Tuesday, October 18, 2016

What Not to Say to A(NY) Woman Trying to Lose Weight

Over the past few months, as I've been working my way through my weight loss/fitness/health journey, I've heard a lot of comments. From co-workers, friends, strangers. Most comments are supportive, but not all. Then there are the comments where people just don't think before they speak. I'm a believer that most people have really good intentions with that they say, but it doesn't always come across as intended. My favorites so far have been:

"Why are you doing this? You know you're just going to stop in two weeks, right?" The ironic part of that comment was that it was made back in June, when I was about six months into this journey. Yep. Totally quitting.

"But why? You aren't fat." The last word is normally said as if it's some unspoken disease like leprosy. I'm not really sure how to take that one. Is it a compliment? I'm not fat, thanks. Or is it one of those backhanded compliments like "You aren't enormously obese fat and I know lots of other people your size so you're probably okay." Either way, it doesn't cause warm fuzzy feelings in my heart. Also, getting healthy isn't always about losing weight. You can be super skinny and not healthy.

"You know it's just going to come back, right? Cause that's what happened to me." Nope, I never considered that. I've been fighting my weight my whole life, did Weight Watchers once and lost 50 and then gained a bunch of it back due to a crazy job. But no, I never thought it could possibly come back. Also, life happens. You lose weight, you might gain it back. Whatever. Just get back up and keep going. But thanks for the encouraging words!

"Maybe you should slow down. Are you sure you can handle that?" This one cracks me up. My mom has said it to me before, but with good reason.  She normally talks to me after class when I sound like I'm dying. That's a perfectly normal reaction for her to have.  But you? Person that I work with or talk to once in a while, are you in the gym? Are you my doctor? No? Okay then, sit down. And I know you aren't talking about my weight loss because good lord, 17 pounds over nine months is not quick. In the words of a former co-worker, go somewhere and sit down.

I'll be the first to admit that most of these aren't that bad, but man. When you are working your butt off and people say these things, you just get a little crazy.

When I first thought about this as a post, I thought abut my friend Sarah.

Sarah and I at her gender reveal in March 2016.
Sarah's naturally thin and gave birth to her third beautiful baby girl, Alison, in August. With her first two girls, she lost her weight pretty easily.  Like back to flat belly in a couple of days. With her third, though, it's been more of a struggle. I will admit that I discounted her feelings while she's trying to lose weight because she has a lot less to lose than I do and, let's be real, Sarah at 9-months pregnant is still a heck of a lot skinnier than I will ever be. But that's okay. That's how God made us.

I asked my friend to think of some of the most annoying comments she's received while trying to lose her baby weight. This is what she told me:
  • Seriously?!
  • You can't complain about your weight!
  • You are ridiculous.
  • I don't want to hear that.
  • You don't have a pooch.
  • Rolling their eyes while she talks.
I know that I've said some of these things to Sarah and it made me sad. I know how hard it is to lose weight and how crazy the comments above make me feel.  I can't imagine no one wanting to listen to me! Trust me, I get it. It's hard to think of a skinny person wanting to lose weight as having the same struggle as someone that has a lot more to lose. But losing weight and getting healthy sucks, no matter what size you wear.  When I apologized to Sarah for saying some of those things to her, she said, "It's okay, you don't mean it in a mean way."

Wait, what? 

That was eye opening for me. Who says those things in a MEAN way?! Most of the comments that I found annoying people genuinely meant well, they just didn't realize how they came across. But there were people were actually being mean to her. Who does that? Sadly, probably other women. Women that are in the same boat she is, but can't see that she's dealing with the same things we are. Women are mean. 

Think before you speak.  Think before you make a comment to your friend that might be trying to lose weight or even just get healthy. You don't have to walk on eggshells, because we've probably already heard it.  But take a minute. How would you feel if you were the one getting that comment? What if I was rolling my eyes at you while you were telling me how you were trying to lose weight while chasing two kids with a two month old baby?  And don't hate on the bigger women trying to lose weight and think we can't do it. Guess what? We've already said the same thing to ourselves, just much, much worse. Have a little compassion and be proud of your friend or whoever is telling you that they're trying to get healthy. Because it's hard and it sucks. There are days we want to quit, but we don't. If you don't know what to say, "Awesome" or "I'm proud of you" are always safe bets. It's kinda hard to mess those up. 

4 comments:

  1. yes, girl!! i wish we could all learn to just be encouraging to each other... no matter what!!

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  2. Goals are tough, and we should always build each other up from a place of positivity as we pursue our goals! Sorry to hear you and your friend have had to put up with comments like these; shrug them off, you deserve only encouraging words :D

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  3. Thank you for sharing on this! It can be so easy to be thoughtless and inconsiderate with our words without even meaning to be. This is a great reminder for all of us - THINK before you SPEAK! <3

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  4. Yes when we set out to lose weight it can be tough. So happy for you to in your journey.

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