Skinny Daily Post


When I think about my support network and the people I really care about, for the most part Iíd like them to keep doing most of the things theyíre doing. And if I do wish for them to change, what Iím hoping for is for them to be happier or healthier or more supportive.

I think my sister works too hard and would be better off if she cut back to just 40 hours a week and found time for hobbies. It would be nice if Devin could open up more about his feelings so I could get a better picture of his emotional world. And while my best friend is very supportive of me, it would be nice if he stopped commenting on my weight and what Iím eating every single time we get together.

But these are changes that I care about and are based on my own value system. So suppose instead that suddenly my sister decided that what would make her happier is to dye her hair orange? Or suppose Devin comes home one day and announces heís decided to get a tattoo just for fun? Imagine if my best friend announces that heís bought a motorcycle and is going to quit his job and drive across the country?

None of these are changes that I would wish for, and all of them are changes that would require me to re-think my own sense of who these people are, what they want from life, and how their world and my world intersect. Its possible that these changes would truly bring them happiness, even though they fly in the face of my own value system. And it would be really, really hard for me to sit by and not react negatively.

The way I see it, when I decided to lose weight and I eventually became permanently 50 pounds lighter, it wasnít a change that my friends, family and loved ones expected and it wasnít particularly what they would have wished for me. When I changed my eating habits, my exercise behaviors, my weight-management strategies, it affected not just my own life and my own physical image, it altered the reality of many of my relationships.

I no longer use food as a crutch, but I no longer go to restaurants and order calories with abandon. Now that Iím thin, I would rather spend the afternoon going for a run than going to the movies. I am more likely to turn down party invitations since Iíve never felt they were fun for me, and now I donít even have the prospect of junk food to keep me entertained.

My physical body is thinner, my face is altered, I wear smaller, more expensive clothes and I am more assertive about doing things that I want to do, rather than just going along with the crowd.

These changes have all been terrifically healthy for me, and Iím proud of them. But when I think about it, I can understand why my loved ones might not be as enthusiastic. After all, change is scary enough for me. Seeing me change must be disconcerting to them. No wonder any time I feel insecure or express doubt or act hesitantly, I feel their implied criticism, or I sense them questioning my actions. Its not that they donít love me any more, its that they wonder who this Ďnewí Jonathan is, and how its going to affect our relationship.

If you can relate to any of this, is it any wonder that its so hard for us to lose weight and maintain a healthy goal? Is it really surprising that sometimes people say and do things to us that we see as unhelpful or negative? How do we reassure them (and ourselves!) that being thinner and healthier is actually a good thing for our lives together? Most importantly, how do we keep ourselves from avoiding all of this by simply going back to old habits and becoming overweight again?

10 thoughts on “The more things change, the less they stay the same

  1. Mercury says:

    Great post, Jonathon. I remember reading an article a while back (Martha Beck in Oprah magazine, if anyone cares) that discussed this very issue. Beck describes our habits and relationships fitting into a kind of puzzle. If we change the shape of our puzzle piece, we force those around us to change to accomodate us, and in turn force those around them to accomodate changes in turn. Stick with a big enough change, and you’ll end up affecting people you never meet!

  2. stretchy says:

    Changes… the hardest part is eating in certain restaurants. “Pubby” sportsbar places where my friend’s meet. Greasy fries, bad omelettes, pasta, steak, hotdogs, cream sauces, cheeseburgers…nothing that I would even want to eat now that I watch nutrition closely.

    So I always ordered a salad, and often it is iceburg lettuce and slice of tomato… But then I started asking the waitress to ask the chef if there was any uncooked veggies he could throw onto to the salad, and I started getting a nice big veggie plate. I eat the whole thing, and feel fine. It is never the same.

    My friends have stopped complaining, they love me and accept that this is how I eat in this type of place. They know I eat a huge breakfast and “think nutrition” every single meal.

    I see them changing the way they eat, too… going for better choices, smaller portions, and embracing veggies.

  3. jessica says:

    “No wonder any time I feel insecure or express doubt or act hesitantly, I feel their implied criticism, or I sense them questioning my actions.”

    I struggle with this in every aspect of my life and it has been a huge CAUSE of my weight issues over the years. It’s only been since I started losing weight that I have been able to care a little less about what people think, not seek so much approval.

  4. jonquil says:

    If you want people to give you the breathing room to make changes, you have to do the same for them. Feeling like you constantly have to re-think, or even react, to other people’s changes is just going to make life into one long, boring, tension-filled soap opera. And weirding out over something that’s basically harmless and trivial, like a tattoo or a new hair color– that’s just so not worth the drama. I mean, why stir the pot? Is it the adrenalin rush?

    Whatever happened to that Californian laid-back, go-with-the-flow, hippy-dippy groovy attitude? Has the old surfer-dude culture of acceptance been erased? Did the Boomers go through the 60’s and 70’s just to end up frumpy, safe, boring…. sipping lattes? Criticizing each other’s hair? Hair??? Oy! It used to be all about hair, or maybe freedom or something. Sigh.

    Of course, there are times when you want to say something. If someone in your circle is working too hard, then you might mention it. Once. Then forget about it. Let it go. You only need to raise the defcon level if someone is really going over to the dark side. Otherwise, let people live their lives, accept their changes as you yourself change. Let people explore what life has to offer, while they can.

    And if someone else gets some “negative” stuff going on, that’s static in their heads, not yours, and it’s not your job to do one little thing about it. Let them work it out– they need to do that job without interference from you, however well meant. They need to grow, and they need to let you grow.

    You are not here to make the world “emotionally perfect” and changeless. Or to stick your nose in someone else’s business, quite frankly. Look around you at the natural world. It’s all about change, baby. That’s life, that’s health. Dig it.

    Well, I’m off to dye my hair purple and put on my Ramones T-shirt. Then I need to fix the motorcycle’s carburetor. Spring is coming– I feel like cruising down the coast to Big Sur. Now where did I put my safety pins?

  5. Josie says:

    Great post…it made me realize how often I try to force my own ideas on others. However well intended they may, they are my dreams for them, not theirs for themselves. Thank you for that.

    While no one has ever made a single negative comment about my weight thus far (I guess I have great coworkers, family and friends!), but I have been hurt by what is NOT said. There are two family members we see every 2-3 months who despite my losing 41 pounds so far (in 10 months, so impossible not to notice), have failed to acknowledge this (and no, they’re not trying to be polite). It hurts me that they cannot be happy for me, but I know this has more to with them and their issues than me.

  6. cOOkie says:

    Great blog topic! You touched on the very things I’ve been struggling with lately.

    For me, in the end, I can only blame my weight gains and losses on my own actions. After all, I’m the one putting the food in my mouth. At the same time, like you stated, our environment and who’s in it all comes together like a puzzle.

    When I’m thin I get a mixed reaction. Some love the change, other’s don’t. I find that I feel uncomfortable with the overall attention that I don’t usually receive when I’m bigger. This in itself usually leads me towards self sabotage. I’m not good with compliments or criticism for that matter. When I’m larger I tend to blend in and disappear.

    These are issues I’m constantly working on to resolve because the yo-yo diet life is not only unhealthy but also depressing. One thing I know for sure, we cannot change the way others react to our choices but we have the power to stay true to ourselves and not allow it to affect us.

  7. stretch says:

    Josie made a good point.

    I have many relatives who need to lose 50 lbs, (or more) and are hoping I will gain some of my weight back. They may wave their dish of mac& cheese in front of my face and make remarks about “what I am missing”

    But I see very clearly what they are missing. (Good Health tops the long list of what they are missing) I act kindly towards them despite not getting any kind word from them in this area.

    My friends are much more loving and supportive in the nutrition/fitness area.

  8. Susie says:

    I’ve lost a significant amount of weight, kept it off, and continue to work on my health and fitness. I’ve changed my way of life.

    I got to be 75 pounds overweight by keeping my husband company on eating excursions the way some alcoholics have to have drinking buddies.

    I know he can’t help but feel abandoned on some level. It is harder to find common ground when the high point of his day is dinner in a restaurant and mine is a new level of fitness achieved in the gym.

    And it pains me to see him so heavy. I worry about his health. I love him, and want him around for a long time to come. (We’re both in our fifties.) Plus, I am looking forward to an active, adventurous life in the couple more years until our kids fly the coop. (We’ve got two in high school.) I’m afraid I’ll be ready to hike from inn to inn in Vermont, or to go on a kayaking tripc, and he won’t be able to walk or fit in the kayak! What will I do? Stay home because he can’t go, or go by myself and further strain the relationship?

    Big questions, no answers. I can’t make him ready to take on his health issues, I know that. But sometimes I want to scream when I see him eat vast quantities of high fat foods. I know I have work to do on my own psyche. I know I have to make psychic room for him to be fully in his own moment. (Darned Serenity Prayer. So true.)

    Oh, well.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post, Jonathan.


  9. Laura says:

    Jonquil – I want to be you!

  10. A. says:

    Jonathan, thank you for continuing to write. Your thoughts, delivered to my inbox nearly every day lately, give me a sense of comraderie in my struggles with maintaining my significant weight loss.

    And now, you’ve brought to the foreground, issues on my mind — how others affect our eating, and how our eating affects others. I have too much to say on this topic to begin, so I will say that I have a special appreciation for this column. Thank you for giving me another perspective.

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