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7 Surprising Ways Weight Loss Can Change Your Personality

Shedding pounds can sometimes mean more than just a slimmer silhouette

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You might get bummed out

Weight loss success doesn’t automatically guarantee success in other areas of your life. So if you think a thinner you will lead to a happier you, you might experience a letdown and not the euphoria you expected. “Sometimes other things are making you unhappy, and the expectation that weight loss will fix them doesn’t pan out, which makes you even more unhappy,” says Gail Saltz, MD, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of medicine. (Check out other surprising things experts won’t tell you about weight loss.)

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The routines of your own life could feel unfamiliar

If you think you’re going to step out into the world à la Mary Tyler Moore, tossing your hat skyward in a state of look-at-my-body-now excitement, you could be in for a surprise. Losing weight after being heavy—especially if you were overweight for a long period of time—may be an uncomfortable adjustment. For example, you may still find yourself unsure of your movements in public, still turning sideways to navigate crowds or to fit into restaurant booths when in reality, you no longer need to. (Related: Use these tricks from skinny people to keep the weight off.)

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You may struggle with body image issues

Even if you’re sporting a slimmer silhouette, you still consider yourself fat. Experts even coined a term for this non-existent excess weight: “phantom fat.” Psychologist Elayne Daniels, PhD, explains that when you lose weight, you may wrestle with lingering memories of your heavier self—a confusing dichotomy that can create inner turmoil. “People who were formerly overweight often still carry that internal image, that perception, with them,” she says. “Body image is a lot harder to change than the actual physical body is.” Uses these science-backed tips to boost your confidence now.

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You may get anxious

After you lose weight, the drive to maintain your new, trimmer figure could make you feel anxious on a regular basis. Situations such as holiday meals, outings with friends, and business lunches could trigger anxiety as you become tempted by foods you used to enjoy. The behavioral changes you’ve had to make—and continue to maintain—mark a significant departure from the food comfort zones toward which you used to gravitate, creating moments of anxiety regularly. (Related: Use these 14 magic phrases to quell your anxiety.)

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You’ll want to climb a mountain

You’ll likely feel surges of energy that spark a new interest in physical experiences. Weight loss and improvements in your oxygen efficiency go hand in hand, bringing about higher energy levels that make it easier—and fun—for you to take on physical challenges that might have been uninteresting and nearly impossible when you were overweight. So don’t be surprised if you’re more spontaneous and eager to try activities like mountain climbing or even skydiving. (Steal the secrets of women who manage to work out every day.)

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You’ll learn to love exercise

Even if you used to inwardly curse the thought of a fitness routine, you’ll probably start loving it now—or at least like it more. Adam Tsai, MD, a physician at Kaiser Permanente Colorado and a spokesperson for the Obesity Society, says that weight loss eases stress on your body in ways that make heading to the gym more enjoyable. It’s hard to enjoy exercising when you’re suffering from weight-related aches and pains, but in your lighter body, you’ll truly look forward to long walks, squats, and bicep curls. These tips can help you get the most happiness out of your daily walk.

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You might become more adventurous in the bedroom

Don’t be surprised if your sexual desires intensify after weight loss—and it’s not just because you’re more body confident. Weight loss and increased libido are linked; a too-high BMI can interfere with hormones, making physical intimacy the last thing on your mind. Additionally, physiological changes such as slowed blood flow to your clitoris can occur when you’re overweight, interfering with sensations. Carrying around less weight will likely make you friskier than you’ve felt in a long time, and feeling great about the new you certainly helps.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Jennifer Lea Reynolds
Jennifer Lea Reynolds is a journalist and advocate. Her articles on mental-health topics like ADHD, body image, relationships, and grief have been published in outlets including U.S. News & World Report, Reader’s Digest, Woman’s Day, Smithsonian magazine, Mental Floss, and The Huffington Post. She has been a featured guest on national podcasts, including Distraction and Health Check. Reynolds is the founder of The Kindness Couture, an effort dedicated to shedding cloaks of negativity and making sure kindness remains in style. From kindness in the corporate culture to easy ways to demonstrate caring acts, she is dedicated to showcasing the benefits of compassion and empathy. Motivated by her own unpleasant experiences with bullying, Reynolds also draws on research about the decline of workplace kindness. Her Facebook page, The Kindness Couture, provides more information about increasing empathy. Reynolds is the author of two children’s picture books encouraging kindness, compassion, and hope in young people—Carl, The Not-so-Crabby Crab and The Cat Who Loved the Moon. A graduate of Monmouth University, she lives in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire.