Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Exception Of Perception

Dealing with the perceptions of other people has been an interesting part of losing weight. I struggle with my own personal insecurities and critiques, so discovering that in addition to my own thoughts that many others seem to have distinct impressions in regards to my health choices has been very challenging.

One close friend has completely ignored the whole thing. I mean, really and truly, has not said one word about the different choices I have been making nor about the weight that has come off so far. I have asked her on multiple occasions to accompany me on walks – which was never something that I would have pursued in the past – yet she remains unmoved to comment on any of the things I have changed.

The truly odd bit is that she has remarked on my husband’s weight loss. I could accept her just being unobservant, but with her noticing his decreasing waistline, it makes me wonder if she is not saying something to me on purpose. Her demeanor when I have touched on topics of nutrition or exercise of late has bordered on scepticism. I am curious if she is expecting me to fail and, if so, if that is why she remains silent.

My mother is another person who threw me recently with her take on my weight loss. About two weeks ago, she asked me what I was down to on the scale. When I told her she was shocked. She had thought that I was at least under two hundred pounds, perhaps even closer to one-ninety. Then I was shocked!

I couldn’t believe that my mom had erroneously estimated my weight by such a large number. I was pleased in the moment, thinking that I carry it as well as I have always suspected I am fortunate enough to, but that emotion was quickly replaced by confusion. Have others always seen me as someone so different than who I really am? Perhaps some believe that I am closer to three hundred pounds. Maybe a few have been put off in the past by my disinterest in activity - not understanding that I was much heavier than they perceived - and never realized that I was hauling around fifty pounds more than they thought. I never realized that others might see me as something I am not.

One last – slightly more detailed – example of this odd misinterpretation has to do with a different friend. Always encouraging about my intended weight loss and exercise plans in the past, she has seemed concerned since I began actually working towards my goals. I don’t believe she thinks I am going about this in the right manner.

The weird part is that a lot of my ideas on how to make walking this path sustainable came from conversations I had with her. She was the one who encouraged increasing my intake of whole foods, moving away from processed items, and implementing walking as a regular activity. These are all basic ideas, but they are ones that have paid off enormously and it helped to talk with her about utilizing them before embarking on this journey.

Yet, on a couple of different occasions that I have seen her, she has actually brought more indulgent foods up to my mouth to hand feed me and have me try them! I am certain that it is coming from her concerns that I not deprive myself. The bit that I believe is being misunderstood is that if I didn’t say no to at least some of my cravings, I would not lose any weight. Plus, I have yet to feel deprived on this journey because of the different mindset that I have this time around; I can always have ‘it’ later, if I so choose.

I think that she views all of these very large changes as dangerous territory. Maybe I am misunderstanding something myself, but it is my belief that her worries stem from not wanting to see me give up if it is too hard to maintain. But I am confident that the decisions I have been making are ones I can repeat indefinitely. I needed to completely change my lifestyle and that is what I have done; this isn’t a diet or a temporary increase in fitness, but a different way to live.

I know with certainty that every one of the individuals I mentioned here are great people who love me very much. I value them as important parts of my life and care about each of them deeply. I just find it interesting that the further along this path to a better me that I go, the louder the perceptions of my friends and family seem to echo. Maybe they are taking more notice now that I am caring for my body, or perhaps it is I who has suddenly become more aware of what the people around me are thinking.

It is admittedly a bit more pressure than I was expecting. It never really occurred to me that my losing weight would result in having to contend with the reactions of others. But, I have already cleared away over thirty-five pounds so I know that I have room for whatever people want to put onto my shoulders. I can take it... bring it on!

- 8 glasses of water throughout the day
- 1 peach
- 1 mug of decaffeinated tea with milk and honey
- 2 cups of lemon and garlic green beans
- 1/4 cup of pan fried scallops
- 3/4 cup of fat free lemon chiffon yogurt with 1 cup Rice Krispies
- 2 1/2 cups celery with 2 Tb. light peanut butter
- 4 large crackers
- 1 plum

- 55 minute walk
- 4 sets of 30 stomach crunches (2 straight, 1 right, and 1 left)
- 3 sets of 10 knee push ups
- 3 sets of 15 lunges for each leg


  1. I think we all deal with these things at some point. I know that I for one, never know the "right" thing to say about someone's loss. You don't want to make them think that you thought they were HUGE, but you don't want to downplay their success either.
    It all comes down to how you feel about it. You are doing a great job and as long as you are happy, don't worry, they will fall into place!

  2. I think the most important thing to remember is that you are doing this for YOU. Other people WILL have perceptions and ideas about you - that's a part of life. It sounds like you're learning to sift through and take what you need and leave what you don't - that's the important part of others' perceptions and ideas.

    Just keep doing what you're doing - FOR YOU.

  3. I didn't expect to have to deal with other people's reactions either. I just assumed that everyone would be happy, on board with me, and just leave me to my own devices. But just like you are experiencing, my perceptions were wrong.

    The interesting thing to me was that although most people were happy for me, my best friend was not. In fact, even though we had been friends since we were all young married couples, she never once said, "Good job."

    You are doing great in thinking about these things, and not letting them deter you on meeting your goals. In the end, it really is about you.

  4. A guy I work with decided one day to eat healthy food and walk each day. He slowly and steadily lost a quite noticeable amount of weight.
    I didn't say anything (though I wanted to) because I thought it might make him self-conscious or something. Different cultures have different ways of handling touching subjects and it's better to err on the side of caution.
    But when he brought the subject up on his own, I was glad to be able to tell him how impressed I was with his progress, and he was happy to hear it.

  5. What I think is cool is that you can observe all these perplexing reactions but not let them get in your way! Sounds like you just keep doing all these healthy things and taking care of yourself. Maybe once your friends see how well you are handling it they'll relax and behave more normally.

  6. Scallops!!! My favorite food in the entire world!!!!

    Let's face it...when you start changing your life, people get weird on you. It's not something you can see coming ahead of time...suddenly it just starts showing up from all of the people close to you. Bottom line is, it doesn't matter what they think, whether it be good or bad. What matters is that you're on your way to building a happy, healthy eating lifestyle that will result in optimum health for you. Just keep your eyes on the goal of making those important changes and everything else will work itself out in the end. You're on the right track girl! :)

  7. It's amazing how other people and their reactions to us affect us. There are people along this journey with us, but you are not responsible for how the act, react, etc. I've encountered a whole range of reactions when I've lost weight in the past. In fact, a jealous, SKINNY, beautiful, successful, rich friend's ignorant comment was the catalyst in my regain. It was MY fault for allowing her words to put me off though. People are funny!

  8. BTW - great job working it through, communicating it to us and making us think.

  9. Wow! These are really insightful comments and I am sitting here with a perma-grin plastered across my face because of everyone's remarks.

    I have to say though, Tammy, your first paragraph made me laugh out loud! The best part is that for the first split second when I read it, I forgot I had eaten scallops yesterday and just thought it was a totally random exclamative thought! LMAO!

  10. Interesting post and a subject that many of us have faced. Most of my friends have been wonderfully supportive, but there are one or two who aren't. Those that just don't realise how heavy we really are(were), don't see the outer shell, they see what is inside, usually because they love us.

    Some of our friends are afraid of us changing into people they won't recognise or of losing us altogether. I remember Sean saying in one of his posts how one of his relatives cried because they missed the "old Sean". I can understand that.

    Its all complicated and there is not a lot you can do to change how other people react. Most people will support you and hopefully if they need to, will follow your excellent example!

  11. You are an inspiration to me and, even though I haven't met you, I am proud of you!