6 Unexpected Emotional and Social Effects of Your Weight Loss Journey

Our highly skilled VIVA Wellness team is dedicated to helping patients achieve long-term results without weight loss surgery. We offer personalized weight loss programs that are designed to improve your overall health. But it’s not just about the physical benefits. Losing weight can also have a significant impact on your mental health and outlook on life.

At VIVA Wellness, we wholeheartedly believe that true well-being encompasses more than just the physical aspects of health. Our integrative and holistic approach emphasizes the interconnectedness of the body, mind, and soul. When one area experiences healing, the entire system reaps the benefits. As part of our dedication to your wellness journey, we understand that some clients may need to make significant dietary changes. Sometimes, these are short-term changes, which may be more permanent in other cases. Depending on your situation, our team may make a more general suggestion to try reducing or removing certain things from your diet, while in some cases, your own test results may sort of “mandate” these changes. While these adjustments can bring about profound health improvements, they also present unique challenges that extend beyond the plate, touching upon emotional, social, traditional, and cultural aspects of life.

Losing a significant amount of weight can have a profound impact on both the body and mind. The emotional journey accompanying dramatic weight loss is often overlooked, but it is just as important as the physical changes. While shedding excess body fat may seem like a triumph, it can also bring about unexpected challenges and feelings of unhappiness or discontent.

Paying attention to the psychological adjustments that come post-weight loss is crucial. The experience can be like riding a rollercoaster, with moments of pride and accomplishment followed by periods of low self-esteem. Including a psychologist or counselor as part of your healthcare team can help navigate the emotional effects and provide support throughout the process. If needed, we have a list of trusted therapists to refer you to who have brought hope and healing to many of our clients.

While dramatic weight loss may be appealing, it may not always lead to happiness or improved self-confidence. A gradual, sustainable approach to weight loss may be a better option for many individuals. This allows the body to adapt to the changes and minimizes the emotional impact of sudden changes in appearance.

Focusing on yourself and avoiding comparisons to others is crucial. Weight loss should be about achieving your personal healthy weight and not chasing superficial outcomes. Confidence should come from within, and learning to cope with physical changes is part of the journey.

Our team at VIVA Wellness has seen countless clients through their weight loss journey, and we have seen the unexpected effects of weight loss that go beyond the number on the scale. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you adjust to your new healthy lifestyle:

1. The Psychological Effects of Losing Weight

Struggling with weight gain is a common issue that many Americans, including those in our Milwaukee Metro community, face. Research shows that obesity rates have steadily increased over the past two decades, and this has a significant mental health impact on those affected.

Being overweight increases your risk of chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, arthritis, cancer, and severe cold and flu symptoms. While an unhealthy diet is a common cause of weight gain, other factors, such as inactivity, genetics, stress, lack of sleep, pregnancy, aging, and certain medications and diseases, can also impact weight and weight gain.

The emotional effects of weight gain can be significant, regardless of age. Social stigma and misconceptions about weight can have a lasting impact on your social life and overall well-being. Excess body fat can also lead to inflammation, which affects your immune system and can contribute to depression and feelings of isolation. Emotional eating can also become a habit, leading to further weight gain and emotional struggles.

On the other hand, weight loss has numerous benefits for your mental health. Not only does it improve your self-perception and boost confidence, but it also enhances aspects such as sleep, energy, vitality, and mood. These improvements can directly impact your outlook, body image, sex life, and social interactions. Additionally, weight loss can improve chronic conditions that contribute to mental illnesses, potentially reducing or eliminating the need for medications.

It’s important to note that achieving long-term weight loss requires a lifestyle change, not a quick fix. Many people experience short-term fat loss with fad diets but regain weight over time. That’s why our comprehensive Weight Loss Protocol is so important for maintaining long-term success. Setting long-term goals for diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes is crucial for both your physical and mental health.

Some clients have to adjust their diet plan with our nutritional guidance. Transitioning to a gluten- and dairy-free lifestyle can evoke a range of emotions. Food is integral to our lives, often intertwined with cherished memories and comfort. Letting go of familiar dishes may trigger feelings of loss or even frustration. We encourage clients to embrace this emotional journey with compassion.

Our team of experts provides unwavering support and guidance, helping individuals cultivate a positive mindset and view the change as a powerful step towards enhanced well-being. Our caring Nurse Practitioners have many years of experience in these lifestyle changes, both personally and with clients, and there are many reframes and tactics to move through these challenging moments when they present—we are here for you! That said, we also have numerous practitioners outside our clinic who may be supportive along the way—but we’ll cross that bridge if needed.

2. Navigating Social Situations While Reclaiming Your Health

Don’t let the fear of gaining weight hold you back from enjoying social events. Instead of depriving yourself, try shifting your mindset and finding ways to have a good time without worrying about overeating. Remember that the purpose of these gatherings is to reconnect with loved ones, not focus solely on food.

To avoid overeating, plan ahead and be proactive when faced with tempting foods. Don’t show up to the event starving, as the available choices are often high in calories, sugar, and fat. Eat regular meals throughout the day and have a healthy snack before attending to stay in control of your appetite.

When you arrive, focus on socializing rather than eating. Engage in conversations and enjoy the company of your friends and family. Practice eating only when hungry, not just because food is available. Choose the foods you love or those that your host specializes in. You don’t have to try every dish offered. Employ self-awareness to make better choices and control your consumption.

If possible, sit down to eat and pay attention to the food on your plate. Take time to taste and savor each bite, putting your fork down between bites. Take breaks from eating to converse with your companions and assess your level of fullness. When finished, signal to your brain that the meal is over by discarding your plate or pushing it away on a dining table.

When it comes to drinking alcohol, decide in advance how you want to handle it. If you choose not to drink, stand firm in your decision and don’t apologize for it. Alternatively, carry a non-alcoholic drink that looks like an alcoholic one. (For example, a club soda with a lime in it can look and maybe even taste a little like a gin & tonic.) If you choose to drink alcohol, stay hydrated by alternating between alcoholic drinks and water or seltzer.

Losing weight doesn’t have to feel like deprivation. It’s about changing your habits and practicing mindfulness. So, confidently say yes next time you’re invited to a social event. Enjoy everything about the event, including the food, while knowing you have the tools and mindset to continue your weight-loss journey successfully.

Our wellness experts at VIVA Wellness recognize the importance of nurturing social connections without compromising health goals. If social situations still make you uneasy during your weight loss journey, we will discuss practical strategies to communicate your dietary needs effectively, explore new culinary options, and enjoy shared experiences without compromising your wellness goals. We wholeheartedly believe that if you are involved in relationships that do not support your highest well-being, perhaps that is an opportunity to look carefully at why that may be the case. We know that when those in our social networks challenge our positive changes, it’s generally a projection of some insecurity or fear of change on their end—it’s not about you!

3. Unraveling Tradition and Cultural Implications When Dieting

Culture plays a significant role in shaping our eating habits and attitudes toward food and body weight. It influences the types of food we choose, how we prepare them, when we eat, how much we eat, and our perception of ideal weight. Our culture is shaped by various factors such as where we live, our family, age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, education level, occupation, and the occupations of our family members. It affects every aspect of our lives, including our exercise habits and body image.

Moreover, our job and work culture can strongly impact our eating habits, physical activity, and weight. If you work in food-related industries or regularly take clients out to eat, your job can greatly influence your choices. Additionally, income levels can play a role, as statistics suggest that higher-income women tend to have lower body weights, perhaps due to increased resources for gym memberships, personal trainers, and nutrition counseling.

Cultural values and norms also shape our perception of fatness and thinness. Some groups are more accepting of higher body weights, while others value thinness more. In the United States and Europe, thinness is particularly emphasized, contributing to society’s obsession with low-carb diets and weight control. However, it’s important to note that thinness does not always equate to better health.

Food often carries deep-rooted traditions and cultural significance. It forms an integral part of family rituals and celebrations. The decision to remove gluten and dairy, or reduce sweets or lower quality foods that tend to be central to many family celebrations, can be met with resistance or misunderstanding from loved ones. At VIVA Wellness, we approach this delicate subject with respect and sensitivity. Our experts facilitate open dialogues, enabling clients to educate their families about the profound impact these changes can have on their overall health, fostering understanding and support.

We also aim to move toward a state of healing where enjoying these foods sporadically, including special occasions, gatherings, and holidays, would not unravel your progress toward health. If enjoying these things in moderation occasionally creates conflict, we simply know it is part of the healing journey. The point of weight loss is to have you feel your best and eat in a way that you enjoy while getting to the root of the issue, addressing emotional challenges, and bringing you to a state of wellness.

While being overweight may increase the risk of certain health conditions, these risks vary among individuals and groups. Family history can also influence one’s susceptibility to weight-related medical problems. Still, there is an ongoing debate among researchers and health experts regarding the effects of weight on disease. Doctors at the University of Chicago School of Medicine say, “The number on the scale is just one data point. It’s part of a bigger picture,” and “You can be overweight and metabolically healthy.” That’s why, when you come to VIVA Wellness, we will get to know you as a person, including your cultural background, instead of focusing on the numbers.

4. Weight Loss Can Affect Relationships

Losing weight not only improves your health, but it can also profoundly affect your most intimate relationships. Even small amounts of weight loss can boost your self-esteem, increase your activity levels, and transform your lifestyle. These changes can either strengthen your relationships or put them to the test.

The road to weight loss is a journey of self-discovery. Shedding pounds can make you feel more comfortable socially, empowering you to seek new romantic connections or break free from toxic relationships.

Sofia Rydin-Gray, a clinical psychologist, explains that losing weight enhances self-esteem and can change the dynamics of a relationship. It allows individuals to assert their own needs more effectively and relate to others in a healthier way.

Losing weight can also make you more confident in social situations. It opens up opportunities to meet new people, as carrying so much weight can interfere with your desire to be vulnerable and approach others. The benefits of weight loss extend to romantic relationships and physical intimacy as well. Increased self-confidence, improved mobility, and enhanced energy levels make sex more enjoyable.

It’s important to involve your significant other in your weight loss journey, especially if they also aim to lose weight. Couples can become each other’s support system to successfully lose weight and maintain it. By thinking of yourselves as a team, you can make better food choices, plan meals, and exercise regularly together. The more encouragement and support couples provide each other, the more likely they are to succeed.

Your other relationships, especially those centered around food, may undergo some adjustments. For instance, if you and a coworker always bond over fast-food lunches, choosing healthier options may alter the dynamic between you two. Open communication is essential. Before embarking on a weight-loss journey, discuss the reasons behind your desire to lose weight with friends and family. Tell them about your lifestyle changes and the mutual benefits that will arise from adopting healthier habits.

Regarding friends and family, encourage non-food activities and establish positive routines, such as incorporating vegetables into every meal, going on long walks together, or opting for home-cooked meals instead of restaurants. In some cases, inviting your loved ones to support group meetings or counseling sessions might be beneficial.

However, there may be individuals in your life who won’t respond well to your weight loss, and as a result, your relationships with them may change or fade away. Many of our clients at VIVA Wellness have had to let go of negative, unhealthy relationships as a part of their wellness journey. Stay true to your journey and surround yourself with a supportive environment.

While there may be challenges along the way, the positive effects of weight loss on the positive relationships in your life far outweigh any risks. Improved health, increased self-esteem, and a greater quality of life bring happiness and fulfillment, which your loved ones should appreciate.

5. Reimagining Culinary Adventures While Losing Weight

Losing weight is already a challenge, and it gets even tougher when you have to consider your family’s preferences. However, instead of seeing this as an obstacle, embrace it as an opportunity to teach your family good eating habits that will benefit them for life. (Read about one single mom and her weight loss success.) Shift the focus from simply losing weight to emphasizing the benefits of feeling more energetic, strong, and healthy through healthier meals.

Here are some practical tips to make healthy eating a breeze for your whole family:

Your kitchen needs a cleanse:

Throw away expired or unhealthy foods and restock with healthier options. Consider it a fresh start for your new, cleaner kitchen. Save time and money by knowing where all your ingredients are. Declutter your kitchen drawers and cabinets for easy access to everything you need so you are not tempted to resort to processed food in a pinch.

Create a list of must-have items and always keep them stocked. Items like fresh fruit, nuts, and yogurt are easy to grab when you’re in a hurry as a way to curb hunger until your next meal. Keep healthy staples around that can be quickly turned into a nutritious meal when everyone is hungry and time is short. Keep track of your inventory with a running shopping list that everyone can access, and add items to your shopping list as needed.

Make cooking a family affair:

Even picky eaters are more likely to enjoy the food they’ve helped prepare. Make cooking fun by assigning special tasks, creating a theme for the meal, and decorating the table accordingly. This creates a positive atmosphere and encourages children to try new things.

Lighten up family favorites to keep your calorie intake in check. Make small substitutions to make familiar dishes healthier. For example, use lean ground turkey instead of high-fat beef for burgers, tacos, and meatballs. Switch out regular bacon for turkey bacon and opt for reduced-fat cheese.

Meal prep for the week:

Cook in large quantities and freeze the leftovers. This saves time in the long run and ensures healthy options are readily available. Meals like black bean chili, quinoa dishes, and vegetable-rich soups are ideal for freezing. Place single-serve portions into containers that are easy to grab and pack for lunch on the go.

Focus on wellness:

Approach healthy eating with your family as something enjoyable, not as a bland or restrictive diet. Focus on the delicious foods you’re trying to incorporate, and your family will follow suit. Remember to prioritize self-care. Even a few minutes of deep-breathing exercises can help you refocus and make better food choices when your emotions take over. Don’t strive for perfection; aim for balance in your overall lifestyle.

Embarking on a lifestyle and diet change journey opens doors to a world of diverse culinary experiences. At VIVA Wellness, we celebrate this opportunity to explore new flavors, ingredients, and cooking techniques. Our Nutritional Consulting services empower clients to discover exciting and wholesome recipes that align with their dietary preferences while fueling their bodies with nourishment and vitality. Involving your loved ones on this journey can be a lot of fun! It never hurts to learn about the wide variety of healthy options available to us, especially if the result is that we all feel better.

6. Learning to Love Your New Body

Your body is truly amazing. Just take a look at some things your body does:

  • Your heart can pump one ­million barrels of blood over the course of your life.
  • Your kidneys filter all of your blood more than 30 times every day.
  • Your veins, capillaries, and arteries would stretch over 60,000 miles if laid out end to end.
  • You use about 200 muscles to take a single step.
  • It takes food only seven seconds to travel down your esophagus from your mouth to your stomach.
  • Your heart beats about 100,000 times a day.
  • A sneeze can exceed 100 miles per hour.

Can you love your body while wanting to lose weight? The answer is yes, but it’s not as simple as it seems. Loving your body means more than accepting its appearance; it means treating it with respect and kindness.

But do you really need to focus on weight loss? The idea that fat equals unhealthy and that weight loss is the key to optimal health is misleading. The truth is, regular exercise, healthy eating habits, and prioritizing mental health are the keys to optimizing your well-being, regardless of your size.

Furthermore, most people who lose weight gain it back, causing frustration and stress. Fluctuating weight and cycling through restrictive diets take a toll on your mind and body, potentially leading to eating disorders. By listening to your body, engaging in joyful movement, and embracing self-acceptance, your body will naturally settle into its healthy size. When you work with VIVA Wellness, we will help you reach your body’s healthiest weight in a comfortable and sustainable way.

Remember that you are valuable regardless of the number on the scale. Attaching your worth to your size only brings shame and doubt. Your value extends far beyond your appearance. Don’t fall for quick-fix weight loss products or services that prey on your insecurities and promise rapid weight loss. Smaller bodies are not the only ones deserving of worth.

Start slowly and progress at your own pace when it comes to exercise. Intense workouts may leave you feeling worse and give you a sense of failure. Focus on how you feel rather than how you look. If you’re exhausted and unhappy, it’s not worth sacrificing your wellness in pursuit of losing more weight.

Practice acceptance and learn to love your body for its abilities, not its appearance. Don’t let societal beauty standards dictate your worth. Engage in movement that brings you joy. Punishing yourself with exercise will only make you dread it. Find activities that you genuinely enjoy and make them a part of your routine. Your body was designed to move, so embrace it and find what makes you feel alive.

It’s time to shift your focus away from your BMI and dress size. Instead, embark on a weight loss journey that inspires and energizes you while practicing self-love and acceptance.

Start each day with a fresh mindset, leaving yesterday’s setbacks behind. Practice daily affirmations that remind you of who you are. Embrace the beauty of diversity by appreciating the uniqueness of your own body and others. Reflect on the incredible things your body has accomplished and all the joy it has brought you.

Unexpected Benefits of Lost Weight

Losing weight goes beyond fitting into your two-piece swimsuit or a pair of skinny jeans. Long-term weight loss brings a host of benefits that you may not have considered before.

Receive More Respect From Those Around You

Weight stigma, also known as weight bias, is a pervasive issue that involves negative attitudes, stereotypes, and discrimination toward individuals with larger body sizes. It is not just about overt insults, but also ingrained in various aspects of our culture, including healthcare and workplaces. This bias sends the message that being thin is superior.

Weight stigma has detrimental effects on people with larger bodies. For instance, research has shown that fat individuals face discrimination when applying for jobs compared to their thinner counterparts. Furthermore, weight bias in the healthcare field negatively impacts patient care. Despite their training, healthcare professionals exhibit similar biases towards individuals with larger bodies than the general public. This has real-life consequences, including increased mortality rates and higher risks for diseases and medical conditions. When you lose weight, you may notice some of this discrimination that you may not have even noticed will subside.

Reduce Your Appetite

The notion that losing weight means constantly feeling hungry is outdated. Studies have revealed that losing weight, particularly belly fat, can actually reduce appetite. Lower levels of the hunger-triggering hormone ghrelin were observed in those who shed pounds.

Boost Cognitive Skills

As you lose weight, your slimmer body could lead to a smarter brain! Research suggests that there is a strong correlation between body weight and academic performance. Maintaining a healthy body weight has been linked to improved cognitive abilities. Additionally, intentional weight loss in obese and overweight people is associated with improvements in performance among multiple cognitive areas.

Enhance Your Sleep

Imagine if getting more sleep could assist you in losing weight and enjoying better slumber. Studies have shown that adults who get less than 6.5 hours of sleep burn fewer calories than those who get a full night’s rest. Conversely, a randomized trial published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2022 showed that increasing sleep by about 1.5 hours per night resulted in significant weight loss.

Lower Your Cancer Risk

While many people know that certain habits like tanning and smoking are associated with cancer, few realize that excess weight is also a risk factor. The CDC reports that being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing 13 types of cancer, which account for 40% of all cancer diagnoses in the United States annually. Also, an International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Working Group concluded that there is reliable evidence that adults with more body fat have an increased risk of many types of cancer.

Improve Your Skin Health

A healthy diet filled with fruits and vegetables not only aids in weight loss but also promotes healthier skin. Research has shown that optimizing one’s diet to include more fruits and vegetables can result in visible improvements in skin complexion within six weeks. To complement your new improving skin, VIVA Wellness offers multiple services to boost the look and feel of your skin and smooth out loose skin that you may experience after losing weight.

Rediscover the Joy of Exercise

Excess weight can make exercise uncomfortable, but shedding a few pounds can transform physical activity into a pleasurable experience. The strain on ligaments, joints, and bones diminishes as the weight comes off, making workouts enjoyable. You may experience emotional benefits as the endorphins released during exercise provide a natural high, making it an “addictive” and rewarding activity.

Don’t embark on your journey alone; bring VIVA Wellness as your guide.

At VIVA Wellness, we understand that weight loss is a personal journey influenced by various factors. Our integrative pathways and weight loss programs provide comprehensive support and individualized guidance to help you achieve lasting change.

Your journey to maintain weight loss is not a one-time accomplishment but a lifelong commitment. It requires setting goals, continuous effort, and self-reflection. Celebrating small achievements along the way is essential, and carving out time for self-reflection can help restore balance during challenging times.

Remember, your weight does not define you. Thinness does not guarantee happiness, and weight management is an ongoing process. By prioritizing both your physical health and psychological well-being, you can embrace a healthier lifestyle and find contentment in the journey.

Ultimately, the challenges of embracing change extend far beyond the initial adjustments. They become stepping stones on the path of personal growth and empowerment. We wholeheartedly stand by our clients through every twist and turn of this transformative journey. (Read some of our Client Stories here.) Our dedication to your goals—by way of weight loss support, medical weight loss, colonics, lymphatic drainage services, body contouring, IV infusions, IM injections, gut and skin functional medicine, and other expert services—ensures that you have the tools and guidance to flourish on your path to holistic well-being.

Each of our VIVA Wellness practitioners has undergone some level of lifestyle change in the name of our wellness goals, so we understand that dietary changes encompass more than just the physical realm. They present a holistic transformation that affects our emotions, social connections, traditions, and cultural ties. Our mission is to accompany you on this voyage, providing unwavering support, expert guidance, and a compassionate approach to help you unlock your true potential for well-being. Contact VIVA Wellness today and use those 200 incredible muscles to take the first step on your own remarkable journey.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for educational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider, like one of our qualified experts at VIVA Wellness, before making any significant changes to your diet or lifestyle.

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