When you embark on a journey to create a healthier you, many people mistakenly believe that weight loss will look or feel a certain way; that it will yield a certain result. People are wrong… a weight loss journey is going to look and feel different for everyone, BUT there are certain truths that seem to apply across the board.
1. Losing weight won’t “solve” your problems; whatever you struggled with before will be exactly what you struggle with later. This is true in every way. People believe that weight loss is a magic pill to make your life perfect – it isn’t. I might even go as far as to tell you NOT to focus on weight loss but to focus on your emotional growth from the inside out.
2. There is no “before and after” there is just a continued journey. The statistics are solid and undeniable – diets don’t work in the long term. Adjust your way of thinking to a long-term approach to health instead of a race to hit a target number on a scale. Understand that, throughout your life your body WILL fluctuate, and this is not a reflection of your worth as a human being. You MUST allow for ebb and flow
3. Hello, body parts! Ok, not to be too crass here, but if you have been very heavy, weight loss might allow you to become familiar with some of your body parts once again. Woohoo! You may “see” your stuff, be able to reach things and touch things that you couldn’t get to easily before. It’s pretty awesome!
4. Loose skin happens. Nobody likes talking about this, but it’s a totally natural fact. For many people, weight loss will bring loose skin, especially in your midsection, thighs, and arms. While it can be discouraging, focus on the joy that you feel with your increased mobility and strength. For me, personally, I find myself saying “Yup, your breasts were a lot bigger and fuller before, but what good is it if I can do things and have fun with this body and these breasts if I’m in so much pain?”
5. Your social life may change. This is another truth that can be hard to work with. When you adjust your life, your new patterns, thoughts, beliefs, activities, and hobbies may not be congruent with the people currently in your life. That is ok! Give your friends and loved ones space to have their journey and allow yourself to bring new people into your life with shared interests. You will make new friends, fall away from others, and everything in between.
6. Sex may get more pleasurable! Ok, let’s get real here. Sex is about geometry, right? The way your body fits together with your partner. When your body changes shape, it will puzzle-piece differently with your partner. You may find that you are able to connect more closely now, have more stamina, and be able to get into positions you were unable to before.
7. People may judge what you do, or don’t, eat. People love to feel like they belong to a group and that there is safety in that group – some people may scoff when they observe you abstaining from drinking or eating certain things that others are drinking and eating. Do you! Don’t feel pressure. Understand that others judgment is not a reflection of you.
8. You may not recognize yourself… For people who undergo larger transformations, it may be totally plausible to look in the mirror and not recognize yourself at all. You may feel confused by your body, have no idea what size you really are, or see yourself heavier than you actually are. Cut yourself some slack, it’s ok… Take time to get to know and honor and process and love your body exactly as it is. Do yoga. Stretch. Do Tai Chi. Look at yourself naked. Strength train. Meditate. Give yourself the grace to get familiar with your body and understand that it may take time!!
Next we spoke with Sarah Martin del Campo, M.D., M.S, bariatric surgeon at Swedish Medical Group in Seattle, WA. Here is what she had to say on the topic of changes that can happen along your weight loss journey:
As Sarah has aptly stated, everyone’s weight loss journey can be vastly different, but I applaud Sarah’s candidness in voicing some of the surprises (both the good and the bad!) that come along for most. As you continue along your weight loss process, changes take place not only in your body, but also in the world around you. You may both look and feel different. Your confidence may increase, and relationships may change. That’s not to say that all your life problems will be solved or that new ones won’t develop, but taking these eight suggestions into consideration may help to better prepare yourself for what may come.
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.