Sunday, August 30, 2009


As I have mentioned previously, there was a time when I lost a tremendous amount of weight and kept it off for awhile only to gain it all and more back through time. The experiences that I had during that time taught me quite a few things about the way people think. One thing I learned is that people say they want you to lose weight, but become strangely unhelpful when you actually do.

During my most successful weight management period, I exercised regularly 5 days a week. I varied the types of exercise I did and often included some weightlifting with relatively lightweight (about 10-15 lbs.) dumbbells. My mother gave me a beautiful set of adjustable chrome-plated dumbbells that came in a nice carrying case so that I could take them when I traveled.

One day when I was sitting in the living room watching television, I was also doing reps with the bells. If you've ever lifted weights, you know that your muscles fatigue and it gets harder to do subsequent repetitions. As I was heading toward about 25 reps, my lifting would slow down. As I was taking advantage of the idle T.V.-watching time to get in some exercise, my father started remarking that I shouldn't be lifting weights because I was actually getting weaker (as evidenced by my slowing down). He also mocked the fact that I wasn't eating enough of the types of foods that would make me strong, particularly because I wasn't eating red meat (in favor of consuming only leaner meats like turkey and chicken). In essence, he was trying to dissuade me from continuing with the habits which had helped me lose weight. He also told me that, since losing weight, my nose looked a lot bigger.

I guess I could chalk his attitude up to not wanting me to become more sexually appealing as I naturally would as I lost weight. Fathers probably have a lot of ambivalence about their daughters' appearance because the idea that they're going to be with men is probably disturbing. However, he wasn't the only one who tried to sabotage my weight loss. My mother also made things harder for me by not preparing food in a manner which made it edible under my self-imposed restrictions. If I asked her not to put huge amounts of butter while preparing something like potatoes, noodles, etc. because then I couldn't eat it, she'd put the butter in anyway. I never asked her to change anything just for me or cook for me (I did much of my own food preparation). I only ever asked her to alter dishes which wouldn't suffer because of a requested change. All of the foods she heaped butter into could have had butter added by the individual after serving so no one's eating experience had to be diminished by my request, but she didn't do as I asked anyway.

My friends also exhibited curious behavior when dealing with me. I must state emphatically that I never was and never will be one of those dieting types who inflicts her opinions about calories, food, and nutrition on others. I know that there are a lot of obnoxious people who in the process of convincing themselves to avoid "bad" food can't help but try and spoil the party for everyone else. I was never like that. I kept my thoughts to myself unless asked.

Despite my limits, I still liked to socialize with friends in the types of places they liked to eat at. As I have previously mentioned, if I can't resist temptation when faced with food that is fattening, then I'm not ready to successfully deal with my problem. So, for example, if everyone wanted to go to a pizza place, I would go along and stick to the salad bar only. On more than one occasion, if I was denying myself the gooey pizza, someone would try to tell me I should have "just one piece".

One friend in particular tried to convince me to "live a little" and "just one piece won't hurt." To any friend of a person who is trying to lose weight, I would like to tell you that this is like insisting that one drink isn't going to hurt an alcoholic. Part of what makes resisting temptation easier through time is that you forget how appealing certain types of food are as the memory of their tastiness fades and is replaced by the memory of types of new, more nutritious foods that you frequently experience and enjoy. Reintroducing those foods back into your memory is just going to make it all the harder to avoid such things in the future.

I can't say why people tried to sabotage me with any certainty. I can speculate that they felt threatened in some fashion by my success or my exhibition of self-control. People are pretty narcissistic by nature and seeing someone lose weight or control their eating makes them reflect on their own perceived shortcomings in that regard. I also have wondered on occasion if a lot of people like having the "fat friend" who they can always feel superior to in terms of attractiveness. I can't tell you how many times I've read about the topic of weight and someone has said, "I'm fat, but nothing compared to how fat she is!" People like someone who is "worse" than themselves so they can feel better, and they're obviously willing to put their need to feel superior ahead of the health and well being of the people they (supposedly) care for.