When I set out to lose 75 pounds seven years ago, I knew things would be different once I met my goal. After all, losing weight improves your overall health, reduces your risk for certain health conditions and changes the way your body looks and feels.
But while dropping a few pounds can be overwhelmingly positive, there are some surprises (and not always good ones) that you might not be ready for.
You may run a bit on the cooler side.1 of 12
When I was overweight, it seemed like I was always hot. Now, it's not uncommon for me to dress in three layers and still be cold. According to Sue Decotiis, M.D., a triple board certified weight loss specialist, this is because your thyroid hormone levels decrease when you lose weight, which can make you feel chilly.
People notice you more.2 of 12
I've always had a larger than life smile that seemed to draw looks from others. But after losing weight, people looked at me even more. To be honest, I was a little paranoid at first. But then I realized the way I carried myself had changed, and people noticed. I'm not alone. Decotiis says many of her weight loss patients tell her that people smile at them more, nod at them in the street and hold the door more often.
Your body image issues may not go away.3 of 12
Even though I initially gained a bit of confidence with my new body, my life-long battle with low self-esteem and body image issues did not go away. I had high hopes this would magically disappear after losing weight, but it didn't. This is an important reminder that losing weight is not the answer to all of your problems, and sometimes deeper work needs to be done in addition to weight loss.
The loose skin is still there.4 of 12
After having two babies and losing a significant amount of weight, I knew there would be some skin to deal with. But I wasn't expecting it to stick around forever. Even though the pounds may be gone, you will be dealing with some leftover skin for the rest of your life, unless you decide to have plastic surgery.
Better Zzz's.5 of 12
When I started my weight loss journey, I had a one-year-old and a three-year-old. Sleep was not something I was getting much of. Factor in the extra weight, and my nighttime beauty rest was anything but peaceful. Fortunately, as my health started improving, so did my sleep quality. I slept more soundly, snored less and woke in the morning feeling rested and ready for the day.
According to a 2014 study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, people who lost five percent or more of their body weight reported snoozing about 22 minutes longer per night and having better quality sleep.
Daily tasks are much easier.6 of 12
As I lost weight, I realized I could really move. Getting off the floor became easier and I enjoyed exercising In fact, after each five pound loss, my joints ached less, my energy grew and my chronic back pain decreased.
Susan Besser, M.D., a primary care provider specializing in family medicine in Baltimore, says her patients report things to her like better sleep, higher energy levels, better breathing and improved digestion—all of these things make daily tasks so much easier.
Your shoes might be too large.7 of 12
Going clothes shopping is one of the best rewards after losing a significant amount of weight. But be ready to purchase new shoes, too. It's not uncommon to see your shoe size decrease by a 1/2 size. Besser tells patients to be aware that the fit of their glasses might also change, so new frames may be needed.
Your wrinkles are more noticeable.8 of 12
When you lose weight, your face narrows and shows more details, meaning some wrinkles and fine lines may become more obvious. The first picture I saw of myself after my dramatic weight loss revealed crow's feet I never knew existed. Nutritionist Anna Baker says this occurs because extra layers of fat on the face can hide such features, and as body fat percentage decreases, fine lines become more prominent.
Your allergies may improve.9 of 12
Get ready to spend less time sniffing and popping those allergy meds. Decotiis says that allergy symptoms often diminish due to less strain on the adrenal glands and respiratory system from being overweight.
Increase in gallstones.10 of 12
Some people I've talked to said they dealt with gallstones after rapid weight loss. Besser explains that as your body burns fat quickly, some of the cholesterol in the liver seeps into the bile, which can cause cholesterol gallstones. The good news, though, is that gallstones are easy to fix. If you start developing gallstones while losing weight, slow the process down and focus on losing a maximum of one to two pounds per week.
Some people assume you're not healthy.11 of 12
Even though my weight loss was slow and steady, I still had people asking if I was OK. Friends, co-workers and family watched what I ate and asked about my workouts. Often, the questions were not intended to gain information, but rather, to criticize and speculate as to how healthy I really was. As long as you are approaching your weight loss in a sustainable way that's right for you, these concerns should fade with time.