Tuesday, July 3, 2018

"You can never really make anyone happy"

I stumbled across this article about Dean Mead who lost over 200 lbs.  When he talked about his journey with Nutrisystem and lifting weights, something he said struck an old nerve.

“I got down to that weight and started bulking up to put more muscle on because everyone told me that I got too small. You can never really make anyone happy,” he jokes. 

I remember that phase.  When you're 494 lbs (or just fat, period) depending on your circle of family, friends, and co-workers that see you most, you have one of three reactions to your weight:

1)  Bullying comments like somehow making mean jokes at your expense will spur you into action.  (But we all know people just say those things because they're either miserable assholes or trying to make themselves feel superior for their own shortcomings.)

2) The "well-intentioned" comments like "we're worried about you" or "if you just lost a little weight."  (You know, because it's easy which is what the word "just" implies.)

3)  Nothing is said.

In my case, it was the latter.  Nothing was said.  I lost weight before in the late 90's but gained it all back and double that after going through a family implosion after a death as well as the most stressful time in my life at work.  So my family knew I was capable of losing weight but when I got out of control nothing was said.  Fast forward to losing 175 lbs and still being 319 lbs (the same weight I was when I got married) and suddenly it was "you're getting too skinny!!"  Uh...pardon???  I'm still over 300 lbs and on the day I got married, no one said "look how skinny you are, you really should stop dieting."  It was to the point something was always being said when we'd get together for family functions, especially with one particular family member.  I finally had it and said, "sorry but no one said sh*t when I was almost 500 lbs, so people don't get to comment on it when I'm getting healthier."  Nothing was said for a long time and now that we only see this person once a year, she still insists on calling me skinny.  Ugh.  PLEASE...enough.  Because of her personality, you don't know what her intent is in that statement.  I know she is a very judgy person where weight is concerned and has made comments behind people's back about the food they post on Facebook or if so and so gained weight or whatever.  I'm 20 lbs over my lowest weight and still obese so it feels disingenuous from our perspectives.  I'm getting off track a bit.

So what he said really hit home because people are never happy.  When you're too fat, they get used to you at that weight and anything that is drastically less weight, even a weight you used to be that was never commented on, is suddenly "too skinny" or "thin" enough to cause concern.  Weight loss is a very personal journey and just as people can be hurt by being called hurtful names, believe it or not, they can also be hurt by a constant mention of their weight every time you see them.  It may seem trivial and maybe people just want to show their support but depending on where their headspace is, it can actually do more harm than good if they're having trouble or backsliding.  It makes you feel like your weight is constantly being monitored by others and then you can feel like you're letting people down, much less yourself.  If someone compliments you but you know you're heavier than the last time you saw them, it makes you question their sincerity even if it comes from a good place.

Most people want to lose weight so they can blend in more.  People of "normal weight" don't get told "wow, look at your stable weight!  Good for you for maintaining!"  I know some people can get addicted to that positive feedback and comments in the beginning and we were one of them the first time around.  But it made us a little uncomfortable the second time because it felt like we were under a microscope.  If you feel the need to pay someone a compliment, just say they look great.  No need to make it weight related unless they bring it up.  If they want to take it as a weight thing, they can but reinforcing they either look good (or conversely sick or "too skinny") just adds a lot of mental clouding that doesn't need to be there.  Obviously, this is just my opinion but I know a lot of people who have gone through the same journey expressed the same feelings.

Do you prefer weight based compliments or more general compliments or do you want no one to compliment you and if so, why?

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  1. I enjoy any compliment lol. I am enjoying that people are finally noticing my loss. It's only 35 pounds and it took me 14 months but I weigh less than I have in 10 years. I'm now overweight instead if obese. I noticed when I visited my negative aunt last week that she does not acknowledge compliments given to her. Maybe with a sigh or just nothing. However, when someone makes a positive comment about someone else, she counters with a negative about them. So weird like she is jealous of the compliment paid to others. Can't really pinpoint why. When people dismiss my compliments I just stop giving them.
    Have a great day!

  2. The point about normal weight people not getting complimented on their weight is so true. I like compliments overall but sometimes you can tell when there is a condition to them and that is what I wish people would keep to themselves. It's my body and it's on me if I screw it up but I am doing what I can to fix up my screw ups so let me handle it. I got this!

  3. I guess for me it depends on how well I know the person. If it's a friend who knows the nitty gritty of my struggles, then I have no problem sharing numbers and that type of thing. If it's someone I'm not that close with but is still a genuine compliment, I'm very thankful for the sincerity and will respond in kind without feeling the need to go into details. At the same time, I don't feel offended if no comment is made after a significant weight loss, even if it's been a long time since I've seen that person because I figure we have better things to talk about. I like when my weight is a non-issue for others regardless of big losses or big gains. On the flip side, I never ask people how much they've lost no matter how well I know them. I will say you look great or you look wonderful, but I leave it up to them if they want to go into further details.


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