When you lose weight, you change as a person.
You stand a little taller. You wear clothes you wouldn’t have dared to before. You’re more confident, and it shows.
If you lose weight a healthy way – it’s apparent in your physical health too. You may be glowing; you suffer less frequently from the common cold. You can run for the bus and not be panting and out of breath.
These, and a whole host of other reasons are the results and benefits of losing weight. These are the reasons that are commonly discussed in the media, but they’re not the only effects of weight loss.
As someone who has lost a significant amount of weight, I can attest to all of the above. However, although I have benefitted from an increase in confidence and improved physical health and wellbeing, there’s also another side of weight loss that I wasn’t expecting.
I wasn’t expecting to still be as insecure, or to have as low body image as I did before I lost weight. When you lose weight, there’s always the fear at the back of your mind that you might gain it all back. Losing weight is difficult; it requires planning and dedication. It’s not easy; its bloody tough, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying (or is in denial).
This subtle (but constant) fear of essentially “relapsing” (gaining weight back) can be extremely taxing on the mind. Obviously you don’t want all of your hard work to go to down the drain, so you do everything in your power to ensure that it doesn’t.
You eat right and you exercise. You train harder, and you set yourself difficult goals. You say no to the biscuits and sweets, and instead you fill your plate with delicious, nutrient-dense foods. But you also notice the remarks from friends, family and colleagues on what you eat (or the processed foods you don’t eat). You wonder why people have such an issue with you not drinking alcohol. It feels like you’re constantly having to defend your healthy lifestyle. At the same time, you’re scared. You’re scared that if you step off the healthy eating bandwagon, you won’t be able to get back on.
In my own personal circumstance, it was a choice. I had fallen in love with the healthier person I had become. I’d learnt so much about food and nutrition that I was motivated to continue improving my fitness levels. I loved feeling strong after working out, and cutting out the junk.
I’ve always loved food – I plan my days and weekends around what I will be eating or creating in the kitchen. But losing weight has turned my love of food into a preoccupation with it. This preoccupation with food – with “clean eating,” coupled with low self-esteem and body image, is the other, uglier side of weight loss that I have experienced.
This is clearly specific to me, but I just wanted to share as there may be other people who have experienced this ugliness. I don’t know if it ever goes away, but I do have a new goal.
So what is it? I want to be healthy: possessing or enjoying good physical and mental health. I’m looking forward to starting that journey in Melbourne.