Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Intervention Phase



When you've lost weight, there's no doubt you get a confidence you were missing when you were heavier.  When you've lost a LOT of weight, you tend to go through this phase of feeling like you want to tell all other fat people that you know what it's like to walk in their wide width shoes and share your new found wisdom.  You see the person that other people are looking at because of their size and you want to run up to them with your pom poms and in your best infomercial voice scream "I was your size and I lost weight without crazy measures and you can too!"

It comes from a good place.  It comes from a place of empathy and knowing that it sucks to be that weight for various reasons from health to comfort to social to shopping and just about everything in between.  But we all know that getting and keeping the motivation you had when you start a new program is often waning and not something you can depend on.  You have to find a balance of what will work for you and what works for one person absolutely will not work for someone else.  But try to tell that to people who have lost weight a certain way.  Because that's what worked for them, they believe it will work for everyone and want to shout it from the rooftops and do fattie interventions in public as a way to help with the obesity epidemic.

I'll admit, the Mr and I had those same impulses when we were around the 100-150 lb lost mark, especially given how easy the first 100 lbs came off.  It truly was portion control for the first 50 lbs and then moderate exercise with portion control for the next 50 and we thought "wow!  Who knew it was this easy!?!"  Well at 494 and 455 lbs respectively, any little lifestyle change in the right direction is going to make a difference.  The second 100 lbs came off slower but it did come off in a way that had us buying clothes in smaller sizes at the end of season sales because we could count on that weight loss.  Then it got stuck.  We tried all kinds of tweaks and unfortunately you have to give those tweaks time (3-4 weeks) to see if they're going to work and if they don't, you've wasted a month.  When you travel as much as we do, you've got vacation food and being off your normal exercise schedule that seems to have you losing the same pounds all year.  But I'm getting off track a bit.

When we road tripped last weekend, we were in this antique store and just glanced down at this pinball machine.  The owner, a dude probably in his late 30's maybe early 40's started yammering about it and everything that was replaced in it and I had to make it clear we simply glanced at it and had no room for it.  Nope...he was just a talkative fellow and now what I wanted to be a leisurely poke around a shop was turning into praying for someone else to come in for him to pounce on or how could I do a stunt jump out the front window.  He was telling us about another town that had a lot of antique stores and said "it's nice and level walking, no up and down hills or anything."  Dude, you picked the wrong weekend to judge me.  Inside I was boiling because he was doing what most people do when you see a fat person of any size.  You assume they are sitting with a feed bag strapped to their face well on their way to morphing into the blob.  I was running on severe sleep deprivation (which the Mr got the brunt of the day before) and Aunt Flo swinging off the fallopian tubes.  I did what would keep me out of jail and walked away.  Sorry Mr.

The following was relayed to me by the Mr when I asked why he didn't follow me once we escaped.  He said the guy cornered him and started showing him these shoes he had on...some weird off brand and asked if he'd heard of them before.  He said no and the guy proceeded to tell him how he just lost 110 lbs by doing nothing more than walking.  OOOOHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!  The Mr was getting the fat intervention by a noob who thought he was laying down some knowledge.  Well the Mr laid down some knowledge of his own and said "Congratulations, that's great!  I used to weigh 455 lbs and I've lost 150 lbs and she's lost over 200 lbs."  The guy was a little stunned and then was like "oh wow, how long ago was that and how did you do that?!?!"  He said portion control and exercise just like him, no big secret like people seem to assume.  He'd lost 190 lbs at his lowest but has gained some back but kept the majority of it off.  The guy goes from intervention mode to 'we are simpatico' and starts talking about how he has a whole new attitude and didn't realize his weight was why he was so depressed and stuff that you just feel a little awkward hearing from someone you don't know.  I'm happy for him just as I'm happy for anyone who is in any point of their journey to slay the weight demon.  It's a never ending battle and one you should absolutely celebrate.  I was just not in the mental place to have been able to handle it that day and I already knew he'd labeled us as one of those poor souls he could now help.  I knew if I'd been the one to tell him of our weight loss, it would've come out much less eloquently than the Mr put it, I'm sure.

The next day when we were getting our produce for the week, that situation came up again and the Mr said "the worst part about that whole encounter is that it just confirmed to me that I'm no longer acceptable fat.  I've apparently hit that tipping point where some stranger thinks I just need to hear that he used to be like me and I know how crappy that feels to be on the receiving end of that."  I felt horrible because there has been an issue we've been dealing with that should improve with weight loss (still in the middle of it so I'll update at a later date) and I felt like this was just another punch in the gut for him.  It was for me too because the guy clearly looked at me when he was talking about there being no hills to walk in this other town.  It was when after he said that, my brain showed me the picture of me pouncing on him and yelling in his face "effer, I walked the hilly streets of San Francisco for 12 MILES when I was 10 lbs heavier than this.  Streets that SKINNY LOCALS told me they'd never walk more than 2 miles and even then would likely call a cab for!" that I knew I needed to walk away.  So I was not immune to the shitty feeling the Mr was going through.

Now that we are both better for the most part, we've begun tweaking the diet a bit to throw in a "big salad" or two per week or more meatless options on occasion.  I need to be better about planning on Sundays because while I have stuff on hand for dinners, I don't sit down and plan them.  I need to do that because the Mr is the most successful when he pre-tracks his meals.

We have seen intervention phase from so many people both in real life and online.  The Mr and I were VERY careful to never do that to someone even if the urge was strong.  We know what it's like to get the courage to just exist in public waiting for someone to say something, which I can count on one hand how many times that actually happened to me as an adult but still.  To have some well meaning stranger come up to you and be like "hey you two, I was once like you and I like to do the wild thing I lost weight, let me tell you how!" could send them into a social coma with a box of Twinkies and the pledge to only order online from now on because the real world is too scary.  If someone asked about my weight loss or a conversation was initiated by someone else about weight in a way that wasn't meant as a judgmental dig toward me, then yes, I would casually mention I lost weight.  

So if you should find yourself in the awesome position of having lost a goodly amount of weight, resist the urge that will inevitably come over you when you see your former self in someone else.  They are fat...they KNOW what they need to do just as we all did when we were at our heaviest and the last thing that will give them a mental boost is the unsolicited advice of a stranger thinking they have the whole weight loss game nailed.  Also don't assume just because someone is fat that they haven't already lost weight or aren't already actively in the middle of their journey.

Have you ever given or been tempted to give the 'intervention' to a stranger?  Have you been given the intervention by someone who assumed because you still have weight to lose that you're not already doing something about it?

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13 comments:

  1. It bummed me out a bit knowing a complete stranger was seeing me in that light again but I know what I have to do to get back on track. I also have some of that focus back that I have not had in awhile and I intend to capitalize on it big time!

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    1. It's just one of those reminders that we haven't gotten in a while that came at the wrong time. Or who knows, maybe it was the right time. Regardless, I was more than happy that you set him straight because maybe next time he won't just assume because someone isn't at a "healthy" weight that they aren't doing something about it.

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  2. This post definitely resonated with me... I lost weight 3 years ago through hypnosis and diet. It worked; I got down to goal and preached to anyone who would listen how easy it was... for me... I was really confident and happy and just felt I needed to scream from the roof tops... And now I'm back to where I started... bummed and fat and starting all over again. What worked three years ago is not working now. AND the weight's coming off so slowly... There is no magic bullet. Everyone is on their own journey. No one except you know where you are in your journey and no one should ever judge... Offer help and advice when asked... Otherwise, be kind, respectful and focus on health. I hope you (both) find good health!

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    1. There's nothing worse than when you regain and you start to go back to what worked before only to have your body say "sorry chicky poo, that ain't gonna work this time!" But we all soldier on to find what our bodies will respond to in the now and hope for the best! Good luck! I'll be rooting for you!

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  3. I have never been tempted to give an intervention to anyone because like you said, what works for one will not work for another. I started my weight loss journey about 6 months after my mom died in 1993...I was fat to begin with, but during those 6 months of grieving I gained more weight and when even tying my shoes became an ordeal, I knew it was time. So I went to Jenny Craig with 2 friends because I also knew I needed the help. I was psyched - I lost 10 lbs the first week. Everyone was so happy for me. I lost 60 lbs in 6 months. Everyone suddenly became an expert and offered me all kinds of unsolicited advice: "are you sure you should be eating that", "is that on your diet", etc., etc. Some people even tried to take credit for my hard work. It was so aggravating. And demeaning. But I was determined and kept trucking and lost 115 pounds that year. And I kept it off for 16 years. And now that I've gained back 45 pounds because of illness/meds that go with it, I feel right back where I started. I'm the fat girl again and I'm just waiting for someone to say "what happened, you looked so good" or "I knew you wouldn't keep it off." But it doesn't bother me anymore what people say. I don't like the regain and I'm hoping I can get rid of it soon. But I'm still the same person I've always been. And I'm still 70 lbs lighter than I was at my heaviest, so that keeps me motivated. Generally I find that heavy people do not need to be told or reminded they are overweight - we know. If someone asks, that's a different story.

    I do have a question/thought for you though - do you think our bodies reach a plateau of weight that it thinks we're supposed to be at? I felt awesome and was at my absolute best (and lowest ever weight) at 200 lbs - which sounds absurd. But that is the weight I maintained for 16 years. Nothing would make the scale go lower, so I just accepted it and stayed there. I shouldn't say that - I'm sure if I did high intensity exercise 5 or 6 days a week, more weight would have come off. But I've never been good at pushing myself in the exercise arena. Now, I wish I had been. But hey, it's never too late to start, right? You guys are my inspiration with your constant dedication to exercising and moving and getting out and living!

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    1. I can totally relate. After my grandpa passed and then my FIL, we gained a lot of weight just from the despair of the situations. It can be tough but good for you for having success with JC. Ugh and the food police...usually people who have rarely had a weight problem and think they're doing you some favor or worse, someone who HAS lost weight, knows what it feels like to be judged and does it anyway. You're right, you're still the same person and you are still maintaining a big loss which is a victory.

      I absolutely believe that your body gets comfortable in a certain weight range and it's not necessarily the one that let's you lead a "normal" life. I'm 4 lbs from my lightest as an adult but have always seemed to teeter between 270-80 and since I'm tall I look about 20-30 lighter but *I* know. I also know that I've been at this weight going on 5 years and I'm effin' sick of it. My body may like it here but *I* don't. I want another 50 lbs off. I don't need to get down to my docs BMI chart which does NOT equate health. I need to get down to a weight that will allow me to do ANYTHING I want to do without thinking of my weight like zip lining, parasailing, horseback riding, etc all which have weight limits just out of my reach.

      Thanks so much for the kind words, I hope to get this body into gear somehow to continue to be worthy of inspiring!

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  4. YES, I have been tempted to do this quite often, but because I am an introvert, I don't. I even think of how I would do it, I would have a before and after picture in my purse and pull it out, and say, "See I was YOU once!"

    However after 30 years of being that "before" person, I also am smart enough to realize I really resented it if anyone tried that to me. The hardest struggle I have, however, is with my own son, who is probably approaching 600 lbs. He will be 40 this year, and I know his weight is definitely adversely affecting his lifestyle as well as his health, and it's hard to keep quiet. But then I remember my own parents and their successful weight loss later in their own lives. I know they wanted to get me on the band-wagon with them, but I resisted, and they didn't force too much, just continued to point out their own eating and new exercise habits. Still, even their good example didn't matter, and it took me a good almost 30 years before I followed their good example. It has to come from within, no external pressure can cause it. At least that has been my own experience, and as you note, we are all different. What worked for me probably won't work for you or that guy or that woman over there, and I realize that, so I am not even gonna try. I think your blog serves the purpose of telling others what is working for you without forcing it on them. And that is a very good thing!!!

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    1. I think we've all had those same thoughts especially when you have a picture to show "SEE!" so they believe you. But we all know at that weight, it can have serious adverse effects to someone who is not mentally ready to take on everything losing weight entails.

      When it's your son (or for me, your mother) all you can do is lead by example or maybe you mention it from a super non-judgmental place to let them know you're worried and if there's every anything you can do that you're there for them then unfortunately that's all we can do. It's painful and it's scary because you know all of the things that can go wrong and how much harder just existing is at heavier weights. But if they aren't ready mentally, it's a slippery slope and no one knows it better than we do.

      There are so many different ways to lose weight and the "secret" is finding something you can do for life, not something that will work "for now." Some people are okay with cutting out whole food groups or saying no to sugar but we know that doesn't work for us. All I can do is show what we eat, how we exercise and what it's done for us up to this point and then hopefully show how we dig out of the plateau hole since my legs seem to be on the mend. I'm glad nothing comes across like I'm forcing things! :-)

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  5. Beautifully written blog as always, my friend. I've had issues with this on and off through the years, and mostly it's come from people feeling that the way I'm doing something is the wrong way and they are quick to tell me why. There are certain foods that I just cannot each, plain and simple, because they are huge triggers for me. I have a friend who's asked me about this and she thinks it's ridiculous to eliminate any foods because "you can have anything in moderation." Well, not when you're a compulsive eater like I am and eating those things will put me into a full blown binge that will take weeks, if not months, to stop. So now if she presses me to eat something I say that I'm allergic to it, which in a sense, I am, because my physical reaction to certain foods is like having an allergy with what it does to me.

    On the flip side, I'm pretty quiet when it comes to talking about weight loss because I know that every single person has their own thing. We didn't all get fat eating the exact same way and we aren't all going to lose weight by doing the same thing either. I empathize with others about weight issues, but I'll never feel like I've "arrived" because for me it is truly a daily battle, regardless if I'm at a goal weight or not. I've hit goal many times in my life and never stayed there, so I know just how dangerous it can be to get complacent (like I've been for the past four months...not good).

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    1. Thanks mama! I have so much respect for the way you are able to cut out your triggers and it's not for your friend to understand. She doesn't understand because she either doesn't have to or want to and that's okay for HER but not you. It's like telling an alcoholic, "here, a little shot won't kill you, it's in moderation!" People refuse to see that addiction is addiction regardless of the medium but because we actually NEED food to LIVE, food addiction is 1000x worse because every meal has the potential to trigger a relapse if not carefully planned.

      You're very right, we didn't get fat eating the same things or the same ways. When you've battled your weight at any point, you can "arrive" but it takes a LOT to stay there. There's no time to get arrogant about it because we're all just a bad week or a string of bad decisions away from that slippery slope. It sucks when other people seem to have it "easier" but truth is, none of us knows what that person who seems to effortlessly float through life eats or how often they exercise when we don't see them.

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  6. Long time reader, first time commentor: I laughed when I read about the guy telling you there weren't many hills etc., for walking... sooo typical! I recently went to buy a new pair of hiking boots because I wore my old pair out. Although I'm a big girl I'm a seasoned hiker and walk a lot (my dog won't let me stay home!) Anyway... I went through a number of sales people and you could tell they couldn't understand why a fat girl would invest so much money in hiking boots. The lady at the register said 'these are for serious hiking'. Like I might never actually put them on!! It can be frustrating to deal with people judging you... I'm quite sure I could out hike everyone in that particular store but all they see is my weight:) Thanks for your post.. so many of us can relate.

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    1. So much this! A bunch of years ago I did this charity walk (60km over 2 days). I had already done it successfully 3 years in a row, then the 4th year my regular walking partner was out of town so I signed up for a "training" walk with the organization. There was a low turnout so I chatted with the organizer for most of the 10km and (I'm usually pretty oblivious) I finally clued in that she had been steering the conversation into a way she could subtly ask me if I *really* thought I'd be able to handle doing the whole thing. She shut up pretty quickly when I told her I hadn't had an issue with the previous 3!
      This incident also came on the heels of my long-time chiropractor deciding to tell me all about this "fantastic" new weight-loss surgery he thought I should have (COMPLETELY unsolicited and definitely not something I was interested in considering). The 2 things together helped tip me toward a pretty long downward spiral out of exercising that lasted a couple of years. Happy to say I'm out of that now and working my way back up.

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    2. Weight & Wellness Way- Well thanks so much for pipin' up! :-) I don't know how you didn't hiss venom at the sales lady with that comment! Nothing like assuming, right? Especially when you know that you're in better shape that they probably are. I remember many years ago, we went to a college campus where Billy Blanks was teaching a Tae Bo class. We lost 80 lbs doing Tae Bo so it was a dream for us to do this even though I was scared because I still wasn't thin and expected snide comments. When it became VERY clear we were regulars and saw all of these skinny 18-22 year olds that couldn't kick or get out of breath, we got a little boost of confidence. I even heard a group of girls behind us say "wow, look how high they can kick!! Sorry, I'm done, let's go the bar!" LOL That was when I stopped equating skinny with fit just like people need to stop equating fat with UNfit!

      Sammi- Ugh, isn't that the worst when people assume because you're in the training class that you might not be able to do it!? I mean come on, even if it WAS your first rodeo, why deter someone? So many people sign up for races not even with the intent to finish but to see how far they can get and then work to improve. But good on ya for shutting her down! ;-)

      As far as the chiro...WOW. I don't know what made him think that was okay to say but yeah...not okay. Depending on the time of the month, I think I may have said when I went back "Oh by the way, that suggestion of WLS really sent me into a mental sprial so thanks a lot and so that you don't get tempted to send anyone else down the same path, stick to your area of expertise and let me worry about my weight, you poop!"

      Good on ya for getting out from under that and working your way back to you, babe!

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