Friday, May 5, 2017

Series Post #4: When the compliments stop


*- This series is based off both my husband and I's personal experiences of having lost 225 and 190 lbs respectively and how what you go through physically can also affect you mentally. Your experience may be very different.  As a reminder, I am not a health professional. All physical and mental health issues should be discussed with a medical professional before making any changes to your current routine.

If you haven't read the first three posts in the series, you can find them herehere and here.

While getting complimented for your hard work isn't the reason why we lose weight, it can be nice to have positive reinforcement along the way.  We have always worked out 5-6 days per week depending on where we were in our journey.  (Six days per week the past few years)  There was one point where I started keeping track of compliments I got and hung them in the workout area because I needed that visual reminder in case I was tempted to skip a workout or avoid unplanned temptation.  I know that might sound weird or conceited to some but there was a reason for the madness other than that.  One side of my family always had a bit of a fat bias.  My great grandma told me when I was 11 that if I "dieted and got myself on track that I could be as skinny as my cousin" who was 26 and standing behind me.  She struck back at her telling her I was beautiful the way I was and was very upset by her comment.  It wasn't until a year later I found out she was bulimic and has almost died several times including being found in a pool of her own blood on the floor after a purge session.  The thought of that message being communicated to an 11 year old girl horrified her because she got that same message at the same age.  Her dad cheated several times because his wife was overweight.  My great grandma's sisters were known to sling back handed comments quite a few times as well.  So when the family went to a recital together, hearing that same great grandma tell me how skinny I looked and my grandpa telling me how amazing I looked and to keep it up felt like some kind of validation.  Compliments were flooding in every time we saw people and while at first it was nice, it would get uncomfortable after a while because there can be a pressure to perform that comes with that which isn't always good for your mental state.

There comes a point where your weight loss slows and the compliments still come.  It could be from people who haven't seen you in a while or maybe they haven't complimented you in a while but feel like they should so they can "encourage" you to keep up the work.  It still feels nice to get them but starts to feel awkward when it's not melting off like it used to.  Then comes the worse kind of compliments...the forced ones.  The ones that you know you don't deserve anymore because your weight loss has plateaued for months (or years) or worse, reversed a little.  There were some friends of ours we used to see on a monthly basis and every time they saw us, they complimented us up and down...even when the weight loss stopped.  We would even tell them "oh thanks but we haven't lost any more."  The more they'd say it when we saw them, the more inauthentic it felt.  Then it began to make us question if we ever deserved any of the compliments we got.  It's a weird, slippery slope and why mentally it's so challenging to grasp every part of this whole "journey."

Then there comes a time where the weight loss either stops or you reach your goal and you're just "normal."  You got the kudos for getting the job done and when the job is "done" regardless of whether it's where you wanted to end up, your just...there.  The compliments, high fives, glances of "wow" stop and you're just...you.  That can be hard to adjust to because regardless of whether you liked the attention your weight loss brought or not, it is something you can get used to. Unfortunately, it's possible for your self worth to get tied in with that.  You can reason it out as to why it'll never happen and you didn't enjoy the attention anyway but that's when it can sneak up on you the most.   It's easy to think that others may be secretly waiting for you to fail or slip up.  So how can you combat the feeling that you're letting others or yourself down by not doing something worth doing back flips over anymore?

Journal-  I know I've mentioned the importance of journaling before but it's that important especially as your life begins to feel like Groundhog Day.  Even if you only journal your food and workouts, sometimes glancing to see your own consistency can be a boost to your self confidence.

Compliment others-  I'm not saying this as a way to receive them back or to fish for compliments.  But think of how good it was to receive them when they were flowing in.  It was easy to take them for granted, wasn't it?  You appreciate them more when they're scarce.  Well think about how many compliments we typically get on a job well done, a new outfit, our smiles, a pat on the back for being a good parent or someone being proud of us.  Don't you think someone else could use that positive feedback in their lives?  Seeing a smile on someone else's face getting an unexpected compliment can do wonders to make you feel good about doing something so small to make someone else's day.

Be confident in your path-  In a world that seems to not be happy until they push us firmly into categories and fad diet sectors, I believe those are just a small minority with a bigger platform.  I personally believe that we need to do what works for each of us as individuals.  We can research and experiment with recipes or tweaks to keep us on the path but well intentioned people will make suggestions that you know aren't consistent with how you want to eat.  You can smile, thank them and look into it should you choose to but don't succumb to peer pressure.  Like Oprah, we love bread.  I'm not talking at every meal, I'm talking a piece of bread for an open faced sandwich.  An English muffin once a week.  Things that, if we cut them (and we've tried) we would miss and feel deprived and then obsess over.  I understand other people don't feel the same and that's okay.  It's okay however you choose to eat but consider doing it in a way that you can look 5 years ahead and see yourself eating the same way.

Share your experience- Start a blog!  Join a weight loss support group online.  Join Instagram. Sometimes people need to know that there is someone out there who is going about weight loss the way they are and more importantly, someone who struggles and still finds a way to get the job done even when they don't want to or aren't seeing the results they used to.  If you start a blog, know that you can set the tone for it and create an atmosphere that can be nurturing and supportive.  Know that if you join an online group run or get on social media that there is potential you may run into some Negative Nancy's or a mob mentality. Decide which avenue will be the best way to get your story and kinship out there without sacrificing your focus.


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2 comments:

  1. I am enjoying this series very much. Thanks for taking the time.

    Maybe you are already planning this, but I have a request. What changes have you made as you have worked your way down the scale? I think we all go thru an evolution. Number of meals/snacks a day, type of food, what we track, etc. It is very much a process. In the beginning it is often a mental process. Later it becomes more and more about the science, I think. I also think certain weight ranges have common characteristics. Things that were tough before, are now a matter of routine. Some challenges disappear all together. Somethings remain or reappear. And again, I am talking about topic of food.

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  2. Another gem! It's so true how the mental part of this is so complex and, for me, at the root of why I'm a compulsive eater and have struggled for so many years. And part of that mentality is that number on the scale. How if it's down, I'm worthy and have a great day. If it's up, I'm a screw up and there's just no point in trying. That kind of extreme thinking is exhausting and based on conditions, but so many of us go through that regardless. I like the tips you gave as well -- very encouraging!

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