In my post titled “Handling Unsolicited Advice and ‘Big Girl Guilt'”, I got this comment that I’ve been saving… ooooh, have I been saving it.
Q: I usually don’t comment, but some recent events in my life have lead me to seek the advice of others.
Since the beginning of the year I have been really serious about my health and weight loss. I ran a 5k for the first time, work out 5-7 days a week, and have been really dedicated to consistently eating healthy. In the process I have loss 25 lbs, however I have about 40lbs to go until I reach my weight loss goals.
I recently moved in with a bunch of girls, and we all went to undergrad together. We all get along, but the others girls have been really good friends for a while. When I first moved in, everyone agreed to do Weight Watchers and start working out together. No one ever works out but me and they pretty much eat whatever, whenever. I am bigger than everyone else, but I clearly lead a more healthy lifestyle.
Recently, I have heard the same thing from a couple of the girls. That Im crazy because I exercise too much, and that I’m addicted to a certain exercise program because i do it too much (which presently is only 4x a week). And also, basically that I need to eat less healthy because I’m not getting any enjoyment and I need to enjoy life. I feel like on a daily basis I have to defend what I’m doing and justify how important my health is.
Now admittedly, I recently have realized that my weightloss journey has become depressing and that I need to focus more on being healthy and less on the numbers on the scale. But what should I do? And are they right, am I getting obsessive? Anyone….please weigh in (no pun intended:))
Two things TOTALLY drove me up the wall reading this: Firstly, “You need to enjoy life!” and “You’re obsessing!”
No, really. I’m actually kind of livid about this. I said my comments might be more controversial… not so much. My comments are just really offensive and condescending.
There is nothing more pathetic and pathetic and pathetic and pathetic and PATHETIC than people who originally set out to lose weight with you, fall off the wagon, and then go out of their way to derail you. So, they can’t hang. Okay, that’s cool. Just bow out gracefully. Don’t turn around and try to derail me when you see me shining. Don’t try to hold me back because my successes and strides make you uncomfortable. Don’t be so selfish that my goals and my attempts to achieve them have to be about your comfort. If you are my friend and you love me, you want the best for me and you want me to be happy. You wouldn’t dare stand in the way of that.
I’ll put it to you like this – someone very near and dear to my heart, upon learning how often I work out, told me “Wow, you sound obsessed. Little fitness foodie psycho.” (I’ll be that, but please believe I’ma be alive well beyond age 100 to be that, too.) Mind you, this is coming from someone who wasn’t on their own fitness Ps and Qs. I shrugged it off, because while I hated working out (at the time) I loved the results of my hard work. For me, the joy I got from seeing my results couldn’t be shamed or constrained by someone throwing shade at me (in other words, someone trying to stop me from shining.) If I shine bright enough, I simply cannot be stopped. Period.
I looked at that person’s track record with fitness. Wouldn’t know their way around a bench press if a million dollars was on the line. Thinks a Smith Machine is a contraption from the first Saw movie. Associates “healthy eating” with “Healthy Choice.” Waits 20 minutes for a parking spot up front at the mall, instead of just walking it. If I resolved to walk around the corner instead of drive in the interest of health, that would’ve been considered “obsessive” to this person.
Why would I let them sound like an authority on anything health-related to me? Forget that “I’m thin and I don’t work out” thing – that doesn’t make you an authority on me. If I’m trying to work out, then no – someone who doesn’t work out can’t advise me on squat.
Although regular exercise contributes to weight loss, you don’t exercise with the overall goal of weight loss. Someone’s giving me the side eye on that… let me explain. Exercise is about ensuring that your body can continue to maintain its range of motion (basic ability to do things) for as long as possible. If I live a “desk job” lifestyle, I’m missing out on all the walking, running, jumping, lifting, throwing and everything else my body is built to handle. Just like flexibility – if you could do splits for years and get a job where you’re so busy, you lose the time to do them regularly… you eventually lose that ability. Many other parts/functions of the body are the same.
So if you live a “desk job” lifestyle (also known as a sedentary lifestyle) and someone tells you you’re “obsessed” with fitness… give them a heaping helping of “Back off.” And go on your merry way. I’m the type of person who’s quick to let you know how far out of bounds you are… so a polite “Oh, we’re offerin’ up advice? While you’re playin’, you need to come on out here with me and burn off that snickers.” usually does the trick. They don’t want the mirror to show too much of what they do (or don’t do).. so that usually prevents them from bringing up the topic of what you do.
There is this issue of “Live a little!” that needs to be addressed, though.
I’m flat out disgusted – yes, disgusted – by the concept of living through food. I know, that’s judgmental, but I’ll be that. I used to live through food, and that’s why I was over 300lbs. Do I take pleasure in dining? I sure do. I certainly don’t live through or for it, though. I live through running. I live through tossing my daughter around. I live through doing crazy insane stuff like hiking and kayaking. What I look like busting my tail at the gym, only to come home and live through a cheap fake chocolate bar? What do I look like comparing the thrill of finishing a run – especially as someone who could never run before – to the fake thrill of manufactured food? (Because, let’s face it – it’s always processed food that they’re chowing down on, instead of cooking something unique and flavorful.)
I hate that your journey has become depressing, but you have to keep putting your faith in what you’re doing, and knowing that it’s the right thing. It may not always bear the results you’d like to see, but you have to keep going. It takes me around a month before I start visibly seeing the changes a new workout routine brings me.. and if I still don’t see it, I change my eating habits around. Do not let them steal your joy, do not let them convince you that “living” is done through food and not through living and enjoying life, and definitely don’t let them convince you to stop. Find your joy in your results, let that lead you into loving what you do (because you know you’ll love the results), and let your “friends” watch you cross the finish line. Repeatedly.