It’s easy to go into a weight-loss journey with all sorts of expectations about what you have to do to lose weight, how you’ll feel along the way, and when you’ll be satisfied with the results. Once you get started, though, it quickly becomes apparent there’s no one-size-fits-all method. In fact, several different strategies can help you eat healthier, make habits stick and track your progress.
You may also experience a slew of unexpected feelings — both highs and lows — as your mind, body and day-to-day habits change. While everyone’s experience with weight loss is unique, sometimes it’s helpful to get insight from people who have been there before.
Here, MyFitnessPal users share what no one told them about weight loss.
THERE’S A LOT TO LEARN
“Growing up, I was never educated on proper nutrition, fitness or how the body actually worked. In school, the only thing I ever learned about food was the five basic food groups. So I ate whatever I wanted, drank soda like it was going extinct, and was nearly 60 pounds overweight by the time I was 37 years old. In order to lose weight, I basically had to teach myself everything. Luckily the MyFitnessPal app has great resources to help you educate yourself.”
— Ross K.
PORTION SIZES MATTER — EVEN FOR HEALTHY FOODS
“For years, I thought I was eating healthy. But once I started food logging with the MyFitnessPal app, I realized my portions were the problem. For example, I used to eat mixed nuts as a healthy snack at work — but I didn’t realize that 8 walnuts alone is roughly 100 calories! I quickly learned even wholesome foods can be high in calories — and you have to adjust portion sizes to lose weight.”
— Ben H.
TRACKING MACROS CAN HELP
“Some days, I feel like eating is a full-time job — I’m new to tracking macronutrients and I’m still learning how to hit my targets. I even have to set alarms to remind myself to eat snacks throughout the day. I spent so long believing ‘eating less = skinny’ when really it’s ‘eating right = lean.’“.
— Sarah W.
YOU MAY NOT BE BURNING AS MANY CALORIES AS YOU THINK
“No one told me how many calories you actually burn exercising. Because I’ve always been really active (60–90 minutes of strenuous exercise a day), I told myself it didn’t matter how many calories I consumed. Then I started tracking my intake and exercise with MyFitnessPal. I realized I was wildly overestimating how many calories a 1-hour spin class burned and seriously underestimating how many calories were in my green smoothie and fruit breakfast. It really opened my eyes.”
— Marissa D.
IT HAS TO BE SUSTAINABLE
“At the beginning of my weight-loss journey, I adopted a strict keto diet and lost 80 pounds fast. Thinking I’d won the battle, I stopped watching my weight. I gained back 40 pounds even faster. I learned I had to stop fad dieting and change my lifestyle for good. Today, I’ve maintained my weight for the past two years by watching the amount of calories I consume and exercising regularly (while still enjoying the occasional sweet drink or slice of pizza).”
— David H.
SOME FOODS MIGHT NOT BE AS APPETIZING ANYMORE
No one told me how icky I’d feel after eating unhealthy takeout, especially in the amounts that I used to eat. Now, I can only eat half of my go-to order at fast-food restaurants — and it makes my stomach feel absolutely horrible. I can’t help but think, ‘How did I eat all that and still feel OK?’”
— Sean T.
YOU CAN CONQUER CRAVINGS
“Before I started losing weight, I was discouraged by the thought that life would be a constant battle against cravings for chocolate and sugar. I thought it would be too overwhelming to even try, since I was clearly one of those people who had more cravings than ‘normal.’ But I was wrong. After I began eating right, the cravings went away. Now, I allow myself to indulge every now and then.”
— Sabrina L.
THE BENEFITS ARE MORE THAN JUST THE NUMBER ON THE SCALE
“In the past year, I lost 75 pounds. Now, I can scratch my whole back again, reach down to tie my shoes, or cross my legs without pulling them to my lap. I can move around more easily, get on the floor and up again. It’s easier to get out of my car. The biggest thing: I have almost no aches and pains like I used to. Where walking 1 mile used to be a huge accomplishment, walking 5 miles is a snap.”
— Tom Z.
YOU MAY FEEL LIGHTER
“No one told me I’d literally feel like weight had been lifted from my chest. Now that I’ve lost weight, I sleep so much better, and it’s easier to breathe.”
— Hannah P.
YOU MIGHT NOT BE RECOGNIZED AS EASILY
“As I lost weight, instead of buying new clothes, I wore my old clothes. My journey was a slow one, so to find smaller-sized clothes, I had to go back to my wardrobe from decades ago. Think: extra-long jorts and paisley shirts. When my parents visited me, they literally didn’t recognize me at the airport — they walked right past me!”
— Keith J.
ALL SORT OF THINGS WON’T FIT ANYMORE
“Find and make friends with your local consignment shop and don’t splurge too much on clothes until you reach (and have stayed at) your goal weight for a while. You’ll need a new wardrobe, and even your shoes may no longer fit. Even jewelry can become loose when you lose weight, so don’t be too quick to resize your wedding bands — most jewelers won’t do it more than once.”
— Diana M.
IT’S NOT AN AUTOMATIC SELF-CONFIDENCE BOOSTER
“No one told me reaching my goal weight wouldn’t make me magically feel good about myself — that I’d still look in the mirror and find flaws. As soon as I realized the number on the scale wasn’t going to make me happy with myself like I thought it would, I went to work getting to the root of my insecurities. Now, I journal to focus on what I’m grateful for, including my body (like how my strong arms allow me to carry around my 2-year-old), I ‘catch’ negative thoughts and replace them with more positive ones and practice affirmations to improve my self-image.”
— Tami S.
YOU MAY HAVE TO DEAL WITH LOOSE SKIN
“I’ve lost 125 pounds, and the loose skin is real. I’ve learned bodies are imperfect — you’ll never have a perfect body because none of us do. But you will have a stronger, more resilient, healthier and beautiful body. If loose skin causes discomfort, there are solutions. I plan to see what happens after two years of weight-loss maintenance. I’m hoping it will get better. I’m also learning to appreciate it.”
— Stephanie L.
IT’S RARELY A ONE-AND-DONE PROCESS
“Over the course of many years, I’ve fallen off the wagon a couple of times, mostly after the holidays or a vacation. Seeing the scale creeping up can make me feel as if I’ve wasted my time and effort getting in shape and I should just give up. But checking back over the Progress section of the MyFitnessPal app to see my progress shots and weight lost over time is so motivating. Seeing my previous achievements confirms I can do it, and my inspiration isn’t some fitness model or celebrity on Instagram — it’s me!”
— Laura C.
NOTHING BEATS THE FEELING OF INSPIRING OTHERS
“Everyone has an opinion about your weight-loss journey and some will feel entitled to share it with you for better or worse. The key here is to not let it get to you. Some people will put you down or make off-comments, but so many more will look at you and think, ‘Well if they can do it, why can’t I?’ And suddenly you become a success story and inspiration. I can’t possibly put that feeling into words.”
— Chris G.
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