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Weight loss language

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A friend posted this on Facebook and I just loved it. I'm sorry I've lost the original format but I'm sure the general idea is clear.

The table sheds light on just how difficult it can be for a foreigner to understand what the British really mean when they're speaking especially for those take every word at face value.

Phrases that prove the trickiest to decipher include 'you must come for dinner', which foreigners tend to take as a direct invitation, but is actually said out of politeness by many Britons and often does not result in an invite.

The table also reveals that when a person from Britain begins a sentence "with the greatest respect ...', they actually mean 'I think you are an idiot'.


I hear what you say
I disagree and do not want to discuss it further
He accepts my point of view

With the greatest respect
You are an idiot
He is listening to me

That's not bad
That's good
That's poor

That is a very brave proposal
You are insane
He thinks I have courage

Quite good
A bit disappointing
Quite good

I would suggest
Do it or be prepared to justify yourself
Think about the idea, but do what you like

Oh, incidentally/ by the way
The primary purpose of our discussion is
That is not very important

I was a bit disappointed that
I am annoyed that
It doesn't really matter

Very interesting
That is clearly nonsense
They are impressed

I'll bear it in mind
I've forgotten it already
They will probably do it

I'm sure it's my fault
It's your fault
Why do they think it was their fault?

You must come for dinner
It's not an invitation, I'm just being polite
I will get an invitation soon

I almost agree
I don't agree at all
He's not far from agreement

I only have a few minor comments
Please rewrite completely
He has found a few typos

Could we consider some other options
I don't like your idea
They have not yet decided

The table points out that when Britons say 'I'm sure it's my fault', it actually means 'it's your fault'.

I come from England and realised that I am guilty of using a few of these phrases! But as well as entertaining me it made me think of how we use language to conceal from ourselves various truths about the reality of weight loss.

In Vital Lies, Simple Truths, Daniel Goleman points out that "The mind can protect itself against anxiety by diminishing awareness", that is to insulate itself "from inconvenient facts". The main inconvenient fact regarding weight loss is that it's not easy and once achieved requires constant vigilance - that extra weight is waiting in the wings for its cue to return to the stage. emoticon

Examples of the kind of language I'm capable of using to express my unwillingness to undertake the effort required for weight loss and maintenance (with the truth of what I think I'm really telling myself in brackets) are:

I don't have time. (I'd rather read my book, watch tv, play with the cmputer). emoticon emoticon

I can't afford the food. (I'd rather spend it on a magazine than healthy food.).

It's too hard. (I can't be bothered).

I'll start tomorrow, or after the party, or after Christmas. (Maybe, or pigs might fly).

It's healthy food. (So I'll eat oodles of it.) emoticon

I'm on holiday, it's a celebration. (Permission to gorge.). emoticon emoticon emoticon

I'm sure SP members could add many more to this list! Feel free to do so. emoticon

Then, perhaps, we will stop fooling ourselves?

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
SIMONEKP 9/30/2013 1:24PM

    Queen's subject here, I often use many of the phrases from the initial list and my colleagues often misinterpret my point.

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WIZKEY 9/21/2013 1:25AM

    Thanks for sharing, Penny!! Just one bite is one of my downfalls, as well as "I'll do it tomorrow".

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JUSTYNA7 9/18/2013 10:47AM

    What a neat idea to look at... language. I think I was brought up with "politeness". You never say what you mean. I learned to walk on eggshells around other people or risk hurting their feelings and risk their irratic or explosive behaviour (where does THAT expression come from anyways...eggshells?). It means I often don't say what I mean yet I expect people to mindread. No wonder relationships are hard. So for today... what do I say in my self talk that allows me to avoid what I need to do? Or does not address the real problems? I think today's blog will look at this. Thanks so much for sharing. emoticon

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OWL_20 9/16/2013 9:17AM

    Finally, a translation! I used to work with a rather eclectic bunch of people from all areas of the world. It was fascinating to hear the different phrases and what they meant, just as they had a hard time with my 'Americanism's'. But I totally agree with your topic--I seem to have a set made up just for exercising and eating, too. Yikes!

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MARYJOANNA 9/16/2013 5:09AM

  Very interesting blog. Certainly food for thought-no pun intended.)

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LYNMEINDERS 9/16/2013 5:00AM

    Love it...thankyou

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LOOKINGUP2012 9/15/2013 8:19PM

    A cup of tea needs a cookie. Hee Hee
Thank you for sharing.

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JANETTEB553 9/15/2013 5:52PM


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ANGELN325 9/15/2013 12:15PM

    Loved this post and you are right...there is this politeness in the weight loss language which should be labeled lame reasons why we can't lose weight when we don't want to. I think it also may be to pacify ourselves when we see someone make it look so easily when we are struggling ourselves. I know I'm guilty of this.

"I have a sluggish metabolism." Not saying there is no truth to this, but there are ways around that.
"I'm too tired." I don't feel like exercising.
"I have no space to exercise." I've learned exercising doesn't have to happen in the home. I got an inexpensive gym membership to counteract that excuse and also been exercising at the track at my daughter's school. I also found some exercises on SparkPeople that are simple and don't require a lot of space.

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NAVYMOM133 9/15/2013 9:06AM

    " Is that twinge my sciatica flaring up?" (I do not want to do three days of exercise in a row...)

emoticon totally hear you on these....

(Not making little of Sciatica, which I have had in the past! No fun! But every little twinge? Most likely NOT...)

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VTRICIA 9/15/2013 8:26AM

    I can think of some that apply between parents and teens, and husband and wife. :)

"I'm eating intuitively." (Just one more bite, or four)

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ARTJAC 9/15/2013 6:10AM


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WENDYJM4 9/15/2013 5:41AM

    it is so easy to fool ourselves. Need to keep this is mind. thank you Penny

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PHEBESS 9/15/2013 4:00AM

    Oh yeah, I know those. "Just a taste" is eating half a serving. "Just one" turns into several. "Just an appetizer and dessert" means both are high calorie.

Now if I could only put that knowledge into practice........

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WEARINGTHIN 9/15/2013 3:08AM

    Thanks for the lesson in linguistics. Best to you. Glenn

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NEW-CAZ 9/15/2013 2:35AM

    Interesting! emoticon

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SUSANBEAMON 9/15/2013 12:56AM

  i have been trying to speak more clearly to myself and to others. it may be a function of age, but i don't feel like talking in circles any more. I no longer say i don't have time, instead i say i don't want to.

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AWESOMECHELZ 9/15/2013 12:22AM

    As someone born and raised in Puerto Rico, now living in the USA, I find the English language fascinating and your example is one proof of that for me. emoticon Thanks for sharing. emoticon

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MICKEYH 9/15/2013 12:19AM

    I so agree that you said we'll stop fooling ourselves. Yes, let's be earnest and get back to work. lol)) (*^^*) emoticon emoticon emoticon

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EMMACORY 9/15/2013 12:11AM

    Very interesting and insightful. Thanks for sharing! emoticon

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