Skinny Daily Post

Invincible.

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.

7 thoughts on “Out of the closet

  1. dara says:

    It seems to me that most of my “rude” type comments about what I can eat, can not eat, should/shouldn’t come directly from my own family. I don’t know if they are being hurtful on purpose, or just plain “STUPID”. For the most part, my family all could stand to lose a lot of weight so I don’t preach to them, but they still feel the need to tell me about “Aunt Gladys” that lost weight, only to gain it all back and more – when she was on a liquid diet. I have long given up the hope of trying to explain healthy eating, when the won’t even try a veggie.
    It does wear on a person, and smiling and nodding is the way I make it through the family visits.

  2. Michelle says:

    This post is so true. I can really relate. Incidentally, not 30 minutes ago the office busybody was walking by my office chastising another employee for having gained some weight. Her comment was, “I care about you and don’t want you to get big and fat”, said just as she was passing by my open door. We have to “swallow” so many careless hurtful comments, it’s no wonder we’re all not openly weeping all the time!

  3. stretchy says:

    Jonathan,

    Your entry got me weepy a bit, but it opened up a door for me also…
    Don’t feel bad about looking good— many people sabotage, I have been on the receiving end of that plenty of times.

    Now people are always saying “How do you stay so trim” or “are you exercising too much?” or “you’re too skinny”

    I have a butt and chest that DEFINITELY say I am not “too thin”
    I am happy with my weight, and how I look, and that is that.
    It was hard to work my way down many sizes to get back to where I belonged..
    It took me a LONG time ( for stretches of time I did it a pound a week or a half pound! ) and when new people say ” You look great, you are so fit!”
    well sometimes I wish they wouldn’t because I feel like an FAKE -I feel like saying–hey you should have seen me back in May of 2003 when I couldn’t button my biggest jeans anymore!! I was crying on the closet floor, longing to be my former size.
    I feel I ought to apologize for how out of control I got and ALSO apologize again for figuring out how to put myself back on track! How is that for crazy?

    Stay strong, Jonathan– Do it for YOU. and close your ears to those you want to “grill” you. Say OUCH! and when they ask why you shouted just say ‘You’ve grilled me enough, It’s starting to scorch!”
    or joke “I feel like a poster child… let’s get onto another subject”

    You are like me, someone asks & -you feel it is polite to answer…well I give you permission to ignore questions , smile and ask them a question–just answer them with a question on another subject. I made the mistake many times of answering questions–it leads to more questions and sooner or later one of them hurts. Take care, Stretch

    PS
    many good things came out of my weight gain & suffering— I excerise now, and have muscle tone, I feed my body healthy food, My BP and Cholesterol, etc–all good numbers, I have more positive friends ( I shed all my negative ones with the weight)
    I go out more and have loads more energy.

    Without my weight gain I wouldn’t have learned how it is to struggle and achieve these things.

  4. Laurie says:

    I was asked several times this summer if I was “unhealthy” or “sick” and told repeatedly that I was “too skinny” and had “gone too far”. I am 5’6” and weigh 135 lbs. Maybe I’m insane, but I don’t think that qualifies as being too skinny. I think I’m just right and feel *good* about myself for the first time in my adult life. It is interesting that people felt compelled to remark on my “health” at both my heaviest (225 lbs. a few years ago) and now at my lightest (135 lbs.). I also get asked quite frequently if it was “South Beach” or some other such diet. When I explain I did it by eating lots more fruits and veggies, eating smaller portions overall, exercising regularly, not drinking my calories and *always* allowing myself small portions of my favorite foods people look at me like I have three heads. As if it is impossible for me to have done it that way. I think they’re secretly wanting to hear it *was* a health issue or that I *starved* myself to get here. Sorry to disappoint them. I am healthier than I’ve ever been in my adult life. Why don’t they realize they are just plain rude?

  5. Greta says:

    My family is the worst but mostly with intentionally bringing snack foods into the house they know I want to avoid. Jealousy is ugly.

  6. Heather says:

    What’s most interesting to me about Jonathan’s post is how it highlights for me a huge difference in my current (successful) efforts to get fit, and all my past efforts. In the past, the diets were my secret, and I got offended when people asked me about them, and embarrassed when people noticed that I had lost weight. This effort is utterly public: I tell everyone I meet about it. And I revel in the compliments. Indeed, they’re doing a little profile about me next week in the work newsletter (“How Heather Lost 100 Pounds — Eating Right and Exercising!”). And I think all this is a reflection of where I am emotionally — the reason I’m being successful on my program is the same reason I can hear the compliments and accept them, and it’s that I really like myself now, and I want to do what’s best for myself, and I want to share what I’m doing with everyone :). I’m probably a crashing bore about it all, actually, but it seems to be working. Like Jonathan said, I’m no longer ashamed of trying to be thinner and fitter.

  7. Catherine says:

    I too sometimes ponder the very personal nature of trying to shed weight; I tell my partner and maybe a friend or two who are also working on it, but not the super-fit and not the visibly overweight. Afraid I’ll fail? Afraid of just what Jonathan’s experiencing? Afraid people will be jealous? Afraid I’ll hurt the feelings of those whom I know suffer from their own weight? That’s a lot of “afraids.” Or is it just, as with writing, something so personal and vulnerable that I just don’t want to talk about it? I don’t know. Still working on that part, too.

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