Making Peace: Before & After Weight Loss

Posted On Jan 29, 2020 By Lisa Traugott

A woman holding a large bouquet of flowers.

Hi, some of you may know me but I wanted to introduce myself again. My name is Lisa Traugott and I’m one of the personal trainer bloggers for BowFlex. You might have seen some of my Fit Tips and workouts here on the BowFlex blog, but I wanted to do something a little different today. I recently finished my newest book, “The S.L.I. Method – A Foundation for your Belly, Brain and Body” (copyright 2019). FYI – S.L.I. stands for “She’s Losing It!” which is the title from my memoir about how I lost 50 pounds by entering a bodybuilding competition and accidentally fixed my messy life in the process.

I really wanted to share an excerpt from my book with you because it fills a gap that is missing from a lot of fitness blogs and magazines. Every New Year the wellness industry offers solutions to lose weight, but doesn’t really talk about what to do or how you might feel once you reach your goal. Accepting a new lifestyle also means making peace with your before and after pictures and realizing that you’re someone worth knowing at any weight.

Making Peace with Your “Before” and “After”

You pushed past all your obstacles. Yay! Your reason to get fit was stronger than your excuses. You figured out a way to prep your food, exercise self-discipline in the face of co-worker office parties, and balance out strength training with potty-training.

You lost “The. Weight.” Good for you! I’m proud of you!

So…now what? How do you maintain it?

One of the biggest fears people have (myself included) after losing a significant amount of weight, is that we will gain it all back. Nobody ever talks about this. Have you noticed this?

Sometimes your weight can be used as a scapegoat, as in, “My life would be wonderful if I just lost X pounds.” I once attended a seminar for people who lost between 40 – 200 pounds and they know firsthand that losing weight alone doesn’t equate to immediate happiness.

One woman I met lost 124 pounds. That’s a whole person. Once she fixed her nutrition and began to exercise in earnest, the pounds were shed quickly, but the emotional weight remained.

She was no longer “invisible” and kind of wanted to be invisible again. It seems like a paradox—how someone could be over 200 lbs. and feel invisible? Aren’t they the largest ones in the room? But as person after person explained, when you’re heavy it feels like people avoid looking at you in an attempt to be polite. Men ignore you to try to date your thinner friend. Once you become fit, suddenly people you’ve never met before are complimenting you and everyone seems friendly, and you wonder why they weren’t friendly when you were heavy.

You get upset on behalf of your “before”—your former self.

A widow mentioned that after her husband died she lost a lot of weight and men began to flirt with her, and it was just jarring. When someone talks about this in public, you will see people shift in their seats with discomfort.

When people lose a lot of weight, emotions can be raw and vulnerable. No one I spoke with seemed to have any idea how many feelings would be released once they got fit. Trainers and dieticians could help you reach the goal but once you obtained your ideal weight there was a sense of abandonment.

I lost the weight…now what?

Many women think, “If I just lose the weight, everything’s going to be awesome” only to realize that just isn’t the case. When the protective layer of fat is gone, that’s when the real stuff starts. And it’s hard.

Certain fears and ideas kept getting mentioned by the women I spoke with; they included:

  • While happy to have lost the weight, there was an overwhelming desire to be unnoticed again.
  • Intense fear of gaining all the weight back.
  • Feeling undeserving of friendship.
  • After always being known as the “funny fat girl” now what would my identity be?
  • Intense fear of social situations—not sure how to handle compliments, flirtations, and thinking the person is only being nice because I’m in shape.
  • Imposter Syndrome—the feeling that I’m a fraud and will be exposed as an unhealthy person after all.

Looking at these people with significant weight loss, it was hard to imagine that some of them were ever heavy a day in their life, they looked so healthy and chiseled even. But some found it difficult accepting their new identity as fit, and continued to perceive themselves as obese.

Some people felt if they lost weight, people wouldn’t like them as much. Another person had to stop hanging around some of her friends because they only wanted to meet in restaurants and bars, and those were situations she wanted to avoid. Now that the weight was gone, so was the excuse as to why life wasn’t perfect. The group suggested the following things to people dealing with these emotions right now:

  1. Accept yourself no matter what the weight on the scale said that day. If you can make peace with yourself when you are 230 pounds, it will be that much easier when you are 130 pounds. You are no better or worse than anyone else, so just be yourself, whatever weight you are.
  2. You are not a fraud, as Imposter Syndrome can make you feel. It’s ok to be proud of yourself for changing your lifestyle and making disciplined decisions to be consistent with healthy foods and exercise.
  3. Consistently choose healthy eating and exercise as a lifestyle. That is the only way to avoid yo-yo dieting and remove the fear of gaining all the weight back.
  4. Force yourself to get into social situations to regain confidence and make supportive friends.
  5. You are no longer invisible and that’s a good thing, because you’re someone worth knowing at any weight.

Choose to be healthy. You are worth it!