Can't We All Just Get Along?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Coach Nicole suggested this catchy title after listening to my small rant in the office recently about accepting people where they are and encouraging them toward where they want to be. Lately I have been bothered by the intolerance of people. Not intolerance related to religious or political views (although there is a great deal of intolerance in these areas as well) but by the intolerance of people for health and fitness goals and habits that are different from their own.

If we are all different and unique, shouldn't our lifestyle habits be as well? What if some of us are still stuck in a dieting mentality and don't even realize it? Could that be causing intolerance with others that have embraced the healthy lifestyle journey?

Shakespeare said, "we know what we are, but know not what we may be." Each of us has to start where we are and work toward what we can become at our own pace and timeline as our life allows. For many of us, losing weight is the original focus of the journey but as we move along and begin to make healthy lifestyle changes, we discover more and more about who we are and how we see ourselves and the world around us. This is the biggest difference between lifestyle changes and dieting.

Many of us have embraced a lifestyle change mentality that focuses on day-to-day eating, activity, and health habits reflected by our life goals and desires. We evaluate success and improvement based on how the changes cause us to feel about ourselves. We focus as much on the issues that surround our battle with our weight and health as well as how they are influenced by our life and seek to make small improvements that will make a positive difference to hopefully last a lifetime. We focus as much on the how and why of our battles as we do the small victories and use numbers as our clues instead of as an indication of success or failure. We incorporate lifestyle changes into our daily life and many times include the people and things we love and cherish the most into our journey. Others of us are stuck in a dieting mentality and the continued focus on numbers to confirm our success or failure -- numbers on the scale, numbers on the measuring tape, numbers on the tracker just to name a few. There can also be an ever-increasing focus on ourselves, which can lead to less and less focus on those people or activities around us. Success continues to be measured by how well we have stuck with and achieved the "right" numbers and not about the cost or experience of achieving them. Perfection is about being accurate and exact and so is dieting. Dieters come in all shapes and sizes and their desire to be perfect and have total control can be unhealthy in many other ways even if the numbers are just right.

This is where I believe some of the intolerance comes in and where comments slip from supportive and encouraging to judgmental and hurtful. If someone with a dieting mentality has a lot of time each day to focus on themselves, their numbers and seeking "perfection" in their food and exercise, they may lose sight of someone on the other end of the spectrum that is focused on a lifestyle journey in the midst of a hectic and active life. We are all at different places on the continuum and in a world of good-better-best choices and some of us are at good while others are at best in the journey. Some of us are "foodies" while others of us are not. Some of us love the challenge of training for a marathon while others of us do not. The journey is finding who we are, what we like and how we can take another step forward to live healthier and more active lives.

The Bottom Line

It is important to remember that what is right for you in your life might not be right for someone else. We are each unique individuals with lives that are equally unique and individual. Learning to live a healthy lifestyle includes learning to find the right balance not only in what we eat and in how we move but in all our other life choices as well. We all start at different points and may never end at the same place regardless of how long we work at it because we don't all have the same ending point in mind.

It is helpful to take a quick inventory of our life, our goals, and our day-to-day routines from time to time. Take a few moments and do it right now. Here are a few questions to help. Do you have a healthy balance related to the time you spend meeting health and fitness goals, time with family and friends, time with work, other responsibilities and volunteering? Does how you spend your time reflect what you believe to be what you value most? Do you believe you are trying to live a healthy lifestyle to meet your goals or are you stuck in a life of dieting? Do any of these answers affect the way you support or respond to other people?

Are there changes you need to make in your healthy lifestyle journey. What are they and what will you do differently to help you meet them?

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I am working on trying to find that balance of more exercise while working full time and being a mom and wife. I don't have consistent workouts (even though the challenges I have joined have helped) due to what ever is going on each night and time.

I also know from a week off due to snow that I need to create a schedule to keep me on when I am not at work (a teacher). When I was home I overate (healthy and non healthy) but got in a lot of exercise. I did maintain my weight but I was hoping for it to go down. I know that not being on a schedule and close proximity to food help cause my over eating. Report
I need to MAKE myself exercise daily. I'm reading the "BECK Diet Solution" which isn't a "diet" but how to THINK like a THIN person. It is SO helpful, and one of my cards says "If I had to exercise each day to stay alive, I'd find time to do it, so DO IT." I know it is right. Report
This blog is so spot on. I get tired of little bitty skinny people who I end up out with every week for lunch and there is one in particular who has probably never weighed 110 in her life, and she is forever making comments when I order a bowl of chowder and she orders a cup. Makes me crazy. She makes comments in front of me to others such as "so and so used to be really big" and really has lost weight" ugh!!!! And you know what, I really dislike, no hate, working out like in a gym or with weights...treadmills bore me and I get bored walking in the neighborhood. Maybe I am A.D.D. I love to dance, line dance in particular and do so 6 hours each week and am looking to add another 2-4 hours per week. It's fun, social and healthy. And I am intolerant of people telling me how to lose weight and what to not eat. Report
Love this blog. It's all about accountability and responsibiity. Sure, it's easy to say a fast food meal is quick and easy when I'm tight on time, when running kids around etc... Or easy to fix a popular meal for the famiy, but I'm hoping to get the entire family eating better with me. Hopefully we can all stick to the meal plans ! Report
Here is my concern. I have been struggling to lose weight for years but found sparkpeople and am down to my second 20lbs that needs to go. Now my fitness/nutrition lifesyle has become all consuming and is effecting my social connections and free time. When do we say enough is enough and stop obsessing and just accept where we are in life? It is a tough call. Report
I am so excited about all that I have learned on this site - and have finally started losing - mostly inches. Am not worried about the weight - that will come.
But, I have found that family and friends that I have tried to share my enthusiasm with are just not interested. Oh, well. I will continue here and will be so pleased as I continue to gain better health and then begin to lose more inches and weight. Report
Well said, this is a great blog!! it all needed to be said great advice Thank you

Ida Report
It seems to me that every news outlet - internet, local news, newspaper is just getting awful with it's reporting. Overhyping or going for the emotional headline instead of the factual ones.
I want to be aware of what's going on in the world but I don't want to get sucked into an emotional state.
I'm turning off the cable in June. I need to quit watching life on the tube and start being active in my own life. Report
"Each of us has our own set of circumstances..."

Leaving off everything else: This. For me, when I'm at school, it's more convenient for me to grab fast food. Bearing in mind that I have a 2 hour each way commute (via Greyhound no less), and am usually out of the house 12-15 hours, and this semester, had no convenient place to store food/lunchbag. In the fall, I MAY have a locker to do so.

I know it's not as healthy, but I try to make better choices than the normal whatever-I-want-ooooh-that-sounds-g
ood-oh-and-some-of-that-too that I did.

Regardless of how I do it, It's my choice. I don't complain if the #s on the scale go up/stay the same/waver, because of my choice. So when people lecture me or offer 'advice' about my diet (*cough* MY diet), they just get a withering look.

In general, I make up for it at home. Report
Thank you for this post!

There definitely is no "one-size-fits-all", "right" way to do weight loss or life.

Each of us has our own set of circumstances, our own biological, environmental, psychological, emotional and spiritual underpinnings. (along with other categories I might not have mentioned) .

We should not assume that we know what those are for others, when we're not even too clear on our own sometimes. We should also refuse to be bullied by others when they attempt to do so with us.

I like to think that a better approach might be to seek out people who inspire us and whose approaches make sense, even if very different from our own; evaluate and use what's good. ...Kind of a buffet approach...

Then offer encouragement and support from our own experience, but not advice.

Thanks again for bringing this up!

I agree completely!!! But, what do you do when someone is saying things that are very judgemental and hurtful? There are some of these folks here on Sparkpeople. I had one person post on my sparkpage that I am anorexic and I need to go to the doctor. She went on and on about how I looked. I was very hurt. I am not anorexic, but I have stick arms. I just deleted it and didn't hear any more.

On the other hand, there are many folks here who completely judge others. If you aren't doing as many minutes of workouts, or as disciplined, they completely put you down. Again, I deleted this particular person. She even said, she doesn't have time to deal with teams who are as devoted as she, or put up with people who make excuses. So unkind...... I agree----let's be nice and play well together. Report
This post really helped me; it made me realize even though I'm moving toward the lifestyle change I'm still to a large degree in the dieting mode, even though I've reached my goal. We had a Brazilian chef at work yesterday, and I love to try new things but I didn't because it looked too rich and didn't have the nutrition analysis (most of our food does). That's being too picky! I won't have that chance again any time soon. I want to stay consistent, but learn not to be so OCD about it! Report
I love this blog and am glad that you wrote it. I love reading about what everyone else is doing in their blogs and on their SparkPages, but I often think that I can't (or don't want to) do what they are doing. Sometimes, I feel bad and think that I'm not doing enough or I must not want to lose weight as much as those people who are giving up sugar or who have taken up running, etc. I haven't made my Nutrition Tracker public because I do not really want comments from people about what I eat -- I already know that I eat too much restaurant food and processed food. I'm working on it, but changing is a slow process for me.

When I make comments to other people or post to discussions, I may point out what I do, but usually as a suggestion for something to try, not as the only way to do things. I know I don't have all the answers and what I like to do may not work for others. I also work very hard to make my comments to others on SparkPeople positive and encouraging. Report
I'm reading ECKHART TOLLE'S the "Power of NOW" so I really have let go of the "small stuff." Report
This really hits a cord with me... Thank you for being brave enough to write it... I haven't read all the comments, so if I am repeating someone, please forgive me.

I am the team leader for the Brain Buddies Team. NO WAY am I at the head of the group in weight loss OR consistency. We are a group of people who have either sustained a brain injury or had a stroke or are the support person for someone.

After sustaining a double TBI 6 years ago, I have had a true up and down situation. Nothing new though, as I am short and have always been battling... What with medication and loss of energy, not to mention daily point of impact pain and other 'stuff' it has been very tough. People have NOT always been kind... I find refuge in our group. I find support there. I have also found true kindness from the folks in our group who ARE at their target weight. I am thankful for that.

I may never be where I 'wish I were' (I will also probably never grow to 5 ft. 7 inches!) but I am healthier than I was. I have maintained my 15 lb weight-loss (but would truly like to kick it up a notch--working on it). I have fewer 'dead days' where I must stay in bed due to the headaches... One thing that is tough for most women, is to check in with themselves... Both my Brain Injury AND Sparks has helped me with this. If I check in with myself (energy level, pain level, etc) I have more BETTER days.

I am a proud member of Sparks. Not the perfect member, and certainly not a great 'advertisement' before and after... but I am thankful that our group has grown 4 fold, and for the friendships I have found there.

Barb Report
This was such a great blog. A person I know who has lost a lot of weight and went through a 12 step program has it in her mind that everyone needs to eat like she does in order to be successful. It is difficult to deal with her because she has trouble seeing that what triggers her eating does not trigger my reasons for wanting to eat. We are individuals and I am successful in my weight loss journey, but I am walking a similar, but different road. We are all at different places on our journeys, and the important thing is not where we are, but that we are moving towards health. Report
Many of us have a "winner"/"loser" mindset. It's hard to let someone just "be". We always have to be comparing. Report
It wasn't until I evolved from a diet mentality to healthy lifestyle that I have seen sustainable weight loss. But it has been very slow. It has taken me a year and a half to drop 35 lbs... VERY slowly, but without "dieting" per se. But now I'm very close to a healthy BMI and never felt better. People are FINALLY noticing my weight loss and asking me "what did you do?". To which I repond "healthy living". The inevitable follow-up question is "but what kind of diet? low carb? vegan? low fat? low sugar? intensive exercise?". To which I respond "balanced, healthy living... I lost only 2 lbs lost per month over the course of 16 months". At that point, some people want to know more (and I refer them to SP), some people try to sell me on some sort of "diet" (after reading this article I realize I need to be more respectful here), others just lose interest. Report
This article is interesting to me. I see it the other way, actually. I feel like there is intolerance/lack of acceptance for people chosing to "diet". For example, I don't regularly post about the fact that I use Slim Fast products because people will judge that as a "diet" and "diet" is the new 4 letter word. Even the blogger wrote that dieters are "stuck" -- which in my view shows that she believes her approach to being healthy is the right one.

Why can't I be open on SparkPeople that I enjoy Slim Fast and that it works for me to lose and maintain weight? Why do I feel like people judge me for using "diet" food and/or not organic/homemade/fresh/or otherwise trendy....?

So you see, the street goes both ways. I think people need to accept that what works for me may not work for you. And that is ok. We're all here trying to be healthier and happier. Report
Absolutely right on! People are at different points on their journey. Another point is, don't beat yourself up for not being able to do what someone else can. I've been thinking for a long time I "should" be out running. After all, though I was never a "runner", I ran around with my boys when they were young. I realize that, at 65, though it's entirely possible to pick up running & do well at it, it's not ME at this stage of my life. Run around with the grandchildren? Of course! Run because I think I should? Not for me! Who knows? Maybe I'll feel differently in another year or two. But for now, I'm going to stop looking out the window & thinking "I really should take up running!" Report
I understand what this article is saying and I am not offended by it at all. I have a friend who is also trying to lose weight and I tend to judge her a lot because she does not exercise or track her intake to see what she is "REALLY" doing. She has to take her own journey as I must take mine. I can not judge her decisions because I wouldn't want her to judge mine. She does her weight loss plan her way and I travel my journey my way. This article helped me to see that I have to continue my course and not intervine in my friends regimen. Report
This was what I needed to read today...because I do agree with some of the other posters that it can be hard NOT to get into a "diet mentality" when tracking every morsel of food and trying to hit nutrient "target" numbers.

However, I don't agree that this blog was hypocritical as some implied. I think the author was trying to say that we should strive for BALANCE in our approach to creating a lifestyle that is healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally. That while striving for "better" is what we want to do, we should not expect perfection from ourselves or from others.

I "got it". Well said. Report
I agree wholeheartedly. Sometimes we get so focused on ourselves and where we are that we can be judgmental or even jealous of people who have success differently. I have been guilty of that and hope that this awareness will help me to love myself and others where they are now. We can also spur each other on to be the best of what we are meant to be....not who others think we should be. Report
For the 24 years that I worked at my company, there were people who made fun of me because I rode my bike to work, walked on breaks and tried to make healthy food choices for lunch. I will never forget one day it was raining and hailing. I walked out of the plant and a guy from the Maintenance Department waved me over to his truck. He was all ready to load up my bike and take me home. Until that moment, I thought every one was against me. Then it occured to me that I was only listening to the negative, unsupportive people. There were others that admired what I was doing. I just needed to listen. . . That was probably the biggest change I had to make in my healthy life style journey. Report
I am far from perfect. So, there are plenty of small changes I can make that would improve my life. One thing I've learned in my personal journey is that "no one is perfect" and shouldn't try to be. As the article mentioned quite nicely, we should respect and embrace each others differences.

I'm doing my best trying not to judge people for their habits. The problem ? It doesn't always happen. All of us can be a tad judgmental at times. None of us is immune from passing some kind of judgment. But, if we're trying to reform that habit, then we're taking a step in the right direction.
The person I judge the most is myself. Thanks for the reminder not to! Report
good reminder, i need to embrace happyness all the time. Report
I am so glad this was written! I think it should be "required reading!"
I have been struggling with this a lot lately and wondering how to address / not address / ignore / deal with it. I would LOVE to see more of these types of articles! THANK YOU! Report
I have one pet pieve on sp, daily recipe blogs.
Example, recipe; Light Tuna Salad and list ingredients and method to make.
Reply; I don't like tuna.
I mean, what 's the point.
I just don't get why one would take the time to remark on a recipe their never going to make.
Some can have things that others would rather avoid so if the recipe wasn't something I'm not interested in I have more things to do than take the time to throw out a negatiive barb.
Other than that, I'm a happy Sparker :-)...Chef Jim
Have a blessed day... Report
Thank you for the wonderful topic. I had my thyroid removed in 2002 and since then I have learned that I have to exercise a lot to keep my metabolism revved to keep the weight off. I frequently have people tell me that I am exercising too much and that I am going to make myself ill. Different strokes for different folks as we are all wired differently. I have learned to love what I do - dance frequently throughout the week and just walked my first marathon.

Thanks again for the topic.
C. Rosie Report
Awesome blog!!! Very well said!! Love it!
I love this blog!! Thanks for saying it so well and putting the spotlight on an issue we all probably are aware of, yet, at least talking for myself, have never thought of quite in this way..great blog! Report
The more I work on myself the less I need to compare myself to others. I've learned to value the uniqueness in others. Trying to change the way others think takes precious time away from minding my own business. Report
Pride is the culprit. That's why I NEED God's help to remain humble. Jesus was the only perfect person and He never threw stones. We could learn alot from Him. Report
Being not-american I am fascinated by the interest in health and lifestyle issues - we have the same but we are maybe ten-fifteen years later than you. I have learned that it is no good to give advice unless asked for and I am trying to keep my mouth shut if not asked to have an opinion... Report
greatly said thanks Report
Small personal goals over time are important for progress. However, in the BIG picture people are what matter most. No one is going to say "She would have been better if she were smaller" if we perish tomorrow. Report
Each one of us is doing the best we can with what we have at any given moment. Report
I feel sometimes that sparkpeople uses more of a diet mentality, I get confused with so much that I read. That is why I try not to read a bunch of articles even though you get points for that, I research healthy living a lot since I started my healthy lifestyle journey. I will probably food journal forever. It lets me know where I am at and if I am consistently hitting my numbers. I use Sparkpeople as an added benefit of the journey I started six months ago. Also, I have noticed since using sparkpeople I have felt challenged to do more and more physically. Great Article by the way. It really needed said. Report
It seems to me that SparkPeople is all about the diet mentality. I read at least two articles each day, read the daily blogs, and participate in message board discussions, but still there is so much talk about losing wieght, cutting calories, and substituting fattening foods with low-cal/no-cal choices. How is it that someone can continue with SP without gaining the diet mantality or losing tollerance for the number of times it's pressed in articles and blogs.

Yes, we call all get along, but we DO have to respect our differences. Report
Great blog! I remember few years ago when I had a small baby and was working full time, barely getting enough sleep etc - you know what I mean. I was not ready at that point to embrace a healthy lifestyle as a lot was going on in my life. One day while I was working at my desk, a co worker stopped by and saw a bottle of sprite at my desk. It was actually not sprite and I had filled water in it. She was big time into eating healthy and exercising at that time and she asked me if I was drinking sprite and when I said No, she went on to pick up the bottle and smell it (!!!) - yuck - to check if I was telling the truth. I was so pissed - I am supportive of her decision to eat healthy and work out but not all of us are the same point in our lives and it is really annoying to be listening to her condescending attitude. What worked for her may not work for others. Report
I've learned that with my loved ones unless asked I wouldn't impose my life changing journey. Thanks for sharing Report
Thank you so much for this post., you have the ability to put into words (so much more graciously) what I have been working to express for months. I see so many members discouraged and giving up because the short term number on the scale does not fit their idea of what "success" means. I am not losing fast, but I am healthier than I've been in years and my stamina, lab work, and everything else I use to measure my progress with shouts out a HooRay for me!!! I appreciate SP for giving me the chance to see the Whole picture. As for my time, we'll come to an understanding. Have a great day and keep Sparkin'!!! Report
This is an incredibly timely blog for me, as I've been pondering lately the balance in my life, my food and fitness activities, and my ultimate goals. I had been following a very strict plan of eating and exercise, and was starting to find myself stressed, especially with my recent weightloss issues (such as LACK of loss, and even rather a lot of gain). Just minutes before reading this blog I was contemplating taking a more relaxed approach to my food that will be less likely to result in binges when I slip, and will lessen my stress levels. Your questions at the end will bear some more pondering. Thanks, Tanya! (Oh, and I too often wonder why we can't just be play nice and get along!) Report
Yes, "we are all at different places"............... Report
While I wholeheartedly agree with the spirit of this blog (that we shouldn't be judgemental of others), I believe the language within it contradicts the message. Language like "stuck in a dieting mentality" carries with it pretty negative connotations. I track my weightloss and use the numbers on the scale as motivation and I certainly don't feel "stuck". Please, practice what you preach! Report
Oh you are so very right on with this one! I also need to be more tolerant of myself. Not necessarily when food choices go awry, but more when my body is physically unable to do something I think it should be capable of. This is a journey and we all need to make it to the goal. g Report
Sassi, the Spark mentality is to lead a healthy life-style and through that attain weight-loss and results. A Diet mentality is a way of describing someone who still thinks that at some point they're going to "get off" one day, that there is an end-game to this SparkDiet. There is no "end", you're not going to stop living your life one day just because you reached a weight that you like.
Perhaps instead of focusing on the word "mentality" we should focus on the word "Diet" and the negative connotation it evokes at SP because of how it's defined in Pop-Culture. Contrary to that pop-culture a "diet" is not something offered to you in a box or a book, it's not something you find in the freezer isle or order off an infomercial; that's something that's been constructed by the media fairly recently - that is what is perceived as the root of all evil.
A Diet by definition is a term describing what foods you eat on a daily basis to live! Much like "traffic" is a term that described the amount of cars on a road, be it 1 or 100. A diet is something you're on every day of your life! A diet is something you can change, something you can balance, something you can improve, but you can never just "get-off". Report
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