44 Surprises That Reveal What It's Really Like to Lose Weight

On the path to losing weight, many people spend a lot of time envisioning the skinny life. They might assume that shedding pounds will be a surefire path to overall health and happiness, and that once they reach that magic number on the scale, they'll slide comfortably into their new skin. Maybe they imagine themselves buying a new wardrobe, finally wearing a bikini at the beach, receiving a clean bill of health following every checkup and enjoying all of the perks and pursuits their excess weight has kept at bay.
In reality, losing a significant amount of weight comes with a few curveballs along the way. For every expected advantage, there might be a handful of "a-ha" moments—some pleasant, some not so much.
  1. "I dropped 40 pounds over the past eight months. A surprising thing was that while people noticed, and their perception of me changed, it wasn't the weight that changed their perception. It was me being happier with myself resonating with them. I'm a happier person now, and that reflects back; people see it, and are happier. It's an amazing thing." Peter Shankman, entrepreneur, author and founder of Help a Reporter Out
  2. “[I was surprised by] how many other people started focusing on fitness after seeing my results.” SparkPeople member STEVE_H_WOW
  3. "My family was used to me being a lot bigger, so seeing me get leaner was a shock to them. I had to assure my cousin that I was in very good health and not sick. Eventually, the comments stopped as they adjusted to the change in me and my weight." SparkPeople member ARCHIMEDESII
  4. "When asking for the size four at a store, I have to stop myself from saying, 'I'm really a size 10 or 12, but have temporarily found myself wearing this instead.’" Patrice Bisogni, Cincinnati, Ohio
  5. "I had a hard time learning my new 'space' in this world. I was used to being heavy and no one remotely looking at me. Plus, I literally took up more space. It took me awhile to adjust to my smaller frame." Fitness trainer Kim Schaper
  6. "I didn't dread going shopping. I've never been a big fan, but it's much easier and more fun when you don't feel awful about trying on clothes.” SparkPeople member OBIESMOM2
  7. "[I was surprised by] how challenging it was in almost every aspect of my life. Everything had to change and I had to stay dedicated to it. Every pound lost was a serious struggle, and it can be upsetting when you work really hard and do not see the results you think you have obtained." SparkPeople member JADIEGIRL1974
  8. "After losing about 40 pounds, I ended up having gallbladder attacks and needed my gallbladder removed. It turns out that it's very common for people (especially females) to have to have this procedure after weight loss." Lisa Huth, Cincinnati, Ohio
  9. "Another surprise is how quickly you can put the weight back on after a significant weight loss. I have come to realize, and this was a surprise for me, that I can never, ever go back to how I once ate. My entire lifestyle is changed forever, which is a good thing." Jessica Johnson, Mt. Airy, North Carolina
  10. "The thing that surprised me the most was that losing the weight didn't change how I felt about myself. I was still nitpicky and harsh to myself, even downright mean, about the way I looked. Learning to accept myself and my body was something I had to actively work at, even though I'd expected it to come naturally as I reached my goal weight." SparkPeople member LADYREDCOMET
  11. "I was surprised that stabilizing my blood glucose could bring about so many health benefits."  SparkPeople member MICHELLEXXXX
  12. "Believe it or not, I resented hearing comments about how great I looked after I lost the weight because it made me feel like I was ugly to them before. Strange but true." Lisa Huth, Cincinnati, Ohio
  13. "More people wanted me to eat bad, especially those who were heavy themselves. I think they felt guilty that I was losing and they were gaining, so it was easier to pull someone down than lift someone up. I changed my friends soon thereafter." Fitness trainer Kim Schaper
  14. "I don't use antacids any more, and rarely take anything for headaches." – SparkPeople member MOMMO77
  15. "The biggest and best surprise is that a lot of my other problems went away when I lost weight and got in shape—no insomnia, no hip pain, better skin. I get sick way less and if I do get a cold, it's milder than most everyone around me." Patrice Bisogni, Cincinnati, Ohio
  16. 15.  "I've lost 100 pounds and have kept the weight off for a little over two years. The thing that surprises me the most is that I still see myself as overweight. When we go to a restaurant and they ask if we want a booth, I always look to see if I'm going to fit. When I slide in with room to spare, it feels amazing!" Amy Deisher, client at Pilates Performance & Rehab
  17. "While I, of course, cannot definitively attribute this to my 80 pounds of weight loss, I no longer require seasonal allergy medication or an inhaler for allergies. I used to have to carry an inhaler in my school backpack as a child and was on allergy pills for most summers. Since dropping the weight, my allergies are down to a minimum and I've not had to take pills in almost a decade!" Running coach Kyle Kranz
  18. "I was surprised by how much business I'd been missing when I was heavier. Since losing a third of my weight, I have a lot more energy and am able to work longer hours and service more clients. I was also missing out on some clients who didn't want to work with a business owner who was 460 pounds." Rodney Fife, Ironrod Media
  19. "Another surprise is the extra skin I now have that is sagging, because I lost a lot of weight, and I cannot afford to have it removed." Jessica Johnson, Mt. Airy, North Carolina
  20. "Before I lost 175 pounds, I always wore slacks and a hooded pullover. I would say, 'Cartoon characters wear the same thing all the time, why can't I?' But now, what fun it is to go shopping! I used to wear a size 5X, and now I can wear a size medium or 8/10. I don't think I've ever felt so confident as I do now." Jan Wilke, client at Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating
  21. "I actually felt a little sad as I homed in on my goal weight, a little like the feeling you get toward the end of an awesome vacation." Tim Blake, strength coach and founder of Super Fit Dads
  22. "The only thing that surprised me was the fact that my wrists got a lot smaller and I could now join my thumb and longest finger around them. I lost roughly an inch off each one. My dietitian said it was because bone is always being replaced, and the big bone was no longer needed." SparkPeople member SLIMMERKIWI
  23. "I've heard this often from clients: 'I was surprised at how much easier it was to walk up the stairs after losing the weight.'" Franklin Antoian, founder of iBodyFit.com
  24. "I struggled with what to think about. Since my thoughts [centered] around food were less consuming, I had to create new habits and thoughts to fill my brain." Fitness trainer Kim Schaper
  25. "Tying my shoes no longer leaves me winded, my bra fits better without rolling up or digging into my shoulders, I can see my feet when I walk down stairs, and I can walk those stairs with a steady stride, not halting to hang onto the railing for dear life." SparkPeople member MOMMO77
  26. "[It surprised me that] I could not only do it, but could help others to do it." SparkPeople member TCANNO
  27. "I have lost 135 pounds. I was surprised about the amount of money saved each month. I save about $100 on medicines I no longer need to take. I also saw a significant decrease in our food budget. I used to eat at fast food restaurants once or twice a day. We now have about $600 more to use for other things." Rodney Fife, Founder of Ironrod Media, Provo, Utah
  28. "I went down a shoe size. Weird, but true!" Heather Kaufman, Cincinnati, Ohio
  29. "[I was surprised by] shorts that fall off when I go to put them on!" – SparkPeople member MOMWANTSNOWAIST
  30. "Getting attention was hard. I wasn't used to having people stare and give me compliments. I had to own my self-worth and confidence—kind of a ‘fake it till you make it’ thing. Just because I had lost weight didn't mean I stopped struggling with insecurities from time to time." Fitness trainer Kim Schaper
  31. "When I dropped 61 pounds in 27 weeks, people were visibly disappointed when I told them that it was nothing more complex than sustained caloric restriction." Tim Blake, strength coach and founder of Super Fit Dads
  32. "As I lost weight, I naturally felt more like walking and moving, so I was burning more calories than usual just because I felt better and felt more like moving around." Jessica Johnson, Mt. Airy, North Carolina
  33. "My BMI has always just been on the high side of normal, but it's amazing how much easier it is do anything with even as little as a five-pound weight loss. Packing less weight gives you so much more energy." SparkPeople member NJMSTAR
  34. "The confidence of feeling good about how you look is apparent to others. It’s not conceited, [but rather] just happy with your look. That can be at any size or weight." SparkPeople member OBIESMOM2
  35. "It's true that when you exercise regularly, you look as if you are 10 years younger—and the reverse is true, too." SparkPeople member MOMWANTSNOWAIST
  36. "Since I've lost at different times 40 pounds, 15 pounds and 30 pounds, I can vouch that keeping it off is very hard. I am always surprised when people say how 'lucky' I am to be fit. It is absolutely the opposite of luck. I literally work my butt off just to hold onto this, and it is a constant battle to eat properly." Patrice Bisogni, Cincinnati, Ohio
  37. "Stress can cause major weight gain. When I started working on dealing with my stress and finding new ways to handle it—like meditation, yoga and deep breathing—I found that I could deal with emotional eating much better." Jessica Johnson, Mt. Airy, North Carolina
  38. "I can sit in a stadium chair at football games without feeling like I'm squeezed into it." SparkPeople member MOMMO77
  39. "It surprises me when people I don't know very well ask me how I did it. Or they say, 'You look so good, you're a pretty girl.' As a morbidly obese person, it's pretty amazing how invisible you are to others. I didn't realize that until I lost the weight." Amy Deisher, client at Pilates Performance & Rehab
  40. "I've lost 134 pounds. So many things have been great, like shopping and being able to find something in my size right away. The one thing that has surprised me most was my obsession with not gaining any weight back. It is a constant worry for me now." Stacy Carter, Cincinnati, Ohio
  41. "Deciding not to go above a certain weight, [coupled with] and daily weigh-ins, made keeping the weight off a cinch, even a year later." Tim Blake, strength coach and founder of Super Fit Dads
  42. "I'm only just over halfway to my goal, but there was a day when I looked in the mirror and realized I could no longer see an obese person looking back at me." SparkPeople member FAITHP44
  43. "One of the surprises was how losing over 100 pounds did not help my blood pressure enough. I still have high blood pressure and am on two medications for it. Also, I have fatty liver disease because of my terrible health for so many years, and it is not much better either. I thought that the weight loss would be a magic cure for these health problems, and although they are better, the fact that I am still dealing with them shows me I need to lose more weight." Jessica Johnson, Mt. Airy, North Carolina
  44. “Here's one I never would have expected! I had to get some blood drawn today. I always used to be a terrible draw—the nurses would explain to me that my veins would ‘dodge’ the needle. They used to stick me repeatedly, then finally give me a heating pad and stress ball to squeeze while I hung out and waited for the heating pad to work. Today I sat down and explained to the nurse how I'm usually pretty difficult. She proceeded to put the bands on my upper arm, tapped my elbow once and said, ‘Nope, I found a nice healthy one right here.’ One and done—no double sticking, no heating pad and no stress ball!” SparkPeople member PBJTIME
What surprises did you encounter upon losing weight?