I’ve talked a lot on this blog about losing weight, the benefits of changing your diet and introducing fitness to your life. Each of which can bring about some pretty dramatic changes on their own, let alone when you stack them up together. Initially I planned to write this post as a testament to all of the wonderful things you can expect that go hand in hand with loosing weight. In the interest of fairness (and not writing a bummer of a post!) I’ll certainly cover those things as well, but is weight loss really ALL roses and lollipops? It turns out, there can be some downsides to what is otherwise an amazing experience, and one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Preface: by exposing the “downsides” I am in NO WAY suggesting that you shouldn’t still push forward with losing weight, getting in shape and taking control of your health through diet. The good side effects FAR outweigh any of the negatives that are pointed out below. But knowledge is power, so being aware of these possible issues will better prepare you for dealing with them if and when they arise. Got it? Good. Let’s plow on!
First, The Good
Everyone wants the good news first right? No? Well, to bad, that’s how I’m serving it up today. I guess you could read this out of order if you’re one of the “tell me the bad news first” types, so if so, go ahead and skip ahead, I’ll wait.
I’m not sure I need to go into too much detail backing up the good things I’m about to share. The general answer for most of the good points is that depending on how much weight you lose, your body will change. Your weight will drop, which is structurally good for your body. Your hormones will even out more, causing more even emotions. And your diet will likely vastly improve, causing your body to have access to the nutrients it needs to do it’s job correctly building a stronger / better version of you.
All of these have very positive effects on your well being and longevity and many of these have crossover effects which work off of one another in a kind of virtuous circle that can cause a plethora of additional / compounded side effects.
So what are some of them?
- Better overall heart health
- Lowered risk for type 2 diabetes
- Possibility of reducing/stopping certain medications
- Lower blood pressure
- Better cholesterol levels
- Better mobility
- Less joint pain
- Improved blood sugar levels
- Decreased risk of stroke
- Reduced back pain
- Decreased chance of or reduced symptoms of sleep apnea
- Better sleep quality
- Improved energy
- Improved sex life
- Improved mood
- Reduced inflammation
- Increased self confidence
- Increased self perception
Now For The Negatives
With so many really solid positive results, it’s hard to imagine any negatives, but unfortunately there are. Again, these may vary depending on how much you have to lose and the type of people you have surrounding you. I’ll spend a little more time on this part as I think it’s important to consider some solutions to the possible negatives.
- Other People
This is probably the biggest and most unfortunate negative in this list in my opinion. We’d like to think that everyone in our lives is a fan of us, that they want the very best for us as supportive, loving friends or even spouses/family members.
Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work this way, and sometimes the people in your life can feel threatened by your success. I don’t think they want to see you unhappy, or fail your goals, but sometimes our successes can make other people feel like they’re falling short. Some people in your life may feel added pressure to follow in your footsteps, and resent you for it. Because of this sad fact, it’s important to make sure that your friends and family members know that this is YOUR journey, not theirs. Let them know that you love them exactly as they are and you don’t expect them to follow your lead. If they want your help, by all means, help them find their own success, but make sure they know that you certainly don’t expect them to do it.
- Temperature Changes
You may notice that you feel colder. Fat is an insulator, and if you’ve been carrying around a lot of it, not only have you had to physically work harder, but it’s been keeping you warm. By losing body fat, you’ve lost some insulation, so there’s a chance you might find you need to reach for a hoodie or sweater more often. This is one of those positive negatives. If you live someplace warm, then this might be a welcome change in your life!
- Loose Sagging Skin
If you lose weight quickly, then your skin’s elasticity might not have enough time to adjust to your new size and may result in sagging skin. If this is a concern for you, then you’ll want to make sure you lose weight at a safe rate (1 – 2 pounds per week) to minimize this. Additionally, building muscle mass through exercise can help combat this, as can firming creams, massage therapy and as a last resort, cosmetic procedures or surgical procedures.
- Food May Taste Different
While not everyone experiences this, an article in Time discusses the phenomenon. It seems random, but a good percentage of people who have undergone bariatric surgery (87% according to the article) reported food tasting sharper or duller (a 50/50% split).
I have a feeling this is related to the types of foods that these people were eating in the first place that may have led to their weight gain. Junk foods are typically loaded with sugar and salt, both of which have strong addictive characteristics, and cutting these from your diet and replacing them with healthier foods that are lower in salt and sugar may be noticeable by taste. However, that’s just my theory, the official wrap up in the Time article is that more research is needed.
- Regaining The Weight
This negative is why I stress that diet needs to be a long term lifestyle change. If you go on a diet “just to lose the weight”, there’s a strong chance that afterward, you’ll return to your old eating habits and simply put the weight back on. This horrible mistake can be seen routinely in many people’s yo-yo dieting efforts. You can avoid this by adopting a healthier eating strategy that you plan to stick to for the rest of your life.
- Weaker Bones
The same phenomenon that causes bone density to increase through strenuous activity like resistance training occurs when someone is overweight. Your body needs strong bones to lift heavy weights and it can’t discern whether this weight is a heavy metal plate, or a heavy backside! The end result is by losing weight, and not replacing it with a strenuous activity like resistance training, your bones may become weaker than they were.
The good news is there’s an easy fix – start resistance training! Not only will this help correct weaker bones, but it will add even more positive health benefits to your life!
So there you have it. A pretty unbiased look at some of the things you can expect from a successful weight loss program – both the good and the bad. What do you think, have you experienced anything – good or bad – that I’ve left off the list? I look forward to hearing from you!
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