Hi, I’m Arielle! In May 2015, I embarked on a lifestyle change and have completely overhauled my eating habits, fitness goals, and outlook on life.
You can read all about my weight loss journey here, which includes tips and my own personal experiences.
I have yo-yo dieted all my life, and I never imagined being genuinely happy with how I felt inside my body.
But that’s where I’m at right now — 15 months and 110 pounds down after starting my weight loss journey. Here are some things that surprised me along the way:
FYI: My experience probably won’t be like everyone else’s. Why would it? Each person’s body composition goals are unique, and this just happens to be my experience getting healthy and learning to love my body (which, for me, included losing weight).
I’ll talk a lot about being healthier in this post, and what I’m talking about is what’s healthier for me personally (as opposed to some objective standard of healthiness, because what even is that?). And btw, you should always consult a doctor before changing your diet or exercise routine.
1. Just because I’ve reached most of my goals, it doesn’t mean I no longer need some of the structures that got me here in the first place.
Maintenance can be even harder than losing the weight itself. When I began my journey, I was fueled by success, non-scale victories, and a newfound confidence I gained from becoming a healthier and happier me. But once I began to reach that weight range I’d been gunning for, I started to think, “Well, I’ve already lost a ton of weight. I don’t NEED to track anymore” or “I’ll just go with the flow and not prepare my meals this week.”
But the point of this journey wasn’t to get to a certain weight and then be done. My goal was to tweak my habits in a way that was sustainable and actually fits into my lifestyle. Continuing to track my food, activity, and water intake helps keep me balanced and accountable, and it proves to still be a key element in this stage of my journey.
2. But I also have to remind myself that because it is a full-on lifestyle change, it’s not a rush, and I have to be patient and kind to my body.
As a person who’s had a very unhealthy relationship with food in the past, it is extremely important for me to not take drastic measures if I have a bad week, and to forgive myself if I go off the rails. Gaining a few pounds over the weekend will not undo everything I’ve done, and it’s not fair or fun to beat myself up for being human.
Sometimes I want to be perfect, and eat everything “right” or “whole,” but I was surprised to discover that cutting myself some slack and indulging once in a while is the best way to keep me balanced and happy.
>> Read more: 17 Ways To Reward Yourself For Hitting Your Goal
3. This weight loss journey has become a part of my identity, and sometimes I don’t know how to feel about it.
I am no longer the “heavy girl,” but once people get to know me (and to everyone who knew me before this), I am the girl who lost a ton of weight, and it feels like my personality is in self-discovery mode. I am struggling to figure out who I am BEYOND this weight loss.As much as I want to claim I am the same person I was at the beginning of this, that wouldn’t be truthful or accurate. Overall, I am certainly a happier, more confident person who is willing to be more adventurous and carefree — I am just in a weird life transition, and it feels like I am experiencing the social changes of college all over again.
4. My relationships with friends and family have changed; some have grown stronger, and some have become more distant.
When you embark on a big lifestyle change like this, you aren’t just adjusting your eating habits and physical activity. Your interests, hobbies, and thought processes change, too. Even my relationships have changed.For instance, I have an aunt who is also doing Weight Watchers, and instead of just seeing each other once a year at Thanksgiving, we now text regularly and have a stronger bond. One of my friends from college is now probably my closest friend, because we share more interests and can confide in each other about struggles and wins with weight loss. Some friendships have grown apart, because our relationships were so heavily fueled by social drinking and eating. I think the hardest part about this lifestyle change is that I never anticipated my friendships would shift.
5. In terms of dating, a deep panic sets in when the subject of my weight loss comes up.
I am always in fear of what my dates will think if they Google my name and see my Instagram or BuzzFeed posts. Will they be totally turned off by my story? Will they be supportive about the fact that I rarely drink and that health and fitness play such an important role in my life? Are they internally questioning things about my body? It’s all just so much pressure, and I never know how guys will react. Dating is stressful enough as it is, and I just want to avoid the awkward subject, but I can’t.
6. When I’m out to eat with friends or people familiar with my story, I’m afraid they’re diligently watching what I’m eating and making silent judgments.
Whether it’s because I’m eating a salad and not drinking, or if I decide to go all in and eat whatever I’m craving, I’m secretly worried that people are taking notes and making judgments about me. If this is actually true, I’ll probably never know, but it does make me more self-conscious than I’m comfortable with.
7. Some days I am still scared that I will spiral out of control and gain everything back.
This is an irrational thought, but it is also a very real one. It is especially heightened when I’m traveling and I go in the “fuck it, I’m on vacation” mode, and I binge to the point where I’m not sure I can bounce back. Like going hard on sweets, hiding it from friends out of guilt, or overeating in general. I’m aware that this is a problem for me, and it terrifies me when I lose control that way.While I would be upset if I reversed my hard work, I think there’s a deeper fear there of disappointing everyone else and having my failure displayed on a very public level.>> Read more:
While I would be upset if I reversed my hard work, I think there’s a deeper fear there of disappointing everyone else and having my failure displayed on a very public level.
>> Read more: 5 Myths About Fat That Mess With Your Weight Loss Goals
To read more of Arielle's thoughts, click here to see the original BuzzFeed article.