For a lot of overweight people (like I was most of my life), losing weight seems like a panacea, a cure-all, a solution to all our problems.
If only we lost weight, all our problems would magically disappear. Our bills would be paid, we’d find our true loves, and we’d land our dream jobs. The depression would fade, the anxiety would dissipate, and we would have endless energy and all the organic, locally-grown food we could eat.
Sounds pretty daggome good, right? So you start out on whatever weight loss plan you think will work best, and it turns out you lose a butt-ton of weight like I did. Let’s say you drop half your body weight.
Suddenly, you’re half the person you once were, and the world is your oyster. Everything is perfect, right? You’re skinny, and there is no wrong in the world. Evil and despair has been vanquished.
Except…weight loss didn’t solve all your problems
Stuff still sucks. You’re still not dating the one. You’re still past-due on your mortgage. The Oreos in your pantry did not get transmogrified into quinoa like they were supposed to.
You’re skinny, and stuff still sucks. What gives?
What gives is that weight loss isn’t some magical panacea. Life is still life whether you’re skinny or fat. Being smaller and fitting into skinny jeans and roller coaster seats is awesome. But you’re still you, and your life is still your life. Lots of people get depressed after weight loss because their lives didn’t change like they expected them to.
Weight loss will not make your life better. Weight loss is a tool you can use to make your life better. It takes effort and energy and planning on your part. Believe me, I know. I lost 155 pounds, and weight loss didn’t solve all my problems.
But let me tell you guys, it sure did help.
For me, weight loss was awesome. My transformation from the 310-pound layabout to the 155-pound runner was nothing short of the best thing that ever happened to me. I made a decision that my life had to change, that I wasn’t going to live my life being unable to do things I wanted to do, and the weight loss came as a result of that change.
Not the other way around.
Nothing about my life changed for the better because of my weight loss. If anything, it was a financial and mental hardships. Eating healthfully is a bit more expensive than out of boxes, and so are buying new wardrobes every few sizes. Thankfully, I learned about the wonderlands of thrift stores and Goodwill.
And I had to learn how to be me again. I was physically a new person, and I had to get my mental state into the same place.
Happy Go Lucky?
Before I lost weight, I don’t want to say I was a grouch or a grump or was a total jerkface…
But I kinda was. I was angry a lot.
Since my weight loss–and my wife can truly attest to this–I’m a much nicer person. Much nicer. I’m still moody and whiny occasionally, but I’m not consistently defensive and on-guard. I’m not purposefully keeping people at arm’s length. I am comfortable with myself, and that lets me be comfortable with the people around me, and it lets me interact with the world around me differently.
And I don’t know if I need to spell this out–anyone in a relationship will probably recognize how much this one change impacted my life for the better–but being nicer in general means I’m a lot nicer to my wife, which in turn makes our relationship that much stronger.
It’s not as though our relationship was even remotely strained when I was fat, but consistently being happy and jolly really helps keep it that way. I know it’s not on her, so I guess I should say that since I have a more positive outlook on things, I should probably say that I pick fights far less often.
TLDR version: I’m happier and nicer now that I don’t hate myself. Like I said, weight loss won’t solve all your problems, but it may help. It may open up an avenue you didn’t have before.
I Like To Move It Move It
Like most geeks with a penchant for MMO gaming, I never really minded sitting still for extended periods of time. When my raids took bio breaks, I sometimes just sat there through them because it was too much effort to go pee than to just sit there and wait on the killing to resume.
Now, though, I get antsy just waiting for a dungeon to pop (even as a healer). I get fidgety if I’m not up and about every few minutes. For the most part, I’m bristling with so much energy that I’m ready to pop.
It’s honestly made my life so much better. One of the things they don’t tell you about losing weight is just how much easier it is to get around. Without carrying around 155 extra pounds, moving around is positively easy.
I realized pretty early on as the weight started to drop that I didn’t actually hate moving like I thought–I hated the effort that it took to move. As I got lighter, I became sprightlier simply because it didn’t take a concerted effort to stand up and get moving.
The amount of energy that it took to move was less, which made me more likely to move around.
Now, that doesn’t mean that my life has gotten better because of it. I still have bills to pay, still have worries and stress and all kinds of emotional stuff to deal with. But being able to move around and, you know, not be out of breath when I walk to the bathroom or being able to climb up stairs without my knees turning into Rice Krispies is one less worry on my mind.
Weight loss is like a hotfix in a video game that made new keyboard shortcuts for an often-used feature–like using CTRL-B to open all your bags at once instead of clicking each one in succession. The game itself didn’t change, and the functionality was already there, but accessing it became much easier. After a few years, you wonder how you ever lived without all your inventory bags opening at once. It’s a small quality-of-life change that made a few small things easier.
That’s really the best way I can analogize how losing weight made my life better. It didn’t suddenly get a whole new version number, but it got a much needed point-release patch.
Life’s tough. If you think that losing weight is going to cure every problem that you have, please understand that isn’t how it works. If you’re depressed at 300-lbs, you’ll be depressed at 150. If you hate your job at 500, it’s just as bad at 200. If you can’t find the time to date when you’re overweight, then you won’t magically have a 26-hour day after you give up sugar and carbs.
Weight loss is a tool. It changes things about you, but it doesn’t change you. It changes a lot about your life, but it doesn’t change your life. You still have bills and stress and drama.
All weight loss does is remove a few very specific hurdles that are in your way. It’s up to you to take the open track ahead of you and make positive changes. But if you think everything gets better just because you’re smaller, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
Do I still have problems? You bet. A lot of them. But they’re problems that can in no way be solved or exacerbated by being fat or thin.
My life is better because I lost weight, but I made lifestyle changes and dealt with a lot of emotional baggage along the way, too. So once I hit my goal weight, I was in a much better place emotionally to make the positive changes I needed to make.
So as you go through your own weight loss, just keep in mind that you’re changing, but your life isn’t. Plan your expectations accordingly.