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Dealing with the Success of Weight Loss

Posted: 02/03/11 09:25 AM ET

I wasn't expecting this to be part of the process.

I finally beat the demon that ruled my life for so long: my love affair with food. But then I had to deal with something else: success.

No, no, please save the sarcasm. No pity party here. I set a goal, achieved it and work every day to maintain it. But in the beginning, when everything started to change, there were some strange days and emotions that floored me. We all fist-pump and cheer when we lose weight. And we cheer really loud when we lose a lot of weight and change our lives.

I did all of the above, many times in the fitting rooms at Macy's. I had all this new confidence. My clothes were starting to hang on me; I could get into pants two sizes smaller than what was hanging in my closet. I was rocking it! But with all that joy came fear. Sometimes, in the middle of a few "woo-hoos" I was overcome with tears. Odd, right?

I can only explain it like this: When your identity for so long is the friend who gets introduced as the one "with the great personality," you find a security in that because there's no threat. You just automatically become the fun chick in the group who could talk to anybody and make everybody laugh. (That actually lead to some stand-up gigs for a few years, but that's another story.) I wasn't going to be bothered with cute, sexy, fun clothes. They weren't flattering on me anyway, so why worry?

Then my safety net disappeared. After shedding 45 pounds and 20 inches, I didn't have the cover of insecurity and flab anymore. I had only me, albeit a new me and some shaky confidence -- which at that time, seemed like the opposite of what I was supposed to be feeling. So I did what anyone in my position does in these circumstances: I sent a text to my trainer, Eric. He said I had to dig deep and deal with it. Food didn't work anymore as the go-to solution. I was the go-to solution. Shoot.

My emotions during the weight-loss months were really on a rollercoaster. I would try on clothes in my closet that I knew I could wear with the right camouflage (read: blazer). But now they were too big, and there were the tears! OK, so maybe those instances are just personal moments where you realize all the discipline and sweat are paying off. It was a tad exhilarating.

Then a funny thing happened at a party this summer. I realized my flirt-detector was out of whack. I was at a great outdoor event in Washington with a good friend who has been supportive and a constant cheerleader. And she let me know when I missed some signals from a dude.

"What is the matter with you?" she asked. "That guy was totally hitting on you!" He was? No way. Come on. He was just making conversation. "No, Jan. No, he wasn't. And you walked away." Well, what am I supposed to do? Give him my card and tell him to call the next time he's in New York and we'll have a drink? "Yes! You are!" was her response.

I know such a situation isn't unique to me. We all break out of our security zones in different ways. And until that happens, we head for the exits. For me, losing the weight and getting my act together was supposed to be the answer. And it turns out I still have a big part of the journey to tackle. I'm game!