Maybe you’ve been dreaming of this moment for some time, but now you’ve reached your weight loss goal, maybe you weren’t expecting it to affect your mental health.
For many people, shedding a significant amount of weight is a great confidence boost. It’s a big achievement. But for others, it may be a moment of ‘what next?’ Or they may have thought all their problems would go away or they would feel differently.
Ways to manage your mental health if you’ve lost a huge amount of weight
1. Get support or speak to a professional about how you feel
It takes time to adjust to how you look. You may not see yourself the way you look now. So it’s important you have a strong support network to help you along your journey.
Interestingly, a recent study tracked overweight patients with type 2 diabetes who had lost weight. Researchers found that that those with support were less likely to suffer from depression afterwards.
Speak with your GP or speak with a counsellor if you feel you need professional support.
2. Change your goals
Once you have hit your target weight, rather than just give up, set about a new goal of maintaining this weight and living a healthier lifestyle.
Another study conducted by researchers University College London examined 1,979 overweight or obese individuals to investigate the effects of weight loss on both physical and mental health.
They found participant’s mood improved once they started focusing on maintaining their weight loss.
“We do not want to discourage anyone from trying to lose weight, which has tremendous physical benefits, but people should not expect weight loss to instantly improve all aspects of life,” said lead author Sarah Jackson.
“However, mood may improve once target weight is reached and the focus is on weight maintenance.”
3. Communicate with your significant other
It’s important during your weight loss journey to talk to your significant other about how you are feeling.
When one partner loses weight, it can change the dynamics in the relationship – but it doesn’t have to! Maybe your partner wants to lose weight as well, so you can encourage them to join in.
Or they may feel like you have a new focus now and make them feel guilty for what they are doing – or not doing.
It’s important you are honest, tell your significant other that you are doing this for you, not to make them feel better and you’d love them to join in with you.
4. Your friendships might change
Were you the friend who would never turn down a night out drinking cocktails? Maybe now you’ve lost the weight and maintained a healthier lifestyle, you don’t want to have boozy nights out anymore.
Fear not, you can still catch up with friends without having to eat junk food or have wild nights on the town. Maybe go for a walk or a yoga class or invite them over for a healthier dinner at yours.
Friendships don’t need to change because you’re living a healthier lifestyle.
5. Dealing with saggy skin
When you gain weight, your skin has to stretch out to accommodate your extra fat. So it makes sense that when you shed large amounts of weight you’re often faced with loose skin.
Additionally, if you lose this fat particularly quickly or if you don’t exercise while losing weight the excess skin has nowhere to go.
Work to maintain your muscle mass by eating healthily and also be performing regular exercise. We suggest about five lots of 30-minutes per week is a good place to start.
Try a combination of cardiovascular exercise such as dance, aerobics and running and muscle toning exercises such as weight lifting, yoga or pilates.
Hydrated skin means it retains its elasticity, which is essential for preventing sagging skin. Some people advocate body brushing as a good way to tighten lose skin, it’s thought to stimulate blood flow.
6. You might feel more self-conscious about your body image
Now you’ve lost weight, you may have more clothing options to choose from or more energy than you had before – and this could feel overwhelming at first.
Take baby steps. Maybe purchase items you used to wear but in a smaller size or keep your one-piece for the beach before you decide to try a bikini, or not.
If you feel like you need to talk to someone, we advise you speak with your GP for more options. If you feel like you need help or know of someone who needs help we advise you see your GP asap or call PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) on 1300 726 306, Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 for out of hours support.