No matter how many pounds you dropped-10, 20, 50-plus?!-reaching your weight loss goal was a major victory. But even though you’re feeling lighter and your clothes are fitting better, the hard work isn’t necessarily over. Whether you want to maintain or keep losing, there are many emotional, physical, and interpersonal challenges ahead. (Such as these 9 Things No One Ever Warned You About Losing Weight.) Fear not! While unscientific, we polled dozens of women on their post-weight loss struggles and rounded up their top 10 responses so you can better prepare for your journey.
- Celebrating with Food
We live in a food-centric society. Got a new job? Buy me a drink! Just got engaged? Bring on the cake. So, as with any major milestone, your first instinct when you reach your weight loss goal may be to celebrate with the food you deprived yourself of while trying to lose. Instead, reward yourself with some new clothes. Which brings us to…
- Shopping for New Clothes
This can be a positive or a negative, depending on how you look at it. On one hand, new clothes! On the other, it might cost a small fortune to completely overhaul a closet of threads you spent a lifetime accumulating. Think of new clothes as a treat to yourself-and earn some good karma by donating the stuff you no longer need.
- Beating Yourself Up Over Slip-Ups
Moments of weakness are bound to happen, and just because you’ve reached your goal weight doesn’t mean your cravings will automatically disappear. It’s OK to give in every once in a while-just don’t let a small slip turn into a giant slide. If you have a bad meal, it doesn’t need to derail your whole day. If you have a bad weekend, get right back on the horse come Monday. Above all, just don’t give up on yourself. (We’ve got your back with The Once-Heavy Girl’s Guide to Being Slim.)
- Adjusting to Your New Norm
As anyone who has lost weight will tell you, this is not a diet, this is a lifestyle. For some, that realization of “I have to do this for the rest of my life” scares them right back into their old habits. Make a plan for maintenance just like you did for weight loss-you’re in this for the long haul. (Steal some tricks from this Monday-Sunday Diet Plan to Lose Weight in a Week.)
- Thinking You Can Stop Exercising
Much like how your relationship with food has changed, so should your relationship with the gym. Just because you’re happy with the number on the scale doesn’t mean you should stop your newfound love for spin class and strength training. Once you reach your goal weight, shift your focus-instead of exercising to lose weight, exercise to build muscle or increase endurance. (Get started with our 4-Week Weight Training Plan for Women.)
- People Constantly Admiring Your New Bod
You’ll hear it many times on your weight loss journey: a well-meaning friend, co-worker, or cousin you haven’t seen in a while who, upon spotting you, exclaims, “You look great!” You smile and nod politely, perhaps indulging them in how you dropped the weight, but what you really want to say is, “What? I didn’t look good before?!”
- People Ignoring Your New Bod
On the flip side, once the newness of your weight loss begins to fade, the compliments will come fewer and further between. It’s totally OK to admit you kind of miss those confidence boosters. Just don’t allow the lack of praise to distract you from remembering that you started this journey for you and nobody else. You don’t need approval from anyone.
- Changing Relationships
Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, your relationships could change once you achieve your goal weight. Your closest family and friends may not understand your new lifestyle, and may even be a little jealous of all the positive attention you’re receiving and confidence you’re exuding. Be strong-you don’t need to please them, they need to accept your new, healthy self! (Learn how to manage the 5 People Who Are Jealous of Your Weight Loss.)
- Setting New Goals
After the weeks, months, maybe even years it took to achieve your weight loss goal, seeing that number on the scale is a huge accomplishment-but it may also be a little anticlimactic. You may find yourself thinking, “What now?” To keep your body and mind on their toes, set new goals, like completing a half-marathon or adding weight to machines at the gym. (We have 7 Items for Your Fitness Bucket List to get you started.)
- Seeing Yourself in a Positive Light
Have you heard of phantom fat? It’s a syndrome experienced by people who shed pounds, but still feel like they’re carrying that weight around. Actively practice appreciating your body by focusing on the things you love about your new figure-whether it’s your Michelle Obama arms or Serena Williams legs-and a positive body image will follow.