“At my heaviest, I was classified as obese. I had a terrible relationship with food and struggled with my weight and an eating disorder. I lost 20kg and it changed my life – but not how I expected it would.”
Here are seven things I wish someone had told me prior.
1. You will still have cellulite
Skinny or not, old or young – cellulite affects most women… and men, too. You can lose weight, squat until you can’t move and lunge like you’ve never lunged before, but it doesn’t mean your cellulite is going anywhere. Most models also have cellulite, just FYI. Of course, no-one would know thanks to Photoshop virtuosos that tactfully blend it away. Cellulite is normal.
2. You don’t need to count almonds
Counting the number of almonds you’re ‘allowed’ is soul sucking and makes healthy eating feel like a burden. Please do not do this. Just take a handful and be done with it. In fact, don’t count anything – macros, points, calories, whatever. As any seasoned dieter will know, you can only count your almonds or calories for so long before you start feeling deprived. Instead, focus on high quality whole-foods, and pay attention to nourishing your body with the correct servings of proteins, carbs, fruit, vegetables and healthy fats. And treat yourself once in a while – that’s normal (and necessary!) too.
3. Real, sustainable weight loss takes longer than you think
Fad diets promise you quick ‘solutions’ that will keep you in prime shape permanently. But to lose weight requires major lifestyle changes. You need to re-program your habits and thought patterns, which is far more complex than living off juice for three days. (Don’t do that, please.) It took me over four years to lose 20kg (not 12 weeks or even one year) and however long you think weight loss will take – multiply it by 10, and then add some. Be patient and focus on your health – not the number on the scale. And the results will follow.
4. You won’t automatically love your body
I used to tell myself, “When I lose weight, I’ll be body confident, loveable and good enough.” Unfortunately, losing weight doesn’t get rid of your body insecurities. Before working to change your body, accept your body with all of its ‘flaws’. Changing your body won’t result in body-confidence but accepting and embracing your body as it is can be profoundly life changing.
5. ‘Fitspo’ isn’t actually inspirational (for me, anyway)
Contrary to what you might believe, staring at images of super fit models (‘fitspo’) for motivation might not actually help you. Why? Fitspo can easily make you believe you must have a tight, flat stomach and minimal body fat to be healthy. Fitspo sends the message that its fine to go to extreme measures to lose weight – so long as you look good in a crop top. This can lead to an unhealthy relationship with exercise and food, yo-yo dieting, restrictive behaviours and poor body confidence. Unfollow, stat.
6. Losing weight doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthier
People can lose weight in many ways like starving themselves, abusing substances, having a stressful period at work, over-exercising and, sadly, the list goes on. A lower (and arbitrary!) number of the scales isn’t an indicator of a healthy lifestyle – as we all know, true wellbeing is about the whole picture. Please, don’t assume because someone loses weight they are better for it.
7. You will still be the same person
At the end of the day, regardless of what you look like, you will still be the same person, will the same problems. Your social problems won’t go away, you won’t suddenly have more genuine friends, higher levels of job satisfaction, more confidence or be any closer to achieving your dreams. All of those changes come from within – as cliché as that sounds – so if you’re looking to change your life – start from within. A healthy lifestyle should underscore your life, and not necessarily be the key to unlocking it.
Remember, your weight is just a number on a scale or clothing size. It doesn’t define who you are. It won’t change you. It won’t fix your problems or poor self-esteem. Losing weight won’t instantly make you happy.
There are many reasons to focus on being healthy and vibrant but losing weight just to be skinny won’t give you the satisfaction you might think it will. Don’t focus on just losing weight – rather focus on being the healthiest, strongest, happiest and most contented person you can be.