I recently read a story about a woman who, after losing 180 pounds, began to feel like she had lost her identity. In losing the weight, she lost herself. Instead of the weight loss fixing all of her problems, it left her feeling uncertain in her own skin.
Like many of us, she believed the fantasy that if she could just lose the weight her life would be better. It is an idea that’s perpetuated by the media. We are taught to equate happiness with thinness in life from a young age. Most of us believe it without question because many of us will never know what it’s like to successfully reach our ideal body weight. This is something I have battled with most of my life and when I did reach my “ideal” body weight, the “ideal” changed. Long story short, I was never satisfied.
It’s like the fantasy of being with a certain man and then marrying him. What do you actually do when you marry the fantasy and he becomes your reality and you are faced with the fact that he’s not perfect? Suddenly, the man we dreamed of being our knight in shining armor is nothing more than a human. He farts, burps and snores. Sure, he’s still cute and sweet but where did the romance go and why is he always here?
Why did we never notice before that he leaves his socks on the floor and he is obsessed with hockey? What happened to date night? And where the hell did these kids come from? When did he become human? That is what losing weight is like. It’s great to do it for your health but like most things in life, it’s not going to fix all of your problems.
When the fantasy becomes reality, it’s not always everything you hoped it would be. Suddenly, you find yourself living in someone else’s skin and you’re not quite sure of who you are any more. You get to your ideal weight and your life is not perfect because losing weight will not change who you are as a person. It will not magically make your life perfect. At best, it can only change what you look like. It is not a magical cure to all your problems. In fact, it can be the beginning of a whole new set of problems if you put too much stock in it.
If you are obese, losing weight will probably make you feel better physically and can make you feel more self-confident but it is not a magic pill. It will not cure you of any emotional or psychological problems. They will need to be addressed separately. People who are thin and fit may have less health concerns than someone who is overweight but they still have their own issues. Being thin is not a protected state. There are no guarantees that if you are thin you will be happy, beautiful or perfect. It’s just something on which to pin our hopes and dreams; to blame our unhappiness in life on.
Have you ever lost a large amount of weight? How did it change your life? Or did it?