This week will be my one-month mark on Weight Watchers (woo!), and it’s been a great experience so far. I’ve tried to be as open as possible about the process, because I think there’s a lot of stigma and weirdness when it comes to weight loss/calorie counting, and I think it should be a fun, celebratory thing that is positive and productive, instead of full of guilt and justification.
So far, I’ve lost about seven pounds (I eat about 1200-1300 calories a day, and get a “light” amount of exercise, mostly in the form of walking a few miles a day), and I’ve just started to get to the “occasional comments from other people” portion of the weight loss, which feels weirder than I thought it would. I’m about 12 pounds away from my goal, and I’m honestly starting to wonder what it will be like when I am considered a “skinny person” again, and I’m not sure that I’ll like it.
I’ve found that, in addition to the comments about “looking thin” or “having lost weight” not being the universally flattering thing I thought, people tend to say a lot of weird shit to you when you tell them you’re on a diet, or actively losing weight. And these are the seven weirdest I’ve noticed so far.
1. “Oh, come on, you can eat that. Who cares?”
Probably the biggest thing I’ve noticed, right off the bat, is that people are really weirded out when you decline food or order something perceived as “super healthy,” and it’s made me realize that I totally used to do this, too. It’s not that they’re outright trying to sabotage your efforts – or at least, I don’t think so – but rather that they feel implicated or judged somehow by your choice to eat a salad with dressing on the side. (And again, I totally used to feel this way, too.) As someone who is doing calorie counting (in the form of Weight Watchers), I am not restricting myself from eating anything, I just have to do it in controlled and balanced portions. Sometimes it’s going to be a french fry day, sometimes a salad day. And heaven forbid someone catch you on a salad day, cause you’re gonna hear a ton of passive-aggressive comments about it.
2. “Ugh, why do you want to lose weight?”
This is the weirdest thing!! And yet it’s so prevalent, and makes people who are trying to lose weight be weirdly secretive and shifty about that fact, and make it about everything BUT the weight loss to not appear shallow or judgmental. I started in the top of a “normal” BMI range – 5’6 and 151, for those who are curious – so that definitely compounds the “Why do you even care” factor, but my goal weight makes a BMI of 21, which is, to me, where my body naturally goes when I’m taking care of my nutrition and activity, and nowhere near underweight. I just want to feel at my physical best, and for me, that involved losing weight, because I knew I gained that extra 20 pounds through a sedentary lifestyle and too many calories. And yet, people make the idea of weight loss really caught up in vanity and judgment, when in reality, most people who are trying to lose weight couldn’t care LESS about anyone else’s body. Wanting to be slimmer is not a judgment call on anyone else’s body, it’s simply wanting to be more comfortable in your own. And yet it’s somehow seen as a really un-noble pursuit, or not body positive. My way of being positive about my body is treating it the way I should have over the last three years, and for me, that involves weight loss. But that’s just me!
3. “I could never count calories. It’s so [insert adjective that implies unhealthy obsession here].”
Here’s the honest-to-God truth about this: I used to not give a shit about calories, or really even know what a calorie was. I never paid attention, and didn’t care, and you know what happened? I was overeating by up to several hundred calories per day, for no good reason (often through alcohol and snack foods/crazy portions that I did not need). For me, counting calories it the only way to BE sane, and it feels crazy to me that I ever didn’t care. For some people, it’s a slippery slope to look at the nutritional information on everything, but for other people, it’s a concrete, productive way to take hold of their nutritional life, and that should not be a source of judgment or scorn.
4. “Wow, you look thin.”
Before anyone comments on your changing body, you think it’s the thing that’s going to validate your hard work and make you feel like you’ve really made some progress. But at least personally, I’ve found that these comments end up coming in the weirdest way, and they mostly make you feel uncomfortable. Over the weekend, I got my first flutter of comments about it, each one stranger than the last. And I know people mean well (or, at least most of them), but nearly ever comment about weight loss either seems to imply that you looked radically different before, or comes with some kind of body judgment about the person giving the compliment. You can tell when those remarks are passive-aggressive or meant to be a little weird, and it’s super unpleasant for all involved. And it’s also one of those things where you realize, once someone’s commenting on it, that it’s kind of the last thing you want to be remarkable about you. Compliment me on something about work, or a cool outfit I put together, or even just something I did that you liked. But doing it about weight often seems weirdly over-congratulatory for something that, in the grand scheme of things, should not be that important.
5. “Are you not going to be fun anymore?”
What the hell is this? (And I am including myself in that, because I’ve definitely done it to other people before.) Yes, okay, I can’t eat big, greasy meals more than once per week now, and I tend to drink once or twice per week, and only once if it’s a lot at once. Yes, that is less “fun,” but I’m actually more social than ever, simply because I’ve redefined what social activities can be. I go for long walks, I have people over to try new recipes, I hang out at the dog park with new dog-owning friends, and I just generally don’t center all of my activities around bar food and wine. The idea that this makes a person inherently less fun or interesting feels kind of sad, and makes me wonder why I ever saw life that way. Yes, mama still loves herself a good Wine Night, but I have to admit that I don’t miss weekday hangovers and the junk food bloat that goes with them. They’re just not fun.
6. “Oh, so you’re one of those fitspo people now??”
I am a staunch hater of fitspo, and have fielded more than one snarky comment about me crossing over to the dark side, and I’m a little saddened by this. I still hate fitspo just as much (if not more) because I feel that it prioritizes everything that’s wrong about getting healthy, and makes it so much more about a very narrow visual result than any meaningful life change. I still eat tons of “bad” foods, I hate “macrobiotic” food, I don’t take hot dog leg pictures, and I would sooner fall on a sword than post some terrible motivational Instagram picture about how I need to “eat clean and train mean.” I just take in fewer calories, eat more produce, and go for a walk every day. And frankly, if I can stand for anything, I hope it can be “reaching your goals and living better in a completely sane and not ostentatious way that doesn’t involve gym selfies wearing expensive spandex and green juices.” I will never be fitspo, even if I reach my fitness goals, because no one has to be. It’s unproductive and stupid, and getting healthy doesn’t mean you have to buy into any of that Ostentatiously Healthy Person nonsense.
7. “Aren’t you happy with your body the way it is?”
No. Because I know myself, and I wasn’t taking care of it. And no, that isn’t a judgment on whatever you are doing, because I don’t care what you are doing. If being positive about your body for you means being at a BMI that is technically overweight or obese or whatever, cool! I don’t care, and if it’s right for you, that’s awesome. But me wanting to get to a lower size has nothing to do with not loving myself, it has to do with realizing that I was not treating myself as though I loved myself. I confused “indulgence” with “self-care” and “treats” with “basically what I ate everyday.” And I find that eating the less nutritious stuff is all the better now, because I get to look forward to it, and know that it’s not coming at the expense of a balanced diet. I will be happy with my body when it reflects a balanced and healthy lifestyle, and for me that’s about 130 pounds. I know, because that’s what it was when I gave a shit about what went into my body and I didn’t spend 10 hours a day sitting at a desk. Maybe it’s different for you, but wanting to be smaller doesn’t make me shallow, and you would be surprised the kind of passive-aggressive judgment one fields when they open up about the fact that they want to be smaller.
But if I can promise you one thing? That person in your life who is suddenly eating less and moving more, they are not doing it in one iota of judgment about your body. They are way too busy looking at their own food journals and mirrors and wondering what they can do to look and feel better to care about anyone else. And frankly, that’s the way it should be.