Since I know this is the time of year many of us think about what would be different if we lost weight, here are 6 things that did (and did not) change for me:
- I felt better (but not perfect)
When I was heavy, my weight was a convenient explanation for many aspects of aging. “If I just lose weight,” I thought, “my knees won’t hurt, my back won’t hurt, I’ll sleep better… ”
So, did it work?
Yeah, sort of. My knees are mostly better. My back doesn’t hurt as often. I don’t toss and turn as much in bed. My fitbit tells me my resting heart rate went from about 65 to 56 beats per minute, so I guess that’s good.
But it’s only a matter of degrees. I’m still 40. Losing weight doesn’t make up for aging altogether.
2. I’m a better hockey player (but it didn’t help my hand eye coordination)
I play on a Bronze-level recreation ice hockey league team and (for years) I’ve figured that my weight was the biggest barrier from becoming a better player.
Now that I’ve lost all that weight, did it help my hockey playing?
Somewhat. I’m in much better cardio shape, so I get to lose pucks better and don’t make as many sloppy mistakes from fatigue.
But it turns out my weight didn’t have anything to do with hand eye coordination, anticipating the play, or the muscle memory qualities of any sport that only come with practicing a lot in your formative years.
3. I was encouraged by how I looked (but I still don’t look like Brad Pitt)
Last year I wrote about why and how I lost the weight. One of the things I mentioned was wanting to be attractive for my spouse. And she’s been very encouraging (as she was before I lost weight).
But a weird thing happened I didn’t consider when I was heavier: there are a lot of parts of my body I can feel self-conscious about beyond my weight.
For me, fat was the lightning rod when I looked in the mirror for years. But shame can find other things to object to, as well (facial asymmetry, pasty skin, wrinkles…. I could go on but this is getting depressing).
I would like to think that I haven’t been shaped by our culture’s obsession with unrealistic standards of beauty, but…
4 People were encouraging (but also weird)
Losing weight has resulted in a lot of kind comments from friends, family, and acquaintances. It’s been meaningful to me when people have noticed the hard work that went into these lifestyle changes. If you’ve said something, thank you.
But it’s also unveiled some uncomfortable comments from people. Some people have expressed feeling threatened by my losing weight (“Stop, you’re making me feel bad”). Others have congratulated me in a way that feels very critical of a former version of me. It’s a weird thing.
And others haven’t said anything. Which should be fine, but I noticed (especially in the early months) how much I craved those kind comments.
Bottom line: If you want to lose weight so people will notice/compliment you, just know that’s a double-edged sword.
5. I got used to healthy eating (but I still like french fries)
For my most of life, I was uncontained in my junk food eating. The idea that I would be satisfied with the type of food I eat now seemed crazy. I needed sugar, saturated fats, and a belly full of refined carbs.
After changing what I ate, I can honestly say I enjoy a lot of foods that I didn’t a couple of years ago. And there are foods that I previously enjoyed that I now find “too sweet,” a phrase I previously found ridiculous.
But, oh goodness, on the times that I do eat french fries – they are the perfect food.
6. Clothes fit better (but I still don’t have great style)
When I was at my heaviest, I was on the very margins of normal clothes, wearing XXL shirts and 40×34 pants, and even those fit tightly at times. I’m now down to LT or XL shirts and 33×34 pants, which makes clothes easier to find, as well as less painful to try on clothes and look in the mirror.
But whatever fantasy I had that losing weight would make me look cooler in my clothes has gone out the window. I still mostly wear clothes I bought at Costco, unsure how to pair outfits beyond “jeans and a shirt.”