Weight loss doesn't equal happiness.
All your problems are magically solved when you lose a lot of weight: any emotional, psychological, and especially physical, evaporate in a puff of purple smoke.
Unfortunately, that's not always the case. Actually, it's hardly ever the case.
You can control the things you did to lose weight such as continuing to eat smaller portions of healthy food, exercising, and working on yourself. Much of the post-weight loss life is coming to terms with your body, making peace with it, and learning to love yourself from the inside out.
Elna Baker is a talented writer, stand-up comedian, and storyteller. Her memoir The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance is a series of stories about her body, her religion, and trying to find a boyfriend.
She's appeared on The Moth, This American Life, and her own show — If You See Something, Say Something — premiered at the New York Fringe Festival. Elna is very comfortable sharing her stories and using humor to convey them honestly.
Recently, Elna shared a not-so-funny story about the aftereffects of her 110-pound weight loss in an article on Refinery 29.
She explains, "At my heaviest I weighed 265 pounds. In my early 20s, I went on a diet and lost, in total, 110 pounds. I'd imagined that losing the weight would be like that scene in The Little Mermaid where Ariel holds her new legs above her head, staring at them in disbelief. This was not the case.
After the weight loss, she didn't look as "you're supposed" to look naked. She had an excess of extra skin.
"For a long time, I tried to get the skin to go away with lotions and exercise. Eventually, I resorted to plastic surgery. I didn't do it to alter the way I look naturally; I just wanted a chance at the body I could have had if I'd never put on weight."
She had four procedures in total.
But even surgery couldn't remove the extra skin entirely.
"When I hold my arms and legs out, I still look like a flying squirrel. I have stretch marks running down the tops of my shoulders, and there's extra skin hanging off my arms and thighs. If I bend over, my boobs droop like... extra pouches. So yeah, I don't like being seen naked."
All photos: Jessica Peterson
If a person is their desired body weight, then it stands to reason that they love their body. Did all of Elna's body issues disappeared? It turns out they were still with her.
"I think there is this idea out there that you either love and accept your body, or you're trying to fix it. I'm in neither camp. Or, maybe I'm in both simultaneously. I try to accept myself, but I struggle. I want to be in better shape (but I don't want to go to the gym). And, my weight fluctuates, so that doesn't help."
Many times when you're overweight, you put a lot of things on hold. You think to yourself, "I'll start doing yoga when I'm thin," or, "I'll feel so much better about myself when I've lost the weight."
But you can't put your life on hold. You have to make the best of it now.
Elna says, "The advice I got was this: Stop using the past to poison your present. Don't let who you used to be prevent you from getting the things in life that are available to you now."
Time goes faster than you can even imagine, and if you keep putting things off, you may never get a chance to experience them. Good things aren't just for perfect people; they're for all of us flawed individuals.
Elna ends her article with this sentiment:
"I feel like a hypocrite writing something that is supposed to tell others to accept themselves when I don't accept myself. The truth is, I genuinely think everyone should accept themselves — everyone, except for me. This is the disease I'm still trying to overcome."
It would've been easy for Elna to say that she had come to a place of peace and acceptance with her body, but she chose to be completely honest.
And in doing so, she shows us a brutal truth: even successful authors and performers, people who at first glance seem to own their place in the world, have issues and challenges when it comes to their bodies.
We're all a work in progress, even after we lose the weight.