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!