Your Call: How Can I Feel Good After Gaining Weight?

Dear Em & Lo,

I hate how I look after gaining 40lbs in the last 5 years. I was only 115lbs. What should I do ? He thinks I’m sexy no matter what. How can I feel the same?

— Weighed Down

What should Weighed Down do?
Advise her in the comments below.


  1. Hey, thanks for the great article. Honestly, about three months ago I started a new dieting regime, I’ve been on the chubby side my entire adult life and I’ve tried everything. I found personally that the only thing that worked for me was hard work and putting the effort, take a look at this, it changed my life http://dietinghelp.gu.ma/. Good luck and thanks for the great article.

  2. My situation is the opposite: I’ve lost a lot of weight (175 lbs, 40 lbs left to go) and while I look good *in* my new clothes, out of them – not so much. I got rid of 175 of weight, but I still have the skin it used to occupy. (we won’t talk about how my belly overlaps my underwear). I want to have plastic surgery done when I can afford it.

    I’m single again and would like to date, but I can’t imagine taking my clothes off in front of someone new. (Actually, I can imagine it and I wake up screaming.) My friends tell me if I think I am beautiful, then I am beautiful. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  3. A few tips, from personal experience:

    1. Losing weight can be very difficult, based on your body type, lifestyle, level of dedication to weight loss, and so forth. Building muscle only takes effort and commitment. Basically, diets can be a struggle and aren’t always successful, but having muscle tone will improve the appearance of your body no matter what you weigh. Finding an exercise plan that will build muscle tone and sticking to it will produce results like a flat tummy and nice legs, no matter what clothing size you happen to be.

    2. If you do diet or exercise, don’t base your success on the scale. Start taking your measurements and recording them every two weeks. I really stress this because when I began exercising, I started to lose hope when the scale said I wasn’t losing weight – but then I started taking measurements and realized that I was losing inches, especially around my waist.

    3. Work on your posture and the way that you carry yourself. It’s amazing how doing something so simple can have such an effect, but standing/sitting with good posture will make you look thinner, especially in pictures.

    4. Don’t try to make your body fit into clothes – find clothes to fit your body. Stick with outfits that you feel confident in.

    5. Focus on your best assets and work it. It’s completely possible to be AND feel beautiful without losing an ounce. It’s easy to stop caring about your appearance when you’re unhappy with your weight – but loving your hair, taking good care of your skin, accentuating your best assets etc will do more for your self image than just simply losing weight ever would.

  4. I think it really is all about how you feel in your own skin. I recently faced a similar problem. I’m 5’7” and weigh about 113 (size 2) but recently started really losing my feeling of sexiness because I had let myself get soft. My husband thinks I look great, though he still remarks that I’d look better if I gained weight. I had two choices, accept me ‘as is’ or get serious about my workouts. I chose getting more serious about my workouts because I need to be comfortable in the mirror and I don’t listen (believe) what other say about my beauty.–See, size really doesn’t matter when it comes to feeling sexy.

    Accepting one’s self ‘as is’ seems to have two avenues: feel sexy because he thinks you’re sexy or feel sexy because you see/feel sexy in the mirror, extrinsic versus intrinsic. Unfortunately extrinsic is much easier than intrinsic. All that’s required for extrinsic is simply believing what he says about how you look. Intrinsic requires you to feel sexy regardless of what anyone says, good or bad. The only way I can think of to achieve that, is to focus on and take pride in all the beautiful parts of yourself and create a metal image of yourself that is gorgeous to keep in your head throughout the day. Also knowing and taking pride in one’s own sexual ability can make one feel sexy—and it’s independent of looks! It really boils down to confidence: you’re sexy because you’ve chosen to be sexy.

  5. SparkPeople.com was a great help for me. For myself, the healthier I am the better my self-confidence. Focus on eating good foods and exercising, and the confidence will come, and maybe a bit of weight will go.

  6. mara said: “It is HARD not to gain weight as you are getting older/in a loving relationship” I don’t know if that’s true. I’ve been with my man for many many years. We have a houseful of kids together and have been together for more than 20 years.

    I still take good care of myself, I care what I look like, for HIM, (and me.) and he cares about his weight as well. He weighs the same as he did in High School (he’s 50 years old right now.) If I start to gain some weight, I increase the vegetables, fruit, and protein in my diet and get rid of the junk, I drink water instead of calorie laden drinks (or dangerous fake sugar drinks) and I try to exercise so I stay in shape. MOSTLY for him and for my own health.

    One doesn’t have to gain a ton of weight just because one feels “comfortable” in a long term relationship. If one IS comfortable at a slightly higher weight, it doesn’t bother me, but in my life, I like to look and feel as good as I can.

    That being said, there is nothing WRONG with gaining some weight as time goes on, if you and your partner are happy with it. Especially those who have had kids and/or are going through perimenopause, it IS hard to keep in shape. (But certainly NOT impossible, just harder than when we were 20.) A little pot belly, or some cellulite is different than 60 extra pounds, though. Some people actually look and feel better with a little more weight on them, and not being stick thin is actually good for your bones. Carrying SOME (but not too much) body weight causes simple walking to become “weigh bearing exercise” and that strengthens bone.

    I think in most cases, it’s a matter of degrees. 5 or 10 lbs more than one weighed in High School is usually part of getting a little older, not being able to tie your shoes or walk up the stairs without being winded is something else.

  7. Mara wrote:

    “It is HARD not to gain weight [in] a loving relationship”

    That’s true, but terribly unfair. We hit the gym when we’re single to attract mates, then quit when we get one, thereby decreasing our appeal to the one person with whom we share exclusive reliance for sexual satisfaction.

    That’s ass-backwards. When two people are in a relationship and want to maintain sexual interest for the long run, that’s especially when we should be hitting the gym and looking our best.

  8. I should probably start by stating that when you like someone, you like him/her no matter what. I mean it. I’m a little neurotic, so even loud chewing can annoy me, and I usually find faults in equally innoffensive details. Body image can contribute to things that make my people tolerance low.

    Before you give up on reading, I’ll let you know there was an exception. I’ve only had one boyfriend, and he wasn’t particularly handsome. He doesn’t have an amazing body: he had a beer tummy, callous fingers and yellow teeth from smoking, and more than once he went without washing his hair for a few days too many (which I would normally consider as offensive as it is disgusting). I can rationally realise all of this was present, but I never actually cared about anything other than his gorgeous green eyes, soft lips and strong arms. That was really it.

    To prove myself my feelings were pretty much bulletproof, I remember a few things: he used to warn me before farting, in case the fart was smelly; he took a while to explain his penis was a little bent to the side and that it was perfectly normal (he was comfortable with it, which made me comfortable with it); he asked if he smelled after exercising (and to be honest, if he did, I think all I could pick up were testosterone and pheromones, which didn’t smell bad, at all) when I was about to give him blow jobs; after we broke up, a picture of him shitting naked found its way to the internet, and you know what? I didn’t find it repulsive, all I could think was that I’d already seen what wasn’t shown in the picture.

    I should also add that I’m not particularly comfortable in my own skin, and I felt I had to warn him before he saw me naked. He basically answered with an “I like you just the way you are, you’re good enough for me.” It was enough then and it still is. I can be liked just the way I am, whatever that may be.

    You see where I’m going with this? Even with someone who’ll freak out over the smallest little thing (this is where I come in), even with women (if you believe in stereotypes, we’re supposed to care a little more about appearances) it *can* not matter.

    If I may borrow words from another article here (the one about the book with pictures of women posing topless in New York), I’m taking a quote for you to tell yourself: “I am the best me I can be.”

    As for all the health related comments, you can be healthy (not super fit, just healthy meaning you’ll die of old age and not from waaay too much fat in your heart) and still not look the way you want to. So exercise because it’s a healthy thing to do, not because it will necessarily (it may not) make you look the way you want to. Cellulite and stretch marks will never go away with exercise, but you can be sexy and self confident with cellulite and stretch marks just like you can be sexy with a little too much skin, fat, a funny nose or a penis that bends a little to the side.

  9. How old are you? How tall are you? 40 lbs in five years is not necessarily a lot. Did you gain mainly flab, or plenty of muscle? Like R says, being active and healthy is much more important than your particular weight.

    I think the most attractive thing (confirmed by men I know) is a woman who is comfortable with her body. Signalling this with good upright posture helps (even if you don’t always feel like standing tall) – and makes one look sleeker and firmer too.

    Unfortunately many of us grow up hating ourselves. I always seem to be happy with how I used to look, while hating how I look in the present. I really hope you don’t have to spend your life like that too!

  10. I think you might want to consider adjusting a couple things to help you be comfortable in your own skin. One may be your perspective. I hate that everyone so far has only mentioned losing weight. Maybe your body is just adjusting to adulthood. Maybe not. But even in my lankiest high school dancer days, I never weighed 115. I think you just need to figure out what is right for you. Working out and eating right is probably part of the equation. But also, maybe you just aren’t going to weigh 115 again. And maybe that is okay. Don’t get me wrong, I love working out. It releases stress and makes my body feel great. But I feel bad for the women who spends hours at the gym and so many meals picking over salads “perfecting” their bodies. I don’t think I have ever been more depressed about the state of woman-kind, than standing around a table of hors d’oeuvres in a room full of women to find our conversations only revolved around what we shouldn’t be eating. A room full of women of so many beautiful shapes and sizes, and they are all on a diet? I wanted to cry.

    Find what is really right for you, may that be hips or hitting the gym. I think it might be somewhere in between.

  11. Start eating healthy, working out regularly (find a workout buddy).


    This article was really inspiring. It’s actually about couples who lost weight together, worked out together. They helped support each other.

    Anyway, I’m not saying “get out there and lose those 40 lbs.” I’m just saying that if you’re eating healthy and exercising regularly it’ll make you feel better about yourself in general and that’s what’s important. Trust me. I’m doing it. =] Even if the results aren’t imminent, the exercise is proven to release feel-good endorphins and knowing that you’re not just sitting around and letting your weight take over will really make you feel like you’re in control.

  12. Doesn’t matter what he thinks – it matters what you think. If you don’t like the way you look, it’s time for a change.

    The original query doesn’t give much context about the nature of the weight gain. Post-pregnancy? Medical issue? Side effect of taking medication? Plain-old let yourself go? It makes a difference as to how you’re going to lose that weight.

    And I do suggest you lose the weight, no matter what. All the love-your-body self-acceptance stuff can gloss over the fact that rapid weight gain unhealthy.

    Funny thing about hitting the gym is that inner results come through way before outer ones. That’s a good thing. It means that long before you actually hit your target weight, you’ll start to feel better in your own skin, which is encouraging. It’s what keeps people sticking to their workout routine.

    Cook for yourself, too. Go all-organic if you can.

    And yes, I have tested all these things myself. I feel your pain. For 25 years I had a rocket-burner metabolism that instantly vaporized anything I put in my body. I had to eat six meals a day, of whatever I wanted, just to keep from losing weight.

    A few years ago that party ended. I developed an unsightly, pale blubber ring around my middle. Disgusted with my fat belly and skinny shoulders, I did an eating-habit 180 and started working out. I feel better now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *