“Oh, you lost so much weight!”

25 Jun

Note: this rant about weight is NOT in any way related to any discussions with friends, etc.  It stems from this discussion I had a few weeks ago and I’ve been bouncing around in my head how it was going to be written for a while.  I was reminded this morning that I wanted to write it (by something a friend posted), but if you’re reading this, trust me, you have not offended me in this way.  Even so, it might be something to think about the next time you tell someone she’s lost a “ton” of weight! 😉


A few weeks ago, I went in to get my legs waxed.  I don’t always go to this salon, so it had been a while since I’d seen the waxer.  The first thing she said when I came in was, “Oh, you’ve lost so much weight!”  I usually just laugh it off, but for some reason I decided to argue with her.  Silly, I know, but I hadn’t actually lost weight – in fact I’d gained it.  She argued back that I had lost “LOTS!” (insert emphatic gestures here).

Um.  Thanks.

Here’s the thing, everyone.  We all do it.  “You look great!  Have you lost weight?!?”  A lot of times it’s flattering.  It’s a compliment – you look fabulous!!!

In my case, though, I’ve gained about 15 pounds since my wedding.  About 14 of those are due to stress (contrary to what you might think when you see the number of posts on rich foods here on my blog, I actually eat a lot of fruits and veggies and overall have a balanced eating pattern…  and since the end of April – read: the end of the super-stressful period – I’ve only gained a single pound, despite not being able to get active because of my ankle).  I can feel it in my middle (a sure sign that it’s stress weight) and when I walk I feel differently than I used to.  It’s really unpleasant.

I am self-conscious about it; not enough to go on a crazy crash diet, but enough to feel offended when you insist that I’ve lost gobs of weight.  Because I haven’t.  Right now, at this moment, I am at the heaviest I have ever, ever been.  Which means that when you say I’ve lost all sorts of weight, I think, “Geez, why would they say that?”  I feel like somewhere along the line, your idea of how I looked got all screwed up and blown out of proportion, and you had this picture of me as a hugely fat person.  Which I am not.  I have never been hugely fat.

When I had lost a ton of weight – 30 pounds (through a rigorous healthy-eating plan that left no room for anything fun, obsessing over the scale, and working out, actually not more than is healthy, but bordering on it) – my mom’s cousin (who we were visiting in England at the time) commented that I “really must have been chubby before.”  I wanted to reach out and strangle him (he was driving, so I restrained myself, but I didn’t talk to him for basically the entire rest of the trip).  He was implying that since I was so “chubby” at thirty pounds less, I had to have been a HUUUUUGE fatty before.

I will not use the word I almost called him (in front of my parents, no less).  But suffice it to say that it’s not appropriate for network TV.

Likewise, during that same time period, my dentist (who’s known me since I was a late teenager) raved, “You lost a whole person!”  Um.  No, I didn’t.  If I’d have lost a whole person’s worth of weight (even a very small person), I’d be the weight of a fourth grader.  I was never that fat to begin with.

Way to make a girl feel weirdly conscious about her weight.

I don’t know a single woman who isn’t self-conscious about her weight, whether it’s gone up or down.  I don’t own a scale (on purpose – when I did, I was checking my weight five or six times a day) and I don’t usually know how much I weigh, but I’ve been to the doctor several times over the last six months.  I hate stepping on that scale and seeing the number.  It hasn’t jumped in a while, but it’s still this number I never thought I’d see.  And when you ask if I’ve lost a ton of weight, it makes me feel even worse about it.

Weight loss – or gain – is a very personal thing, with very personal reasons.  It might have a million different factors – from stress to a lack of time to cook fresh and nutritious meals to an illness to a really awesome new trainer to an eating disorder.  I’m not saying not to talk about it – in fact, I know that it often helps keep people motivated to do so – but keeping a lid on offhanded comments about people you don’t know all that well is probably good (ahem, waxer-lady!!!).  And by the way, I probably weigh 40 or 50 pounds more than you do, at your “fat” weight.

For the record, my weight gain – just like the scars from my car accident – is a part of me right now.  It doesn’t mean I like it very much – just like some days I look at the lumpy scar where they had to take out the bleeding intestines and think “this is so ugly it hurts,” or I feel the silver-dollar-sized crater where they had to scrape away dead tissue after my back surgery and gag.   And it doesn’t mean I don’t think about what might have happened had I not gotten totally stressed out and put on cortisol-induced poundage – just like some days I wonder why my mom didn’t pull over when the brakes felt a little strange, or why the light was red, or why all of the lanes had other cars in them, or why I was sitting at the angle I was, or why the back seat buckled when we hit the back of the other car. 

But overall I have accepted it.  I am okay with how I look right now.  In fact, some days I think I look pretty awesome (other days, I think I look like I’ve been run over by an 18-wheeler, but that isn’t actually related to the whole weight issue!).  So I’m not going to stress myself out further by trying to take it off quickly (since of course weight loss is always slower than weight gain). 

I hope to be able to start actually walking again next week (not 5 miles at a stretch yet, but assuming that my ankle is well enough I feel like a mile or two every other day might be in order).  In fact, I miss walking – and it’s not even about my weight, but how the endorphins make me feel.  I want to walk.  And you know what?  If I walk and walk and stay the same weight, I will be okay.  My weight doesn’t have to go down for me to be happy.

But please, for the love of God (and waxer-lady, I’m talking to you!)…  Don’t rave about my weight loss unless it’s actually happened!!!


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