Monday, November 03, 2014

on losing weight: compliments, self worth + other people

Listening to others is hard, generally, but harder when you're trying to do something for yourself, and for you only. When people compliment me on my weight-loss, I face a tricky dilemma, because on one hand, I want to take their compliments and show them off to everyone like a shiny little badge of honour - when someone tells me I look like I've lost weight I want to jump up and down, sometimes, I want to shout to everyone "LOOK, LOOK AT ME, I CAN DO THIS!"
But then I have a little think, a split second to remember that this is exactly what causes the problem anyway, this problem of worrying what other people think, I've placed too much importance on what every passing stranger thinks.
So, internally, I am trying to get away from that happiness that is caused by other peoples compliments (and in turn, their insults). In my head, in these situations, you have two choices; engage, or disengage.

Disengaging yourself from the conversation is a tricky one. There are situations where it's awkward to bluntly lay it out, like, "This is none of your business." At work, for example, you might have to see people all the time, so you can't tell them to fuck off, no matter how much you may want to! A polite smile, nod, and a change of conversation is generally the best course of action, in my book. I am well practised these days at the fine art of changing the subject, and evading the question, but if it keeps my health (physically and mentally) intact, I'm not afraid to do it.
If they push, have a well rehearsed answer. I get the "So how did you do it?" quite a lot, and its human curiosity (and stupidity?), I suppose. If they are that awful kind of person that won't take a hint (we all know one of those) then don't be afraid to say, "Sorry, I'd rather not talk about it." There is a woman I work with who brings up "just how fat I was" everytime I bump into her. It's a shitty thing for her to do, but she's a shitty person. I'm getting better with the sarcastic comebacks, as apparently, it's how she gets a fucking clue.
There are also those people that make comments on what you're eating/your weight/whatever they feel like taking shots at that day. As a rule, I don't ever engage with these people. I think they're dicks, straight up. Generally, it is never your place to comment on how much or how little someone is eating, as you don't know their personal situation and you're probably not their doctor - if this is you, stop it! I'm still pretty overweight, yes, but occasionally I allow myself treats, it's not a criminal act, but you wouldn't know it from the looks I got digging into a burger and chips in Bill's the other week..

On the other hand, engaging is a can of worms in itself, but I have a few main questions I ask myself, when someone says, "Wow, have you lost some weight?"
Do I trust them? Generally, this is my first thought. A starting point, a place to work from is your relationship with that person in the first place. I have a list of people in my head (lol, issues, I know) of people I know I can talk to about my weight loss. They might not be the best of friends, or people that I've known for that long (or they might be) - some of them are family, and some of those people I definitely don't trust are family. You know, deep down, whether you can have a frank conversation about the struggles of losing weight, or whether you think a compliment is genuine, or not, so trust that gut instinct.
Am I in the right place mentally to discuss this today? The second thing I have to consider is my general mood. Some days, I just cannot entertain that conversation, simply put. I might have lost two pounds that week, and still not be in a good place to discuss it. If I am feeling like this, you have to have the strength to just shut that conversation down. On one of my darker days (weeks/months!) I cannot talk about it. I might still have gone to the gym that day or eaten healthily, but regardless, I cannot look outside that bubble I'm in to see my progress, and having to fake-smile a way through a conversation about 'how good you look, now' is a hard thing to do. I'll obsess over the details, like if they said now, what does that mean? Like I looked shit before? It's just asking for trouble, in my book.
What are my boundaries? This is obviously different for everyone, and even for me, they differ from person to person that I know. With most people, I cannot talk numbers. I can say I've lost five and half stone, but I can't say what my highest weight is, or where I want to be - mostly because these are triggers for me, so I steer clear of talking about that with pretty much anyone.

Obviously, this could all seem very over the top for people that don't have these kind of mental triggers - but even if you don't I hope you understand where I'm coming from! Everything is a learning curve, but I am slowly learning to separate my self-worth from other peoples opinions of me. I don't want a bad day to be because some random fucking person thought I looked fat. I don't want to cause a binge because someone thought I ate too much. On the flipside of that, I also don't want to only feel good about myself when someone tosses me a compliment like a scrap to a dog - I don't think that is a healthy way to live!


  1. I've talked about my weight loss on my blog this week, and the insecurities it brought with it and I completely understand where you're coming from. Sometimes I don't want to be reminded of that journey and the horrible parts I endured, sometimes I simply don't want to talk about it, and people seem to struggle to understand that. Weight lost can be and often is something really personal, and in the same way I wouldn't ask people how they put weight on, I wish people would be a little more thoughtful when it comes to the opposite end of the spectrum.

    Sammy xo.

  2. Oh gosh, I hate hate hate talking about weight. And I hate how people think it's acceptable to mention it when you've lost weight etc. I've always been unhappy with the way I looked; the size and the shape. A few years ago I lost a lot of weight as a result of some horrid things which had been happening and when I'd done that, even though it was something which I'd wanted for as long as I could remember, I felt (and still do) more self-conscious than I ever had before. I'd get so many comments about it, people I didn't even know well telling me how much weight I'd lost and it was so horrible. Like, none of their business at all. I struggle more and more with my weight and my food intake and there is not one person I feel comfortable talking to it about.

  3. This was really interesting and insightful, Clare! While I've had my weight fluctuate about 15 pounds or so, I can't possibly relate to someone who has gone through a more significant experience. For me, loosing those 15 pounds felt like a badge of honor that I worked really hard to achieve, so it felt nice when someone complimented me or asked what changes I made in my habits. You outlined very clearly why you don't feel that way, though, which was a perspective I frankly really needed to hear so I don't go putting my foot in my mouth making someone else uncomfortable! I think the key is, as you mentioned, to make sure you listen to yourself so you're comfortable and not focusing on other people's opinions for your self-esteem. I really appreciate you sharing this :)



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