When you begin a weight loss journey that involves a significant amount of weight being lost, people along the way will feel entitled to comment on your body as if it were up for public discussion. People will start introducing you to strangers as ‘and he’s lost a ton of weight,’ as if dropping 60 lbs is worthy of a Nobel Prize. Acquaintances will discuss the merits of your disappearing fat within your hearing as if you’re an entrée on a menu with a changed recipe, is it any better? I know I’m an asshole for criticizing people who are, in their minds, only trying to help you but there are better ways. And there are some things that should just be altogether avoided.
1. “You’re wasting away!”
The last time I checked the dictionary I was pretty sure that ‘wasting away’ was a term used to describe someone who was dying. I don’t have cancer, consumption, or malaria so please don’t tell me I look like I’m in an ICU and expect me to feel buoyed by it.
2. “You’re looking so great lately!”
By saying this to someone you are blatantly drawing attention to the fact that clearly you were not looking so great before. This might seem motivational to you but it just makes me second-guess my self worth. *Drop the lately or any temporal reference and this is perfectly acceptable. Who doesn’t want to be told they look great?
3. “Have you been losing weight?”
Ummm… If you feel compelled to ask you’re either oblivious or honestly unsure. And both make me feel like crap. Thanks for not paying enough attention to me beforehand to draw a conclusive answer on you’re own. Or, if you really can’t tell that I’ve lost weight then why have I turned down so many slices of cake? Why!?
4. “OMG, what’s your secret!?”
Do I look like Oprah? Do I come off as a beloved international talk show host who now owns their own network? No, I didn’t think so. What makes you think I’m in possession I some mystical weight loss secret? You want to know the secret? Eat less than you want to and exercise more than you want to. Voila! Now get away from me.
5. “Hey, skinny!”
This is the worst, the absolute pits. You think you’re being so cute and I have to blush modestly so you feel good about your compliment. But really I want to throttle you. As someone who has lost a lot of weight but still has a long way to go, I am acutely aware that I am not skinny. Factually I am skinnier than I was but no one would describe me as ‘that skinny guy over there’. What’s makes this ten times worse is when you call me skinny in front of strangers, in public. They look at me like what? This guy? Lady, get your glasses checked. And I have to try and not make eye contact with them. Thanks for that.
At the end of the day, yes, I do want acknowledgement that I’ve lost weight, that I’ve changed my lifestyle. But be subtle, focus on the right words. Remember that the wrong thing is going to send me to the nearest McDonalds to eat my feelings. Or make me starve myself because feeling empty will erase the insult I snatched out of the jaws of your compliment.