8 Common Side Effects of Weight Loss Nobody Talks About

Brittany Risher
by Brittany Risher
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8 Common Side Effects of Weight Loss Nobody Talks About

When we begin a weight-loss journey, we often have a vision of what our body and life will be like when we reach our goal weight. But the reality is typically different.

“Weight loss is something that, for people who need it, can make a huge positive impact in their lives, physically and psychologically. But weight is such a complicated and publicly visible matter that sometimes weight loss is a mixed blessing,” says Patrick O’Neil, PhD, director of the Medical University of South Carolina Health Weight Management Center.

Here is how to handle eight typical consequences of losing weight that nobody tells you about:

EXCESS SKIN

Dropping a lot of weight can lead to loose skin. “If you’re losing a significant amount of body fat, that body fat has been under your skin protruding and helping to keep the skin taut,” O’Neil explains. Depending on your genes, age and how much weight you lost, your skin will recover somewhat, he adds. Resistance training to build muscle can help some, so try that first. You may also choose to talk to a plastic surgeon about surgery to remove the skin.

LIVING IN YOUR OLD BODY

When you grow up being teased for being heavier, “you incorporate that as part of your self image,” says Sofia Rydin-Gray, PhD, behavioral health director at Duke Diet and Fitness Center. “When you lose weight, unless you develop a realistic image of yourself, you may continue to think of yourself as a bigger person.” Movement is a great way to help tune into your body, she adds. Or consider keeping one piece of larger clothing and putting it on to see how much bigger it is now. Looking at photos of you at your starting weight may also help you see the changes in your body.

COMMENTS FROM FRIENDS AND FAMILY

“Often weight plays more of a role in some relationships than we might appreciate at first,” O’Neil says. Your friends and family may not always be supportive of your weight loss. If someone questions why you’re no longer eating certain foods or always going to the gym, explain why losing weight is important to you. If a friend says you’re getting too skinny, say, “Thanks for your concern, but I’ve spoken to my doctor, and I’m at a healthy weight for me.”

ATTENTION FROM STRANGERS

Often when women lose weight, they find they get more attention from men. If this is discomforting, you feel vulnerable or you fear relationships and intimacy, speak to a therapist. “Clients sometimes say the fat has been a protection,” O’Neil says. “Oftentimes there are other issues bound up in that. In some cases, there may be a history of sexual abuse.” It’s important to work through those things with a professional.

REALIZING LIFE ISN’T THAT DIFFERENT

When researchers studied 1,979 overweight and obese adults over four years, they discovered weight loss was associated with a reduction in health risks but not with psychological benefits. “When you’re in the active weight-loss phase, it’s the honeymoon period where you are seeing results and gaining confidence,” Rydin-Gray explains. “When you are in maintenance, you’re not getting that regular feedback.” And you may not land that job or have your girlfriend propose like you thought you would. Think back to why you wanted to lose weight — what were your deeper motivations? It can help to explore what you feel is missing in your life and the barriers to achieving those things with a therapist.


READ MORE > 8 SNEAKY OFFENDERS THAT CAUSE WEIGHT FLUCTUATIONS


WORRY THAT IT’S “NOT REAL”

When you have lost weight in the past and later regained it, you may think you “can’t” lose weight. If you think your current weight loss isn’t real, listen to your self-talk and come up with counterpoints, O’Neil suggests. Pretend the weight loss is real — how would you behave differently? Why not do that now? Remember, too, that you have tools and skills you have used to lose the weight. Keep using those and it will be real, Rydin-Gray adds.

MARRIAGE CONFLICT

Shedding pounds after the wedding can cause your partner to feel threatened and insecure, leading to tension in your marriage, according to a study in the journal Health Communication. Talk to your partner if you sense this may be happening. Ask what their concerns are and talk together about how to address those concerns. If you think it’s best, see a couple’s therapist together.

YOU STILL NEED TO WORK

“Losing weight is one challenge; keeping it off is a whole new challenge,” O’Neil says. By now many of the skills you adopted in order to lose weight are habits, so keep them up. And be prepared to face setbacks. Identify the most critical pieces of your weight-control program that you can do if your weight starts to trend upward.

About the Author

Brittany Risher
Brittany Risher

Brittany is a writer, editor and digital strategist specializing in health and lifestyle content. She loves experimenting with new vegan recipes and believes hummus is a food group. To stay sane from working too hard, she turns to yoga, strength training, meditation and scotch. Connect with her on TwitterInstagram, and Google+.

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47 responses to “8 Common Side Effects of Weight Loss Nobody Talks About”

  1. Avatar Ray says:

    No one mentioned being cold all the time

    • Avatar Lu says:

      I have experienced the opposite, when I had a sedentary lifestyle I had cold all the time, now I feel that my body keeps warm all the time. Maybe are there other inherent causes…?

      • Avatar Tammy Friedman says:

        Me too. Once I started losing weight doing a keto diet, I felt warm more often compared to when I was more overweight, more sedentary, and super high carb feeling cold all the time. As we burn energy, heat is released (as well as water) so it’s maybe from that. Also, I wonder if it’s sometimes thyroid related. Cold sensitivity can be a sign of under active thyroid, i.e. hypothyroidism (as well as anemia). Obviously, though shedding massive pounds will make you more cold sensitive having a much thinner layer of fat insulation.

    • Avatar Andrew B says:

      I’ve experienced this as well. While my weight loss has been pretty modest (about 40# all told) I’ve noticed that I’m cold almost all the time now.

    • Avatar Christie Eller says:

      I’ve lost half my body weight and I’m freezing all the time. I have to put on a jacket to go to the grocery store because it’s air conditioned, plus the frozen food aisle is like Siberia. LOL.

  2. Avatar Lehlohonolo Mokone says:

    I have found the part on insecurities arising from relationships to be true. The increased attention from other women has made my partners uncomfortable, but like every good man, I have encouraged her to join me in this awarding lifestyle.

  3. Avatar Michael Walsh says:

    I started off NEEDING to lose weight at 460#. But soon changed my goal to being healthy. After losing 180+ pounds there is so much flap I’ve decided only broad shoulders + big arms will give me much confidence. Nobody I meet today knows what I’ve accomplished the past 3 years. It’s an internal mind trap. I try just to be healthy at this point.

    • Avatar PapaD57 says:

      Great work.Be proud of your accomplishments.I have lost 40 this year and feel great.20-40 to go..

    • Avatar saversavvy says:

      I agree with you I have finally decided to be healthy just for me!! Feels good.

    • Avatar Danette says:

      Sorry, but once someone posts a picture to certain platforms, the terms and conditions clearly state that legally, shared content may be re-shared by other users. Unless this was taken off of a personal website (ie: not social media) anyone can legally share it.

    • Avatar Nancy Carmichael-Stoner says:

      Lord I can feel for you! Awesome loss of weight and I am so happy for you! Hang tight! What is the biggest difference for you?

    • Avatar Paul Douglas Johnson says:

      Congratulations sir, I have traveled in your shoes. Maintain and remain healthy as life is already too short.

  4. Avatar Liane Robinson says:

    People shoving cake and biscuits in your face because they think you’re naturally thin and don’t have to be mindful of what you eat.

    • Avatar Anonymous says:

      Until they hit 30.

    • Avatar Burnt Meatballs says:

      Someone said the other day they need to bulk me up. I was laughing on the inside.

      • Avatar Liane Robinson says:

        I would have been so angry.
        My dad (the guy who called me fatty throughout my childhood) questioned whether my recent weight loss was ‘a good idea’. I pulled up an online bmi calculator and showed him that I am now in the healthy weight range whereas before I had been in overweight range. Similarly to what is said in the article about just pointing out that I’m at a healthy weight.

        • Avatar Burnt Meatballs says:

          I’ve kept of an extra 50 lbs now for over 2 years now. I am 41 years old. Your post is almost identical to my experience. Myself as a chubby unhealthy guy was not my way if life. Some people think I’m on a diet but I’m not. I’ve done high carb and low carb. I’ve found good results in both ways. I don’t do pop, candy, junk food or lots of feel good foods like cake and ice cream. I’ve tried to help others when they ask for help for weight loss but they stop listening when I tell them I’m not on a diet and I work out nearly every day. I’ve even reduced my cardio greatly but replaced with walking.

          • Avatar La Bandita says:

            Ive always been thin and maintained my weight from uni, marriage, two babies – I WORK OUT every other day.
            People get so angry hearing this. Unless you’re petite, able to maintain under eating due to cultural and generational eating disorders and smoking cigs (looking at you top half of Asian societies) you have to excercise.

            Dont attack me if you’re disabled or have a medical conditions – Im not a doctor.

    • Avatar VanillaDisgustard says:

      Cake. Yum.

  5. Avatar Heather says:

    This was an excellent article. I was so uncomfortable with the attention I got when out in public after I lost weight, and I was self-conscious about the loose skin. It felt like the weight loss outcome should have been like winning the grand prize but instead it was more of a consolation prize. I re-gained the weight and now have to lose it again, and it’s so, so hard this time because having done it before, I now don’t feel as excited for what I know will be the final outcome… it wasn’t the “dream” that I thought it would be. But it still really, really matters to me.

    • Avatar saversavvy says:

      I feel this time is different for me because I have decided to “become more healthy” Not “because I want to LOOK better”. Having this mindset has been so key. My goal has been to exercise 30 min. a day even if it is a slow walk. I have told myself that this is a forever thing and focus on that first. After that I have focused on calories but there again I am not being as “strict” with myself and if I blow it a little I don’t just blow it for good for the rest of the day. I have lost 23 pounds in 4 months and it is slowing down some but I tell myself as long as I’m not going up it’s all good. I want to lose 27 more to put me at 150. That is a good enough weight for me even though 123 is my IDEAL weight! Ha!! If I ever get there thats fine but I’m not holding my breath. I feel like at 45 years old I have finally realized that losing weight to LOOK good is not for me. I want to FEEL good no matter what I weigh and walking at least 30 min. a day does that for me. We need to take baby steps and just keep on keeping on. You’re worth it, your health is worth it. Hugs!

  6. Avatar K RAE G says:

    My question is where did you get this photo from? This is my best friend in this photo and you do not have legal permission to have her posted in this article without any type of release or permission or credit to the photographer or the model. This is not within your legal rights.

    • Avatar Eddie King says:

      Is that your business? Maybe your best friend does not mind.

    • Avatar Leslie Turner says:

      You and she can report it – there should be a link to do so right under the ad. Eddie, instead of starting up with the bully language that is typical of people who take advantage of others, why don’t you seek permission to use the photo? It IS our business whenever we see another human being taken advantage of.

    • Avatar Sharpie says:

      That’s appalling.
      Can I have your friends phone number so I can confirm it.
      I would love to get to the bottom of this.

  7. Avatar AnnieBananna says:

    Thank you for not making this one of those stupid “You have to buy all new clothes!” type of articles. No one ever acknowledges that there can be down sides to losing weight that have to be dealt with.

  8. Avatar Mike says:

    I really thought this article would talk about about biological effects on the body from being in a caloric deficit. I’ve seen people completely change their outlook on life (for the worse) because they were dieting too hard, too fast, or recklessly. Even those who do it properly experience mood swings, decrease in testosterone/sex drive, etc. Nobody seems to talk about these things.

    • Avatar La Bandita says:

      That’s the emotional component to why the person over eat or had an eating addiction to begin with. All those emotions that were held down with food now comes up and therapy is needed.

  9. Avatar Harriet Russell says:

    Good article, and all stuff I’ve experienced. But one thing I don’t agree with is the advice in “Living in Your Old Body” section to put on some of your old clothing. The one time I did that it stopped the weight loss in it’s tracks because it triggered the “I’m starving” reflex in my body, and I quickly gained it all back.

  10. Avatar Patrick Lichty says:

    Honestly, the situation around this is often no-win except for your own self-image and health. If you loe weight, people will try to reinforce your old body, and if you don’t the image that you need to will come about. it’s horrid. No one will be comfortable 100% with your change, so you have to go forward on your own. It’s worth it.

  11. Avatar Susan says:

    I can definitely relate to a lot of those. I am forever still seeing myself as my former size – i even often have will buy clothes in the wrong size when ordering online. I spend a lot of time shipping things back because I don’t “feel” like my current size. I am also always waiting for it to not “stick” even though it has stuck for a very long time. I also find myself a little resentful of people who treat me differently now that I’m no longer obese. It’s not just “attention from men” but more career opportunities as well. It’s really amazing how much discrimination there is based on our size.

  12. Avatar Zombie Q says:

    Feeling vulnerable now that all the insulation is gone. This is especially true with people recovering from trauma.

  13. Avatar Margaret Owens Floeter says:

    This is a great article…about time someone wrote one. One thing you left out for those of us who had rapid weight loss (I lost 250 lbs in 2 years through keto)…you can also temporarily, or in some cases, permanently, lose a lot of hair. I was almost bald for a while, but about 50 percent of my hair has grown back during maintenance. I think at the ripe age of 59, I probably won’t regain all the hair I lost, but it’s well worth the good health and years of life I’ve gained as a result of my weight loss.

  14. Avatar Nancy Carmichael-Stoner says:

    I can not figure out why sometimes I am so focused and strong eating correctly and then bang I fall off said wagon I am down about 33lbs and need to be healthy to lose about 50 more. I set small goals but the weight is just not going down much.

  15. Avatar Nancy Carmichael-Stoner says:

    One additional comment… I do understand the loose skin but the lady in the picture does not have loose skin!

  16. Avatar David Tossell says:

    You forgot to mention that often you need a whole new wardrobe, as your clothes are now too large for you.

  17. Avatar Sharpie says:

    Oh Brittany , you do make me laugh.

  18. Avatar Sharpie says:

    I actually lost 200 pounds when I got divorced.
    Kicked the fat swamp donkey out of the house.
    Happy fucking days.

  19. Avatar paul merriman says:

    The most unhealthy yet normal looking people are those who choose to be vegan as it is so unnatural to human biology, which would go some way to explaining why people in this group are always seemingly ill with things from flu, colds, lethargy and psychological conditions

  20. Avatar Anil Dhingra says:

    Weight loss can harm your body more. Sometimes you are not strong enough to bear the weakness caused by weight loss.

  21. Great post I really like it. Gaining too much weight is a very big problem these days and the most common reason behind it our unhealthy lifestyle and diet. Your blog helps people a lot. I also want to add some more points about common negative side effects of weight loss are

    You may find sagging skin or stretch marks.
    You might feel colder.
    Might have sleeping trouble.
    Your taste perceptions may changes.
    It might affect your relationship also.
    Depression.

  22. Avatar someguy.harrison says:

    Comment “attention from strangers” is not at all confined to women; in fact I’d say women feel more at liberty to both comment on and place their hands on men, than vice versa.

    I say this because I experienced it. I lost 40 lbs and got super fit maybe seven years or so ago. The attention from women regarding my physique was very noticeable, at times extreme, far in excess of what it had been since my college days (when I was athletically fit). Women would frequently place their hands on my chest, back, shoulders, thighs when sitting, etc. It happened quite a bit. I would object (excuse me…do I know you?) and frequently they’d take offense: “hey if you don’t want to talk to me you don’t have to be a jerk.”

    I would laugh and think, “imagine if I told them to keep their hands to themselves.”

  23. Avatar Paul Douglas Johnson says:

    Each of these points presented fit me to a tee. After a heart scare 4 years ago I began to cut back on my eating slowly, then with purpose, became fanatic, and finally into maintenance mode. I have experienced each of these effects. My family kept telling me “you’ve lost enough”, “your too skinny”, “we’re worried about you”. My skin is lose and wrinkly, but I go to the gym 3 or 4 times a week and that is helping. I am now at realizing life is not that different, I miss the comments on how great you look and what are you doing to lose weight. I am now just a normal guy trying to think small.

    I’m 61 now and 146 pounds lighter, my family physician and heart doctor are quite happy, blood work is spot on and my BMI is at normal for the first time since I was born. I rarely if ever have a cheat day. The way I feel today is how I want to go out in life and unhealthy food is not on option, moderated healthy food is now my lifestyle. Pizza? Never have another slice again and don’t miss it to be honest; its a gateway drug.

    My Fitness Pal has played a key role in being able to do this. I’ve tracked every day for 2 1/2 years except for last week Thanksgiving. Not that I couldn’t, I just became lazy. I’m back now.

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