What Losing Weight Will Change - And What It Won't
Friday, July 26, 2013
When I was 268 pounds, I thought all I needed was to lose weight. My life would be perfect then - I would be skinny and happy. What more did a person need?
But being 100+ pounds lighter, I realize that there are things that losing weight can change and things it can't.
Losing Weight CAN Change:
1. Your weight. Duh.
2. Your health. If you are overweight or obese like I was, losing weight can get you out of the redline zone for health problems (but...).
3. Your size. Another no brainer. I went from being a 18/20 (probably larger) to a size 10.
Losing Weight Will NOT Change:
1. Your happiness. Don't get me wrong - I am VERY happy to have lost this weight. But I wasn't a depressed, miserable person when I was 268 pounds and then when I lost the weight, suddenly I was happy all the time. Furthermore, I still have days as 162 pounds where I am sad, or lonely, or gloomy, or grumpy.
2. Your relationship status. I was single when I was 268 pounds - and I'm still single. Both times, I wasn't looking or desiring a relationship. Since I've still got life to live, maybe that will change in the next few years, but losing weight didn't land a man in my lap.
3. Your health. Some health problems are weight-related - and others aren't. Losing weight can alleviate or get rid of certain problems, but genetics (goodie goodie!) also plays a huge role. For instance, I have psoriasis; while weight loss has made it maybe a little better, I will always have psoriasis, no matter how much the scale says. (Yeah, a silly example, but it's true!)
4. Your eating habits. Once upon a time, I lost 25+ pounds on Weight Watchers. And then I fell off the wagon and went back to my old eating habits, which had me at the wonderful weight of 268 pounds. The problem was, when I lost the weight, I never integrated the eating habits and skills on WW into my life, so I resorted to my old, nasty habits. Losing weight in an of itself doesn't change how you want to eat - you need to relearn how to eat.
5. Your job. My job hasn't changed in the time I've lost weight. Some days are really, super stressful. And other days aren't. Now, sometimes I've heard that head hunters choose job candidates on weight, so in that case, maybe losing weight will help you get a job. But losing weight isn't going to suddenly change your job into something wonderful if you found it mundane or enjoyable if you found it frustrating.
6. Your body image. I think actually being heavy helped me learn one lesson that has been invaluable to me as a lighter girl: love your body for what it is. Even with me being 100+ pounds lighter, I know I have flabby arms, a jiggly belly, a toothy grin, and stretch marks. And I accept those parts about me. I am not losing weight to look like Heidi Klum or Jennifer Aniston - I am losing weight to be healthy and live a great life. If I am a size 2 when that happens or a size 10, it doesn't matter. If I have amazing legs and arms that can benchpress my weight or if I just do my 3X exercise sessions at the gym, it doesn't matter. I didn't get this healthy body image miraculously when I starting losing weight.
Losing weight in and of itself is a PHYSICAL, EXTERNAL change. And that's really ALL it can change. It can't make life better. It won't get you a boyfriend. It won't impart the skills necessary to keep you at a healthy weight, and it won't automatically make that miserable job into the Dream Job.
I think it really comes down to WHY are you losing weight. Are you losing weight because you think you are ugly at the size you are - or do you want a healthy life? Are you losing weight because you want to look like a celebrity - or do you have a health condition you want to improve? Are you losing weight because of the EXTERNAL change ("My body is ugly") or the INTERNAL change ("I want to be healthy, inside and out")?
The act of losing weight can't make life better, but the skills you learn leading to a healthy life CAN. Learning to make better food choices will help you lose weight - and KEEP it off. Learning that YOU ARE AMAZING can make you happier. Learning that your body is BEAUTIFUL just the way it is makes you more content with the body you've been given (and there are always going to be parts of our bodies that society says are "ugly" that we are stuck with). Realizing you deserve a better job, a better significant other, a better outlook on life is part of choosing a healthy lifestyle, and it CAN make life better in ways that simply "losing weight" cannot.
There is no miracle weight-loss pill, and I'm glad. I'd much rather be healthy inside and out than take a pill to wake up to a miraculously skinny body - a body I was unhappy with because of its so-called "flaws", a body I had no idea how to care for because I never learned proper eating habits.