I was in the dressing room with my friend the other day as she struggled to wiggle into a pair of jeans.
She sighed in desperation as she released her tight grip on the zipper. "This used to be my size." After returning from the rack with a noticeably larger pair, she voiced her frustration to me through the curtain, "I really need to lose 10 pounds."
For many who struggle with their weight, the dressing room is one of the few places that serves up a blunt reality check. While I understood my friend's frustration and apparent epitome, I wondered to myself—is fitting into a pair of pants, a dress, or even a nice top the only reason people have to lose weight?
While, yes, your weight may influence how you feel about yourself and even how others view you, but body image isn't the only reason you should embark on a weight-loss journey. Sure, getting that bikini body is one thing, but experts often find that dieting with a deadline, like a wedding or beach vacation, often misses the point of weight loss (and results regaining the weight you just lost). For those who are overweight or even obese, losing weight actually carries innumerable benefits beyond looking great in that new dress.
Ultimately, being overweight has a lot of side effects, from little things like back pain to more serious consequences like being more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Besides minimizing these health issues, there are also plenty of little-known benefits that come with a trimmer figure. Read on to discover some insights into how your body and lifestyle can change after shedding some pounds—giving you all the more reason to battle the bulge. And while you're at it, check out these 25 Best Foods for a Toned Body to get started on your svelte new figure!
You'll Stop Counting Sheep
What you may not realize is that your diet can control how easily you fall asleep and how well rested you are upon waking. Often times, people are overweight due to a poor diet centered on foods that digest quickly and leave you hungry often. That means your body constantly searches for high-energy foods as quick fixes, such as fatty and sugary foods, which both have been found to negatively impact your sleep quality. Cutting out these worst foods for sleep will help you ease into dreamland, as will increasing your time spent exercising, which has been shown to help stave off health conditions that hinder sleep: diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression.
You'll Have Less Joint Pain
You know what we're talking about. Being overweight can put some serious strain on your joints—especially your knees. While everyone has to deal with everyday wear and tear on their joints, those who are overweight build up excess stress on these same joints. On top of that, inflammatory factors that are associated with weight gain could contribute to trouble in smaller joints, such as your hands. That's why an anti-inflammatory diet has been shown to help alleviate arthritis symptoms.
You May Get A Raise
Who woulda thunk it? Turns out, your boss may treat you better after you've slimmed down. Obese people, especially women, make about 2.5 percent less than their normal-weight co-workers, according to a study in Health Economics. And another study conducted by University of Florida researchers found that the total swing in salaries between those who are slender or stocky amounts to an astounding $598,425. Think going on a diet might be worth a cool 600 G's?
Or Get Offered Your Dream Job
As unethical as it may seem, studies have found that weight may even negatively impact your chances of getting a job. In a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, researchers found that hiring decisions were impacted negatively when the photo showed a person who was overweight compared to a photo of that same person post weight-loss surgery. Another review in Occupational Medicine & Health Affairs indicated that people with high BMIs are often overlooked for initial job offers, supervisory positions, and promotions compared to their thinner colleagues. Slimming down won't just change your interviewer's or boss' bias, it will also make you more confident—and make interviewing much easier!
You Won't Pull Out Your Hair As Much
Sure, your demanding job can contribute to chronic stress levels, but so too does your diet. Just take a look at these 22 Best and Worst Foods For Stress. Many of the foods that worsen stress levels are the same foods that stifle your weight loss progress, while the foods that alleviate stress are those you'd eat during your slim-down journey. For example, foods high in refined sugar—like soda or ice cream—can increase levels of stress hormones like cortisol. These foods spike your blood sugar, then send it plummeting. As a result, your brain perceives these low blood-glucose levels as a life-threatening situation, it secretes more cortisol to trigger hunger yet again, and in turn, causes you to continue to feel stressed.
You May Say 'See-Ya!' To Seasonal Allergy Suffering
Do the first signs of Spring come with the dread of knowing you'll have to break out the Kleenex and eyedrops? Turns out, your weight may be to blame for some of your symptoms. That's because being overweight puts a strain on the adrenal glands and respiratory system, which may worsen asthma and allergy symptoms. Trimming down could likely mean you'll finally be able to step outside and smell the roses! To help you out even more, check out Eat This, Not That! to Fight Spring Allergies.
Food Will Taste Better
This is something you probably haven't heard before: After dropping your spare tire, your dinner may taste even better. Researchers from Stanford University found that overweight people have less taste sensitivity than their slimmer counterparts, perhaps because their taste buds become dulled with overuse. Another theory speculates that hormonal shifts that take place during weight loss may change the way taste receptors communicate with the brain.
YOUR SEX DRIVE WILL IMPROVE
Leave the bedroom blues behind. As your BMI falls, you'll more easily become aroused. It's all thanks to the rise in testosterone levels that comes with torching away body fat. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, heavier men had T-levels comparable to elderly gents nearly a full decade older. Other studies have found that women with belly fat accumulation have elevated secretions of cortisol, a stress hormone. More cortisol—and thus higher stress levels—was found to interfere with sexual arousal. Besides what's going on with your bod on the inside, losing that muffin top may allow you to feel less self-conscious in the nude, which can increase your desire to get it on as well.
…And You'll Enjoy It More!
A Duke University Medical Center survey of 1,210 people of varying weights found that obese people were 25 times more likely to report dissatisfaction with their time between the sheets than their leaner counterparts. The good news? Shedding a mere 10 percent loss of your body weight was shown to skyrocket sexual satisfaction. So you could even reap the rewards in the bedroom before you've hit your goal weight!
You'll Be A Better Cook
Effective weight loss is often synonymous with home cooked meals. That's because studies have found that frequent home cooks consume an average of 137 fewer calories and 16 fewer grams of sugar every day compared to those who regularly dine out at restaurants. When you're whipping up healthy dishes for most of your meals, you'll start to see your kitchen skill improve. Watch out, Top Chef! To get started, check out our collection of the best weight loss recipes.
You'll Experience Fewer Colds
Successful weight loss usually comes with a lifestyle overhaul—one that includes getting a good night's rest, fueling up with a micronutrient-dense diet high in fresh produce and whole grains, and working up a sweat regularly. According to Harvard Medical School, each of these changes can help to improve your immune system.
Your Memory May Improve
Don't blame a reliance on your cell phone as the reason that you can't remember phone numbers or names anymore. Your wandering mind may also be a result of carrying around extra weight. In one study, women performed better on memory tests after losing weight than they did prior to dropping the pounds. Why? The brain scans revealed that once the women lost weight, there was more activity while they were forming memories and less activity during memory recall, suggesting that lugging around extra L-B's may make it more difficult for the brain to work efficiently. Other studies have found that the main component in soda and other sweetened foods—fructose—disrupts the creation of fresh pathways between brain cells that occurs when we learn or experience something new. Experts have found that cut the sweet stuff from your diet and upping your intake of these omega-3 superfoods during your weight loss can fight this brain drain.
You Won't Constantly Look For Food
While crash dieters often feel hungrier after slimming down thanks to the body's survival response to increase hunger hormones and slow metabolism when it's starved, that isn't the case for everyone. Those who follow extended plans that incorporate healthy foods packed with satiety-boosting nutrients like protein and fiber—like the Zero Belly Diet—often report fewer tummy rumbles. Plus, these healthy diets often cut out quickly-digested foods that spike your blood sugar, alerting your body it's hungry shortly after eating. Check out what else contributes to those cookie cravings in our exclusive story—30 Reasons Why You're Always Hungry.
You Won't Sweat As Much
Does it ever feel like you're in a sauna when it's just 70 degrees? It's because fat insulates the body and raises core temperature, making you feel warmer than those who are slimmer. For the same reason, overweight individuals tend to sweat more. Drop the muffin top and you won't have to walk straight to the bathroom to towel off after walking anywhere.
Your Complexion Will Clear Up
Toss out those creams and serums! If you suffer from skin issues such as psoriasis, eczema, or acne, dropping a few pounds may help your complexion clear up. That's because nutrients found in healthy foods have been proven to possess beautifying benefits—like these 25 Foods That Give You Glowing Skin. (Not to mention, you're also probably eschewing sugar, which is known to break down the amino acids in the proteins that keep skin looking supple and young: collagen and elastin.)
Plus, if you're eating more fiber and probiotics, such as yogurt with live active cultures, you're likely improving your gut health as well. Because our microbiome helps regulate our immune system, its health plays an important role in combating inflammatory skin conditions. Experts believe that administering probiotics can help to reduce patients' levels of inflammatory proteins and alleviate skin condition symptoms.
You'll Gain Confidence
That feeling you experience after you step on the scale and see you're 5 pounds lighter isn't just relief. It's also the confidence in your accomplishment and in knowing you've taken control of your life for the better—and you've got the results to prove it. One Reddit user, superfluous1, who lose 140 pounds came to the realization that he wasn't an inherently lazy person: "I've been overweight for most of my life and it always felt like a moral failing. […] I now realize that being fat makes you lazy. It hurts to walk, to stand, to live—no wonder all I wanted to do was sit down or sleep!" He concludes, "Being lazy didn't make me fat—I was lazy because I was fat." But if you are sluggish, try these 33 Lazy Ways to Flatten Your Belly!
You'll Feel Energized
After dropping the pounds, you may soon notice that you have much more energy. It's not just because you're eating more foods that maintain your energy levels. It's also because when you're lugging around less weight, your body needs less energy to keep you alive.
People Will Be Nicer To You
If it were up to us, it wouldn't be like this. But, truth is, our society often discriminates against overweight people, whether that means they'll garner less attention from healthcare providers or receive more negative comments from peers. (It's scientifically proven!) But, after you've lost weight, you'll start to see things change. People who once ignored you may greet you with a smile or even offer to hold the door for you. "I have lost 120 pounds now, and people treat me so much differently," writes FatSecret message board user girlygirlatheart. User jkessler9508 agrees: "Sad, but true…it seems everyone is nicer to you [after you lose weight.]" Maybe people need to take the edge off with these 11 Best Foods For Stress.
You'll Be More Memorable
Skim through any online message board about weight loss and there's usually a common theme: People found others were noticing them more. "When I first lost weight, guys paid me a lot more attention…After being sort of invisible because of my weight, I found it hard to get used to," writes one user. Someone else adds, "I lost 100 pounds. The most surprising thing to me was that I don't get mistaken for someone else anymore. When you're 300+ pounds, all people see is the fat. [Many people think that] all fat people look alike."
Your General Mood Will Improve
It may be painful at first, but once you start shedding the pounds, exercise will become easier and less of a strain on your body. As a result, you'll reap one of its major benefits besides calorie burn: endorphins! These feel-good hormones that flood your body after a killer spin class will drastically improve your mood and get you hooked on those sweat sessions. Get the most out of pumping iron by fueling up properly. Here are the Best Proteins To Eat Before Every Type of Workout.
Your Wallet Will Be Thicker
Weight gain costs us a lot of money—and we're not just talking about shirts and pants ripped by chafing or popped skirt buttons. Those who clock in at a healthy weight spend an astounding 42 percent less cash on medical bills and health expenses than their overweight peers, according to a Health Affairs report. Sure health care is quite a big dent in your financial future, but also think about all that money you'll save by cooking at home instead of eating out at restaurants, leaving the soda on the shelf, and saying "no" to that third round of booze.
You'll Familiarize Yourself With New Areas
One of the rarely touted benefits of exercise and weight loss is that it gets you out of the house. Taking a walk around your neighborhood, at your local park, or at a nearby trail will lead you to explore more of the world around you.
You'll Get To Eat New Foods
Eating poorly sure gets boring. It's just a bunch of pizza slices, hamburgers, and grilled cheeses. On the other hand, when you're whipping up home cooked meals, you'll learn to try new recipes, familiarize yourself with the grocery store, and even check out the farmer's market! Get your grocery list out and get started by choosing a recipe from our list of the 20 Best-Ever Recipes for Zero Belly.
You'll Try New Activities
With all that extra weight, you may have been limited in what kinds of exercises, activities, or even vacations you could go on. With a trimmer frame, look forward to engaging in outdoor activities you were never able to participate in before like hiking, kayaking, skiing, mountain biking, surfing, or rock climbing. You can even get the whole family involved!
You'll Breathe Better
What a sigh of relief! Slimming down has been shown to improve oxygen efficiency, so you likely won't get as winded going up the stairs or looking after your little ones.
Your Job MaySeem Easier
Having a slimmer bod leads to a smarter brain? Perhaps! According to a study published in the journal Neurology, men who lug around extra pounds have poorer cognitive skills than their trimmer counterparts. Maybe it's because a healthy diet includes some of these Best Foods for Your Brain!
YOU MAY BE ABLE TO TOSS YOUR MEDS
There are well-known long-term benefits of weight loss, but even losing a little weight now can improve your life by alleviating symptoms of current diseases immediately! That means you might be able to take lower doses of your current medications or stop taking certain meds altogether. (Yet another way to save money!) Check in with your doctor and see what types of changes he or she thinks the slimmer you might benefit from.
You'll Snooze Without the Snore
Great for you—and your partner! Two sleep issues, sleep apnea and snoring, are often caused by excess weight around the neck. As a result, both bothersome conditions can vanish alongside a weight loss of just 5 percent! To make the most of your sleep sesh, check out these 30 Things to Do Before Bed to Lose Weight.
Your Cancer Risk Will Decrease
Most people know that smoking and sunning can up your cancer risk, but few people realize that obesity is linked to cancer, too. (Experts believe that the same inflammation that causes weight gain causes DNA-damage and the resulting diseases.) That's the bad news. The good news, however, is that you can decrease levels of inflammation by losing just five percent of your body weight, according to a Cancer Research study of postmenopausal women.
Your Kids Will Eat Better
Monkey see, monkey do! If your child is overweight, your weight loss may benefit them, too. A University of California study found that for every unit decrease in a parent's BMI, their children lose one-quarter of theirs. Don't have kids yet? If you're a woman, losing weight now can also set your kids up for a better future: A study published in Pediatric Research noted that if you have poor gut health going into a pregnancy, your baby might have impaired brain development, and other studies suggest your offspring could be predisposed to obesity. To find out more about which foods can make an impact on your pregnancy, check out the 50 Healthiest Foods For Women.
Your Loved Ones May Lose Weight, Too
Remember this study? Research from the New England Journal of Medicine indicated that when a friend becomes obese, it ups your chance of obesity by 57 percent. Your friendships matter when it comes to weight—in positive ways as well. When those close to you start to witness your success, it may encourage your partner, siblings, family members, or friends to set some better body goals of their own, as well!
You'll Make New Friends
Going at it alone isn't always easy. When you sign up for fitness classes, personal training sessions, cooking classes, or boot camps, you'll more than likely meet people going through a similar journey along the way. Even finding a workout buddy or a coworker to keep you honest is a great strategy for weight loss. Invite someone from your spin class over to make one of these 35 Best-Ever Chicken Recipes for Weight Loss.
You'll Live Longer
You might have already guessed, but a leaner you equates to a decreased risk of disease, and thus, a longer life. We know you don't need much proof, but you might not have to know the extent obesity makes an impact on your lifespan; A meta-analysis of 20 studies, published in PLOS Medicine, discovered that extreme obesity may shorten your life expectancy up to 14 years! Those who are overweight or obese who shed 3 percent of their weight will not only see health benefits but may also extend their life by two years, according to the British National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.