What Happens After You Lose the Weight?

Sometimes I wonder if my blog would be more popular if I had been writing from the beginning of my weight loss journey, instead of starting at the end. Sometimes I wonder if my readers have a hard time relating to what I write about because I think many are just starting out on their own journey. It’s strange, I don’t know that I consider this a “weight loss” blog because I’m not trying to lose weight, and haven’t been for a few years. Instead, this site is about how I’ve kept the weight off, what has worked for me over the years, and also to illustrate that maintenance can be fun. I try to lead by example: continue healthy exercise, count my calories, eat whatever I want in moderation and live my life in a healthy way. My hope is that what I write inspires people to do what they are wanting to do: lose the weight.

So what happens after you lose the weight? Chances are, if you’ve lost a significant amount of weight, your life is very different NOW than it was THEN. Maybe you were a couch potato like me. Now you’re an adrenaline junkie who loves sports. Maybe you were used to eating crap food from a box in massive quantities like me. Now you’re into healthy, whole foods within an acceptable calorie range. Either way, you’re life and mine are very different after losing weight.

I think there are three stages. This is just my own experience and I’d love to hear from others who have reached goal weight.

The Honeymoon Stage

This is the best part about reaching goal weight. We get to feel JOY and satisfaction about reaching a big goal. We worked hard to lose that weight and finally seeing that number on the scale is an amazing feeling. There might be happy tears, cheers, and feelings of accomplishment.

The other part of this stage that is awesome is all the attention. During this period of time, I got so much attention from people: friends, family, coworkers I’d rarely interacted with came up to me and told me how great I look. It was such a nice ego boost. Especially after years of negative self-image and body hatred for being obese. My self-esteem was finally where it should have been all along. I wish it hadn’t taken 100 pounds lost to find that self esteem I should have had, but it definitely helped.

One of my favorite parts of reaching goal weight was the clothes. Sounds silly and shallow, right? Well, for a long time I wore really horrible clothes. I was too big to buy anything cute and 10 years ago, the plus sized options were few and far between. I tried to buy attractive plus sized clothing but in the end it was big jeans and big t-shirts I thought hid my weight problem. Losing 100 pounds opened up a whole new world for me. I was able to buy cute skirts and blouses that accentuated my curves and muscles.  I found that I loved shopping when I used to despise it. It was FUN. I was playing dress-up!

The Frustration Stage

This is the stage where reality sets in. It’s been awhile since reaching goal weight, people are used to the new YOU and as a result, you get less attention. I admit, I missed the attention I got from people because it was such a big ego boost. It always made me feel good when someone complimented my new body. This is where I learned to love my body without outside influence and compliments.

I was also at the weight I was going to be. I no longer got to experience that “oh my god I lost 3 pounds! YAY!” feelings because the scale never changed. (Which is good, don’t get me wrong.)

One of the ways I rewarded myself for losing weight was buying new clothes. I bought a new wardrobe almost monthly as I lost weight. I wasted a lot of money buying new sizes as I lost the weight, but it was still a good feeling being able to go down a size each time you shopped. Once I was at goal weight, I didn’t have to shop often and I kind of missed that reward system I’d set up for myself. It was something to look forward to each month.

The downside to losing a lot of weight: stretch marks and loose skin. Exercise helps that but it doesn’t prevent it or cure it entirely, unfortunately.

Finally, at the end of this stage I accepted that I was at goal weight and didn’t need to lose anymore (even those “last 5 pounds”) and I was faced with the question: What Now?

The Acceptance Stage

This is the stage I’ve been in for years now. It’s the “this is me, I’m starting to forget I was ever that old me” stage. Now, whenever I meet new people they know me as just Lisa. Not “the girl that lost 110 pounds.” Many people in my life now never knew me when I was 250 pounds. I still have a big group of friends that knew the “old me” but when new friends find out I used to be 100 pounds heavier, they are shocked. That’s still weird to me.

The best parts of this stage are the challenges I can do. I train and do things like the Portland Century, the Salem Metric Century, Hood to Coast and even simply going for long hikes. I get to do fun activities that I couldn’t do 100 pounds heavier.

A plus to this stage is that I rarely have to try on clothes. I know my size and I can grab it off the rack and wear it. That’s a really good feeling. And just like in the Honeymoon Stage, I still get to wear cute clothes!

This is the stage I hope to be in for the rest of my life. I’m sure there will be ups and downs but I’m going to do my best to maintain what I’ve lost. As a result, I have to eat less calories than I’d like to (don’t we all??) and I’m working on improving my relationship with food (something I’ll always work on, I suppose).

The real work starts now. Maintenance is sometimes harder than losing the weight. With maintenance, there is no finish line–no goal to work towards. The hard work is in staying on the plan that worked in the first place.

What happened to you after losing the weight?

Do you think there are stages of “after” weight loss? Where are you in that journey? Please share your experiences!

18 Responses

  1. Don’t worry, I’m on a weight loss journey and I can totally relate! Right now I’m at the stage where I’ve lost 100 lbs and my face is definitely getting really pretty and I’m slowly starting to get a figure. (I have about another 90 lbs to go before I’m at “goal”) and I’m starting to get more positive attention. I’ve been asked out a few times at work (how cool is that?!) and every time my mom sees me she flips out about how good I look. I’ve been looking forward to the future and how I’m going to deal with that. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if weight loss is fueled by the goal to look better, to get more compliments or to be healthy!

    I think I wont’ really know until I’m at my goal weight, but for now I have been setting more goals beyond just hitting my weight loss goal. My goal afterwards is running a 5 or 10k, and having children, and to go hiking in the mountains, and maybe even *gasp* trail running! I think it’s important to not let your goals end at a certain weight or size!
    Daphne @ Daphne Alive recently posted..Broke a speed record after a running hiatus!

    1. Congratulations on losing 100 pounds so far! It’s definitely a good feeling to reach a goal, and then get attention for it. I think the positive attention is definitely a motivator, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Whatever POSITIVE method makes us keep going is good in my book.

      And I agree, setting OTHER goals after goal weight is the right way to do it. That’s why I started running. I reached goal weight and was like “What now??” so I started training for a 5k. Good luck on your goals! 🙂

  2. I considered your blog a “maintenance blog” This is my 2nd time around at losing weight. The 1st journey was over 10 years ago. I lost about 10 lbs each month and in 9 months was down 95 pounds. I did it through very strick calories counting, daily food journal and exercise journal, and daily exercise and popping ephedrine tablets 4 each, 3 times daily. My motivation was all wrong psychologically. I kept the weight off for about 3 years before it crept back. Seven years after losing it all, I had gained it all back. So this time I’m taking a different approach. First off ephedrine pills are banned in the U.S. otherwise I might have gone that route again. I don’t count calories, I don’t keep a food journal or an exercise journal. Before I allowed myself sugars and wheat products so long as I kept track of the calories. Not this time. No white sugars, no white flours. I eat mostly meat and veggies, fruit occassionally, about 1 or 2 times per week. I try to get some form of exercise daily for at least 20 minutes. The weight is coming off, though much slower than 10 years ago. I’m fine with that. My motivation is more psychologically healthy this time. I hope to be down at least 52 pounds by the 1 year anniversary of the start of my blog. That would equal an average weight loss of 1 pound per week. I’m about 7 lbs from reaching that goal. My long term goal is to get down another 44 pounds past that to reach goal weight. That will be sometime next year.
    Marc recently posted..Orthorexia nervosa

    1. Thanks, Marc. I appreciate your insight and story. It sounds like you have a healthier approach to the whole process this time around. And while it may be taking longer than it has before, it sounds like you’re doing it the right way and that’s how it is maintainable. It took me nearly 2 years to lose my weight. It was slow at times and frustrating, but because it took so long, I think I appreciate it more and work harder to keep it off. I know how hard it was to lose it and don’t want to do it again!

  3. This is a great post. I am at the acceptance part. I still have a lot of fear of really regaining, though. Even after all this time. For me the challenge is learning to accept the post weight loss body as it is and not perfect, especially pushing my mid 40s.

    One of the reasons I am glad my blog doesn’t really have a weight inspired name because as I have transitioned it to just a blog about my life it works well.
    Lori recently posted..The flooring reveal

    1. It definitely makes me feel better to read that you have similar experiences and feelings as me. I have only a few blogs that are maintenance blogs and I appreciate yours and their insights.

      I consider your blog more a biking blog, sometimes. 😀

  4. Three years ago, I lost 64 pounds. I still had more to go, but I got complacent, and somewhere along the line I lost track of what I was doing. Fast forward 2 years. Add almost all that weight back on again. So now I’m doing it again, am down about 45 pounds now, and this time not planning on ditching everything that has the weight coming off… again. Seriously, losing it twice? Sucks! Not going for a third time! lol
    Deb recently posted..FMM – Winning the Lottery

  5. I am the same way. I lost my 25 pounds before I started blogging so my blog is kind of about my journey to continue living healthy, get used to this new style, and discover my new found love of running.
    At this point I too am in the acceptance stage of this is who I am, but occasionally I forget and still see myself as the person I used to be.
    Abby @ BackAtSquareZero recently posted..Injury Progression and Progress

  6. Had similar stages, although I had my mind firmly made up that with 20 pounds left togo (of the 72 pounds l lost), I was going to study weight maintainers blogs like they were a school subject. And that I was going to work the Refuse to Regain book – 12 Rules to keep the body you’ve earned.

    It was so important to read that there were other long term maintainers out there. Once I realized that I would likely need to eat Primal/paleo to maintain, I studied that subject like I was in school. And I started making plans for different ways to eat and different food templates to experiment with ( I transitioned off a commercial weightless plan that only had one meal that I made and packets from the company- great for loss, but maintnence is a whole other place)

    Once I was right at weight loss to transition, I did a 90 day opt out ( see the Refuse to Regain book) where I fine tuned my primal/paleo style diet while not introducing any of the foods that caused me to gain weight. This strategy was brilliant. No exposure to trigger foods and I learned to identify with the skinny me. I also tried new exercises and times that I ate during the day.

    Is still make assessments on the last 3 months of my daily weight data. ( I use my fitness pal) I’ve learned so darn much by looking at the data, then making decisions on my plans for the next week or two. I’ve become my own “subject matter expert” on my own weight maintnence , with support from others, both in real life and on the blogs.

    This is the longest I’ve ever maintained any weight loss ( 8.75 months, 72 pounds). I’ve been looking for this kind of success 40 years. I’m only 46!!! Your are so right, the excitement and comments fade away. I think that when you expand your life in non weight loss ways , ones that you may not have done or tried being overweight, that’s the real motivation. Living the life I choose , because I can physically and mentally do more things. Keeps me on track.

    Glad your bog was there. The more of us who are maintaining out there is a good thing. Support is key, and collecting up what works for yourself by borrowing from others is so valuable (IMO). The more of us out there , the better off we all are-stronger together. Good post, Lisa.
    Karen P recently posted..Rule 2, step 3- Think strategically

    1. I love that you tackled all of these issues as if you were studying it in school. It’s exactly the way it should be…For me, it was a very lonely road because I didn’t know any people who had lost a lot of weight and kept it off. When I found the blog world I was ecstatic! People like me! The blogs about maintenance are still few and far between but they’ve been so inspiring and helpful. Which ones do you read?

      Congrats on the 72 pounds, too!

  7. It’s so weird to have people in my life that only know me now and have no idea about the “old” me. It’s still something that takes getting used to, and since I’m still in the losing stage, I end up telling most people about that old me anyway.

    I used to be worried about maintenance, but now I’m not too scared of it. The question of “what now” still makes me nervous. My whole life is losing weight, I’m not sure what will happen when I’m done losing…but that’s probably another 6 months away!
    Jodi @ Jodi, Fat or Not recently posted..Two years and counting

    1. Isn’t it a weird feeling having to tell people you lost a significant amount of weight? I don’t tell everyone but sometimes they find out from other people and then ask me about it. It’s always weird!

      As for the “what now” question…when I went through that, I started running. I decided to train for a 5k. The rest is history. 🙂

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