In my series on Knowing What to Expect when embarking on a lifestyle change, last time I left you hanging (with baited breath, no doubt) by mentioning that during Phase 3 I encountered three challenges that weren’t exactly eating-related. Phase 3 was a time when I was in a routine, established and reinforced good habits, started exercising, and–best of all–I wasn’t starving hungry all the time.
By this point, I had lost a substantial amount of weight. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I didn’t weigh or measure myself when I started, but I knew from how I felt and the way my clothes fit that I had lost more than a few pounds. What I learned during this time, however, was that I had to rely on the self-gratification of my success as my sole source of inspiration because no one seemed to notice I’d lost weight.
No One Notices
So I lost weight, but apparently no one noticed. It was a disappointing feeling, given all of my dedication. However, unless you’re only slightly overweight, most people will still just see you as a large person. I know, because I experienced this first-hand. Even by the time I started weighing myself and knew I’d lost at least 50 pounds, it was rare that someone commented.
There are two keys to surviving this challenge. First, expect that no one will notice or make mention of your success. Try to focus on internal gratification for your accomplishment rather than external praise. As humans, though, this is tough. We want to be congratulated for our efforts. Identify some non-food rewards you can give yourself. When I felt like I made strides, I would indulge in a massage or get a pedicure.
Second, maybe people have noticed but they don’t know whether or how to say something to you. Maybe they’re jealous, or maybe it’s because they’re afraid they’ll offend you. After I’d lost about 100 pounds, I had a guy at a shop I regularly visited tell me he had noticed I lost weight. In fact, He realized some time ago that I was losing weight, but never mentioned it because he didn’t want me to think he thought I was a “fat pig or something” before I lost the weight. Of course, since he said that, it made me think that was exactly how he had seen me. But his comment made me realize that a lot of people likely noticed my weight loss but felt uncomfortable approaching the subject.
Your Clothes Don’t Fit
When you reach this point, it’s both rewarding and frustrating. I was ecstatic because I no longer felt like I was stuffed into my clothes. At the same time, the thought of buying new clothes was scary. What if I invested in new clothes and ended up gaining back weight again this time? Was I going to jinx myself?
It’s not unusual for food addicts to have a variety of sizes of clothes- especially that pair of ‘skinny jeans’ that you really want to fit into, but realistically probably won’t. Instead, those jeans just make you feel guilty every time you try to squeeze into them. Maybe you’ve tried them on during your lifestyle change and found that you finally fit into them. Does this mean you can quit? You’ve been doing well with your lifestyle change and expect you’ll lose more weight. Is it worth replacing clothes you know you’ll just have to replace again?
I eventually reached a point where my old clothes just weren’t comfortable anymore, but I was still reluctant to let go of them. I did end up replacing them, but only the bare necessities and at a limited quantity, at that, because I wasn’t yet at a healthy weight. I knew I’d made real progress when I finally just got rid of them.
How to Talk to Other Overweight People
There is no question that you’ll feel uncomfortable around people who need to lose weight or feel competitive with others who are trying to lose weight. This is a tough position to be in because you want to inspire others, but don’t want them be resentful of your success.
I even struggled with this issue when I first thought about starting my blog. I knew what it was like to see people lose weight and I had been envious. At the same time, so many people over the years have asked me how I lost so much weight, that I thought it would be useful to let people know. I think it’s even more important now to share how I did it because I made a lifestyle change that really has been for life, not a one-off diet that shed pounds, only to be regained.