After months and months of pounding the pavement, pumping iron, and skipping out on happy hour, you’ve finally lost that stubborn gut. Congrats! We’re sure you feel more confident about your appearance—and just feel better, period. Dropping weight doesn’t come easy, but it does have some serious bonuses, many which you won’t see coming. Better sex and brighter skin just scratch the surface when it comes to the surprising benefits of weight loss.
Once you experience these bonus perks of weight loss, there’s no going back: They’re the motivation you need to keep the weight off for good.
25 Surprising Benefits of Weight Loss
1. Better sleep
Snoozing probably helped you lose more weight in the first place, but as a result of your weight loss you’ll actually get better quality sleep now. Research shows that losing 5% of your bodyweight can help you sleep better and longer throughout the night. What’s more, ridding your body of excess fat can also help alleviate sleep apnea and snoring.
2. Better hormonal balance
When you think of hormones, your teenage years may spring to mind, but they play a role in more than just your burgeoning sex drive during puberty. Your thyroid gland makes and releases two very important hormones which regulate your metabolism and can also affect muscle strength among other things. When you rid your body of excess fat your hormones steady and as a result it’s easier for you to maintain or even further your weight loss, says Isabel Smith, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., registered dietitian and founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition.
3. Improved sex drive
Too tired? Not anymore. Suddenly you don’t have to think twice about getting in the mood, and you may find yourself consciously holding yourself back from going for round three—hey, you’ve got to get some sleep. According to experts, weight loss has been linked to boosted testosterone levels and an increased libido, and dropping just 10lbs is enough to stimulate sex hormones. What’s more, fitting in your workout every morning also increases blood flow to the pelvic area, further boosting your drive.
4. Increased sexual performance
Between the energy boost you get from losing weight and the uptick in stamina from hours spent at the gym, if you really wanted to go all night you could. Increased physical fitness has been associated with greater satisfaction in the bedroom, according to Smith. So not only do you want to get busy more often, but the actual act itself is more enjoyable for both you and your partner.
5. Better mood
Committing to the gym may have pushed your body to the place it is now, but it also enhanced your mental fitness. Working out releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins are responsible for that high you feel post-workout. They interact with the receptors in your brain, reducing your perception of pain, and deliver a positive feeling in the body similar to that of morphine.
6. Less joint pain
Your joints already take a beating from everyday wear and tear—extra weight hanging around on your midsection only makes matters worse. Simply put, the less you weigh the less your skeletal frame and joints have to support, which translates into less joint pain.
7. Clearer, brighter skin
You may have started your healthy routine with the sole intention of slimming down, but an added bonus of your weight-loss journey surfaces in the form of glowing skin. You can attribute your new complexion to the uptick in nutrients from all those fruits and veggies you’re likely eating and also to all that sweat literally pushing the junk out of your pores, encouraging greater detoxification, per Smith. Just make sure to wash your face regularly after your cardio session to avoid unwanted acne and clogged pores.
8. Stress relief
If you checked off losing weight from your to-do list, you’ve already got one less thing to stress about. Really though, the things you do to lose weight—eating a balanced diet, exercising consistently, and getting lots of sleep—are also some of the greatest ways to alleviate stress and anxiety.
9. More money
Who needs to spend $20 on delivery minimums and $10 a glass on drinks out at the bar? Not you. By cooking more and drinking less, not only are you inching closer and closer to your weight-loss goals, but you’re saving money to boot. It’s simple math, really. The less you eat, the less you spend on food.
10. More friends
With your pants size shrinking, you can also expect your social circle to grow in number. You’ve already become more active by pursuing greater fitness, and in doing so you put yourself in more social situations—hey, CrossFit. As a result of participating in more than just a Netflix marathon on your couch, you meet more people and your social calendar grows. Furthermore, the confidence you gain from losing weight also makes you want to be more social and gives you the push to do so.
11. Your significant other might lose weight, too
Ever feel inspired (or guilty) by your partner’s incessant need to wake up at 5 a.m. to hit the gym and their refusal to grab chips or pasta when they run to the store? Well if you haven’t, then your partner may be the one feeling that push from you simply by bearing witness to your own transformation. If you’ve been successful at losing weight and continue to live a healthier lifestyle, chances are your significant other will follow suit, says Smith. If not, perhaps your parents, siblings, or close friends will feel motivated to whip their own butt into gear.
12. Fewer colds
Forget the vitamin C packets, nothing strengthens your immune system better than leading a healthy lifestyle. Getting your eight hours every night, fueling your body with fresh produce and lean protein, and working up a sweat will pump your immunity up far better than sipping on an orange, fizzy drink could.
13. Improved memory
For once you might actually remember your sister’s birthday! Weight-loss benefits go far beyond the physical. Losing weight and being more active boosts brainpower quite a bit. Research has shown that your memory gets sharper when total bodyweight has been reduced. So not only will you be happier all the time—remember, endorphins!—you’ll also remember that thing you really needed to do today, tomorrow, and the next.
14. Better wardrobe
The ultimate perk of peeling off the pounds is that behind closed doors you’re going to look pretty damn good. However, since we all can’t—or shouldn’t—walk around in our birthday suits all the time, it’s a good thing your wardrobe will reap the benefits of your weight loss, too. Losing weight often gives people the confidence to not only experiment more with style, but want to show off their weight loss with outfits that display the physique they worked so hard to get.
15. You’ll actually want to pass on the junk food
Did you really just say no to those Doritos? It might feel weird at first, but as a result of improving your dietary choices and flexing your willpower consistently, you’ll find that you don’t even crave the junk any more (at least not as often).
16. You’ll become a better cook
Unless you’re on a meal delivery plan, you’re going to have to cook for yourself if you want to slim down. Ordering in and eating out just won’t get you there, and you know that. Getting into the habit of buying groceries every week, planning and preparing healthy meals, and experimenting with different flavor and food combinations you’re bound to up your kitchen skills. (Though it might take a while to reach Top Chef status.)
17. You’ll become more adventurous
In the kitchen, in the bedroom, and in everyday life. One of the beautiful side effects of weight loss is that you’ll undoubtedly experience a boost in self-confidence. The funny thing about confidence is that it pushes you to do more and try more.
18. Food will taste better
When you put a microscope to your diet, you really become more in tune to what you’re eating over time. This mindfulness works not only to help you to lose the weight, but even after you’ve lost it you continue to pay more attention to the flavors and textures of your meals. Think to those times you spend mindlessly eating on the couch—does the food actually taste that good? Do you even remember? When you take the time to plan and prepare fresh, home-cooked meals you’re more aware and appreciative of the food on your plate—you literally savor the flavor.
19. Better check ups
If you kick those stubborn 10lbs, you’re not the only one who will be rejoicing. Carrying around excess bodyweight can put you at greater risk for a number of health issues from diabetes to high blood pressure. As you would imagine, slimming down has the adverse effect, making your annual check-ups with your doc a lot less painful.
20. Less prescription medicines
One can probably assume that the healthier you are, the less medicine you need. It actually works that way (in some cases). Not only does exercise and clean eating strengthen your immune system and support overall body functioning, but actually losing weight decreases your risk for health problems and may also get you to a place where you won’t need to rely on certain prescription meds anymore. Of course, give your doc a call before you start self-prescribing (or un-presecribing).
21. You’ll be more organized
Losing weight and getting fit takes planning. When you form a routine around preparing healthy meals and fitting in daily workouts, it tends to flow over into other areas of your life.
22. You’ll respect yourself and others more
Don’t laugh: a side effect of losing weight—and doing what it takes to get there—is respecting your body more. It isn’t easy for anyone to lose weight. It takes discipline and persistence. Once you’ve gone through it yourself, you come out the other end with a whole new outlook and respect for others trying to do the same. You also have a new appreciation for what your body endures day in and day out.
23. Easier commute
Even the fittest get winded walking up and down stairs to the subway. If you live in a big city, you know the struggle all too well. If you’re lucky enough to avoid crowded subway trains, standing for an hour on the train or sitting in traffic forever isn’t fun either, but you’re body will feel better having to endure it when you’ve shed a few extra pounds. After you’ve kicked the weight, you’ll suddenly realize your trek to and from work is a tad more bearable.
24. Not-as-horrible allergies
For some, carrying excess weight can exacerbate allergy symptoms. Added weight can strain your respiratory system, so any trouble you experience breathing due to allergies will only aggravate your symptoms further. Lose the weight and you might actually be able to breath a bit more clearly when allergy season hits, says Smith.
25. You’ll live longer
Really. If you had to choose between a couch potato who chows down on chips and soda or an active, mindful eater, who would you guess might outlive the other? From the healthier lifestyle habits associated with weight loss to the actual physical benefits of carrying less weight, you put yourself in a position to live a healthier, longer life.