Anushua Arif before and after. Picture: Quora
Anushua Arif before and after. Picture: Quora

Weight loss might be the end game but there’s a mental price to pay

By Viwe Ndongeni-Ntlebi Time of article published Oct 19, 2020

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Losing weight is a challenge, it requires discipline and consistency. As fulfilling as it may be to get to your goal weight, for many people it leaves mental scars.

Speaking on her weight-loss journey on Quora, Anushua Arif says her lifestyle has changed and she has become healthier but there is a mental price she had to pay in the process.

This is her story.

Over the course of two-and- half years, I have lost about 50lbs (over 22kg), which may not seem a lot to many but for a person who is just 5 feet 2 inches tall (157cm), it’s quite prominent. I do feel on top of the world on most days knowing how much healthier and more able I have become and couldn’t be prouder regarding my achievement.

But despite the glistening and smiling post-workout photos, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes, and these are just a few of the upsetting realities that can be part of a weight-loss/fitness journey.

Although I have overcome many of the issues discussed here, I am still battling a good few and wish to be honest and vulnerable regarding the dark side of losing weight and achieving fitness goals.

A lot of the points that I will mention as the price I had to pay for weight loss may cause triggers in those battling with eating disorders, but please know that I don’t mean to harm or offend anyone reading this. I am by no means a professional; these are just some of the issues I have personally faced.

This is the price I have paid in return for a better body:

1. Weighing myself as frequently as possible to be able to record the lowest weight.

2. Getting upset over weight gain due to natural things such as water retention and bloating during periods.

3. Always keeping track of how much I walk, because the numbers always matter.

4. Calorie counting – I can’t stop.

5. Constantly measuring body parts and comparing the results to past records.

6. Pushing my body constantly because it gets used to whatever new regime I introduce.

7. Feeling guilty after eating anything slightly unhealthy.

8. Sometimes I exercise 3 times a day just because I let myself have a ’bad’ snack.

9. Exercising frequently because that’s the only activity producing enough endorphins to keep me sane.

10. Not producing enough serotonin due to rigid diets and producing too much cortisol from stressing and exercising too much.

11. Unable to control cravings and ordering food at 3am on UberEats and eating for 3 people at once.

12. And then crying myself to sleep afterwards.

13. Wanting to look my skinniest all the time, because looking skinny has become synonymous with looking good.

14. Making fasting cardio my go-to because that’s what gives the best results, despite the dizziness it sometimes causes.

15. Starting to actually enjoy the feeling of “hunger” because the more I fight that, the stronger I am.

16.Water fasts that last days.

17. Glorifying naturally skinny women and wishing I had the same body type.

18. Unable to stop talking about fitness.

19. Constantly comparing before and after pictures of myself.

20. Constantly tracking my progress.

21. Constantly pushing my goal weight further and further down because I can always be smaller.

22. Looking up menus of restaurants in advance so I know exactly how many calories I’ll be eating when I’m dining out.

23. Loving food to the point where I can’t think straight while walking down the bakery aisle at the grocery store.

24. Being so terrified of food that I can’t bring anything “unhealthy” into my house because of my lack of control.

25. Unable to stop speaking or thinking about food.

26. Watching videos of other people eating instead of eating myself, because that somehow brings me joy.

27. Throwing out food after eating a bit because I can’t be eating too much junk.

28. Checking myself in every mirror to see how my body looks.

29. Not being satisfied if body part X/Y/Z doesn’t look small enough.

30. Trying on old clothes from the past to see how big they are now in order to feel smaller and better.

31. Obsessing over my body to the point where self-love has become disgustingly narcissistic.

Through intense self-reflection, meditation and counselling, I have been able to work through most of these issues. I wanted to shed light on the mental health problems weight-loss regimes can cause, because these are very seldom spoken about.

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