Sometimes I live for that “Timehop” app my fiancé, Aly has downloaded on her phone. I mean, I’m particularly thankful for it today with this picture of me at 350+lbs, 23 years old, with my cat tucked inside my sweatshirt. Wow. Those were the days. The days of morbid obesity, chronic fatigue, a lot of doctors appointments, and a lot of binge eating.
I think it’s an understatement to say that weight loss changes your life, and I mean that in a positive way! Personally, it helped me reach some health goals with overcoming diabetes, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, and overall discomfort in my joints from the extra pressure of weight.
Even after the positives, there’s still some information I would have liked to hear before losing 160 pounds. I’ve picked six situations that I didn’t expect and listed them below.
1. People will treat you differently. When I say “people”, I mean strangers on the street. I remember walking into restaurants or even the grocery store at my highest weight always seeing heads turn and eyes lock onto my larger than life thighs, peoples eyes lingering on my body for too long, I felt like I took up too much space. After weight loss, strangers start to look you in the eye instead of at your body with a pained expression, they might hold the door open even, who knows, lets not get too crazy! I just know that the first time that clicked for me mentally, it made me really thankful to have been on the other side. I’m always aware of how I treat every single person on this planet now- the same, with a smile and respect.
2. Even though it is YOU losing the weight, going through a very personal journey with your own struggles and victories, other people will make it about them. Do not be surprised when you hear people say, “don’t lose too much”, “how much do you weigh now?”, “you can’t really try to be THAT small, I mean, I’m that size”. Unfortunately this is a grin and bear it kind of moment. I chalked it up to my friends not really understanding how the “forever fat friend” was now going to be “normal”. I get it, changing the roles of life can be shocking, so don’t be surprised when your body changes rock the boat with your circle of friends! I’d like to think mostly everyone means well, but some people just won’t ever understand what you’re going through, and that is ok! Smile through it and love them anyway! You’ve got bigger things to focus your energy on, like your health!
3. Your life is about to become really self-centered for a while, and I promise that is OKAY. Frankly, if morbid obesity has taken over your life, you’ve obviously not made yourself a priority for a long time, and trust me I know, I have been there. This is your time to shine, so make an extra hour a day to move your body, to soak in the tub, to drink a cup of tea and listen to a positive podcast, anything that reinforces that YOU TOO are so important, & your health is important. (holy run-on sentence haha, SORRY). Ask your family for some patience, and support, because you need those things to be successful. It is not selfish to take care of yourself. My mom says it to me all the time, still to this day, “Aubrey, put your oxygen mask on first before you help anyone else”. 160lbs later, I still tell myself that line every morning. That doesn’t mean I don’t put anyone elses wants and needs before my own, I just make my mental, physical, and emotional health, just as important in my daily life. Do it, don’t feel bad about it!
4. Just because you reach “goal” or “close enough to goal” (< me), doesn’t mean you can throw the towel in. There is no finish line on this journey to health, which is why this is a lifestyle change! This is permanent. Maintenance isn’t a cake walk, it’s the reward for years of hard work, but also its own beast to conquer. Just because you’ve lost the weight you wished to lose, doesn’t mean you get to eat Mac & Cheese and Pizza for every meal. (man oh man do I wish). It means you move your body because you can, and because you love yourself, not to punish yourself. It means you fuel your body with healthy foods, because it’s good for you, and your body will start to crave those nutrients! I know it’s hard in the beginning, wondering if the new changes you’re making will ever “stick”, will ever just become the new “normal”, and I promise they will! It just takes time. That isn’t to say you won’t have cheat meals, some cheat days, and times when life gets so crazy that you aren’t sure if you even had time for breakfast three days ago. These are slip ups on the path, don’t let them become a slide.
5. Weight loss will not fix all your problems. Never been in love? Love yourself. Missing out on great opportunities? Invest in self development, confidence, self worth. Be your biggest fan, because without all the positive vibes you can muster, this is going to be a lot harder than it needs to be. If you’re banking on your new “hot bod” to wipe all your emotional baggage under the rug, think again. You’re going to have days where you still see the “old you”, that your new clothes that looked so amazing on you days ago, now make you feel large and frumpy. Buckle up friends, this journey is hella mental. However, I won’t sit here and say that life isn’t easier after losing the weight, because it absolutely is, in plenty of ways. I have more opportunities and happy memories now than ever, but the way I’ve felt about myself has always been the same. I’ve always been proud of who I am, strong, confident, courageous, and driven. Those are the qualities that built the foundation that I get to stand on everyday, and thankfully, those are the qualities that have driven my journey toward health. I still have many lazy days, and days controlled by food, but in the grand scheme of things, these moments are few and far between, and no longer control my life.
6. Last but not least, It’s ok to have an off day, week, month, or whatever you want to call it. When I decided to change my life in this way, I said I wanted to find a balance with life, food, and just feel in control of the way I was living. I did just that. I think everyone has a pants size, or number on the scale in mind when they “dream big” about their goals, but also, for me, it was being able to run a 5k and stop after one slice of birthday cake instead of eating till I felt sick. Sometimes I run 1 mile, sometimes 4, and sometimes none. I’m still working on the guilt aspect with the last, but as I’m so often reminded, life is about so much more than eating clean and burning 700 calories on your Fitbit. Move your body in a way that makes you feel strong and powerful, eat a bright and colorful dinner because it’s pleasing to the eyes and good for you! Don’t be a prisoner on the sidelines of your life anymore. Make your memories, enjoy that glass of wine on the patio, drink lots of water, and take care of yourself. (that means emotionally, too, ok?) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we aren’t getting healthy to punish ourselves, but because we love ourselves.
Friends, No one has it all figured out. If you’re trying to model your life off of people who act like they don’t sit on their couches once in a while in a bathrobe eating pizza bagels, stop right there. You don’t need that kind of false pretense in your life. (those people absolutely can’t be trusted. posers. pizza bagels are delicious. HA).
At the end of it all, do what works for you, for your doctors, families, and most of all, what makes you feel best on the inside. It is, after all, your journey. Make it your own! You can do it!