I started exercising 10 years ago. Maybe I was the last one chosen for the team in gym class, but that wouldn’t be the case today. Now I’m doing things I never thought I could. I cried when I finished my first 5K. For me, it represented how far I’d come.
My self-worth is no longer tied to a scale. I used to dread going to the doctor for one reason – I didn’t want to get weighed. I know I’m not alone in feeling that way.
I learned to like me and to make myself more of a priority. As women, as parents, so often we put everyone else first. But by taking care of ourselves, we are better able to care for those depending on us.
Disease prevention and lower health care costs. I like knowing that I’m doing all I can to care for my body and to help my future self. Obesity and inactivity are linked to an increased risk for many serious diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, arthritis and more.
I am proud to inspire and help others. I’ve learned so much on my journey, both personally and professionally, and being able to pass it on is incredibly rewarding. But you don’t have to be a fitness professional to be a positive influence on those around you. Just by setting a good example by exercising and taking better care of yourself, you are inspiring others to do the same. You’ll be surprised.
The downside: Realities of losing a large amount of weight
I want to be clear that for those of us with obesity the upside of losing weight far outweighs any downside. For that reason, I almost hate to call these downsides. But in the name of keeping it real, I don’t want to gloss over the fact that some things in your life to change when you’ve lost a lot of weight.
Loose skin and stretch marks. People who lose a lot of weight have loose skin and stretch marks. Some people opt to have a tummy tuck or other skin removal procedures. Or, like me, you just live with it, as this is an expensive elective surgery. For people who lose very large amounts of weight however, such as bariatric patients, there is loose skin throughout the body and it is heavy, uncomfortable, chaffing, and in the way – and skin removal surgery is necessary for quality of life.
You’re on maintenance forever. The weight will come back if you’re not vigilant. But if you’ve made healthy eating and exercise a lifestyle and not just a diet, you shouldn’t have a problem keeping it off.
Some people may not be supportive. There may be someone who doesn’t support your healthy lifestyle change, and especially not an increase in your self-worth. Some may not be encouraging, or may even try to sabotage you. They may feel jealous or threatened, consciously or not, by your self-improvement. Realize that this behavior is about them, and not you. Distance yourself from negativity and instead surround yourself with people who want the best for you.
You can’t rely on food as an emotional crutch anymore. As a former binge eater and emotional eater, this is a big change from how I used to be. Learning to cope with stress through healthier means, such as exercise and other activities, was healing for me. If you are struggling with emotional eating, consider reaching out to a qualified therapist for assistance in overcoming it.
You’ll have to resist boredom and getting in a rut with your routine and diet. And you’ll need to keep challenging yourself with exercise. I came to love exercise and how it makes me feel, both physically and emotionally. Adding variety and trying new things helps keep boredom at bay.
Inside, you may still feel like a “fat” person. It can be hard to emotionally adjust to the change, to see yourself as you really are, when for most of your life you were used to thinking of yourself as an overweight person and acting as such.
Losing the weight doesn’t make your life perfect if you were thinking that it would. I bring this up because that’s how I actually used to think when I was younger. Life may not have suddenly turned problem-free with the weight loss, but it’s definitely a whole lot better than it was. I feel great and I’m healthier and happier now. Thanks to fitness and nutrition, I’m better able to handle stress. I’ll take life as the new me over the old me, hands down!
Just do it
If you’re on the fence about finally making yourself a priority and taking better care of yourself, just do it. I’m not saying it’s always going to be easy. But I’m telling you that it’s 100% worth it.
For more on this topic, grab a copy of my free eBook, “6 Secrets to Winning at Exercise (Even if You’ve Always Failed!). https://michellerogers.fitness/get-free-copy-new-ebook