I remember the exact moment I decided to get serious about losing weight. I weighed 327 pounds. I was sitting at my desk eating a king-sized Snickers bar. As I was eating it, I thought “Why am I eating this?” The most obvious response was that Snickers bars are insanely awesome. Aside from this however, I didn’t really know the answer to that question. What I did know is that in that moment I was making a poor choice. Eating this huge Snickers bar felt right on so many levels! But I realized that it wasn’t going to bring me closer to my goal of losing weight.
Since that realization, I’ve been on a journey to become a healthier person. It’s been a challenge. Fortunately for me, I relish a challenge: I am now 50lbs lighter. However, there are things about the process of losing weight that I wish someone had warned me about. Here are 6 things I wish someone had told me about losing weight:
1.) Carb cravings are a thing.
I used to think carb cravings were bullshit. Just another way for me to rationalize my unhealthy relationship with muffins. Wow, was I wrong. Carb cravings
are literally symptoms of physical withdrawal from having too many carbohydrates in your diet. In the first couple of weeks of changing my diet, I couldn’t think straight. I had low energy, headaches and I was crazy irritable. Not only did I have carb cravings, which made me grumpy, I KNEW I had them, which just made me even grumpier. My cravings were particularly bad in the evenings around 9:00 pm. While there are more effective ways to deal with carb cravings, I chose to play video games and yell at the screen until the craving passed. It worked. And I became unbeatable at Mortal Kombat. Be prepared to be uncomfortable.
2.) Mindless eating strikes without warning
As a part of my weight-loss strategy, I tried to become very aware of what I was eating and when I was eating it. Despite this, I still found myself mindlessly eating. One day I stopped by a friend’s desk to chat with him and there was a platter of cookies there. Those cookies were huge! And the platter was full of my favorites! I remember looking at them and deciding that I wasn’t going to eat any. Thirty five minutes later, I was still standing at the desk when the sugar hit me. I looked down and saw half a cookie in my hand. Once I thought about it, I realized I had already eaten two of them. I had no idea how that happened. I inhaled those cookies. And I don’t regret it one bit. Mostly because beating yourself up about accidentally eating cookies while you’re trying to lose weight is not helpful. Yolo son, yolo. Cut yourself some slack.
3.) Your clothes, including your underwear, will fit funny.
Most people probably rejoice when their clothes fit different after losing weight. It’s another story when you’ve lost 50 lbs. I went from comfortably wearing a XXL or XXXL to looking like I broke into my father’s wardrobe.
The tragic irony here is that the more successful you are at losing weight, the worse your clothes fit. My favorite boxer-briefs began to fit like swimming trunks. As a result of having ill-fitting underwear, I forayed into the world of bikini-briefs for men. Fortunately that incredibly uncomfortable experiment lasted only 24 hours. Be prepared to buy new stuff.
4.) Emotional Eating is real
Remember that King-sized Snickers bar? I finally figured out why I was eating it. Once I thought about it, I realized that in the previous 2 weeks, I had been making a lot of poor food choices. In fact, I had been making poor choices for quite a while. One year prior, around the same time, one of my students committed suicide. When it happened, I was shattered. And I’d never fully finished picking up all the pieces. I was an emotional eater, and I was making poor choices to cover up the feelings I’d never addressed. This realization was a complete shock to me. You’d be surprised at the things that come up once you begin to examine your eating habits and the things that drive them. Losing weight is an emotional journey, in more ways than one. Be open to exploring your emotions.
5.) Will power isn’t enough
In some ways, losing weight was easier than I thought it was going to be. At one point I got a little cocky about it. But every time I thought “I got this. . .”, some random piece of chocolate cake would come along and show me that I wasn’t quite there yet. There are probably a few people in the world who can successfully lose weight through sheer force of will – clearly I wasn’t one of them. In order to make consistently good food choices, I had to build and put into place systems and habits that made the process of making healthy choices easier.
I learned to use my environment to my advantage. For example, I have a huge weak spot for sweets. Knowing this, I refuse to keep them in the house. If I get the urge, I’ll grab an apple instead. And If I break down and purchase something while I’m out, My rule is that I have to offer to share it with as many people as possible to ensure I have smaller portions. Make use of systems and habits.
6.) Loose. Skin.
I’ve lost 50 lbs. That’s the equivalent of a tiny human. I’m pretty happy about that. However, no one told me that the skin that covered that tiny human would still be there after it left. Apparently it doesn’t just get sucked back into wherever the hell skin comes from. It just kind of hangs there. Doing nothing. Awesome.
Depending on a combination of things including age, genetics, nutrition, how much weight you lose, how quickly you lose and it a host of other factors, you too may experience loose skin. It’s not the end of the world. It comes with the territory and there are ways to address it (if it needs to be addressed at all). Don’t develop an entirely new kind of body insecurity. Accept that it happens and maintain a positive attitude.
How about you? Have you lost weight? What do you wish someone had told you about the process?
Photo Credit: Niklas Hellerstedt/Flickr