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This question originally appeared on Quora. Answer by Chad Deets.

I have maintained a gimmick-free 200-pound weight loss for 7 years. Overall, it feels pretty awesome. Like anything, it’s an adjustment, but in good ways. It teaches you so much about yourself. I was overweight from ages 10–22, so for me, I had to re-learn how to adult and move about in a thinner body. Here are some things I’ve noticed:

  1. It takes a while for your self-image to catch up. For example, I had body language, gestures, and movements that were compensating for my weight. For example, I’d walk with my arms “out” instead of right next to me, and when I’d sit down, I’d immediately cross my arms in front of my stomach area. I’m sure this was a subconscious effort to detract attention from it. These things took a period of a few years of being in my new body to shift, and it wasn’t until I had skin-removal surgery on my abdomen that I stopped crossing my arms.Other things were more practical. So when I’d walk into a restaurant, I used to immediately scan for the places that could accommodate someone of my size. Or when I’d ride on an airplane, I’d arrange my pillows and self so that my seatbelt was hidden and it looked fastened, but wasn’t actually… because I’d have to ask for an extender and I literally would’ve rather died in a plane crash than have to openly admit I needed an extender. Those changes happened a lot faster, because they were tangible benefits of being thinner (as opposed to being unconscious habits).
  2. People absolutely treat you differently. This isn’t strictly in a romantic sense, but I absolutely went through a period of increased promiscuity. When you’ve lived your entire teenage and early 20’s without any romantic attention, it’s intoxicating to suddenly have people want you.However, aside from romance, I found people to feel MUCH more entitled to be mouthy when it came to criticizing thin people (to your face) than fat people. Because I had never been an adult in a thin body, I ended up losing about 15 pounds more than I needed to. There were many of my “friends” and coworkers who felt complete freedom to tell me I needed to “eat a burrito” and that I looked like a drug addict. It’s very hurtful, because at least here in the USA, it’s not at all PC to tell someone they’re fat or they really should go hit a stairmaster or whatever. It really opened my eyes to 1. How body image really is a spectrum from one extreme to another, and it’s really nobody’s business and 2. How jealous people are when you do something that they don’t have the discipline to.
  3. It’s liberating. You have freedom and choices that you previously didn’t. Suddenly, you can run to your car during a rainstorm and not feel like you want to die or be worried about being embarrassed at looking stupid at trying to run. You can eat things you want to, in moderation, without feeling the guilt or shame that comes when you’re doing these things while still overweight. You can shop at normal stores/off the racks without having to wonder if they’ll have your size. You can sit wherever the hell you want to at that restaurant.
  4. You realize you are capable of doing hard things that many/most people can’t. Most people say they want to lose weight, but few actually do. Personally, I’ve spent a significant amount of time asking myself why I was able to do it and they couldn’t. This is NOT meant egotistically. If anything, I don’t feel I’m that special and wanted to identify “what’s so great about me”. Regardless, I’ve been able to take away a few life lessons:
    1. Consistent small choices over a period of time are what yield great results/changes. This is universally applicable.
    2. You will get out of something exactly what you put into it. The more effort you give and the more believability you have, the greater your result will be.
    3. It is so important to sacrifice the immediate gratifications (which are fleeting) for the long-term goals (which last a lifetime).
  5. It’s a continuous process and lifestyle, not a one-time journey or change. During the roughly 7 years since I finished losing the 200 pounds I lost, I’ve had one period where I gained 40 of them back, and have since re-lost most of it. The BIGGEST difference between losing the first time and losing the second time was simple: I already knew I could do it. This single fact alone allowed me to chill out and not stress about it coming off. I took a solid 6 months to lose those 40 pounds (which was really slow compared to my previous loss) but I was LESS strict with my diet and LESS crazy with my exercise, because I knew the weight would come off. It has also reminded me that life should be intentional. We need to choose the kind of life we want every single day, and make intentional choices that lead us to it. It’s not enough to make a one-time effort and then return to the rat race.

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