Woman Loses 180 Pounds & Is Bitterly Disappointed With the Results

Inspiring 13

When it comes to weight loss, it's too often not just about getting healthy. It's about a fantasy. The fantasy that skinny means perfect. Skinny means happy. Skinny means it all comes together and you never have to worry about anything again. One woman was astonished to find out this wasn't true when she lost 180 pounds -- and life wasn't magically transformed into something out of a fairy tale. After having bariatric surgery, Jen Larsen, who wrote a book about her experience, says:

I was skinny, but my life wasn’t suddenly and magically perfect -- and that completely astonished me.

She found out the hard way that external conditions don't change your insides. It's like that old saying: Wherever you go, there you are.

Six years ago, at her top weight of 318, Larsen -- who had failed at every diet -- opted for surgery. She rapidly lost more than half her body weight. But something terrible happened. Larsen was shocked to discover that the secret life of fabulosity exclusive to skinny people wasn't there. Larsen told the Daily Mail:

The problem was that I lost all those pounds, but I didn’t have to change a goddamn thing about my self. I didn’t have to address any of the emotional or psychological issues.

I didn’t have to figure out why I had been depressed -- why I was still so, so depressed, despite the fact that the one thing I thought had been ruining my life was suddenly gone.

Larsen made a common mistake -- she just happened to focus on her weight. Most of us walk around thinking, "If only ... " If only I had the perfect partner. If only I had a different job. If only I had a better apartment. If only I had more money. If only I had a child. If only I could change my nose, breasts, face, etc. ...

And yet if you look around, plenty of skinny, beautiful, rich people with great spouses, kids, and nice homes are miserable. There is nothing, and I mean nothing external that can make you happy, except temporarily. The only thing that can make you happy is what's in your mind

As a lifelong skinny gal, some people might be surprised to hear that I have incredibly stressful days. I have deaths in my family. I get health issues. I get rejected and dumped. People are still rude to me. I lose jobs. I lose friends. In short, I go through the same stuff every other person goes through. (I thought life would be perfect after I published a book. I can assure you that didn't happen.)

Yes, we are all happier when we can pay the bills, when our job is fulfilling, and when our spouse is pleasant. But that's only until something crappy happens and then we're back to square one. And, believe me, crappy always comes along.

Larsen's weight loss wasn't for nothing: She admits she had more energy, feels better, her back pain went away. And no doubt, if she follows a good diet and exercise plan, she's healthier. That's worth a lot.

But not even healthy can make you happy. Plenty of healthy people commit suicide. Larsen seems to have learned this lesson, but she says, "I don’t know what the answer is, and I don’t know how to make it happen, and I don’t know what to do except keep yelling about it, wherever I can."

Actually there is something you can do to be more at peace (I prefer that to "being happier" -- which is loaded with idealistic connotations). And it's not weight loss. It's compassion for yourself and others. It's gratitude for what you do have rather than resentment of what you don't. It's acceptance of life with all of its ups and downs. It's helping others. And it's never ever comparing your insides to other people's outsides.

Have you ever thought being skinny would make you happy?


Image via TobyOtter/Flickr

body image, self esteem, weight loss


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Danielle Sonnenberg

Thank you Kiri SO much for spreading light on this topic. I often think exactly about this topic. I often look at women who seem like they have it all together just based on how well put together they are but then I realize that they too suffer. I often also expeirence the opposite. Being skinny I think people think that my life is perfect. I think of the quote by Plato.. Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a difficult battle. The way that the media focuses on beauty as if it is the answer to all your problems. The answer to finding peace is enjoying the moments, being around people who make you feel good and giving back. Now that I think about it, there's no "perfect recipe..." it's just calling living. thank you. thank you. I'm arranging a screening of Miss Representation at the New School on May 3th... let me know if you can come.. also I'm editing and blogging for http://newyork.endangeredbodies.org/blog_ny... WOULD love if you could write a blog as well.. I love your insights.. :)

CLTea150 CLTea150

Great article, Kiri, AND good for her writing about her insights! I would love to coach someone like her (and others traversing the journey to weight loss and getting healthy), to help them discover their new coordinates of being in the body they have forgotten they have. It is important for the psyche to process the changes in baby steps (or dare I say "bite-size" pieces) so that the "new person" emerging can find stable footing along the way. Thank you for introducing her work and for sharing your experience too. Both illustrate that on the inside, we truly all are alike!

chips... chipsnhow

I find it a bit odd, im having weightloss surgery in the next few months, but I learned a long time ago that i am who i am and weight doesnt have anything to do with it. I am antisocial now and I will be after.

nonmember avatar American Expat

No I get were she is coming from, I've gotten myself to under 10% body fat, but with my ***U.G.L.Y.*** face, it is all meaningless.

Angie... AngieHayes

American Expat- I am sure your not ugly, love yourself more. This is the only life we get, that we know of, enjoy it, be happy and active, do things you love.

nonmember avatar Ash

Well, what a surprise! This woman has major issues to believe her life would be perfect if she lost weight.She still has all her psychological problems that caused her to become obese in the 1st place. She is still the same unhappy, unbalanced person as before. She needs to fix her thinking too.

nonmember avatar Ash

AmericaqnExpat: You are SO right! You can have cosmetic surgerty done on your face or hqave skin reductions if you need them. That might help.

Rachel Strong

Excellent article, great advice

irish... irishrose13

@ Ash, Well, I guess I have major issues too. I've thought that if I weren't a fat ass and got down to a healthy weight, everything would magically change and I still sometimes think this. I'm not down to a healthy weight-yet. I get her thinking. Skinny people always seem so happy.

Mariellen NunyaBiznez

It doesn't matter what you do to change your outside if you aren't at peace with who you are on the inside. If you don't like who you are now, you aren't going to like who you are after whatever physical change you've made. Life throws problems at you so that you can learn and grow and change, so you can appreciate the times when you aren't solving problems. To think that changing your physical appearance, whether it's your weight, your nose, your boobs, or whatever, is going to make your life happy and serene all the time is just asking to be slapped in the face with reality.
Changing your physical appearance to conform to some societal "ideal" is how the diet industry, cosmetic industry, and cosmetic surgery doctors make billions of dollars every year - playing on the programmed dissatisfaction with our bodies/faces/clothing/lives so we'll continue to spend our money on their worthless "improvements". I opted out of that years ago and decided to learn how to like myself, to appreciate all the things I can do with the body and life I have now, not the one I've been programmed to wish I had and that I'll never have because the goalposts keep being moved.

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