I’ve never heard someone warn another person about the negatives of losing weight. In our obese-ridden society, doesn’t that just seem preposterous? Maybe not so much, actually. Take Instagram as an example. The birth of the hashtag has brought with it some interesting weekly themes. For instance, #TransformationTuesday, also known as “Let me post this picture as an excuse to show everybody how much skinnier and better looking I am now vs ten years ago.” There’s also #TBT (Throwback Thursday for the hashtag illiterate), or “I’ll post this other picture of me when I used to be overweight so I can reinforce the fact that I am skinny now, in case you missed my #TransformationTuesday.”
The point is, Instagram’s themed posts are not just about losing weight anymore. It’s become a contest for social circles to see who has most successfully blossomed out of their awkward phase. These posts are supposed to serve as inspiration to those who need to make significant, positive changes, by those who have already made strides in the right direction.
On the bright side, #TransformationTuesday and #TBT have glorified making positive body changes now more than ever — initiating people from far and wide to do so. There are plenty of hashtaggers that have ample reason to post before and after pictures, serving as inspiration for the rest of us. Unfortunately, this mainstream “pho-glorification” society places on body transformation, neglects to advise those hoping to implement change of the downsides of losing weight. It’s an issue nobody will understand unless they’ve directly dealt with it, but from personal experience, it’s real. It’s sad. It makes many wish they never lost the weight to begin with.
Your body image is deeply intertwined with your confidence, your idea of self-worth and who you are. When your body image is altered, for better or for worse, it’s easy to lose yourself in who you are and forget who you’re not. Before embarking on what will be the most rewarding journey of your life, it’s just as important to acknowledge the mass benefits, as well as these five caveats.
1. Your perception of your body won’t change overnight.
Now that clothes finally fit better, going to the beach will be an amazing experience at last and all of the girls/guys that never gave you the time of day are now expected to fall at your feet, right? In theory, yes, but it’s one of those times where you think, “I saw that going much differently in my head.” People tend to associate negativity in their lives with being overweight. Once that issue is corrected and all of the sudden everything isn’t honky dory, people don’t understand that body image is the last aspect to change in the process of losing weight. It’s a similar concept to those who feel pain or tingling sensations after they have lost a limb — overweight people still feel they take up more space. After losing weight, your mind can play tricks on you, causing a skewed self-representation of your body.
2. There will likely be excess skin.
If you’ve lost a certain amount of weight, you’re likely to be faced with a very real physical reminder of its disappearance: sagging, stretch-marked skin. Unfortunately, there really are not any lifestyle measures to be taken to prevent excess skin. “How loose your skin gets after losing weight depends on several factors: how much weight you’ve lost, how old you were when you lost the weight, how many times you’ve lost and gained the weight back, and how quickly you lost it (the faster you lose it, the less time your skin has to tighten naturally),” Women’s Health magazine reported. Excess skin can act as a constant reminder of one’s past, morphing one body issue into another. A viable solution is surgery, though it’s expensive and is not generally covered by insurance.
3. Some relationships might change.
Maybe your favorite new boot camp conflicts with your old favorite TV show, which you always watched religiously with a friend over snacks. Maybe your wife feels like your new veggie-heavy dinners are silently nagging her to make changes. As your habits become healthier, you might find you have less (or more!) in common with certain people around you.
While new relationships forged at the gym or in the office weight-loss group can be extraordinarily motivating and empowering, research suggests older relationships, particularly romantic ones, may suffer if one person loses weight and the other does not. One study even found a higher divorce rate among people who undergo weight-loss surgery. Weight may serve as a sort of equilibrium in a relationship. For example, he theorizes, a partner may feel more confident speaking up against the other after losing weight or more anxious about the other leaving the relationship after losing weight. Siblings may even feel more rivalry after one loses weight. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a negative, however. Utilizing a newfound sense of confidence can act as a positive catalyst promoting advancement at work, in social situations, and in interaction with the opposite sex. Be weary of how body changes affect existing relationships and how you use those changes to foster new ones.
4. Your new wardrobe might cost a pretty penny.
Progress in a weight-loss journey is defined by how clothes begin to fit. It’s both a blessing and a curse because the bigger the clothes get, the closer you get to your goal, but once you get there, you’ll have to spend a killing on new duds. You’ll have to rethink the way you wear every piece of clothing. Your shirts will have a different neck to arm-girth ratio, your pants will drop five waist sizes but only two leg widths, and your watches will need new bands because you won’t be using the last possible hole anymore.
Revamping your wardrobe can be one of the most exciting parts of a new transformation. It’s the time to express yourself as the person you’ve always wanted to be. Careful not to jump the gun with this, though. Shelling out a ton of cash before you’ve lost all your weight can be a gigantic waste. Instead, purchase items that aren’t completely dependent on a size, such as jewelry or hair products, to reward yourself until you’re absolutely positive you’ve reached your goal weight.
5. Others may think they’re being supportive…
You’re probably going to encounter some people who notice you’re going through some changes. Many of those people will be perfectly supportive, compassionate and encouraging. Some may not. From unsolicited advice to guilt-inducing food pushing, not all of their attention will be welcome.
In fact, even the simple “You look great!” can feel straight-up awkward. For starters, being told how wonderful you currently look may make you question what those commenters thought of you previously. In some cases, focusing solely on the physical may be triggering to some people with difficult relationships to eating, weight loss or exercise.
No matter what other people say or do, the newfound you should be one filled with confidence, pride, and a better understanding of yourself. Don’t let the improved you change who you are, only the way you carry yourself. Use your knowledge and experience to empower others, help them to overcome issues with losing weight and inspire them to reach a point of internal happiness. Only then is the official transformation complete. And remember, “Back then hoes didn’t want me, now I am hot, hoes all on me.” Thanks, Mike Jones. You serve as a true inspiration to all of us.