This is such a small thing but a major one for anyone who is or has ever been seriously overweight. At 320 pounds and a size 24 US, I hated shopping for clothes. As a general rule, plus-size clothing selection sucks. Everything is sleeveless, has butterflies or ridiculous sayings like, "Live, laugh, love!" and is shaped like a potato sack. Nothing ever fit right and if it did, it made me look 80 years old. It was the worst.
Now, I'm a size 14 US, sometimes a 12 depending on the brand, and have discovered a whole new world of shopping. I like the way clothes look on me and there are more (not to mention way better designed) things to choose from. I don't believe you should have to be small to find decent clothing — the fashion industry needs to start creating flattering, stylish clothes for all sizes — but this has definitely been an unexpected but welcome perk.
It's given me a passion for fitness.
Changing my diet and shedding so much of the weight that my body was dragging around on a daily basis really helped amp up my gym sessions. The harder I worked, the harder I was able to work, and I totally fell in love with the gym.
In a way, I hardly even recognize myself — while initially I was winded just riding the stationary bike for 10 minutes, I now run, do spin classes, and even hit up long sessions on the dreaded stair climber five times a week. I love challenging myself and my body to see how far I can go.
I have so much more energy.
This likely goes without saying, but when I was heavily overweight, I was also tired a lot. This was largely due to my unhealthy diet, which contained a lot of takeout, convenience foods, and way too much sugar. Sure, I ate vegetables and healthier, home-cooked meals even at my heaviest, but not nearly as much as I should have done.
I lost my weight following a ketogenic diet and will continue with this way of eating for the foreseeable future as I love the way it makes me feel. Ditching the starchy and sugary carbs and filling my plate with healthy fats, lean proteins, and lots of vegetables on a daily basis has, in combination with my weight loss, taken my energy levels to new heights.
I no longer have those mid-day slumps and I don't feel wiped out after a long day at work. Sure, I get exhausted sometimes when things have been particularly hectic — I'm only human, after all — but this happens way less frequently and I find myself bursting with energy more often than not.
People treat me differently.
I wouldn't necessarily say this was a positive as I don't think you should treat someone a certain way based on their appearance to begin with, but I can't lie and say I haven't noticed it. When I was at my heaviest, I often noticed people staring at me when I was eating at a restaurant or they were short or rude to me when I was out and about.
This may or may not have been because of my weight, and I'm sure my own insecurities certainly heightened these observations, but it's no secret that we live in a largely fat-phobic society and overweight people are treated differently. For better or worse, now that I'm thinner, I feel like I "fit in" much more, and having been on the other side of the fence, it's a very weird feeling.
The reason behind this one is simple: Because I have more energy, I move more. Whether I'm walking the dog, heading to the gym, doing chores around the house, or generally getting out and about in the world, I'm lighter on my feet and therefore much more keen to be on them more often. It feels great.
I'm now a master in the kitchen.
In order to lose weight, you have to change your diet — that's just a given. Sure, you could probably lose weight on prepackaged diet meals and other convenience foods, but that wouldn't be healthy and sort of defeats the purpose of trying to change your life.
I've always liked cooking, but my diet meant I had to actually do it every single day. This meant I got really good at it and truly developed a passion for discovering new flavors and making some delicious meals.
I've been inspired to work hard to keep it off.
At the end of the day, my journey doesn't end when I reach my goal weight. Considering most people who lose a significant amount of weight tend to gain it back and then some, I know I face an uphill battle.
Still, given how much my overall lifestyle has changed since starting down this road, I feel confident that with hard work and dedication, I can not only keep the weight off but continue to build strength and foster my love of fitness. My determination has helped me get this far, so I have faith it'll continue to inspire and empower me.