I’ve never disliked people more than during the process of getting healthier. People that ordinarily keep a respectful distance from me and my personal business are suddenly out of the woodwork and in my face asking me all kinds of dumb questions. While I respect everyone’s curiosity, concern, and complaints, it’s definitely hard not to be affronted by some of the quips people have made.

One of the most common questions I’ve gotten over the past year is: “What made you want to lose weight???” Um. I weighed 250lbs., shopping for clothes was a disheartening struggle, and I didn’t want my being overweight to kill me someday. Why do you think? People are never satisfied with this simple and honest answer. What they want to have happened is there to be some kind of great story that involves someone hurting my feelings and me suddenly deciding enough is enough–I need to be healthy! …Sorry to disappoint, but that didn’t happen with me. When it comes to trying to keep healthy, this isn’t my first rodeo, even though it’s my first successful one. I’ve been trying to make these changes for years, but finally something clicked this time around, and I really stuck with it. If that isn’t a satisfactory answer for you, save your breath in asking me that question.

June 2011

In the beginning there are a lot of people telling you look great, but the most challenging of all has been the people I’m dealing with lately now that I’m almost at my goal. I’m 5’7, and right now I weigh 135lbs. I’m beyond happy at this weight, but I think I could stand to lose about 10 more pounds, but I know my problem areas will likely benefit more from doing more toning and strength training exercises. Recently I heard from one coworker that another coworker (side note, this is the same person I reference in Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation) said, “You know, Katie’s lost a lot of weight… I don’t think she needs to lose anymore.”

I was floored that she said that at all, but also that she said it to anyone other than me. How is this any of her business? How does my weight loss concern her? I know for the people I see regularly, the change in my appearance is drastic, but there’s nothing more discouraging than me having to worry about people thinking that I’m being unrealistic or, worse, unhealthy. I don’t want anyone to think I’m not going about this in the right way, and I hate feeling like I have to defend my efforts to anyone.

A different coworker approached me recently and said, “You’ve gotten so skinny! Are you at your goal weight?” I see no need to be dishonest about this, so I said, “I’m happy at this weight. I think I could probably lose another 10lbs., but I’m focusing on strength training now more than cardio.” I was very polite and diplomatic about answering, what I find to be, a somewhat personal question. The response I got was met with all the hysterics that one would anticipate if I had told her I planned on fasting until those last ten pounds were off. “KATIE! No! You’re too tall!” Well excuse me, but I must have missed the part where I sought her approval and support. She approached me after all.

Someone else I work with (my coworkers have hell of a lot of nerve if you couldn’t tell) came back from her lunch break one day with a bagful of snacks and said to me, “I want to see you munching on something. Look! This only has 90 calories.” …This she said to me while I was eating yogurt like it was my last meal. There’s nothing more annoying than people trying to feed me this way. It’s not like she offered to make me a nice, homemade, healthy meal or anything. What she did instead was the weight loss equivalent of “here comes the airplane!” I don’t qualify other people’s junk food snacks, what right does she have to suggest I eat something else? 

What all these episodes have made me realize is that when you start eating right and/or working out, everyone around you feels this weird, often unintentional, pressure from you that you either expect them to do it, too, or that you think less of them. …Or they get jealous. Something I’ve been acutely aware of throughout this past year is that this is entirely up to me. It’s been my decision and my hard work, and it’s not a choice I expect anyone else to make unless they really want to. I can’t be concerned with any insecurities or jealousy other people might be projecting onto me. Truthfully, I have enough of my own stuff going on in my head to entertain anyone else’s negativity.

While I obviously value everyone’s insight into my personal business, what I definitely don’t appreciate is people making me feel like I’m doing something wrong. The way some people have been voicing their opinions about my weight loss has been in the same tone of voice you’d use during an intervention. Facing that kind of criticism hasn’t been easy for me. Speaking that way negates all the hard work I’ve done to change my eating habits and to become fit. Granted, when I started this process my initial goal was weight loss, but now that eating healthier and exercising regularly have become my routine, that lifestyle change is more valuable to me than simply losing weight to be thinner. I’m in love with how I feel much more than I’m in love with how I look (but hey, no complaints in that department, either!).

Size 20 underneath, size 6 on top.

I’ve clearly dealt with my share of skeptics voicing their views about my weight loss, but it hasn’t all been bad. Those close to me have been quietly supportive just in the way I’d want them to be. I’m not one that likes to be the center of attention, so all this fuss over me throughout losing weight has been a HUGE adjustment. There are still those moments where I run into people I haven’t seen in awhile and they’re genuinely complimentary, saying things like “I almost didn’t recognize you!” Even recently at my gym one of the employees (whose English is marginal) pointed to me, gestured from my head to my feet, and simply said, “You. Beautiful.” I’m not a weepy gal, but in this instance, I said a quick thank you and fled the room before I cried like a little bitch right then and there.

Dealing with other people throughout this journey has given me good practice to face my toughest critic: myself. All of the compliments, remarks, or questions people have brought to my attention are all things I’ve already thought over in my head a million times. Since this process is so personal and so close to you, you can’t help but overanalyze along the way. In my heart of hearts, I couldn’t care less what anyone thinks about my progress. I didn’t do this for anyone else but me. I know what I’ve accomplished, and I see the value in the lasting changes I’ve made.

I may have lost 115lbs., but I’ve certainly gained a thicker skin along the way.

47 thoughts on “Sour Grapes: Weight Loss & Other People

  1. Your co-workers sound like nosy a-holes. This is why skinny people enjoy saying ‘oh I eat tons, I eat everything, just can’t keep weight on…’ with a smug smile on their face – because it’s none of anyone’s business. You could really piss them off by saying ‘yeah I did nothing to earn this, it’s like I just woke up and my metabolism completely changed, just lucky I guess!”. Jealous little cats 🙂

    1. Ha! They’re definitely nosy–that’s an understatement. Next time someone makes a comment I think I’ll take that advice. “I’ve lost weight? …You really think so? I haven’t really noticed!”

      1. Yeah, you were too nice to them – none of their beeswax. Just need to up the assertive eye contact and the flat denial. What, they going to call you a liar??

  2. Fabulous post Katie. I love how honest and up front you are. People sometimes say the weirdest, most inappropriate things, eh?! It sounds like you are managing to keep a great attitude about it. My motto: keep what works, ditch what doesn’t. Works in all aspects of life and editing. LOL!

  3. What’s weird about this is the cognitive dissonance of people expecting that you lost weight because other people teased you into it, but then teasing you to stop. It’s like the hordes are bi-polar or something.

    Good on you for doing for you, and ignoring the accidental haters (because I’m sure most aren’t consciously hating on you). When you’re only accountable to yourself, you can do whatever you want.

    1. Exactly! Isn’t the juxtaposition strange?

      I know most people don’t mean any harm and that they’re just curious, but even when you’re not aware of it, when you’re losing weight you’re always secretly hoping for some praise every once in awhile since it truly is a lot of hard work that you have to shoulder on your own, so when you get unintentionally critical questions more often instead it’s hard not to feel a little defeated. …Just until I think of how incredible I feel or how I look now.

  4. Congratulations on your weight loss! Your coworkers sound a lot like the coworkers I had at my last job… don’t listen to them. Keep doing whatever you want to do, it’s inspiring. I went through that whole process a few years ago (thanks college) so I remember what it was like. And now that you reminded me what it took to lose weight… I’m going to go put my second cookie in the kitchen until tomorrow. 🙂

  5. I really enjoyed this post. I lost about 30 pounds a few years back and you do get some strange reactions when you lose weight and I agree you get some weird but well meaning questions too. People can be dicks when it comes to weight loss. My go to response to the “whate made you want to lose weight?” was always “I got tired of being winded during foreplay.” That ended the questions pretty quick. 🙂

  6. TOTALLY! People often comment, “I think you’re at a good weight, I wouldn’t lose anymore.” I often think, “Well, I’m glad I’m in control of my own decisions and what I put or don’t put into my body.” I was just dealing with this issue this week. I’m always at a loss for words when people tell me not to lose anymore weight. Do you ever think it’s appropriate to be upfront with comments such as this, “Actually, I know my body better than you and I want to and need to lose more weight [not to be thin but to be fit]. Please don’t tell me how to take care of my body.” You know, something like that, only sweeter?

    1. I don’t think it’s possible for anything NOT to be appropriate, considering how inappropriate these comments are to being with. What I’ve been tempted to say, numerous times in fact, is simply that, “You didn’t tell me when to stop GAINING weight, so what gives you the right to tell me when you stop losing weight?” Because really, how different is it? People had no problem seeing me be unhealthy and gain more weight, but suddenly once I’m taking care of myself and losing the pounds they’ve suddenly found their voice? It’s ridiculous.

      1. With your weight loss likely has come muscle growth. With that muscle growth, your hormones have probably started to stabilize, but you’re also finding some bursts of testosterone/adrenalin that you didn’t have access to when you were fat and hormonally imbalanced.

        With those bursts will come the human need of “successful aggression” — which is actually a PRIMARY human behavior like eating, sex and sleep. (I started writing about it here recently: http://www.paleogamy.com/the-reward-of-successful-aggression/ )

        In my opinion, as people get healthier, women typically get more “feminine” except when challenged — and then they get angry. This is actually a healthy mechanism.

        So what you’re feeling deep down inside is an active hormonal response to competition. Depending on your diet (not all weight loss diets are healthy, mind you, and some may cause further hormonal imbalances), you may find yourself becoming sweeter and sweeter to those who support you, but meaner and meaner to those who anger you.

        Again, those are healthy responses.

      2. That makes a lot of sense. I’m glad there’s a chemical explanation for it all, because sometimes I just feel like I’m going a little crazy!

      3. Again, I’m not sure what diet “platform” you’re on, but one area that almost all diet platforms ignore is downtime.

        I make it a habit to go for a meditative walk every day. I live in Chicago, so it’s hard to find peace (I do it early in the morning or late at night), but some personal meditation is an important aspect of burning those newfound angry energies.

        Try taking up a musical instrument for your own pleasure. If you still have all that energy, engage in a violent sport that both pleases you AND allows you to spend those energies: boxing, tennis, etc.

        And, own those energies for yourself. They’re healthy!

      4. Not sure I have a diet “platform.” I’m trying to watch my portions, eat lots of fruits and veggies, and avoid excess bread, meat, and sweets. I live near Chicago, too. Thanks for the tips! 🙂

  7. You understand. You’ve been there. You nailed it. I get it…because I’m living it now…mostly all of what you described. It hurts…it sucks…but it is worth it all. Because I’m choosing to LIVE. Great job Katie. Applause!!!!!

  8. Unhealthy people have unhealthy hormones, and as such they’re going to be completely unable to do anything but be judgmental pricks of others.

    When I went from fit to fat to fit again, I had to slice out a solid 80% of my peer group because they were all “worried about me”, even though my life was a billion times better.

    If people are getting verbally condescending, don’t hesitate to give them a warning, or even put them on time-out. Now that you’re fit, your real sassy attitude is going to shine, and not everyone is going to be hip to sticking with your new lifestyle.

    Expect attacks from every angle — Americans (especially us Chicagoans it seems) are well designed to attack those who actually abide by responsible lifestyles.

  9. I, too, chose to change my lifestyle and eating habits. Now, I’ve only lost 50 lbs, but my husband lost about 160 lbs….so we hear what you’re talking about all the time. Congratulations. Be proud of your accomplishemts. It’s not easy. And for all the haters out there…let them hate. The best revenge is living well! 🙂

  10. Right on! Congrats to you, Katie. Acting internally seems to be really, really rare. Seems like most people only do things to gain approval from someone else, or from a larger group. **** opinions, and that’s coming from someone that is currently struggling with “approvalwhorism”. Btw, disregard my last post — doesn’t apply to you…And, your Twitter pic? Hot-tottie! rawr!

  11. I totally identify with dealing with criticism from others, and am hesitant sometimes to tell others if I’m on a diet, or when I go out with people and order the healthier choices instead of a burger and fries I get weird looks or the “you should eat more.” Partly my fault since when I first lost weight I did it the unhealthy way and people knew, I understand their concern but it gets annoying now that I just want to be healthy.

  12. This is so inspiring! Congrats on all your success with this 🙂 I know from experience it definitely isn’t easy and people certainly don’t make it any easier.

  13. Congrats on your fitness success! Thanks for stopping by my blog. If people continue commenting on your weight or your food just tell them how much you love unqualified, unsolicited opinions about your personal choices and to be sure to keep you posted if they have any more.

  14. Great post. One of the weirdest things about American culture — which is far more “in your face” than some others — is that people seem to feel it’s appropriate to comment on one another’s bodies, especially those of women. What my body looks like, unless you’re a dear friend, my doctor or my husband, is NONE of your business! I wish more women would tell others to just piss off already…

    I did see a church acquaintance the other day who had lost a ton of weight (60 lbs) since I last saw her. I just told her she looks amazing (I almost did not recognize her), which she does. But that’s all needs to be said — congrats and good for you for all that hard work and discipline. I have to shed at least 30-40 lbs and God help me, being post-menopausal. I am trying a lot harder than ever before and seeing some progress. Exercise is my friend. I loathe dieting.

  15. We cannot control what THEY think about us . . . we can control the value we assign to what THEY say.

    Here are a few quotes from my extensive arsenal:

    * What you think of me is none of my business. ~ Wayne Dyer

    * He who trims himself to suit everyone else will soon whittle himself away.
    ~ Raymond Hull

    * You don’t need a permission slip to live your life.

    * Always remember that you don’t have to be what they want you to be. ~ Mohammad Ali

    * No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

    * To be nobody but yourself ~ in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else ~ means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. ~ e.e.cummings

    * We have as many reputations as acquaintances, and none is accurate. Suit yourself.

    * To thine own self be true!

    Write on!

  16. I’m just curious. I’ve lost quite a bit of weight myself, I’m an inch taller than you, but I have never been as low in weight as you. I’m thinking that even though I’m eating healthy, maybe I’m not eating the best food to encourage my metabolism. Do you have any go to foods/snacks/recipes you’ve used? I cook…but every time I grab a health food cook book ever damn thing has like 50 ingredients!

    1. I barely ever cook because I hate it. When I started losing weight, my goal weight was 150lbs., which would be 100lbs. lost, but when I got to that point I felt like I could still lose a little weight, so I dropped off the last 20lbs. which brought me to where I am now around 130. Honestly, in a way it’s hard to tell how thin I actually am, because I do have some extra skin on my stomach/back, inner thighs, and arms (which is an embarrassing topic I’ll write about at some point in the near future). I think if I didn’t have this skin, I would have to gain weight because I’d look way too bony. As it is, since I’m draped in this…. skin, in some areas, it’s covering up my bones I think. I don’t know. I think I could stand to gain a little weight in muscle by toning, which I’m working on. But I like being around 130.

      In terms of what I eat, I don’t really think I eat anything that special. I eat either fruits or veggies with every meal, I avoid eating excessive amounts of carbs, and I don’t each that much meat. So, just as an example, for breakfast usually I’ll eat an english muffin with jelly, half a grapefruit, two hardboiled eggs, and apple juice. A couple hours later I’ll eat a banana. A couple hours later, a nectarine. For lunch I’ll have something like soup or oatmeal or graham crackers and milk. I’ll have an apple later in the afternoon. Then for dinner I usually eat broccoli, green beans, corn, peas, and one of those Smart Ones weight watchers meals, which are actually pretty good. At some point, when I stop being lazy, I want to get away from eating those since they’re processed and all that. Now obviously this is subject to change if I go out or my boyfriend cooks something I actually want to eat (i.e. seafood free).

      So that was a really roundabout, lengthy way of answering that question, but yeah! I really think, too, it’s less about the number on the scale and more about how your weight looks on your body type and how you feel. I’m not big boned by any means, so I can’t get away with that lie. 😉

      Plus the health food cook books have all this obscure shit you can only buy at some ridiculously hipster and expensive grocery store. “3 cups unadulterated raw cane sugar.” What in the fuck?

      1. Exactly! Half the stuff in those books I’ve never heard of. And why doesn’t regular sugar work? What? Will the recipe explode? I’m very happy with my upper half, but I have these thunder thighs lol And they aren’t…bad i guess. Just big for the rest of my frame. I’m not sure I can do much about it though, since I’ve seen pics of my mom when she was skinny…yep. It runs in the family.

      2. I’d really be thrilled with everything if it weren’t for this extra skin, but all I can do is keep doing strength training and hope in time it goes back. To get that surgery to remove it would be a little ridiculous, because it’s really not THAT bad–but it bothers me.

  17. Congratulations, you looks amazing!
    I lost about 30 lbs a couple years ago and I had the same reactions from people. Something you might want to keep in mind though (I swear to god I’m not trying to stick my nose in or tell you what to do) is that you also need to work on body composition, not just weight. It looks like you’re already doing that with the weights and stuff. For me, I got down to 140 lbs at 5’7″ and I was wearing about a 6-8. When I started strength training my size went down dramatically. I weigh the same now but look smaller, feel stronger and I’m able to eat more without gaining. Like I said, not telling you what to do but if you’re not totally happy with yourself yet the weight training will probably bring you great changes 🙂

    1. Thank you! And where were you when I wrote this?

      When I first started exercising regularly I was focusing on cardio, because I had quite a bit of weight to lose before I could concern myself with muscle tone and things like that. I would do 30-90 minutes of cardio (I know–I can’t believe I did it, either) and then do some really quick reps with the weights.

      Now what I’ve been doing is focusing more on the strength training than the cardio now that I’m at my ideal weight. When I first made that change, I was amazed by how much I could eat and not gain a pound. I could suddenly taste something other than vegetables again! It was glorious!

      So that’s what I’ve been doing now. I also run about a mile just about every day which has also done wonders. I never imagined I’d be able/want to run for fun!

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