Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Vainglorious

I once heard a saying that the only thing worse than an alcoholic was a recovering alcoholic. Once some people lick their problems, they become extremely obnoxious and can be more judgmental and sanctimonious than those who have never suffered that problem. They feel that anyone should be able to overcome since they did and lose patience and empathy for those who cannot make the transition that they have made. The area of weight loss is absolutely no different and I’m finding that there are rough categories of people out there talking about weight loss.

1. Newcomers who are desperate and looking for help.

They are like vacuums seeking every crumb of information they can find to help them break the hold food has on them. These are like the people who go to AA for the first time and express their addiction to alcohol with emotion and difficulty.

2. Middle grounders who are in the process of losing weight and have not yet forgotten how hard it was to get started or what it felt like to despair.

Within those in the middle, there is variation as some are succeeding steadily and others are relapsing occasionally but generally having some success. These are like the people in AA who have their 90-day chips or tokens. They are also prone to falling back into the first group and restarting all over again.

3. “Maintainers” who are at their target weight.

Within the last group, you occasionally see the most obnoxious types of people who love nothing more than to boast about how glorious life is as a thin person and use their success story again and again to “motivate” people. The truth is that more often than not, they’re looking less to inspire than to hold themselves out there for others to admire and praise.

You can always separate those who are doing the equivalent of being the thin girl glamorously twirling in her new dress in front of the room full of fat people from those maintainers who are honestly looking to help and motivate by the types of things they say. The vainglorious spend a lot of their time offering shallow pep talks and talking about how fabulous their life is now that they can see their bones poking under their skin. The helpful ones talk more concretely about problems and solutions and offer empathy rather than offering platitudes and talking about how super it feels to fit into tiny little panties.

Frankly, I strongly dislike the portion of maintainers who do this type of thing. I see them as self-centered, secretly judgmental, and shallow. They’re essentially trying to maintain the illusion of niceness, but are really interested in becoming that thin person who hangs out with fat friends so she can feel that much greater about herself.