Everyone has an opinion. I’m sure you know the old saying regarding that, so I won’t add it here. The thing is when you are trying to lose weight, you will hear them all. The obvious ones regard diets. I have lost track of conversations that have started along the lines of
“Oh I see you’ve lost weight recently, what are you doing South Beach? I’m doing South Beach and I absolutely love it.”
I chose South Beach at random. I harbor no particular dislike for them. You can substitute any other diet/ healthy lifestyle choice here. At this point I’ve pretty much heard them all, from Paleo to vegan/plant based. I’ve heard carbs being demonized and avocados being praised.
I’m not saying there isn’t merit in each of them.
What I am saying is that people espouse their favorite one with the same fanatical look and enthusiasm as though they have joined some form of cult. As a larger person once I started showing signs of weight loss, everyone wanted me to either testify on their behalf or join them in their gustatory crusade. You would not believe the number of people who were really upset by my basic diet and exercise approach.
Now, if you use a set diet plan taken from the cosmos of diet plans out there, I am not criticizing in the least. Every body is different and if you find something that works for you, use it. Personally I grew up in a house where fad diets came and went with a regular routine.
When she was little, my mom was so skinny, her doctor set out a menu plan to help her gain weight so she would remain healthy. All her life, she has been a skinny woman. I take after my father’s side of the family and was a pudgy child who thinned out as I reached my teen years. Seeing my pudge as condemnation of her abilities as a mother, the battle commenced. Each fad diet was tested out as a weapon in her campaign.
I remember when bread was replaced with the original hockey puck style rice cakes. A spoonful of wheat germ was added to everything possible and I ate cottage cheese until I was sure it was going to come out of my ears. Each plan came with a lecture about the health benefits and magical weight loss properties of the system or ingredient. There were more diets and fads of course, until my growth spurt and subsequent thinning out. The entire experience left me very leery of any publicized diet plan and or magic food.
As an amusing aside, my mother is now in her seventies and is starting to get a little pudge around her middle for the first time ever. She noticed her jeans were a little tight, got on the scale and was aghast at the ten pound increase. She immediately joined Weight Watchers and in very short order shed the extra ten pounds. She also roped all of her friends into joining with her and after noticing I was losing weight called and gave me a two hour sales speech on the program and why I should join her.
So some things don’t really change.
In addition to those offering planning advice and a cult like experience, there are those who will feel the need to comment on your weight loss. I don’t know why. I like to give them the benefit of the doubt and say they are trying to be helpful, but some of the comments are just strange. Most of them are meant to be encouraging, although sometimes they hit you in ways others did not expect.
The one that got me came from a little old lady riding a bike in the park where I like to walk. She is in her 80s by my guess and rides almost every day. I always see her and think, ‘I hope I can still ride my bike at 80.’ Now, I don’t say it aloud as that would be ageist and might offend. I have no need to offend a stranger in the park. It would be rude. So I nod and smile as I pass her and keep my thoughts to myself.
Now as I saw her, she saw me. One day she stopped and turned to me. She said, “I love when I see obese people actually exercising. It makes me think you all won’t die of diabetes. I just want to say good for you. Keep it up.” She then turned and pedaled away.
First of all the word obese nearly stopped my heart. I made peace with the word fat. I am fat, I own that. I am aware my weight officially puts me into the obese category. But I had not made my peace with that and I hope to be out of obese range before ever making my peace with that. Perhaps when I have reached a healthy weight I can look back and use it as a descriptor for my former self, but that time has not yet arrived. And I will probably still use the term fat. It seems friendlier somehow.
I know she meant it as an encouraging complement, but her words irritated me for the rest of the day. It was a densely packed comment and I found myself obsessing over every word she chose to add to it. ‘Cause let’s face, there is a lot going on in that statement.
When I see her in the park though, I still smile and nod and keep my mouth shut, hoping she does the same. Thus far it has worked. My thoughts are not so friendly though, but I keep them behind my teeth. I do the same with all of the other complements and encouragements that although meant well, seem just a tinge backhanded when they come out of other people’s mouths.
I know that’s a long way to go to come to a survival tip, so I’ll try to condense it. Everyone has an opinion when it comes to dieting and weight loss. Some opinions come with an agenda, some are meant well, others are mean spirited. All are born of some internal mechanism that in the end, has nothing to do with you. Find what works for you, stick with it to reach your goals and when the opinions of others fly at you, take it as gracefully as you can in the moment, even if you vent later. Most importantly, let it roll off of you. Don’t internalize it and let it affect your journey.