6 Women on What It’s REALLY Like to Lose a Lot of Weight

“Is dating easier for you now that you’ve lost all that weight?”

When an old college classmate asked me this question at a friend’s wedding, I couldn’t believe someone would assume that the only thing keeping me from being successful at dating was a mere 30 pounds. As if, magically, my new body granted me access to a tier of dating options that had been off limits at my previous weight.

While her question was kind of offensive, it makes sense that she would think that losing weight would change more in my life than just my pants size. In fact, for people trying to shed pounds, the idea that the biggest change they’ll experience is a drop on the scale is a common misconception. Experts agree that people who finally achieve their weight-loss goals are rarely prepared for the mental and physical realities of weight loss.

“Many times women have an unrealistic idea of what losing weight can bring into their lives,” says psychotherapist Kelley Kitley, L.C.S.W. “They think, ‘I’ll be happier,’ or, ‘I’ll get my dream job or dream partner.'” And then there’s the issue of women crashing from their weight-loss high, says Kitley. “Women tell me that reaching their weight goal was an adrenaline rush,” she says. But once it fades, they stress about gaining it back.

Beyond the emotional expectations, people who’ve lost weight can also have warped ideas of how to maintain their new weight. “The difficulty of weight maintenance is underplayed,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D.N., founder of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read It Before You Eat It.

Watching the pounds pour off, feeling your clothing get loose, and hearing all the compliments roll in keeps many people on track with their new healthy habits, says Taub-Dix. But maintenance is a quieter process, she says. You still have to watch what you eat, but your friends and the scale aren’t cheering you on anymore, she says.

Here, several women dish on the positives and negatives they experienced after losing the weight.