After months – even years – of determined exercising and watching your diet, you finally did it! You’ve reached your desired weight goal.
You have every reason to celebrate and feel good about yourself. You can now wear a bikini and feel confident in figure-hugging clothes. There’s a new spring in your step as you feel as light as you look. But, as with any other fulfilled goal in life, the journey doesn’t end here. There is, in fact, no finish line and no final round in the battle with the scales. The road toward a new, healthier you continues. Except now, it has taken on new twists and you have to make some adjustments to your battle strategies.
What happens next?
After giving yourself a much deserved pat in the back, it’s time to come face-to- face with some rather unexpected consequences.
- You’ll probably feel cold most of the time. Even a 10% change in body weight can cause
hormonal changes, leaving you feeling colder. So, when you shop for new smaller sized clothes,
you might want to throw in a cute sweater as well.
- You might have to look for new anti-ageing solutions. When you lose weight, your skin tends to sag, resulting in wrinkles. A plumping or hydrating cream can help minimize those fine lines. You have one thing going in your favour, though. If you keep on exercising, as you have likely been doing in the past few weeks, you can slow down the ageing process. Exercise helps preserve the dermis – the layer of the skin that contains collagen and elastin. These proteins improve the skin’s elasticity, helping to fight off wrinkles.
- You may have to deal with excess skin. Your skin stretches as you bulk up, and when you lose weight, the skin doesn’t always snap back to its original form. Older adults and/or those who have rapidly lost a lot of weight are more vulnerable to excess skin. Exercise and creams that help stimulate collagen or elastin production can help firm up the skin as you lose weight, avoiding or minimizing excess skin. In some cases, though, only cosmetic surgery can solve the problem.
- You’ll have better sex. Your newfound confidence about your body can make you feel less self-conscious, resulting in a better sexual experience. Additionally, being overweight often increases the stress hormone, cortisol, in your body, making sex less enjoyable. By losing weight, cortisol is decreased, making you feel more relaxed.
What to do now?
To start, lay off that double scoop of ice cream you plan to celebrate with. If you consider the food you avoided as the reward for losing weight, you’re more likely to relapse into unhealthy eating habits. Think of your new weight as your prize. Buy a sexy bikini and show off your new figure on the beach. Or, finally put on that dress you rebelliously bought when you were two sizes too big, swearing you’ll fit into it one day. And stay hungry! Hungry for new goals and new achievements. Complacency is the one thing that can undo all those months or years of hard work. It’s easier to be motivated when you’re trying to achieve a goal, and once that mountain is hurdled, it’s just as easy to get distracted and backslide to old habits.
Here are some things you need to do to keep you on the right track.
- Make sure your new eating habits are sustainable. If you followed an extreme diet to get to your new weight, it’s time for a new approach. Sticking to a highly restrictive diet, often extremely low on calories and high on fluids, may negatively affect your health if prolonged. Just as dangerous, it can lead to unhappiness, suffering and discomfort. Besides, it’s rare for anyone to sustain that kind of diet for long. At some point, you might end up compensating for your hunger and misery by bingeing.
There’s no magic diet that can guarantee to keep the pounds off. But studies have identified certain eating habits that may be helpful. These include:
- Maintain a low calorie, low fat diet. This doesn’t mean, though, that you should deprive yourself of the foods you love. You can eat what you want, as long as you do it in moderation, and have a balanced meal every time.
- Start counting calories, and have a menu plan that will help you regulate what you eat and how much of a certain food to eat.
- Don’t starve yourself, and don’t eat too much on one meal then go hungry the rest of the day. Experts recommend eating five meals a day – three regular ones and two light snacks. Also, don’t skip breakfast. It has been found that people who skip breakfast are more likely to gain weight.
2. Keep exercising. More than that, set new thresholds. Now that you can climb up 5 stories without wanting to faint, aim for 8 stories. Or ten. Join fun runs and aim for longer distances each time. Participate in Crossfit competitions. Aim to participate in a marathon.
Achievement is addictive. It releases dopamine in the body that makes us feel good and crave for more.
Once you start, it’s difficult to turn back, so keep stoking the fire with new achievements.
3. Take stock of your life and how losing weight has changed it. It probably did not make your marriage problems go away, or make you feel better about your job. You may just have to come to terms with the fact that your weight was not the reason for your unhappiness. It’s probably the perfect time to address your emotional issues and see them as separate from your physical goals.
Many “losers” also find themselves feeling fat despite their new, slimmer body. It’s a common experience that shouldn’t alarm you but should make you wary, nonetheless. Give yourself time to be more accepting of the new you, and allow yourself to slowly but surely adapt to your new body.
You may also need to do the same with the people around you. There are cases where people who have lost significant weight have to deal with sabotage – friends and family who tempt them to go back to old habits because they feel threatened. If this happens to you, perhaps the best recourse is to have a heart to heart talk with the guilty parties and make them understand how important this achievement is to you.
Witten by Melissa Lobo
Bio: Melissa is a young and energetic writer, a mom to a sweet little boy, and a fur-mom to two perfect pooches. Before becoming the Associate Content Director for Project Female, she was a journalist specializing in topics related to women in politics and policy affecting women.