At the end of every weight loss show, contestants parade across a television studio stage in form-fitting, trendy clothes that show off their new trim figures. However, it's always their newfound sense of confidence and a larger-than-life smile that sticks with viewers long after the last commercial airs. It's incredibly inspiring for many people, which is undoubtedly a good thing because viewers are left with a sense of motivation to improve their lives as well.
But as anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight knows, not everything changes. The things that do change? All those little things you never thought much about—like your seasonal allergies and your tolerance to cold weather. While it's different for everyone, these are—generally speaking—the things only formerly-overweight people know.
You May Still Feel Overweight
Even though you know you've shrunk, it may take awhile for your mind to catch up to your body. For example, it may take some time to get used to clicking through hangers marked size 6 or 8 instead of 16—and that's fine. To start seeing things a bit more clearly (and gain the confidence that comes with your major accomplishment), set aside a few minutes each day and stand in front of the mirror in your underwear. Take note of areas of your body that have transformed the most and give yourself a pat on the back. It may even help to do this exercise with a "before" photo in hand. Seeing how far you've come can help you view yourself more realistically.
You Have No Idea What to Wear
Some people who are overweight have trouble shopping for clothing because nothing fits quite right. Others wind up buying whatever fits, even if it's not really their style. Unfortunately, as you likely have realized, things may not get easier once you've slimmed down—the challenge may just be a bit different. If you've shopped at plus sized or "big and tall" stores for most of your life, for example, it's understandable if you may feel like a fish out of water in the "skinny stores." It's also normal to be unsure what will best complement your new flat belly and feel overwhelmed by the cost of outfitting your new bod. Ask a fashionable friend to help you identify what might best complement your new figure. Even if you can't see yourself as "trim," others can—so don't be afraid to seek out a shopping buddy.
You Still Have to Watch What You Eat
Congrats, rock star! The scale is finally showing your goal weight! You know you deserve that giant cheat meal, and yet you also know you still have to watch what you eat. If you don't, the pounds will start creeping back on. And not only that, you may actually have to eat less than you did when you were losing weight to maintain your weight loss. Why? Well, your body needs less fuel at its new weight. Maintain your new figure with the help of these 20 Ways to Lose Weight Forever.
You May Be Super Horny
Nope, it's not just your imagination. As your BMI dips, you're more easily aroused—and it's all thanks to rising testosterone levels. In one Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism study, heavier men had T-levels comparable to gents nearly a full decade older. You may also feel less self-conscious in the nude, which can increase your desire to get it on, too.
Eat This! Tip Before hopping into bed, be sure to check out these 30 Best Proteins for Your Penis!
You Need Warmer Clothes
When you trim down—even just 10 percent of your body weight—your thyroid hormone levels can dip, which can make you feel chilly more often than not, says the director of the Weight Control Center at Columbia University Medical Center Judith Korner. Buy a few new cardigans and sweaters to keep handy. Stash one in a desk drawer, keep one in your car, and a stash a sweat-wicking option in your gym bag.
You Stop Snoring
See ya, Snorezilla! Sleep apnea and snoring—both of which can be caused by excess weight around the neck—can vanish with a weight loss of just 5 percent. And to make the most of your nightly slumber, check out these 30 Things to Do 30 Minutes Before Bed to Lose Weight.
Being Active May Still Be Painful
When you're carrying around extra pounds, it's not uncommon for your joints to be in a great deal of pain. For this reason, once the weight starts to peel off, exercise will likely start to feel more like fun and less like a chore. However, if you were extremely overweight or immobile for many years due to your obesity, this may not be the case. Some folks need physical therapy to build up their muscle and skeletal systems that were damaged from the extra weight before diving into a fitness program. The good news? Once your body is ready to take on the challenge of a formal workout, you'll be about to enjoy all the health benefits and feel-good endorphins.
You'll Have Fewer Allergies
Being overweight can sometimes put a strain on the adrenal glands and respiratory system, exacerbating asthma and allergy symptoms. Now that you're trimmer, you may be able to ditch your inhaler and cut back on the seasonal pill popping. But don't change your medication routine without speaking with your M.D. first!
Your Relationship with Food May Still Be Strained
After alcoholics become sober, they don't celebrate their accomplishment with a bottle of wine. The same "no turning back" mentality should hold true for anyone who's recently hit their goal weight. Many people who are overweight became that way because of their relationship with food. Some people turn to food when they're sad while others reach for the chips and ice cream when they're stressed—and this won't change just because you've shrunk from a size 14 to a 4. In order to maintain your weight loss and newfound flat belly, you must get to the root of your food addiction and try to mend your relationship with food. It may take some inner soul searching and effort each and every day, but the long-lasting results will be well worth it.
People Still Criticize You About Your Weight
But now they'll tell you you're too skinny. As you may have already discovered along your weight loss journey, when it comes to diet, exercise, and weight loss, everyone has an opinion. You'll likely find that your friends and family will say things like, "I could never" and "I don't know how you did it that way," or even "You're way too skinny now." Shake it off. People's opinions are often a reflection of their own self worth; don't let it change your opinions or alter how you feel about your new trimmer figure.
YOUR TOLERANCE PLUMMETS
When Reddit user Digbybare asked fellow "formerly obese Redditors" to share their "most surprising/unexpected change after losing weight" she received over 3,257 comments! And you can bet we dug through a fair share of them for some insight! In response to the query, MattressCrane writes: "I'm about 50 pounds down since this October, and I notice that any time I drink, I get considerably drunk from unexpectedly small quantities of alcohol. No more nine beers to get buzzed for me. Just another perk, I guess." Fewer calories and fewer dollars spent—definitely a win! Want to learn more about better-for-you booze options? Check out our exclusive guide Eat This, Not That! for Drinkers.
You Still May Not "Get The Girl"
While some dieters report gaining more attention from the opposite sex after losing weight, that doesn't mean you'll fare any better in the game of love. In fact, some dieters report experiencing the stigma of obesity even after they've lost weight—and it's not just their imagination. One study published in the journal Sociological Inquiry found that people said they would hesitate to form a romantic relationship with someone who used to be overweight. Why? They're fearful the formerly obese person would regain the weight. But don't let that stop you from putting yourself out there and telling potential suitors about your amazing accomplishment! If they shy away from you because you used to be overweight, that's probably not a person you want in your support system anyway.
You May Be Able to Toss Your Meds
You already know that reaching a healthy weight can ward off things like heart disease and diabetes, but did you know that losing weight can also help improve the symptoms of your current conditions? That means you might be able to take lower doses of your current medications or stop taking certain meds altogether. Check in with your M.D. and see what types of changes he or she thinks the slimmer you might benefit from. And for more ways to save money and slim down, check out these 17 Simple Swaps That Save $255 a Month on Groceries.
You May Not Have More Confidence
"I haven't spoken to a single person who lost a ton of weight and didn't have some issues with their body image after it was done," says John Janetzko, a Harvard grad student who has lost 120 pounds. "And I'm pretty sure if you asked them at the beginning, they all thought that it would just be magic and that they would feel better automatically when they lost the weight." Despite weighing 166 pounds, Janetzko says he still doesn't feel thin. For some, this feeling stems from the fact that they've lost so much weight and yet still don't have a body that meets society's high standards of beauty. For others, a lack of confidence stems from ill feelings about excess, hanging skin and stretch marks. "I think [formerly overweight people] can be particularly self-conscious about this issue and be worried about the first time the partner sees them undressed," David Sarwer, a psychology professor and the director of clinical services at the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders at the Perelman School Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania told NPR.
If You Were Depressed Before, That May Not Change
Many people equate weight loss with happiness, but that's not always the case; it's not a cure-all. To improve your happiness, you'll need to address any underlying emotional issues—whether they contributed to your initial weight gain or not. Seek professional help if you feel you need it and read over these 30 Ways to Be Happier This Year for some supplemental smile-enhancing tips!
You're Still You
Even when you're half the size of your former self, you're still you; your entire life isn't going to change overnight—and you're setting yourself up for disappointment if you think that it will.
"Many people attribute their unhappiness to the fact that they are overweight, but the reality is even with the weight comes off, you're still you," says Alissa Rumsey, Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Others spend most of their lives trying to lose weight so once they achieve their goal, they often find themselves wondering, 'Is this it?'" So many things remain unchanged. Geneen Roth, who lost about 65 pounds in her late twenties, agrees: "It's a fantasy. We think that when we lose weight, everything wrong in our lives is going to be right—that means our relationships are going to be right, we're going to feel completely differently about ourselves. People are shocked to find out that this thing that they've been longing for and waiting for and working for is not what they thought it was. They find that 'Oh, this doesn't do what I thought it was going to do, and now I feel ashamed that I'm still unhappy.'"
Food Tastes Better
Strange but true: After losing weight, your dinner may seem extra tasty. Stanford University researchers discovered that overweight men had less taste sensitivity than their slimmer counterparts. The reason: Their taste buds had become dulled from the overuse. Another theory points to hormonal shifts that take place during weight loss, which may change the way taste receptors communicate with the brain. To take your newly enhanced taste buds out for a test drive, try healthy foods you never enjoyed before. (Like these 25 Best Foods for a Toned Body!) In your trimmer frame, they may become new favorites that can help you maintain your weight loss in the long run.
EVERYTHING GOES FASTER
One of the more surprising and funny responses on the Reddit forum we came across came from user Justcallmezach, who had recently shed a considerable amount of weight: "I was freaking shocked the first time I jumped into a go-kart and flew around the track. I thought they had upgraded the karts, then I just realized that they [go a lot faster] when they're hauling 135 [fewer] pounds."
YOUR RISK OF CANCER IS LOWER
While most people know that things, like smoking and getting too much sun, can up their cancer risk, few people realize that obesity is also linked to cancer. (Disease-causing inflammation triggered by obesity is to blame.) That's the bad news. The good news is that levels of inflammation can be lowered by losing just five percent of your body weight, according to a Cancer Research study of postmenopausal women. And a recent study on morbidly obese men who underwent bariatric surgery had similar results. Sounds like a reason to celebrate with one of these delicious weight loss smoothies to us!
YOU SWEAT LESS
When you're overweight, you're essentially wearing a weighted vest in a hot room 24/7—which is no easy feat. (Fat insulates the body and raises core temperature.) This is why obese individuals tend to sweat more than their slimmer counterparts. Before losing weight, Reddit user somebunnylovesyou said that her sweat stains were so bad that she'd have to get to class 15 minutes early to wipe herself down in the bathroom with wet towels. Since dropping the pounds, she's excited to report that says she no longer gets super sweaty and "no longer worries about hugging people."