I am a hardcore advocate for loving your body the way it is now. But I’d be lying if I said that I never felt the pressure to move toward weight loss in my life. I was a chubby kid and like many other girls, I struggled with wanting to look like the ideal vision of beauty. Like many others, I wanted to be thin.
Flash forward a decade or so. I became that thin girl I imagined I wanted to be, from a size 16 at my largest to a size 2. And although it felt fantastic for a while to go into the store and pick up lower digit clothing, that feeling didn’t last. I’m writing this blog for anyone who has ever wondered what it would be like on the other side of the weight spectrum. Here are 6 key reflections on my experience of weight loss after becoming skinny.
More People Look.
Perhaps it was a bit naïve of me not to expect this, but one thing I noticed when I became thin for the first time was the amount of attention I got from women and men alike. I grew up as an athlete and performed above average academically. I never considered myself one of the pretty ones, but rather, an athlete and an intellectual. I got attention for my performance, both in the classroom and on the court, not for my looks. So I was a bit shocked when these things started happening:
- More people held doors open for me.
- Random people telling me I’m beautiful while on the street
- Getting approached in the nightclub
- Handsome strangers offering to buy me coffee
- Handsome strangers buying me drinks
- More frequent job offers (in fitness)
- More responses to local modeling and promotional gigs
- People asking to take my picture at local events (this actually started happening more when I bleached my hair blonde)
- More people asking me on dates
What does it feel like to get more positive attention for your looks? I’m not gonna lie. It’s AWESOME, when the attention is wanted. But I also experienced the dark side of attracting the attention of others.
Less People Listen.
When you’re thin and fit, people notice you. For some reason, when you catch their attention (by simply existing), they assume that you WANT their attention. From there, consent gets blurry. People think it’s okay to:
- Touch my hair without asking
- Touch my body without asking
- Interrupt me when I’m speaking to tell me “You’re beautiful.”
- Push for physical affection even after I’ve said “No”
I consider myself to be a well-balanced, grounded person. But after I lost weight and the these things started occurring regularly, I realized how little patience I have. These experiences are off-putting and upsetting, and frankly… they piss me off. As a result, I enrolled myself in workshops on consent, have been actively educating myself on boundary setting, and started listening to daily meditations and personal growth podcasts.
People Judge You Differently
Take a moment to think about this question: Do you make any of the following assumptions about thin people?
- They have easier lives
- They’re not attracted to thicker people
- They have probably always been thin and don’t understand what it’s like to be overweight
- They judge others by how they look
- They love getting attention for their looks
- They don’t eat much or they restrict what they eat
- They have healthy diets
- They are a threat to your relationship
- They are confident
- They think they are beautiful
When I was a big girl, I made many of these assumptions too. Funny how crazy they seem when they are turned back on me (related and still relevant: Health and Fitness Habits to Give Up in 2021). The truth is that these 10 things I mentioned above actually represent areas where I personally believed I was lacking. Unfortunately, the self doubt and perceived lack doesn’t change just by losing weight. I’ll share more on that in the next few reflections.
Boobs and Butt Are Not Guaranteed
Did you know that, in most people, cis females in particular, breasts and buttocks are made mostly of fat? I knew this in theory back when I was a bigger girl, but the reality of it hit me like a ton of bricks during my most recent weight loss adventure.
In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, I gained A LOT of weight. That’s what happens when the gyms close and you go from teaching 20+ hours a week of in studio classes to only 4 hours a week online 😅 Well, I jumped from a comfy 149 pounds to just below 180 (roughly 22% to 30% body fat), the thickest I’ve been since my undergrad. Real talk… I wasn’t mad about it. Sure, I was a little fatigued and lost a lot of endurance and strength, but that hourglass figure though…
Weight Loss = Bye Bye Fat
I lost all the pandemic weight and then some in just over a year by teaching full time again, playing volleyball on the weekends, and cooking less (because I’m single). Now I sit at around 16% body fat. I’m sad to say… There is very little jiggle left anywhere 😭 In all honesty, I don’t hate it. I mean, who doesn’t love having visible abs and being able to go braless whenever you want to?
However, when I look at myself in the mirror, I wholeheartedly feel the tradeoff. The thing is, many people get jealous of thin women for having small waists and a thigh gap. But they also make fun of them for having “mosquito bites” at the chest and a flat behind. This is where the things get blurry. For me, being this skinny is not intentional. It’s a hazard of being a full time fitness professional. And I love the work that I do, so it’s something I’m working on accepting. You have to decide what you’re willing to sacrifice.
Weight Loss and Gain Is Cyclical
I’d be lying if I told you that I arrived at being thin and stayed there permanently. In fact, I have a pattern. I often cycle from being thicker during the fall and winter to being thinner during the spring and summer. It has also been true that when I am in a relationship, I become thicker. More often than not, I cook all the meals, prepping enough for an entire week. When food is available, I eat, so there’s that 🤷🏽♀️
Your Body Reflects Your Lifestyle
Here’s the reality. Unless you have some sort of medical condition that prevents you from losing weight, the way your body looks reflects the following:
- The types of activity you do on a daily basis
- The types and amounts of food and beverages that you consume
- Your genetics
- Your environment
- Other things that you put in and on your body
With the exception of genetics, most of these things change throughout our lives, throughout the year, and sometimes even on a daily basis. As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said “The only constant in life is change.” You can lament over that fact or you can acknowledge it for what it is.
Confidence is A Daily Practice
Some days it seems as though everybody wants a body other than the one they have. I am no different. There are days when I fully and completely love myself, my energy, my body, my life. But there are others when I look at myself in the mirror and see all of the things I lack. This happens during my skinniest times as well as my thickest.
I frequently have to remind myself that I am not simply my body or my accomplishments. That my value is not predicated on whether or not others see me as successful or attractive. I am a beautiful, intelligent, delightful human being who is valuable and worthy of being loved. That will be true no matter how I look. These days, I listen to daily affirmations to help keep my mindset in check (click here to check out my free gift of affirmations audio collection).
The Verdict: Weight Loss Doesn’t Make You Happy
As a personal trainer who’s helped hundreds of individuals achieve their weight loss goals, I know that there are many benefits you can gain from getting fit: stronger muscles and bones, higher energy levels, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reduced anxiety, better sleep, enhanced mood, and improved memory and overall brain function to name a few… but being fit isn’t the same as being thin.
You Don’t Have to Make Yourself Smaller
As an adult, I never sought to be skinny. When I started working out consistently over 10 years ago, it was to improve my mental health. It felt good to move my body daily, so I continued doing it. Eventually, I started paying attention to my body’s nutritional needs, the things that made me feel tired and sluggish and the things that energized me. It was a snowball effect that got me to where I am today.
I will not deny that there are benefits to being skinny that women who are considered chubby or overweight may not have access to. But if you think it is an automatic pathway to feeling valuable and worthy, I’m sorry to say… you’re mistaken. So many of us cling to this idea that becoming a smaller version of ourselves will make us feel more confident and secure. It’s time to stop that line of thinking.
Learn to Love Yourself
If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume it means that you’ve struggled with thoughts of being too thick or too thin or not feeling like you’re enough. If there’s one thing that I would wish for you after reading this piece, it’s this: that you learn to love yourself. That’s what I want for you, whether you have help from someone else or come to that understanding on your own. I’ve been down the path of self-hatred and it is not a pretty one. So please, when it comes yourself, choose love. As Martin Luther King said:
“Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”
Good luck with your journey of becoming the happiest, healthiest human being you can be.
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