#Blogtops Challenge: 10 Things Never to Say/Do to Someone Who’s Trying to Lose Weight
Continuing along with our #blogtops challenge is this week’s theme: HEALTH.
Now, I’m under no illusion that weight loss=health. I’m not even going to try and kid you and say that the reason’s I’ve worked so hard (usually) on weight loss are entirely health related. Having grown up doing performance arts (circus, dance…) that required my body to be put on display in spandex costumes has made me hyper-aware of how I look at all times and so that is always a prime motivator for me. Still, because we are still a society that equates a certain “look” to health, I figured this was as good a place as any to talk about the things people say and do that really grind my gears when I’m trying to lose weight.
*disclaimer* I know with most of these situations people are trying to be helpful and supportive. These are the things that don’t work, though.
1. “You know, muscle weighs more than fat!”
Wow, really? I had never heard this valuable nugget of information before! So you’re telling me the fact that I gained 2 lbs on this week’s weigh in isn’t because I had too many salty snacks, but because I am building strength?
No matter how well you mean by saying this, it’s an obvious piece of information. You don’t need to tell it to someone who is losing weight, particularly if they’ve been going at it for a long time.
2. “BMI is an arbitrary measure. You shouldn’t care about it.”
I know. I KNOW. I know that BMI was invented by some astronomer long ago. I even did a project in college about how useless it is and how it even serves to alienate people.
That doesn’t mean that it isn’t useful for setting small goals for myself. And anyway, it’s another obvious bit of information for anyone who struggles with their weight and pointing it out doesn’t sound smart, it sounds patronizing.
3. “I know you’re losing weight so I got you this,” *Holds up a snack that seems healthy but actually isn’t.*
I get it, you’re trying to be helpful. And, I so SO appreciate that you’re thinking about me and trying to accommodate my eating needs.
At the same time, everyone’s different and so what might be a nice, healthy option for one person, could mean entering the lion’s den for someone else. For example, if someone’s on the Atkin’s diet, and you buy them a sandwich on whole wheat bread, they still can’t eat it. For me, I am an absolute sucker for any baked cracker or chip so even having them in a room with me is a recipe for gorging myself on their salty, crunchy, carb-y goodness.
The bane of my chip-loving existence.
What’s worse is when you buy me something “special” I always feel obligated to eat it. It’s a lose, lose situation. Either I feel guilty because I’m not eating the snack that you got especially for me, or because I’m going back on the regime that I’ve created for myself.
The solution? Ask! Consider it like a food allergy. Something like, “Hey Fei, I know you’re watching your weight. I’m planning on serving x, y, and z. Does that work for you?” And don’t worry, we can usually bring our own food, it’s not a big deal.
4. “UGH! I know what you mean, I’m so fat too.”
I think I can find solidarity with other “weighloss-challenged” folks in this: when someone you deem closer your ideal weight says this it makes you feel like crap.
I understand if there’s something about yourself you want to change. I am like the poster child of wanting to change myself. But when you see someone who embodies the change you want to make in yourself, the one you’re working SO hard for, not appreciate what they have, it makes you feel absolutely awful.
Think about it this way, pretend we’re the Real Housewives of Orange County. In your group of OC friends, it may be okay to complain about a problem with your fancy new car, diamond tennis bracelet, or pool. They can sympathize because they are in similar situations in terms of income. It wouldn’t be appropriate, however, to complain about these things in front of a homeless person.
If you have a friend who confides in you that they are having trouble losing weight, think about whether you closely embody to what they are striving toward. If you do, just lend a sympathetic ear, don’t try to tell us how much you “get” what we’re going through.
5. “You’re not going to happy hour? Ugh, LAME!”
Happy hours are dangerous. And, as much as you might have the resolve to stay healthy during work with your pre-packed lunches, it’s 10x harder when there’s alcohol and yummy bar snacks involved. Sometimes it’s just easier to skip out on the happy hour and go back home to your fridge full of “safe” foods.
Instead, invite us out dancing, or to a board game night, or even to a movie— something where the prime directive doesn’t involve food and drink. It’s much easier to stay good if there are some good distractions.
6. “You really shouldn’t be dieting, you know. They don’t work. I don’t believe in diets.”
Well, how GREAT for you! -_-
Of course, if you see someone resorting to extreme means for weight loss you should say something. You can even feel free to comment on my Diet Coke addiction if you want.
But unless you seriously suspect an eating disorder, get off your high horse, seriously. I’m glad you have the innate qualities that allow you to make good choices when it comes to food. Not all of us are so lucky and we need a little more structure to help us along. Be happy for us because we are trying to take charge of something in our lives and make a change.
7. *sees you ordering a salad or opting out of a slice of pizza* “I HATE you!” or “THAT’s not food!” or “OMG! You’re soooo skinny. EAT SOMETHING”
You hate me? That’s not very nice! I’m pretty sure lettuce is food, and believe it or not, this piece of grilled chicken breast IS something.
I love sarcasm as much as the next person, but drawing attention to my eating habits is embarrassing and makes making a good choice for myself even more difficult. I’ll start second guessing myself and those delicious french fries/mozzarella sticks/chicken wings will look better and better.
Maybe you could try saying something nice about what I’ve ordered. “That smells good,” “That looks fresh” or something. Even if it looks like rabbit food to you, try to find something nice to say, or don’t say anything at all.
Again, if you suspect an eating disorder, go ahead and say something, but do it in private, not at the table.
8. *at you being excited that you fit into a smaller jeans/dress size* “Don’t lose weight for appearances…do it for yourself!”
Oh, I’m sorry! Clearly I’m a super shallow person for being excited about an external manifestation of all my hard work. And anyway, how is it your business to say what my motivations should be?
I’m allowed to be excited about things that aren’t health related. Let’s face it, a new dress or pair of jeans is a lot more fun than a piece of paper with lower triglycerides anyway.
9. *Dangles naughty food in front of you* “C’monnnnnn just take one bite! Live a little!”
Ok, really, just don’t do this. It’s not cute and there’s no reason for it.
Trust me, I will live a little in my ways that I will decide for myself. For instance, I know that my favorite treat is a crispy cracker/chip with some guacamole, so I will allow that as my treat. I plan for it and look forward to it.
It’s another one of those lose,lose situations. If I take a bite, I feel defeated and guilty, and sad because I feel less inclined to have the treat that I’ve already planned for myself. If I refuse, I’m stuck up and it, again, draws attention to my eating habits.
Try this on for size, instead:
A: Omigod, this is fantastic! Do you want a bite?
B: No thanks!
A: AIGHT MORE FOR ME!
10. “You’re losing weight? Have you tried ____________?”
Paleo? Vegan? Yoga? South Beach? Pilates? Gluten-free? Juicing? Dairy-Free? Losing a limb?
Don’t cut out newspaper clippings, don’t send us helpful links. Most of these things are just fads that will only work for a short time anyway, and don’t do anything to help change our long term behaviors.
We don’t really need advice unless we ask for it. Something you might try is again, asking and THEN acting! If you know that someone follows the Mediterranean diet, you could send them a nice recipe for a healthy Greek salad.
The best thing you can do is support people in your life who are trying to lose weight by acting normal! There’s nothing worse than first feeling like a freaky outcast because of your weight, and then feeling like one for trying to fix it. Don’t bat an eyelash at our bags of carrot sticks and celery. Don’t scrunch up your nose at our whole wheat, low-carb tortillas. We’re trying!
…And don’t forget to tell us how great we look. That works too!
“BlogTops” are weekly blog posts that myself, my good friend Dave, and hopefully you will join us in discussing topics that we feel the majority of millennials are dealing with or have dealt with in their lives. To keep it creative we pick one specific word for the weekly topic and then we are letting our imagination and creative writing take our blogs in whatever direction we so choose. It could be anything from generalizing the topic, to specific memories, to something serious, or funny. It’s anything goes! If you want to join along tag your posts with BlogTop on Twitter, WordPress, Tumblr, etc. and we will be sure to promote your blogs on social media!