I’m sure that many of the readers of the Skinny Daily share the roller coaster ride of weight gain and loss that I have been on several times in my life. There’s nothing like support and encouragement when we are undertaking a healthy lifestyle change, but for us roller coaster riders, we can develop a reluctance to discuss our latest efforts, lest our friends become the food police, or stand by and watch us potentially fall on our faces again. Intentionally or not, our associates can become our saboteurs, if we share the information about our weight management efforts injudiciously.
When I was losing my weight four years ago, I didn’t keep it a secret, but I never openly talked about it with anyone other than my partner, Devin. People noticed my changed appearance and I received nice compliments, but I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing (least of all my family, who have witnessed my many ups and downs over the years).
Ironically, the month I hit my healthy goal weight, I was laid off from my management job and sort of fell into weight management as a side career. This lasted for over two years, and obviously I had to face facts and ‘come out’ about it. I used to cringe (and I still do) when this avocation was mentioned at parties or other social gatherings. Is there anything more likely to kill conversation than to tell someone you’re a weight loss professional?
I remember a particular incident when I was stopped in the middle of a totally stressed out day to meet Devin and some friends of his for lunch — they began immediatey grilling me about what I could or couldn’t eat, and started spouting their own theories about weight loss, fat people, eating, etc. I actually excused myself from the table went to the restroom, locked the door and WEPT.
Weight loss is both immensely personal and inescabably public. Like it or not, no matter how indepent we are, we inevitably find ourselves in situations where our desire for healthy eating creates a certain disruption in the junk-food crazed society we live in. Some people can feel threatened, or dismayed for us, or just be plain ignorant about what it is we’re after. Coworkers, family members, neighbor…even the grocery clerk, can come out with comments about what we are (or more often ‘should’ be) doing.
But here’s the thing. I don’t actually think that most people are really trying to bug me or hinder my efforts. While it upsets me that my boss has probably asked me two dozen times about whether I ‘can’ eat meat or ‘can’ eat thus-and-such style cuisine, I honestly believe he means well. I tire of coming up with upbeat and simplified converstational gambits to deflect eating and weight loss questions that constantly come up, but I don’t think that people are attempting to undermine me.
And I don’t think there would be a way for me to just not say anything at all or go back in the closet. After all, I am not ashamed of my desire to look and feel slender and strong.
So, I’m just going to keep practicing my best Miss Manners smile and rehearse a few helpful phrases:
‘I’m funny, I only eat what I really like’
‘Thanks, but I’m not hungry’
‘I feel like eating healthy today’
‘I don’t know what works for other people, but this works great for me’
And last, but most certainly not least, when asked something truly inappropriate, absurd, or rude: a simple, silent stare, along with the faintest possible smile.