It isn’t surprising that, when people find out I lost a hundred pounds, they have a few questions for me. “How did you do it?” tends to be the top inquiry. When I regale them with tales of my daily workout and nutrition choices, sometimes I can visibly see their disappointment as I know they’re hoping I can share some secret, magical solution.
On the heels of the “how” question is typically, “Did your skin sag?” I blame this question squarely on beauty magazines that love to publish articles with titles like “The Dark Side of Weight Loss,” accompanied by pictures of people with Shar-Pei like folds of excess skin. I try to quickly put people at ease that ask about this by explaining that those are examples of dramatic extremes. There are actually many different factors that will determine your skin tone post weight loss, like how long you were heavy; how quickly you lost the weight; if you only did cardio rather than trying to build lean muscle mass while you were burning fat; and, like many other unfair things in life, plain old genetics.
What continues to surprise me is the third most popular “after the after” question, and it’s usually asked in private: “But, are you happy now?” This requires a more thoughtful answer on my part because I think there’s a tendency of people to put happiness in futuristic terms of “I’ll be happy if…” or “I’ll be happy when…” Certainly not every problem melts away with fat loss. I can assure you that troubled relationships, financial stress, boredom, and occasional dissatisfaction with life in general, occur no matter what the number on the scale says, but there’s not a single problem I’ve encountered when I thought to myself, “Hey, this would be better if I was heavier.”
When I’m working out I believe that I’m giving myself the strength to handle what life is going to throw in my path. There have been, and will be, workouts through frustration and tears. Maybe what people really think is that looking better will make them happier. While there’s some truth in this, admittedly, one’s confidence can take a while to catch up with the new you.
When I was preparing for an “after” photo shoot, the photographer asked me to pick out a few images that represented what I had in mind. When I sent him a few fitness type poses, he asked me, “Well, are you really buff like those girls?” I remember doubt and insecurity sweeping over me.
I’m not 20 years old, I’m not even 30 or 40 years old, so who did I think I was? When I showed up for the photo shoot with my hair and make-up done, and wearing my best workout outfit, I stared into the mirror and teared up a bit. I felt and looked buff, just like those girls! Maybe I was no longer twenty years old but, for the first time in a very long time, the reality I saw in the mirror reflected the positive image I had in my head of exactly who I had wanted to become.
I’ve long since come to terms with feeling what I call “situationally pretty.” In order to juggle a career, a family, and my workouts, I may not turn heads at the supermarket, but I clean up nicely. Did losing weight make me happy? While I can’t promise that life is always unicorns and rainbows, losing a hundred pounds certainly made me happier. Feeling strong and having confidence in yourself is much like having a good hair day, it can go a long way in making you feel unstoppable and that’s something to be happy about!