15 Things People Don’t Tell You About Extreme Weight Loss

Hi, I’m Arielle! In May 2015, I embarked on a lifestyle
change and have completely overhauled my eating habits,
fitness goals, and outlook on life.

You can read all about my weight loss journey here,
which includes tips and my own personal experiences.

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I have yo-yo dieted all my life, and I never imagined being
genuinely happy with how I felt inside my body.

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But that’s where I’m at right now — 15 months and 110 pounds
down after starting my weight loss journey. Here are some
things that surprised me along the way:

FYI: My experience probably won’t be like everyone else’s.
Why would it? Each person’s body composition goals are
unique, and this just happens to be my experience getting
healthy and learning to love my body (which, for me, included
losing weight).

I’ll talk a lot about being healthier in this post, and what
I’m talking about is what’s healthier for me personally (as
opposed to some objective standard of healthiness, because
what even is that?). And btw, you should always consult a
doctor before changing your diet or exercise routine.

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1. Just
because I’ve reached most of my goals, it doesn’t mean I no
longer need some of the structures that got me here in the
first place.

Maintenance can be even harder than losing the weight itself.
When I began my journey, I was fueled by success, non-scale
victories, and a newfound confidence I gained from becoming a
healthier and happier me. But once I began to reach that
weight range I’d been gunning for, I started to think, “Well,
I’ve already lost a ton of weight. I don’t NEED to track
anymore” or “I’ll just go with the flow and not prepare my
meals this week.”

But the point of this journey wasn’t to get to a certain
weight and then be done. My goal was to tweak my habits in a
way that was sustainable and actually fits into my lifestyle.
Continuing to track my food, activity, and water intake helps
keep me balanced and accountable, and it proves to still be a
key element in this stage of my journey.

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2. But I
also have to remind myself that because it is a full-on
lifestyle change, it’s not a rush, and I have to be patient
and kind to my body.

As a person who’s had a very unhealthy relationship with food
in the past, it is extremely important for me to not take
drastic measures if I have a bad week, and to forgive myself
if I go off the rails. Gaining a few pounds over the weekend
will not undo everything I’ve done, and it’s not fair or fun
to beat myself up for being human.

Sometimes I want to be perfect, and eat everything “right” or
“whole,” but I was surprised to discover that cutting myself
some slack and indulging once in a while is the best way to
keep me balanced and happy.

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3. This
weight loss journey has become a part of my identity, and
sometimes I don’t know how to feel about it.

I am no longer the “heavy girl,” but once people get to know
me (and to everyone who knew me before this), I am the girl
who lost a ton of weight, and it feels like my personality is
in self-discovery mode. I am struggling to figure out who I
am BEYOND this weight loss.

As much as I want to claim I am the same person I was at the
beginning of this, that wouldn’t be truthful or accurate.
Overall, I am certainly a happier, more confident person who
is willing to be more adventurous and carefree — I am just in
a weird life transition, and it feels like I am experiencing
the social changes of college all over again.

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4. My
relationships with friends and family have changed; some
have grown stronger, and some have become more distant.

My relationships with friends and family have changed; some have grown stronger, and some have become more distant.

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Arielle Calderon

When you embark on a big lifestyle change like this, you
aren’t just adjusting your eating habits and physical
activity. Your interests, hobbies, and thought processes
change, too. Even my relationships have changed.

For instance, I have an aunt who is also doing Weight
Watchers, and instead of just seeing each other once a year
at Thanksgiving, we now text regularly and have a stronger
bond. One of my friends from college is now probably my
closest friend, because we share more interests and can
confide in each other about struggles and wins with weight
loss. Some friendships have grown apart, because our
relationships were so heavily fueled by social drinking and
eating. I think the hardest part about this lifestyle
change is that I never anticipated my friendships would

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5. In terms
of dating, a deep panic sets in when the subject of my weight
loss comes up.

I am always in fear of what my dates will think if they
google my name and see my Instagram or BuzzFeed posts. Will
they be totally turned off by my story? Will they be
supportive about the fact that I rarely drink and that health
and fitness play such an important role in my life? Are they
internally questioning things about my body? It’s all just so
much pressure, and I never know how guys will react. Dating
is stressful enough as it is, and I just want to avoid the
awkward subject, but I can’t.

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6. When I’m
out to eat with friends or people familiar with my story, I’m
afraid they’re diligently watching what I’m eating and making
silent judgments.

Whether it’s because I’m eating a salad and not drinking, or
if I decide to go all in and eat whatever I’m craving, I’m
secretly worried that people are taking notes and making
judgments about me. If this is actually true, I’ll probably
never know, but it does make me more self-conscious than I’m
comfortable with.

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7. Some
days I am still scared that I will spiral out of control and
gain everything back.

This is an irrational thought, but it is also a very real
one. It is especially heightened when I’m traveling and I go
in the “fuck it, I’m on vacation” mode, and I binge to the
point where I’m not sure I can bounce back. Like going hard
on sweets, hiding it from friends out of guilt, or overeating
in general. I’m aware that this is a problem for me, and it
terrifies me when I lose control that way.

While I would be upset if I reversed my hard work, I think
there’s a deeper fear there of disappointing everyone else
and having my failure displayed on a very public level.

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8. I’m no
longer afraid of “taking up space,” and I realize that I
never should have been.

In the past, I had always been aware of my body, but in a “I
don’t want to inconvenience anyone” type of way. I always
felt shamed by the stares, the eye-rolls, and the “ughs”
whenever I took up more space than some people wanted, and so
I felt compelled to do something about it, as if it were my

I’d sit in an airplane seat and fold my arms uncomfortably,
attempting to make my body smaller, just so that I wouldn’t
touch my neighbor and annoy them. Or if I was sharing a bed
with a friend at a hotel, I’d make sure I was at the very
edge of the mattress and taking up as little space as

I don’t do these things anymore, and I feel for the people
who still do. It was a terrible way to live, and I wish I had
just enjoyed myself instead of letting my weight control me.
No one deserves to feel like they are inconveniencing others
by just living their life.

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Non-scale victories have become the most important measures
of my success.

I have gone on many diets in my life, and the constant issue
is that I always set unrealistic expectations and goals. It
was as if I had to go extreme or give up and do nothing. Over
and over I made the same mistake of being sedentary and
overeating, to eating way less and going hard AF with salads
every day and the gym five days a week. It was because I
wanted to lose all the weight as soon as possible, but I have
since learned that slow and steady does in fact win the race.
This time, instead of focusing on a number, I set
small goals and celebrated non-scale victories.

After losing 100+ pounds, this is more important than ever —
mostly because losing weight at this point is much, much
harder than when I started. When I do gain some weight, I
have to remind myself of the other accomplishments — like
having the confidence to rock a crop top, or being able to
hold a 30-second plank without feeling like I’m about to
collapse. Focusing on how my strength, endurance, attitude,
and quality of life has changed is what keeps me motivated
when the scale won’t budge.

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10. I
actually crave fresh produce and whole foods.

Do I still want chocolate and desserts sometimes? Hell yes —
I have a serious sweet tooth! But overall, I actually
want to eat veggies and grilled salmon as opposed to
fried chicken and mac ’n’ cheese. It’s crazy how the small
changes can turn into permanent ones.

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11. While
documenting my journey has made me extremely vulnerable, it
also keeps me motivated.

Creating a public Instagram
about my lifestyle change was a tough decision that I didn’t
take lightly, but I knew it would make me accountable and
inspired to keep going. Looking at other Instagram
accounts during my beginning stages was extremely
motivating, and I hoped I could pay it forward and help
people who were starting their journeys.

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Inspiring and cheering on others has been the most
rewarding part of this process.

Inspiring and cheering on others has been the most rewarding part of this process.

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Arielle Calderon

Reading the emails people send me, seeing the before and
after pictures people tag me in, and reading the comments
about how my personal experience has helped them start
theirs, is a reward I would never trade.

For the first time in my life, it feels like I am doing
something meaningful. I am not saying I am some diet and
fitness expert (seriously, I’m not, and you should always
consult your doctor and dietician!), but seeing the impact
I’ve made on someone’s life, however big or small it is, is
the best thing about my entire lifestyle change.

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13. But
because of that, strangers tend to constantly ask me the
same very personal questions.

But because of that, strangers tend to constantly ask me the same very personal questions.

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Arielle Calderon

“Do you have loose skin?”
“What was your starting weight and how much do you
currently weigh?”
“What size are you now? What size did you start with?”

I understand that people are curious, or that they might be
seeking answers to their own issues and fears. But there
are some things I don’t want to publicly share. I wish
people would remember that while I am pretty open, I need a
bit of privacy.

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Constantly buying new clothes is expensive…and worth it.

I have learned that thrift shops are your best friend.

What’s also fascinating about extreme weight loss is that I
never considered myself to have a certain style before. I was
always limited to options in stores, and mostly just went
with whatever was most flattering. I no longer feel bound to
a specific clothing line, and it’s quite liberating to try on
outfits from stores I’ve never been able to shop in before —
but it’s also annoying that I was ever limited in the first
place, and that it took me changing my body to gain this
newfound freedom.

Basically, stores need to do better and expand their size
range, ideally without labeling it as plus-size! It is NORMAL
and OK to be a size 14, 16, 18, etc.

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15. I have
finally learned to truly love myself, and that is something

I always assumed that loving yourself was tied to a number:
whether it was the number on the scale or the number on your
clothing tag. But self-love and self-worth, for me, is about
appreciating the person I’ve become.

A year and a half ago, I would have dreaded hiking despite
the amazing view at the top of the trail. A year and a half
ago, I wouldn’t have dared sign up for a half-marathon
because it would have been “impossible.” A year and a half
ago, I would have spent my summer on the couch instead of
enjoying the New York sunset at an outdoor bar. A year and a
half ago, I wouldn’t have gone parasailing in fear that I
weighed “too much.”

I have completely changed as a person. I am curious,
adventurous, more daring, stronger, nicer, more energetic,
and best of all, genuinely confident in who I am. I was
always meant to be in this skin, but the person inside was
always meant to blossom into something more — and I am
finally there.

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If you’d like to keep up with my weight loss journey, you
can follow me on Instagram!

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