You know in the movie Mean Girls when Cady has the sudden realization that there are a million reasons to be insecure about your body? "Before I just thought you could be fat or skinny."
That was totally me up until I was 19 or 20. Honestly, I just never really thought about nutrition, exercise, or my body size at all. I was so focused on how much I could learn, work, and what I could create. I loved food, cooking, and eating. I was always the party mom cooking dinner for my roommates and baking cookies after midnight.
It just never really occurred to me that regularly eating half a pan of cookies at midnight might not be the healthiest thing in the world.
Then I remember the exact moment I decided I was too fat. It was a random August Saturday, I was alone in my Toronto apartment... maybe I saw myself in the mirror at a different angle or something? It was a sudden realization hit me, "I need to lose weight." In hindsight, what I needed was some body positivity, but at the time I decided to change my lifestyle.
That day I downloaded the Couch25K app on my phone and started running. I went to the bookstore and bought the first diet book I saw that promised a plan for weightloss. Overnight my entire lifestyle changed. Obviously, this was before I ever studied nutrition.
I lost about 30lbs really quickly. I was running 5k every day, eating what I thought was a healthy diet, and happy to see the number on the scale going down every day. Back then, it seemed like a simple problem with a simple solution.
(Ah, I've never shared these pictures before!)
On my weight loss journey, though, I ended up encountering some issues. While I felt really alone, I now know all of them are a common (even universal) side effect of dieting. No one really talks about these things though, so I want to share the 5 things I wish I had known before I decided to pursue weight loss.
1. You will get REALLY cold.
I never used to be particularly bothered by the cold, but after I lost weight that changed. I became super sensitive to the cold and started wearing sweaters outside even in the summer.
Now that I understand weight loss, it makes perfect sense that this happens. Not only do you lose body fat, which literally keeps you warm by definition, but you also slow down your metabolism by losing weight. To compensate for the caloric deficit, your body will preserve energy where it can and one of the ways is to turn down the thermostat.
If you're feeling really cold and have recently lost weight, ask your doctor about checking in on your thyroid to make sure it's working properly. You should also consider seeing a nutrition professional to help ensure you're eating the right foods and eating enough to avoid damaging your metabolism.
2. If you're shedding weight, you'll be shedding hair.
These days, I have probably 40% less hair than I used to. Isn't that crazy?! This is one of the big changes that no one told me accompanies weight loss.
When you starve your body (which is what you're doing, for better or worse) there is less left over to make long, healthy, thick hair. This is particularly annoying because it can really exacerbate the negative body image most people are already dealing with on a weight loss journey.
This can be prevented to an extent by eating a nutrient dense diet, so you are still meeting nutrition requirements even if your calories are reduced. Protein is especially important for healthy hair, so aim for around 30% of your calories to come from protein.
3. Your confidence had nothing to do with your weight.
When I was getting close to my "goal weight" I learned that my goal weight wouldn't be enough. I was already planning to lose more. At my lowest weight, I was 114lbs, freezing cold all the time, with thinning hair and an irregular period... and I still wanted to lose more because I didn't feel confident yet.
It turns out that if you don't love your body at your current weight, you probably won't love it at a lower weight. We're brainwashed to think that losing weight will make us like our bodies more, but it's pretty much BS... you will have way more work to do.
If you have a desire to lose weight, you should really analyze the reason behind it. Want more energy? Want to feel sexy? There are probably steps you can take to get closer to those goals that have nothing to do with dieting or weight loss. You should start working on that stuff, because we all eventually learn that weight loss doesn't guarantee happiness.
4. You're not the only one who binge eats.
This side effect was definitely the WORST one. If you've lost weight, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
Someone people call it 'rebound eating' because it's intrinsically linked to restrictive dieting and weight loss. Basically, our bodies are expertly programmed to NOT DIE. If you are losing weight, your body doesn't understand that it's by choice and all the protective mechanisms that we evolved to survive starvation will kick in.
This is especially common when the caloric deficit is significant - so if you're in a rush to lose weight SLOW DOWN.
Losing weight too quickly puts you at risk for increased hunger hormones, decreased satiety hormones, and an obsessive hunger that will not go away. There is a big difference between overeating and binge eating. If you're feeling out of control or helpless when it comes to your food intake, know that you're not the only one who struggles with this! I highly reccomend seeking out a nutrition professional who specializes in eating disorders and disordered eating.
The good news...
... is that most of these are preventable if you skip crash dieting and actually do a program that's designed for long-term health.
Weight loss really is a science, and it's hard to outsmart your biology. Slow and steady wins the race, guys! I really wish that I had known all the ways food can boost metabolism, which nutrients prevent cravings, and how to exercise in a way that wasn't just focused on calorie burning.
TELL ME: Can you relate to any of these issues? Do you want me to go more in-depth on any of this info? Leave me a comment because I always want to know what you think!
If you're on a similar journey and could use some guidance, book a free discovery session with me and we can chat about if nutritional counselling would help! Or check out my monthly meal plan membership here.