When you have been overweight for a long time, the thought of actually losing the weight can be terrifying. The discomfort of being overweight is predictable, being on the other side is a completely different life. Admitting this is even harder.
It’s similar to those who have chronic pain and illness. The pain is awful, sometimes unbearable. But the idea of not living in pain on a daily basis is a completely different life. You become accustomed to the pain. It’s predictable in it’s unpredictability. You know you’re going to wake up and go to bed in pain. You know your limitations, you know your abilities. But to wake up and not be in pain – your entire life would change.
With that concept, weight loss involves a grieving process. When you have experienced significant weight loss, your life is very different than it used to be. Your relationship with food is different, so you don’t eat the way you used to. This may mean that you avoid going out as much you used to. Your friends may be very bothered by the fact that you don’t drink as much, or at all. Your family may take it personally that you eat differently than they do. Your clothes don’t fit the same, so you had to get an entirely different wardrobe.
When you’ve lost all of this weight, you feel guilty for missing the way things used to be. Not that you miss carrying around the extra fluff, but you miss the life. I’m here to tell you that you are allowed to miss those times. You’re allowed to grieve about your past life while simultaneously being excited for the new one. Even if those around you don’t understand.
One of the hardest parts for me has been losing my favorite articles of clothing that I wore all of the time that don’t fit anymore. Many people roll their eyes at me when I say this and say, “Well that’s a good problem to have!” And I know where they’re coming from, but it doesn’t change the fact that it sucks. It doesn’t change the fact that every couple of months I have to shell out cash for a whole new wardrobe or try to modify what I do have.
The whole weight loss journey in itself is full of so many ups and downs that don’t include the actual number on the scale. You’re dealing with body dysmorphia – what you see in the mirror doesn’t always match reality. You’re trying to accept that you’re stronger than you used to be, so you’re putting yourself out there and trying new things which happens to be terrifying.
There are also a slew of new issues that you’re dealing with that you never thought you’d have to deal with. When you’re overweight, you don’t get as much attention. When you lose that shield, you feel naked. Losing weight, to me, meant that I was much more vulnerable to male attention, both positive and negative. That still scares me, and it’s a thought that I have to fight every day that I walk into the weight room. It’s realizing that you can no longer use “I’m too fat for that” as an excuse. It’s a completely new journey to embark on that, while beautiful, is uncharted territory.
But more than anything, it’s accepting the fact that your new life will never look like your old one. That could feel like a good thing or a bad thing, but regardless of that, it’s letting go of what your comfortable, predictable life was. While all of this is happening, you’re surrounded by people telling you how much better you look and you feel like you shouldn’t complain. Look at what you’ve done – people are still complaining while you’ve gotten results. You shouldn’t talk about the hard stuff.
But I’m going to ask you for a huge favor: please talk about the hard stuff.
Talk about the grieving process. Talk about the friends you’ve lost. Talk about the people who were around in the beginning but don’t support you anymore because they tell you that you’ve changed. Talk about body dysmorphia. Talk about the anxiety. Talk about the fears you have now that you’ve gone through this journey.
Start changing the narrative. You have no idea the amount of people that you can inspire when you’re open about the struggles you have. The people that have pushed me to get to where I am right now are people that I have never even met. Don’t be afraid to share the hard things. The scary things. The mistakes. When you do, you’re giving people permission to start their journey even when they know it won’t be a perfectly straight line.
I’m so proud of you for taking the steps you’ve taken on your journey. I’m always here cheering you on.
What is something you grieved in your journey that you weren’t expecting to?