Saturday, December 15, 2012

The 'downside' to losing weight

My primary focus this year has been to lose weight and get healthy. This is something I should have done a long time ago, but never made it priority until this year. I could examine the reasons for that but I think basically, I just wasn't ready.

Despite my weight loss success, I'm still in the obese category according to the BMI charts. A lot of people find this hard to believe, but it's true! Call it the curse of the big-boned tall person. As of this week my BMI is 30.4. Not only do I need to get it below 30, I need to get it below 25 so that I'm not considered overweight. That means I need to lose -- at a minimum -- another 35-40 pounds. Ideally, I'd like to lose another 50-60 pounds.

I've lost 5 sizes. Yes. 5 SIZES. I'm now wearing a size I haven't worn since I was in my early 30s. If I can lose one more size, I'll be the size I was in high school. And if I can lose two more sizes, I'll be the size I was when I was 19 or 20 and in the best shape of my life. It's reachable!

But the more I lose, the more difficult it is to lose. In the beginning of this weight loss journey, I lost 3-4 pounds a week. Then 2-3 pounds a week. Then 1-2 pounds a week. I realize I'm gaining muscle from working out, but my loss has now slowed to about a half pound a week and sometimes less than that. It can get very frustrating, and it doesn't help that the holiday season is here with all its temptations.

When I finally reach my destination, I'll have to fight stay there. Maintenance is indeed on my mind already. I know that I'll have to eat this way and exercise for the rest of my life. And since our bodies get used to how we do things, I'll have to shake it up a bit every now and then. I know that. But back to the current situation.

I've noticed a couple of downsides to losing weight. The downsides don't cancel out the benefits, but they are downsides nonetheless. So for my friends who are also on this journey, I want to give you the heads-up about a couple of things.

1. The more weight you lose, the older you're going to look.

One of the first places I "lost weight" was in my neck and face. It has been quite confusing to look in the mirror and see that although I've lost my double chin and can see my cheekbones again, I can also see wrinkles that were never there before. To me, it's especially apparent around my eyes and mouth. I hate it, but I know it's better than being obese.

I guess what I'm saying is, be prepared to see an older person looking back at you in the mirror. You may even need to (or want to) start a special savings account for Botox and fillers. I know I do!

2. Get ready to spend some money on new clothes.

When I first started this journey, I had three sizes of clothes in my closet. One size I could wear; the other sizes were a bit too small yet for some reason (ever the optimist) I kept them, which turned out to be a good thing. Those clothes that were too small are now way too big.

I've never been a used clothing type of person, but knowing that I wouldn't be staying in one size for very long (again, ever the optimist) I got over my fear of cooties and became a used-clothing shopper. I hung out at my local Goodwill store at least once a week, and I scored some really great deals, including two cashmere sweaters (for $3.99 each), an Eileen Fisher top that still had the tags on it (also $3.99) and a bunch of other stuff. I actually found it quite therapeutic to go through all the clothes, touching each piece and looking at the brand tags, even though it would sometimes take me a couple of hours.

Then one day I looked in my closet and realized: 75% of the clothes in my closet are not . . . Me. I'm really an L.L. Bean kind of gal. Give me comfort, preferably cotton, and basic black. I don't want to look like a desperate male bird looking for a mate -- and I hate, hate, repeat HATE non-natural fibers unless we're talking exercise clothes.

I cleaned out my closet, "got rid of" (by offering to family/friends or donating) everything that was too big or not my style, and then made a list of things I needed to replace. I only replaced very basic things (black shirt, white shirt, jeans, dress pants for work, bras/sports bras, etc.) I now have all my clothes in one closet, which in itself is a miracle, but just goes to show you that I had way too many to start with.

But I digress. The point is, as you lose weight, you're going to have to get new clothes. You're going to have to get rid of some things (which is really hard for some people) and you're going to have to get new things (which can be very expensive, but there are options.)

3. Be prepared for people to treat you differently. 

I've saved this one for last because it's the most difficult to write about, but it's the truth, and I want you to know. If you've been obese for a long time, you get used to people either ignoring you or feeling safe with you. I may still be in the obese category, but it's been rather curious how suddenly I'm not so invisible anymore. People open doors for me. They hold the elevator. People who didn't seem to see me before suddenly smile and say hello and try to chat me up. To be honest, it's a little creepy at times.

As always, I wish you success with your journey.