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Old 12-13-2011, 06:09 PM   #1
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Default Good and bad weight loss terminology

Which terms relating to weight loss do you like to use, or prefer to avoid? I think that language can be extremely important in this area, since so much of weight loss is about mindset, how we see ourselves, how other people see us. Here are some of mine.

Fat - I avoid this one. It has enormous negative power, it's commonly used as an insult, and it's a highly emotionally charged word for all of us.

Overweight - seems more neutral and with less fuss attached, so this is how I thought of myself when I was overweight. Unfortunately, it sounds a little odd as a noun.

Obese/obesity - I didn't get to the point when I was clinically obese, so I never applied this one to myself. It seems comfortingly clinical when it's not affecting me personally, but I think I'd have found it very hard to cope with if I'd had to use it for myself.

Skinny - I don't really like this one either, again it's too loaded, particularly socially. It's commonly used as a derogatory term for slim or thin women, for instance.

Slim - how I like to be and think of myself.

Thin - I tend to associate this with being underweight rather than optimal weight. It's not something I'm aiming for.

Temptation, sin, being naughty, being good - also far too socially loaded for my liking. Food should not be turned into a fake moral issue, and what's with all the religious connotations? In my opinion, this encourages a binge/starve mindset. Guilt is really not helpful with weight loss. I admit to using "succumb" occasionally, in a sort of semi-ironic way, but then I use that word quite a lot for all sorts of things, such as succumbing to quilting fabric.

Staying on plan - much better, it gets away from the guilt terminology. There's something about it which doesn't quite appeal to me personally, but I can't put a finger on it, and it could just be that I haven't had issues with going off plan so the whole thing never came up.

Diet - another heavily charged word. I grew up with a crash-dieting mother who put me off both the idea and the word, but oddly enough, once I finally started dieting, I found that I'd stopped objecting to it, and it's a short, convenient way to refer to the process.

Lifestyle change - not one I use personally, it feels a little clunky plus my main change was how much I ate rather than what I ate, but I can see how it's a useful term for many people, and a nice positive approach.

Curvy - awkward because it can be complimentary or it can be euphemistic, but I rather like this one. I've always been a bosomy wench, so even when I'm slim it applies to me. "All the right curves in all the right places", on the other hand, is just annoying!
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Old 12-13-2011, 06:29 PM   #2
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Great post!

I avoid the diet word. I have two young daughters (and 4 boys, but I feel weight issues/body image concerns are much more prevalent with girls than boys), and I always talk about making better choices as far as what to eat and how to spend my time. I don't want them to have the same struggles I've had with my weight, and I think a good way to help prevent that is to reinforce the idea it's a lifestyle (hehe, one on your list), not a temporary diet that has beginning and end points. We do use the term "healthy diet", meaning the types of foods we need to eat to keep our bodies healthy, but not in regards to weight loss.

I also don't like the skinny word. So many people have said it to me lately, and it bugs the heck out of me. I prefer slender (though, I'm not really sure I see myself as that yet. When will my brain catch up with the body?), and I don't want to viewed as skinny. I want to be seen as fit, healthy, trim, lean, and strong.
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Old 12-13-2011, 07:07 PM   #3
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I too avoid the "diet" word because I don't personally believe in dieting but rather getting on a healthful, livable eating plan.

Interestingly, I prefer the word "fat" to "overweight" because I believe in "telling it like is" The word "obese" is awful though, and even though it is the technically correct, it even *sounds* horrid
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Old 12-13-2011, 08:01 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Misti in Seattle View Post
I too avoid the "diet" word because I don't personally believe in dieting but rather getting on a healthful, livable eating plan.

Interestingly, I prefer the word "fat" to "overweight" because I believe in "telling it like is" The word "obese" is awful though, and even though it is the technically correct, it even *sounds* horrid
I clicked on this to post "diet" for this reason . "Diet's" are temporary , I have changed the way I eat . Especially now that I am maintaining.
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Old 12-13-2011, 08:07 PM   #5
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Good for you, Angst. And in our society "diet" has a negative, restrictive connotation. I prefer to think of what I am doing as something positive and helpful.
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Old 12-13-2011, 08:30 PM   #6
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Obese. Last year I had a physical just after running my first half marathon. My doctor was asking me how I was doing and what I'd been doing and I told him about the marathon. After this conversation he was weighing me and said "you're obese, but you know that" in a very off-hand way then says something about eating less and moving more. It never really clicked for me that I was obese, at my highest I was class II obese, but it really hurt to be called obese, even when it was true.
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Old 12-13-2011, 08:31 PM   #7
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Oddly enough, I don't mind the word diet. I think it communicates what I want to communicate in brief---although I agree that many people will associate it with something temporary. To me, "lifestyle change" seems too touchy-feeling, though. For that reason, too, I don't mind referring to my [former] self as "fat." Like Misti, I seem to have an aversion to euphemisms and think more "tough love" honesty is needed (although I would only refer to myself as that; I would never even think about referring to someone else as "fat").
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Old 12-13-2011, 09:35 PM   #8
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I don't like "lifestyle change" and I don't like "way of eating" or "eating plan". I don't use "obese" much, even though it's accurate, but I'm looking forward to "overweight" when I'm not longer obese. I don't mind calling myself "fat" either, but don't refer to other people that way.

I use "diet" all the time, both as a reference to what's being eaten "My typical diet is high in vegetables" and to refer to my ideal "That's not on my diet, sorry."
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Old 12-13-2011, 09:46 PM   #9
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I wrote a post not too long ago, complaining about the phrase "falling off the wagon".

Staying on plan: Even though it is difficult, I try not to use this one. It implies that there is only "one right plan" to follow. In reality we are constantly improvising, developing new plans, alternatives, i.e. Plan B, Plan C, Plan D. That is life.

Staying on plan somehow implies that life is more static than what it is. It also ignores all of the grey area, which could lead to binging if you are "off plan". Staying on plan could easily become boring.

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Old 12-13-2011, 10:01 PM   #10
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Agreed with everyone on "thin" and "skinny"- I connote those words with very low weights that could boarder on unhealthy.

I think there's a word missing for people of normal weights who are not "slender." I have curves and muscles- will never be slender. "Fit" doesn't work-- one can be overweight or obese and fit.

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Old 12-13-2011, 10:08 PM   #11
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I agree with all the words. Everyone always calls me "curvy" and I'm never sure how to respond to that. I prefer just saying I'm overweight. Honest and simple
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Old 12-13-2011, 11:13 PM   #12
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Oddly enough, I don't mind the word diet. I think it communicates what I want to communicate in brief---although I agree that many people will associate it with something temporary. To me, "lifestyle change" seems too touchy-feeling, though. For that reason, too, I don't mind referring to my [former] self as "fat." Like Misti, I seem to have an aversion to euphemisms and think more "tough love" honesty is needed (although I would only refer to myself as that; I would never even think about referring to someone else as "fat").
I agree. I would never refer to someone else as "fat" either... just myself.

And Unna, I see your point but it depends on what your "plan" is. I don't have any "plan" except to eat right. The method might be adaptable but the basic plan is the same. Tonight I just sat here and ate 3 pieces of candy cane roca... but I could do it because I only ate around 800 calories today because I passed up the junk at work and ate some tuna and crackers before I went to a company meeting where I knew there would be all kinds of finger foods and desserts so ended up eating LESS than usual. Your basic plan only has to change if it is rigid to begin with. Note I am not saying I am against more rigid plans as we all need to do what works for us. But this works for me.
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Old 12-13-2011, 11:45 PM   #13
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I've never minded the word "diet" since it just indicates the food eaten.

Regarding fat, or over-weight, or obese - I've never been a fan of such terminology. I use the phrase - weight-challenged as better describing those of us who, for whatever reason, carry too much weight on our bodies.

Words are interesting as they mean different things to different people.
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Old 12-13-2011, 11:46 PM   #14
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I hate the word obese. For some reason when I hear it I hear 'Oh Beast'.

I think in the end I stick with overweight except when I'm mad. I stay away from the word fat except when I'm mad. So if someone says to me 'oh when are you expecting?' I'll just respond 'not expecting...just fat'. I'd rather get to the point of the issue in those circumstances. And part of me wants that person to feel embarrassed even though I'm 10 tmes more embarrassed. So I think overweight is a nice way to say fat and is more socially acceptable.
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Old 12-14-2011, 02:16 AM   #15
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I hate the word obese. For some reason when I hear it I hear 'Oh Beast'.

Oh darlin', that's so funny! And, I agree; but when I hear the term -- MORBIDLY OBESE, I think people are saying ... "I'm already dead!" or, they are wishin' me there ...

Sadly, some people use the term just to be mean & nasty; and I no longer count them as my friends, period. I am not bothered by terms as much as others are, in general.

When I was younger, my mother would say that I was "pleasantly plump" and I knew she was just trying to be considerate of my feelings. When I was overweight, I knew I was overweight; and when obese the same, even though like you, I don't like the terminology.

Some may find OVER-WEIGHT too light or simplistic, but I use it to refer to anyone who is over weight -- I may say someone is a little overweight or a lot overweight, simply becuz that gets the point across well enuff without being insulting ...
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