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.
Erika this truley why we love and respect you, honesty is the best policy and your making us be truefully to oneself. I wrote before at how I love this site for those reason for those with the lack of knowledge and for the encouragement.But on my quest to lose weight , I lost a few friends and a boy friend on this change. I have lupus and a cancer survior but along the way my 138 pound frame grew to 190 and I could blame it all on meds but I have to be real honest I lost my desire. but I grew stronger in my faith in God and myself and it begain to be easier to handle. I agree with Ericka people who stand in your way have issues of there own.When I found me and belived that living a healthy life was way more vaulable then the other risks. I hope you review your plan to live healthy and get back to the gym and enjoy your life healthy and stronger minus a few bitter friends and that in it self will make you 10 pounds ligther. Good luck. I am minus that man and friends and will begin my quest and it wont be for them but for me and a longer life. Hang in there.
First of all, THANK YOU! 🙂
Secondly, we all shed friends along our way… it truly reinforces that “only here for a season” phrase that we hear so often. This, though, is a good enough reason for them to go, though. If you can’t support me on my better endeavors? Then you definitely need to hit the road!
I’m almost certain that a man who can appreciate your quest for better health and whatever body it leaves you with… is much better than a man who tries to throw shade at you at every turn. Friends, too. You’ve got this. 🙂
So true! This applies to anything in life. You can’t live thinking about what others think, especially when they are obviously jealous and trying to derail you. This is called peer pressure. You don’t have to be in high school to experience it.
The sad thing is that many people give up because of what others say to them. They don’t want to feel left out and they don’t want to hear the snarky comments. That’s why it’s so important to find people who have similar goals or who have achieved things that you want to achieve. That’s what’s so great about blogs like this one and the others that support healthy living. I hope the person who made that comment finds the joy in living a healthy life once again. It’s totally worth any comment jealous people make 🙂
“The sad thing is that many people give up because of what others say to them. They don’t want to feel left out and they don’t want to hear the snarky comments.”
You touched on so many important things, Eunice – I’m so glad you come around. 🙂
I often wonder about the above quote, though. To avoid snarky comments, it’s… easier… to…just quit actively pursuing better health? And I KNOW we as a species do this, because it happens all the time. I just wish there was a better way to prevent people from taking this path! Jeez!
Good post — I am a firm believer that you can’t share everything with everyone good or bad. Often people who are envious of what you are accomplishing try and find fault in what you are doing to make themselves feel better. If you have a goal and those around you are not encouraging and/or motivating you to not only hit that goal but knock it out of the park — you need to stop inviting them into your goals/plans.
Good post and so accurate – I am truly happy I am surrounded by people who when I tell them I have a goal they check me and my progress often. They keep me on track 🙂
“If you have a goal and those around you are not encouraging and/or motivating you to not only hit that goal but knock it out of the park — you need to stop inviting them into your goals/plans.”
So nice, I had to see it twice:
“If you have a goal and those around you are not encouraging and/or motivating you to not only hit that goal but knock it out of the park — you need to stop inviting them into your goals/plans.”
so nice…i wish had said it…plain, simple, dead on
Thanks for your advice Erika. I think I’ve just realized that its best if I dont discuss weight loss and exercise with some friends, because they obviously do not share the same goals as me (or at the very least are not as dedicated as I am). I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve learned not to let other people (even friends) deter me when I have my mind set on achieving something.
I’m glad you came to a healthy (no pun intended) conclusion for your health and well-being, because there’s nothing worse than the people you trust preventing you from keeping your eyes on the prize. 🙂
This just sounds like a case of jealous friends and who really needs envious friends? Stay on your path to having outstanding health and understand that YOU ARE living your life. And just a note on folks that love to throw in the you need a life speech. Let them know that if they tend to their own they won’t be so “concerned” about what I do in mine.
I had to learn a long time ago that everyone is not goingto be happy for you or about the changes you are making in your life… It is crazy to me how someone who is your “friend” can just be so negative and want you to fail… what part of the game is that?!?!
I actually see your point. I LIVE through food, it is my pleasure. I’m totally okay with that though, because I am a southern girl with a love of greens, grits, and sweet tea. Although I admire runners, the reality is I have bad joints and will never get a chance to enjoy the “runner’s high”. But I don’t try to derail a friend’s efforts to go vegan, instead I applaud her and let her know I’m proud she has been able to stick it out. When she talks about getting on the treadmill everyday after work, I encourage her to keep at it because the results are really showing. That is what true friends do.
The letter writer should continue her journey because it makes her happy. Maybe these aren’t ‘forever’ friends, or maybe after seeing her results they will come around. Either way, she should keep doing what is making her happy.
I do agree that having friends who are trying to derail your goals are not really friends yet, I have to say my “derailing” friends actually gave me balance. When I started my weight loss and healthy lifestyle two years ago I went H.A.M. I worked out 7 days a week, for 6 hours, split twice a day. I didn’t care if I missed parties, or baby showers, or weddings (I was almost late as a bridesmaid because I HAD to get in my 7 hours and left before the reception to get back to the gym). I wouldn’t go out to dinner with friends because I was paranoid that if I didn’t cook the food something unhealthy or fattening would be in it. It was until my friendly intervention that I did learn to live. No, not through food but actually live. I revamped my workout routine so I could fit in a social life and I let go of my paranoia and would go out every once and a while to dinner. I still lost weight, my body fat was awesome and my Drs appt were still stellar.
I too think it’s pathetic when someone wants you to either be fat and unhappy like them or to make themselves look better but I also don’t believe every friend is out to sabotage. I think when starting a routine or completely changing ones lifestyle they should be realistic (I obviously was not) and also not believe that everyone was out to get them.
See, I would step in on a friend who was doing this, not because I wanted her to stay unhealthy but because I wanted her to stay . . . healthy. I would worry about any friend who got anxious because she couldn’t spend 25% of her life exercising and couldn’t eat anywhere but home out of fear of what might be in the food. Fear and food are not a healthy combination, even if the food itself is healthy.
I will encourage friends to exercise, exercise with them, feed them all the fresh vegetables/lean protein/vegan/whatever-they-want that they can stand, but I’ve also had friends who were anorexics, bulimics, and exercise bulimics, and nobody is inching toward an eating disorder on my watch.
Well alright then! ’nuff said.
thank you for this. Epsecially what you said about exercise being about maintaining flexibility and health. I think part of my own problem is seeing exercise as a quick fix instead of a life perserver. Perhaps if I saw it in that manner, made it about moving and getting stronger I wouldn’t dred it as much. But I really enjoyed reading your response. Its uplifting and encouraging. I’m also glad I found this site via Facebook. Your commentary and the sharing of your journey…its moving. It reminds me that change doesn’t come quick or easy. I’ve spent 31 years now leading my body up to this. And calculating, if I stick to it….it’ll take me less than that to loose what I want to let go of.
Thank you for sharing. I’m near tears writing this because I’m so emotional about my struggle. Well it hasn’t really been a struggle since I gave into fat and let it win! But I’m looking forward to shifting…again. I come to your site for daily reminders and motivation.
This is a great place to be!
This is excellent Erika!! Do you mind if I repost this on my blog and list you as my source?
Go for it. 🙂
This is so important – statistically you are a lot more likely to lose or gain weight depending on what your friends are doing, and it’s all because of BS like this! Luckily I never quite “lived” through food – bad food is what happens when I’m NOT thinking about it, and instead am putting all my energy into my work or worrying about my family. Now that I’ve dedicated myself to putting some of that energy towards me and my health (um, why did that take so long? :D), I really need to THINK about food at every step, and that can look like an obsession since I really need to be on top of every little thing – I’m hoping in a couple of months it’ll be natural though. So honestly, for the moment, when I literally do use a measuring cup or spoon to stay away from what I used to think was a serving of pasta or peanut butter? I just keep it hidden from family and friends as much as possible.
It’s not the best solution (and it’s only an option because of my living situation at the moment, I’m very lucky!), but I’m not confident in this yet. I only have one friend who openly views and discusses food in this healthful way, and while talking to her is really invigorating, she’s also all about the kitchen, and has been cooking since she was little, and that’s not me (yet!). I’m going to make mistakes, and it wouldn’t take too many “you’re getting obsessed” or “anorexic” comments (or even “this is soooo gross, you can’t cook at all!”) to convince me it isn’t worth it – and I know that’s not good, but I also know me. Once I am more in the swing of things then I can sit there and tell everyone this is how I do and they should back off, but now it’s too precarious for that. Ms. Kendall – thank you so much for living that message, and sharing it with everyone who wants to hear it! I am SO looking forward to doing the same.
You are so right about this. Even though I only had about 15 pounds to lose, I was often criticized about the people I loved the most for working out and eating healthy. I was even asked if I was anorexic. I was called obsessed. A fanatic. That was about 12 years ago and I’m still 15+ pounds lighter than I was when I started. Some of these same critics now admire me and ask me for advice. Some of these same critics have started trying to lead a healthier life. Sometimes your critics become your followers. To the woman who asked the question. Do you and that’s all you can do. You shouldn’t have to explain yourself or defend what you do. As Les Brown says. To those who understand, you don’t need an explanation. To does who don’t, no explanation will ever be good enough. Good luck.
This is great!!!!!
I understand how she feels because I get backhanded compliments about me working out and wanting to be fit especially from the men I have met along the way. As a single woman, we want to be well rounded in our life and dating is a part of that. I get so sick of hearing, “Don’t lose that butt.” I like you the way you are now and you do not need to lose weight. I do not like where I am now and I am overweight. I hate to say slightly because that what people say who want to sugar coat the fact they do need to lose 20 – 30 lbs. Oh, I’m just thick is what they say. Yeah ok! I appreciate the question and even more so the answer. It just confirms what I was thinking anyway. People are always trying to push their shortcomings off on others. Just because they don’t believe in themselves doesn’t mean we should believe in who we are . . . women who are striving for more than just getting in that little black dress. . . but longevity and a healthy and fun life through movement and new experiences like whitewater rafting, running a marathon, 60 mile bike ride for charity and a 3 day walk in the name of breast cancer. I applaud my sisters for working out all the days they choose and as many times a day as they want. I applaud my sisters for trying new activities and taking up new hobbies that require them to run, jump, swim or walk miles on miles. I applaud my sisters to fight for their right to live life through sharing activities with their children and friends while making new friends in the process. I applaud my sisters for the beautiful brave women that they are and will be at the ripe old age of 100, good healthy and clothed in their right mind (as they use to say back in the day)
Love you much!
SORRY about the typo: (Just because they don’t believe in themselves doesn’t mean we should believe in who we are
Excerpted from Q&A Wednesday: Unsupportive Friends Tell Me “Live A Little!” | A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss )
MEANT TO SAY “SHOULDN’T believe in who we are . . . .
Erika, dead on- these people are NOT her friends. They are HATERS. She need to hang out with people more like her that share the same goals and aspirations. AND that will support her endeavors. I was the tail of that coin before I became the head. I would definitely make off ended remarks and entice my friends who were on a mission with food. I made fun of the exercises and would do my Martin impersonation (when he did the step aerobics). I could derail the most devout person on their journey. At the time I thought I was victorious. Fast forward to today, I had to cut out friends, bypass social events, argue, and everything under the sun to get where I am. 75 lbs later, the same ones that talk crap about me are calling me asking me how I did it, or for tips on weight loss, exercising, eating habits. So Please, Please, Please- don’t be depressed. Things will get better. It is more depressing to quit.
Kudos to you for working towards becoming healthy. It is not a quick fix, it is a lifestyle change. I recently had a similar experience. I am in my early 40s a decided it was time for me to shed those unwanted pounds and inches. Everyone I encountered told me I was crazy and that I could not do it. Well, how the heck can someone tell me what I can do for me and my body? It is my decision not yours and I choose to be healthy.
I started this journey in February 2011 at 175lbs and today I am at 144lbs. Yes, I lost it quickly and I am maintaining quite well. WHY? Because it was about me and no one else. I was dedicated to the program I used and left those who were on other weightloss programs in the dust. I am sure everyone is watching me with a magnifying glass to see if I will gain any of the weight back. Although I know I will not because I made a lifestyle change, if I do it is my business and not theirs.
Do not allow others to detour you from your journey. I read a quote that states, “Something we were withholding made us weak. Until we found it was ourselves.” Robert Frost. I encourage you not to make yourself weak and DEFINITELY, do not allow others to make you weak. Be inspired and inspire someone.
I feel for this reader, maybe because I’ve been in the same situation. I don’t eat out, and I work out but you can’t “tell” because I am still 25 pounds more than I want to be. I”m 4’11 and my goal is at least 125. I decline lunch dates, and dinner dates because I’d rather cook at home and I get talked about. What I am doing is maintaining what I”ve worked so hard to achieve and those around me don’t understand it. So guess what? My response to them is to grab their Twinkie bar and move the hell on because I ain’t got time to be dragging anchors around in my life. I have enough of my own to deal with.
Printing this out and sticking it to my fridge! I totally feel for the person who wrote the original letter. My significant other is the person who attempts to derail me. My other half has “gossiped” about my weight loss and workouts with our friends and not too long ago at a cook-out I was ambushed by not only my significant other, but about 7 of our friends with the whole “You’re obsessed. You don’t need to lose any weight. You’ll look like a white girl.” mess. I defended myself with grace, but I would have rather gone off on all of them. LOL. First of all, I’m 5’1″ and 169 lbs. I am not supposed to weigh this much. Second of all, the girls who were doing most of the attacking are shorter and have 30 or 40 lbs on me. The rest of them were men/boys who are just mad that I can lift heavier/run faster than them. Third and most importantly, whose business is it but mine that I’m losing weight and doing something for myself? It’s just plain sad that others feel the need to derail me to make themselves feel better for their own shortcomings and insecurities.
The ironic thing about this…About a week after the “ambush” one of the girls posted on Facebook asking if anyone knew of any personal training services. SMH.
Also, Erika, I’m totally reblogging this.
So many women, especially black women, face this issue of negative social support. This young lady has (unintentionally) formed a network of women who are committed to continuing a lifestyle of physical, mental and spiritual illness. It will take time and effort, but this young lady must INTENTIONALLY create a network of women committed to physical, mental and spiritual WELL-BEING! This lifestyle is not easy and it becomes harder when your “sista circle” is uninformed, stressful, and deters efforts. I believe your advice was on point when you told the young woman to “consider the source(s)” and to respond to them in an honest, yet positive manner. This young lady is a constant reminder of what these women won’t do, so they attempt to undermine her efforts. This may be unintentional…sometimes people are not aware what they say (out of love/concern) can be perceived as stress and undermine progress. This woman must address the issue, with love and respect, but also with assertiveness. This is her journey, whether they are with her or not. But she must make daily commitments to achieve her goals while using her supportive networks (e.g. this site) to motivate and encourage her when her inner motivation is not enough.
Keep it up dear sister…we are behind you 100% You can and you WILL exude wellness everyday!
I just started reading your blog, but man does this post hit the nail on the head! I’m excited to be inspired by you and what you write. I’m restarting my journey after having weight loss surgery, and let me just tell you I just had a boring but healthy lunch just now and after reading this I don’t feel so bad! I have a huge support system including a boyfriend who will give me the side eye when i reach for something he knows *I* will be disappointed with my self when I have it later.
Secondly I just want to say that you’re right people will try to derail you because misery loves company! You just need to find ONE person who can support you no matter what it makes ALL the difference!
This article is awesome! I was always the biggest out of all my friends with “the pretty face”. One day, I just got fed up…fed up with aching knees and issues with my back, with heavy breathing! I joined Weight Watchers and my friends laughed at me! As I dropped weight after working out and eating healthier, they were concerned about me being smaller than them. These are friends, right? I went on my weight loss journey to improve me and now they have given me clothes that are too small for them…:D
I have a slightly different issue, with my boyfriend. I wouldn’t say he is trying to derail my efforts, but I have regular and draining conversations with him about “why I feel the need to exercise so much” as he thinks I’m beautiful and “basically fine the way I am”. (He’s not into poetic compliments, lol!). I believe him when he says it and also believe he is saying it from a place of love, but I feel like I have to justify and explain why I want to be and feel and look healthier, then explain it again the next time I mention I’m trying something new with my regime or a new activity (and then again, and again…) . It’s becoming old and I feel it’s starting to undermine my efforts. He doesn’t exercise and in the 3.5 years we’ve been together has barely put on a pound. Which is great for him but I don’t have the luxury of having a carefree attitude to my lifestyle. He sees it as me ignoring his opinion, and feels that the way he views my body should form at least part of my reasoning and if he thinks I look good, then surely that should be enough. How can I make him understand I can’t afford to base my view on other people’s views – even his? Or is it just better not to discuss it with him and do my own thing?
Again…this was a good article.
It’s really sad because she started with them so yes she shared her journey with who she thought was her “support circle” and like you said they should bow out gracefully but still support her if they are her friends.
What my husband and I are both learning is people are intimadated by your progress because it makes them feel like hmmm I have to look in the mirror and check myself. And a lot of people dont want to think their way of life is wrong. So they divert and make it seem like it’s you and not them.
Support from the right source can be very good but we do have to be our own cheerleaders first.
Just the other day a coworker walked up to me and said I was losing weight to fast and maybe I should see a DR. I Funny I haven’t lost a lb, just inches at this point 10.5 inches total (I lost a dropped a size in clothes)…I gave her the side eye and said I’m fine and I haven’t lost a lb just inches. Again from someone who isn’t in the best shape herself. So your right people give out shade advise because of their “concern”
Just like when people say what are you doing to lose weight I say I lift and immediately its oh I dont want to look like a man or I dont want to loose my curves…again side eye and I’m thinking do I look like any of these things?!?! no!!! and again have you even tried?
So to your reader: I hope she finds joy and be her #1 cheerleader and know we’re cheering her on also.
“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”
That is all!!!!!!
Excerpted from Q&A Wednesday: Unsupportive Friends Tell Me “Live A Little!” | A Black Girl’s G
I needed to read this section. Often times I get teased by family and friends for eating healthy foods saying I don’t need to lose weight but weight loss is not the issue being healthy is.
Thanks Erika for your hard work on this blog!!
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