3 Surprising Side Effects of Major Weight Loss

June 25th, 2014 | Posted by Erica House in Life
I try not to constantly write about 50 pounds I lost years ago. It would be pretty  boring if I did and in the grand world of weight loss 50 pounds is hardly a drop in the bucket. I like to bring it up on occasion though as new readers may not have stalked the ‘about me‘ page yet and are likely unaware that I used to be overweight. That transformation from being an emotional over-eater, 5 night a week drinker & 2 pack a day smoker is the basis for why I am a passionate health freak now.
BeforeWhile I am SO SO happy I’m now at a healthy weight I was surprised by a few ‘side effects’ once I lost the bulk of the weight (I lost about 35 pounds in a year and then 15 pounds the second year.) Here are 3 weight loss side effects I wasn’t prepared for:
1. Social Isolation. After you start making an effort to eat well and respect your body it can be difficult to hang out with your friends who eat out regularly and drink until the wee hours of the night. I love having fun and can still party with the best of them but when drinking started interfering with my workouts the next day and the lack of healthy choices on restaurant menus suddenly became  more apparent to me I realized I would have to cut back on the time I spent engaging in social activities. To avoid feeling isolated you can seek out ways to meet new people who share the same healthy lifestyle habits you now embrace. Try out some new classes at your gym, begin a yoga practice, or even become a member of an online community.
2. Accusations. Every day at work I bring my own lunch and a few snacks to keep my metabolism revved up. I can confidently say almost every person in our office has made some comment about my eating habits. “Why do you always eat a salad you’re so thin?” Yes, that’s part of the reason why I’m thin. “Oh don’t ask Erica if she wants any of the cake she’ll just say ‘no’ she’s so healthy.” (Well that sucks I was really looking forward to having a slice!)  Even well-meaning friends can say things that make you feel like you have to justify yourself and your lifestyle to them. Anticipate some negative reactions to your weight loss and understand that most people will not truly try to hurt your feelings but there will be some who may be struggling in their own relationship with food that may criticize you.
3. Hyperaware of faults. This was the hardest struggle for me. When I was overweight I saw myself as precisely that, overweight. I didn’t particularly hate my arms or my thighs I was just heavy all over. Once I started losing the weight I suddenly became hyperaware of all of the ‘problem’ areas. My legs and arms started showing definition but my stomach was sluggishly playing catch-up in my body’s fitness race. My self-esteem actually dropped some after the initial high of weight-loss subsided and I was left overanalyzing everything left I needed to ‘fix’. I also had to come to terms with some of the things I’ll never be able to fix (hello stretch marks!). Finally, I had to retrain myself to focus on the amazing progress I had made and realize my main priority is health; having energy throughout my day, eating to nourish and fuel my body and enjoying the tremendous improvements in my mood thanks to proper diet and exercise. If I can look in the mirror in the morning and feel beautiful – what else matters?
A version of this article first appeared on MindBodyGreen.
Have you had any negative side effects from weight loss?

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33 Responses

  • I think numbers 2 and 3 a lot of people on the thinner side can relate to! My weight doesn’t change much no matter how I eat, but people usually assume I’m thin because i don’t eat junk. Reality is when I ate a lot more junk I was just as thin, and at times thinner, so it’s ridiculous. And the stomach as a problem area I think is universal!

  • I lost about 30-35 pounds several years ago, and I definitely think that in some ways it made me even more self conscious. And I constantly feel like I’m just one bite of a cookie away from gaining it all back!

    • Erica House says:

      Isn’t that crazy? The LAST thing I would have thought I’d feel more of after losing weight is self-conscious!

      It took me a few years to feel ‘safe’ that I wasn’t going to gain the weight back again.

  • Georgie says:

    These problems are so relatable even if you haven’t lost a lot of weight, but are just trying to make a change for yourself. People will always judge what you do when they have no idea your motivations or your struggles – thanks for such an open honest post! Really refreshing.

  • I definitely agree with this after losing 50 pounds myself! Number two drives me insane. People always make comments of what/ how I eat and make assumptions I’ll never eat a piece of cake, a cookie or ice cream. Then they make me feel guilty if I want to! My work trips are the worst because I’m also making salads out of the buffet were provided like taking apart sandwiches and bringing my own food. Someone will always make a comment. I like salads people!!

  • Thanks for sharing this. You can go to my about me also. I lost 85 lbs. Congrats on your weight loss. I actually got accused of cheating on my wife. Why lose weight? If for no other reason than to get healthy and look better? I was totally caught off guard. There were people saying that I was doing it because I was having an affair and that hurt.

  • This really resonates with me. I once forgo drinking and went home early to go on a 20 mile hike the next day. A guy at the party told me I was “missing out on life not drinking and spending time with my friends.” And the food thing happens to me too. Funny how our society is at its most obese time in history and they RIDICULE those with healthy habits. Unbelievable.

    • Erica House says:

      Bahaha – what an idiot. I am SO much happier now that I focus on getting up early to exercise and am not staying out late drinking all the time.

  • Lee says:

    Weight loss has helped me to become positive by not hanging out drinking with friends and partying. I am more focused and my health is great which is most important.

  • You’ve had such an incredible journey! So inspiring! I’ve found that true friends will want to help accommodate your goals. I’ve definitely been suggesting less eating get togethers and more active get togethers lately.

    • Erica House says:

      It did help me to find a new set of friends once I started marathon training. That kind of takes over your life anyway so it worked out well to have people to talk about running with ALL THE TIME.

  • I can totally relate to all of these, while I didn’t go through a major weight loss, just 10-20 lbs (I still fluctuate, who knows at this point!). Mostly I empathize with #2. Just because I eat healthier than the average American, I get the comments. Oh, the comments. Even if it sounds like it should be a compliment, it still bothers me. “You brought your lunch? You’re so good!” I always bring my lunch to work. Everyone is used to it by now, but there’s always comments. I feel rude enough when during a lunch meeting, everyone is lined up at the provided buffet, but I brought myself a nice salmon salad. Hey, the day they start providing healthy lunches for meetings, I will join! Until then, they will have to deal with it!

    • Erica House says:

      I always felt so out of place when I would bring my lunch EVERY day and coworkers would either go out to eat, or have the provided food which rarely accommodated a healthy vegetarian.

  • Having lost 110 pounds, I went through all of that and more. I still get the comments at work–last week at a meeting someone brought donuts and a few people joked that they didn’t need to pass me the box…which was true, but still, offer it to me!

  • Good post. Since getting into healthy eating, more natural outdoor living, and to a smaller extent exercise, I’ve gotten a lot of moronic comments, passive-aggressiveness, and some actual hostility, even physical, from very egotistical people who thought they knew better or were jealous that I was doing good things for myself when they were, to put it simply, losers or fools, and usually eating a bunch of junk that I refuse to eat, which makes them feel offended. (“Oh, no he won’t eat that, he’s too good for Kraft Dinner and Hamburger Helper, he likes to eat smelly salmon” to paraphrase). I’ve been told so many times that what I eat is “weird”. My response usually includes something like, “Meat, fish, vegetables .. how is that weird? That’s just plain, natural, food that’s good for you and I like how it tastes. It’s the kind of stuff your great grandparents would have eaten and all of their ancestors before them for all human history. Not everything has to be processed or made or dressed up and flavoured and come out of a box. I eat human food, real stuff, not processed stuff like grain products or a bunch of carbs, I’m not a cow” (and I’m aware cows should eat grass, but for the sake of trying to be slightly informative I use them as an example).
    Usually this happens in homeless shelters, places I’ve had to stay, but at the regular one the usual crowd, after about a few years, finally seem to be getting used to my dietary preferences and more used to me as (sort of) one of the crew, probably in part because I get along alright with some of the more popular or respected people there, and most don’t bug me too much or give their opinions or comments anymore. They’ve pretty much accepted I’m going to what I want and I’m not out to bother anybody and I’ll stand up for myself if need be so they might as well just be civil with me. Then, happily, there are people at the other end of the spectrum, who show enthusiasm for healthy living and say stuff like, “There’s not a single bad thing in that meal!” or “That’s a lot of protein” or “I think it’s cool you like to live outside and forage and stuff”.

    • Erica House says:

      Sigh. I hate hearing that. I’ve found that when people comment about my eating habits/choices it often seems that it’s coming from a place of insecurity on their parts. Clearly that doesn’t apply to everyone, but I’ve just picked up that vibe from people who make remarks to me in a very ‘roll their eyes’ kind of way.
      You just keep kicking butt, getting healthy, and enjoying your life. Haters are going to hate!

  • Krista says:

    This is timely! I’m getting ready to visit my family this weekend and often feel like I have to justify my healthy preferences around them, which causes me anxiety. I’m slowly learning to not take it personally or get defensive…just smile and ignore. :) Oh, and I had an ex-boyfriend say something about my not needing to eat healthy because I was already thin…I told him exactly what you wrote….that the very reason he thinks I don’t need to eat healthy is BECAUSE I eat healthy. haha And since he only knew me for a couple months in time, he hadn’t a clue how much my weight fluctuates over the years and how hard I have to work at maintaining it. Similarly, I don’t know why people have a need to comment on a person’s weight at all (gain or loss). If someone brings up the topic of their weight themselves, that’s one thing, but otherwise, no comments are needed (even if someone thinks they’re being nice by pointing out someone’s weight loss, they don’t know the reason behind it…for all they know, it could be due to bad stress or an illness). I guess not everyone has the perspective.

    • Maybe with your family it will just take more time until everyone accepts there’s nothing wrong with good lifestyle decisions.
      It took me a while but I got my family to get used to me eating primal and after numerous short conversations over time explaining myself and teaching them a few things it seems like they’re leaning more towards primal eating than they used to. Sometimes they make [at least almost] 100% primal or paleo friendly meals, aside from getting everything organic because that costs too much.They still eat some grains, legumes, and sweets/junk, aren’t as concerned as I think they should be about avoiding artificial ingredients and industrial chemicals in general, and essentially know the basics of primal/paleo but not a lot of the useful minutiae, but a step or two in the right direction is still an improvement. At first it was really frustrating sometimes trying to live primal with my family because they thought I was into a fad diet or getting bad info or something and at times my parents (before they divorced and I cut off contact with my mom) wouldn’t even shop for anything I wanted, leaving not a single true [even conventional] primal/paleo source of meat in the whole house, I guess hoping I’d cave in and start eating toast or spaghetti and water injected chicken breast with sodium phosphate, but I just tried to do my best and the perseverance paid off because now it’s apparent to me that the idea of “primal living in the modern world” is no longer a foreign one to them, and my dad is fine with buying me liver and sardines while I stay at his place for a couple weeks or so and accepts that I’m choosy with my food and will refuse to eat a lot of things. As a result of his job he’s spent more time than I probably could without going crazy driving through traffic and sitting around inside doing dull work, but recently took a course about survival and foraging and has started volunteering to help clean a local trail, and in the beginning of next month him, my brother, and I are going to go camping for a few days, and he’s buying new supplies and I figure planning everything out. I don’t know if he was influenced by me in that department but this is much better than when I started on the primal path.

      • Erica House says:

        Thankfully my family was totally supportive of my ‘health nut ways’! Especially since my Dad has Celiacs they are really understanding of my food particulars. I’m glad your family was able to see the benefits. I think people immediately feel like healthy eaters would judge them if they don’t eat the same, but that’s certainly not the case for me!

  • Hi Erica,
    Great post and you look stunning.


  • That’s just like most people are. If one of them breaks out of their circle they react repellent. They know in their subconscious mind that you do it right. But they want not admit it, because then they themselves would have to change their lifestyle too. That’s why they block it out and ridicule the intruder in their consciousness. It’s easier for them to go on with their bad habits and enjoy them.

  • Heather Ignash says:

    I lost 70 pounds and I’m now 135 at 5’6. Yes I am healthy (and I’m actually working on building muscle now), but I agree with you on this article. People ridicule you for turning down desserts, fried foods, or other unhealthy “treats” (I actually don’t really like the taste of them now, I much prefer “diet” food like veggies), comment on your weight constantly, or even ridicule you for working out. It’s crazy. Luckily I have a best friend who is also healthy and has a lifestyle change sort of mindset (this is forever, not just to lose weight now) and so we have dinner “parties” where we cook together with our husbands.

    • Erica House says:

      My favorite phrase was always, “You don’t have to eat a salad you are so thin!” Really people?! Why do you think I’m so thin? Magic? I wish!