By Rachel Wilkerson

If there's one thing I've learned as a professional "before" and "after" (I lost about 75 pounds during the first few years after high school graduation) it's that the hardest part about losing weight is not rejecting dessert-it's managing the reactions of your nearest and dearest. You're suffering through really intense workouts, but they are suffering through very intense emotions.


Initially, everyone from your BFF to your mail lady will be so happy for you. They'll hug you, get tears in their eyes, and tell you how proud they are. And they probably mean well. But after a while, you'll start to think, "OK...I gave up McDonald's and stopped drinking eight jumbo margaritas every weekend. It's not that big of a deal."

Don't be surprised if you get a promotion at work and no one is interested in hearing about it. Who cares about your job? You're a size four!

Backhanded Compliments

People are well-meaning, but a lot of times they just don't know what to say to someone who has lost a lot of weight. When I walked into my sorority house for the first time after losing 25 pounds the previous summer, our housekeeper looked at me and blurted out, "Rachel, you look so different! You look so skinny!" Gee, thanks. Compliments like that are going to become pretty common, so you better get used to them.

Popularity (Also known as 'Intense Scrutiny')

Because you're radiating so much positive energy-that's one of the positive aspects of getting healthy-everyone is going to want to hang out with you. First, everybody wants to be associated with the newly hot girl. Second, they want to know your secret. They're going to ask what you eat repeatedly, and they're going to want to know every single bite. They won't even try to hide it as they stare at your plate, squinting at your black bean soup and oatmeal like they're the most fascinating foods they have ever seen.

Oftentimes this scrutiny comes from people you haven't talked to in ages-suddenly they're Facebook messaging you to find out exactly what you do the second you walk through the gym door. These questions may come at inopportune times, like while brushing your teeth in your sorority house bathroom. You better spit that mouthwash out, because they need to see your food journal, stat!

Faux Concern

When the jealousy sets in, suddenly you're "way too skinny." You may know you're at a healthy weight, but that doesn't matter-"you're wasting away." Your grandma will keep reminding you that "men like women with curves," and your friends will probably stage an intervention, saying things like "We're just worried about you," "You seem obsessed with working out," and "You never want to have fun anymore."

Now, we know that it's possible for you to go out and have a good time without downing a Bloomin' Onion and six pints of Guinness, but it's not always easy to explain that to a "concerned" group, which can make you feel incredibly self-conscious. Suddenly you're the Mary-Kate Olsen of your social circle. You can try to say, "Hey, I just made a few healthy changes and I'm really happy," but there's a chance they'll suggest you're just in denial-and start a nasty rumor.

"Can I Tap That?"

It's not a crime to get excited about the male attention you're starting to get. You may just want to get your ex-boyfriend's attention, or maybe you want to be the kind of girl that every guy wants to date. Well, I can tell you right now that you've always been the kind of girl that every guy wants to date; it just seems that when you lose weight, you actually start to believe it. Apparently, when you stop treating yourself like the "smart fat girl," other people do too.

You might feel like every guy you've ever known is coming out of the woodwork. Go ahead and embrace it! After all, you worked hard to reach your goal!

A word of caution: Try to stick with the new guys giving you attention. While it's super gratifying that your ex wants you back, I'm willing to bet that you've changed-and he hasn't. Plus, it feels kind of crummy once you realize that "he only wants me now that I'm the 'hot girl.'"


You can't change other people. So you are the only person who needs to reach the stage of acceptance. If you've worked hard to feel good about yourself and people start to rain on that parade, it's a really bad feeling. All I can really say is that as you start to lose weight, make sure you're focusing on your head as much as on your butt. That's the only way you'll be able to handle the questions, boys, and insensitive comments from strangers.

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