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Why I don't talk about my weight loss in public...

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Old 09-20-2011, 04:20 PM   #1
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It just astounds me how insensitive some people can be when it comes to weight struggles. I honestly just don't get what is so hard to understand. EVERYONE struggles with something and has something in their life that they don't control perfectly whether that is their food intake, their budget, their cleanliness, their organizational skills, whatever. It's part of being human, we all have different struggles and part of personal growth is to learn how to deal with them. So why is weight loss any different?

Over the past two days I've been forced to talk about my weight loss in public (something I rarely do). Once was at a doctor's visit where it came up and the other was at a lunch with coworkers. DH works with me and has just started calorie counting and was talking about his success with that. One colleague felt it was appropriate to ask me if I was going to pick up DH's habits too (note DH had not mention ANYTHING about me or my eating habits during this conversation).

Between those two conversations I've been asked:

1. If I lost the weight with diet pills and if I was starving myself (the doctor kept harping on this like he didn't believe me when I said no!).
2. I'm still upset about the ASSumption that it was OK to ask me if I was going to START a diet (after already losing 60lbs, thank you very much).
3. Once I did say how much I've lost it was immediately blown off as "just baby weight" (yeah, my kid is almost 3 so you better believe me I earned every pound that I've lost!).
4. Why did't you notice that you're gaining weight? (This was actually asked to my DH. In principle it's a somewhat valid question but the tone and assumptions behind it really upset me)
5. Did I bother to exercise? (Um... I can deadlift 100lbs, thank you very much).
6. We were told that sugar "is not the problem". Thanks but I'm pretty sure DH and I know our bodies well enough to know what affects us and what doesn't. Especially since we've both been successful in losing weight.

And this ladies and gentlemen is why I NEVER bring up weight loss with other people. I really only talk about it with DH and my best friend. Granted, with health professionals it comes up and my family occasionally asks when they see pictures of me but I avoid getting into details with them.

It gets me extremely annoyed with how insensitive people can be if they haven't BTDT. Everyone who was involved in these past two conversations had never struggle with their weight so to them it really was a foreign concept.

Now, I suppose, in a way, it's GOOD to have these conversations because it helps people to understand what we are going through and hopefully be a bit more compassionate in the future. But it's still frustrating and just because I've lost a significant amount of weight, sometimes I don't want to be the poster child of weight loss. Sometimes I just want people to treat me equally and NOT ask me out of the blue if I'm going to go on a diet. Now that all of my work collegues are aware of what I've lost I'm a bit paranoid that they're going to be watching my eating habits like a hawk (unfortunately, this has happened in the past).

Ultimately, this is why I come to 3FC. It's nice to be able to talk to others who have similar struggles even if we all go about it in a different way. I can't imagine what I would do without the support here because I find conversations where I have to defend my diet and exercise routine extremely exhausting and annoying.

ETA: I should clarify. I would have a VERY different opinion if someone noticed my weight loss and genuinely asked me how I did it. I'm 100% OK with that. What bugs me is all the assumptions on how I did it.
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Old 09-20-2011, 04:29 PM   #2
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Umm...
Your doctor does not sound normal to me at all. The co-worker that asked you if you would pick up his habits sounds like an ignorant jackass.
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Old 09-20-2011, 04:35 PM   #3
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Umm...
Your doctor does not sound normal to me at all. The co-worker that asked you if you would pick up his habits sounds like an ignorant jackass.
I asked DH about it afterwards and he told me that where we live diet pills are VERY common and so that's why the doctor was harping on it so much. I really have no clue if that's the case or not being that I haven't even lived in this country a year yet but it still made me very upset!

And, yes, the guy was an ***. That particular guy is sort of known for asking inappropriate questions and not picking up on social cues. Even know that it still made me pretty upset!
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Old 09-20-2011, 04:42 PM   #4
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There are a lot of myths and assumptions about weight loss out in the world. Some of them are silly, some of them are downright scary! Part of the way people speak to you (or anyone) about it might have a lot to do with how they see weight loss, and what it involves (in their minds).

Losing weight, for much of the world around me, still means a "diet". And diets mean lots of things to many different people. Usually salads are included in some manner, though... So when someone is outside of that norm, it's free game to question, prod, interrogate, poke with a stick etc.

The other factor is likely how they perceive people who need to lose weight. This might have a lot to do with the word "fat" and what people tend to think of "fat people". i.e. - They're lazy... so they're going to look for the "easy way out"... pills, magic crash diets, no exercise... Plus, they're too stupid to know how to healthfully lose weight! You get the idea.

It's pretty obnoxious, I agree. And I also agree that 3FC is such a wonderful place due to the fact that we all have this struggle in common and keep harsh judgements away from here.

People have a lot of assumptions about many struggles. If nothing else, we have the opportunity and the awareness of self to apply our struggles to others' and have a little compassion.

In any case, if you ever feel like someone's questions go too far ... about any subject... it's always perfectly okay to change the subject or (depending on your relationship to them) say "That was kind of a rude question..." And then politely change the subject
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Old 09-20-2011, 04:54 PM   #5
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Old 09-20-2011, 05:07 PM   #6
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I've actually pulled up my shirt and tugged the waistband of my pants down and said "OK WHERE"S THE SCAR???" if you're so sure I had weight loss surgery LOL

People are idiots. Rude and idiots. Rude, uninformed, and idiots. Let's not forget that!

I'd have to say my all-time-fav was a doctor I had before my now FAB doctor, she said "well, you're very overweight. What I'd like you to do is eat less and move more. That will remove the excess weight" WOW, really??? Call the Mayo Clinic!!!
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Old 09-20-2011, 07:04 PM   #7
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"What other people think of me is none of my damn business." -RuPaul
LOVE that!
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Old 09-20-2011, 07:09 PM   #8
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I learned a long time ago that discussing weight loss , mine or others can be a very frustrating conversation, I try to avoid it if at all possible.
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Old 09-20-2011, 08:08 PM   #9
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"What other people think of me is none of my damn business." -RuPaul
This. I don't care about what others think of me, and if they want to give me negative opinions about me and my weight loss efforts, that's when my ears close. I am sorry those people were insensitive.
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Old 09-20-2011, 08:40 PM   #10
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It took me a very, very long time to decide that just because I struggle with weight maint (and an eating disorder) does NOT mean I have to be sensitive about discussing those issues.

While other people are often idiots, regardless of the topic, it is how *I* engage that matters.

In the past it was my own insecurity and shame that caused situations to become uncomfortable.

I have gotten much better at politely shutting down these topics or even answering honestly without feeling so...exposed.

With the doctor - I would have been direct: "you already asked me more than once about my methods, and since it is in my best interest to be completely honest, I was...if you continue to question me in this matter I will be happy to find a more trusting physician."

With the coworkers - "Im sure DH healthy habits will reinforce the healthy habits I have already permanently incorporated." Then turn the convo on them by asking a somewhat related question to the group. "Speaking of health, I heard there is a 5K coming up soon..we should get a team togehter at work!"
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Old 09-20-2011, 08:47 PM   #11
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I have to agree with what has been posted here already. Many of my friends are fighting with weight issues, too, so at least I have that in common with them. No one has tried to lose as much as I am trying to lose, though. I get all sorts of odd comments and just chalk it up to the fact that sometimes people just don't know how to react when a friend makes a big life-altering change. I made it very clear from the start that I was not following a diet. I used the "excuse" that I'm too bullheaded to be told what I can and can't eat and too lazy to count points. It seems that EVERY SINGLE TIME I have a meal with someone, they apologize and say, "I guess you probably can't eat this." I tell them over and over - I can eat whatever I want. I've been asked if I will ever be able to eat like a normal person. I answer that with, "I AM eating like a normal person - I used to eat like a fat person. This is how normal people eat." No one gets it.

I've been given the most ridiculous advice. I was at a friend's house. She has 2 sisters who should be doing some serious thinking about their weight. While we talked, the 2 sisters ate an entire bag of chips with a full 12 oz container of dip. (OK - I ate a few chips and a little of the dip.) They told me I really should be using lo-cal dressing because of how much salad I eat. And that I should cut back on the cardio and do more weight training to lose more effectively. It took all my quiet reserve (if you knew me, you'd realize what a difficult thing this was) to not say, "Wait - which one of us has lost almost 90 pounds since January? Oh, yeah - ME. I'm the one who lost weight - you are the ones who gained."

Everyone has horror stories of their own. I think the fact that reality TV rules the airwaves right now coupled with America's obsession with "thin" makes people think it's OK to be a critic and that they are all somehow experts. I don't talk about this unless someone brings it up. I also agree that this is one of the best things about 3FC - we can rant and rave and everyone understands.

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Old 09-20-2011, 09:07 PM   #12
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It seems that EVERY SINGLE TIME I have a meal with someone, they apologize and say, "I guess you probably can't eat this." I tell them over and over - I can eat whatever I want. I've been asked if I will ever be able to eat like a normal person. I answer that with, "I AM eating like a normal person - I used to eat like a fat person. This is how normal people eat." No one gets it.
I have experienced this too. Is hilariously infuriating!
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Old 09-20-2011, 10:04 PM   #13
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I have to say that I too never talk to people IRL about my weightloss or my plan unless they out and out ask me. I've been heavy all my life and so no one least of all myself, has ever known me to be anything but fat. Up until earlier this year, when people asked me, I was really non-committal and very vague about what I was doing to lose weight.

It was actually my mom that outed me after I gave a non-committal answer to a family friend and disclosed that I was really serious and really worked hard to get to where I was (at that point I'd lost about 75ish lbs). And then after that, the lady was genuinely interested and so I told her what I'd been doing, basically calorie counting with no food group-restrictions and kind of what my philosophy was and that was that.

The reasons why I don't discuss weight issues with people whether they're stranger, family or friends (I didn't even tell my mom or my BFFs, it was more something they observed after some time) are:

1.) I don't really want their input. I don't want them to feel like they have the right to police me or discount me from meals and outings, or think they know what I can or cannot eat, or mention my diet constantly in public, or feel like they have to plan around me, or watch me like I'm a recovering addict they're waiting for to relapse into obesity.

2.) If I fail, I want it to be my business, same as if I succeed. I get my support from my stranger-partners-in-weightloss-crime (all of you guys, my 3fc peoples) and from myself. If I feel like I need more or less support I can increase or decrease the frequency of my visits whereas you can't control that in real life, you can't avoid people and their judgment.

3.) I just feel like I can generally do without the drama I've seen sharing this journey with a lot of people, bring. This is hard enough, I don't need the external negative energy. It's distracting, depressing and generally unproductive for everyone.

4.) Even when people are positive for instance my mom, or family members who are inspired by what I've done to get started, I sometimes feel the pressure of their expectations, like for instance how disappointed/discouraged she would be (mostly on my behalf I'm sure) if let's say I regained and to be honest, I don't really enjoy that part.

Obviously it gets to a point where you can no longer avoid the topic because you're either doing something extraordinary (in relation to your former lifestyle) to lose weight or you have a serious health problem, but the undersharing was good while it lasted.
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Old 09-20-2011, 10:46 PM   #14
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I think we're all insensivite and idiotic at times, especiall when we don't know the "full story," or are dealing with people from a different culture, subculture, or life experience.

I know I've stuck my foot in my mouth a thousand times before, because I didn't think before speaking, or because I wasn't aware of the cultural traditions or personal history of the person I was speaking with.

But we expect and accepy unintentional idiocy on other topics, and I wish weight loss and weight weren't so emotionally "loaded" so that it could be discussed more openly. I try to make it that way, and I love talking about dieting and weight loss, even with strangers. Even with people intentionally trying to make me feel hurt or stupid (because I like proving to such people, that they can't).

For me, it's my "soap box" topic, and I try to keep it "under my hat," because I know people can be sensitive and easily hurt - but if THEY bring up the topic, I see it as my invitation to whip out my soapbox.

I think I must have a "doesn't take things personally" gene. Or maybe it was growing up in a family that "fought dirty" but didn't hold a grudge (well at least not until the next argument, and it could all be dredged up again).

I remember bitter arguments with my mother and grandmother over silly and serious things, and in the middle of the argument one of the adults would say "well are we going to lunch/the mall/the movies (whatever had been planned), or what?"

Of course that may have shaped some of my misadventures in eating as well, considering that I was raised in a family that allowed no emotional upheaval to get between us and meal plans.

The only way it will be ok to discuss obesity and weight loss, is if we can take the stigma away from overweight. We have to stop seeing obese and overweight folks as defective and immoral. And I think as long as we all stay silent and hiding, that's not going to happen.

As a culture, we don't (as much as we used to, anyway) expect overweight people to remove themselves from society, but we do expect them to stay silent. There's this weird social conspiracy in which we're all supposed to pretend we don't recognize when we or someone else is very overweight.

Which can get kind of weird, when we're supposed to acknowledge when someone has lost weight, and yet we aren't supposed to notice that they are still or ever were overweight or fat. And we're DEFINITELY not supposed to ever notice or acknowledge membership in the group of overweight people. If you weigh 500 lbs, you're not supposed to acknowledge when meeting someone who weighs about the same, that you have anything in common.

It's always made me wish we had a "secret handshake" that meant the topic of weight and weight loss was ok to discuss.

But we don't have a secret handshake, which means we either have to risk discomfort or we kave to stay silent.

I perfectly understand and accept those who stay silent, but because I want things to change so badly, I'm willing to be one of the first to say it out loud in a crowd. I do have to "comfort check" often - pay attention to body language and facial expression, ask questions to make sure the topic isn't hurting the person I'm talking too, but I've had some of the absolutely best conversations with perfect strangers on the topic.

Once in a cafeteria (on a college campus where I was retraining to be a Cobol programmer), where a bunch of us overweight, 30-ish and older women in the class had gotten on the topic of weight loss and the diets a person could avoid "counting," a stranger overheard our conversation, and asked if we minded if he joined the conversation because it was relevent to his field of study (which I can't remember what exactly it was - a graduate degree in specialized P.E. or nutrition threapy).

He was blond, uber-fit, Australian and absolutely gorgeous (not of course that, that had any bearing on our letting him into our discussion - then again it may have been the only reason).

It was a really great discussion, and while there was quite a bit of heated debate, I don't think anyone was offended at the disagreement, as we all seemed to be having a lot of fun.

It was interesting to hear his perspective on American food. Especially meat portions. He said he always considered himself a person who ate a lot of red meat (I think his family raised sheep, or he was raised in a community in which a lot of people raised sheep), and how he was astonished to be served such huge portions of meat, and even more astonished to see the people around him finishing such huge portions.

It would have been really easy to take some of his statements as insults (personally and culturally), but it was like we had all made an unconscious pact to check our egos at the door. The topic was so interesting, that we all said things I don't think we would have in any other situation. I certainly never in a zillion years thought I'd discuss personal stories of my compulsive eating experiences with a gorgeous, uber-stud half my age.
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Old 09-20-2011, 11:37 PM   #15
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There have been a ton of great responses here. I think Kaplods is right on the money - as usual - with her observations. I might be willing to speak candidly with a perfect (and he does sound perfect . . . ) stranger, but probably not with an acquaintance. The "anonymity" factor comes in to play, perhaps.

And I agree with Toastedsmoke's points - especially #1. I don't want input from someone else. I don't want people to plan around me. I don't want to be told when to stop losing weight (a friend told me I looked like I have been sick and better stop losing.) So my answer lately to, "What have you been doing to lose weight?" is, "Eating like a thin person." that ends it unless I want to keep it going.

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New goal: To maintain at about 160 Final Goal: To decide if I need to lose more
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