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Top 5 Things NOT to Say to Someone Who Has Lost a Lot of Weight

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I'm one of those people who has lost a lot of weight, and based on a lot of blogs I've read recently, I guess I'm not alone in being annoyed by some of the questions and comments I get from people (some well-meaning and some just gossipy and curious). So I'm putting this list out there for general consumption.

Without further ado, the Top 5 Things Not to Say to Someone Who Has Lost a Lot of Weight:

1. "How much weight did you lose?"

Unless you are really close to the person or you've shared the numbers or weight-related info in the past, don't ask this question. I've been asked it by a few and I know that some are just curious as to the breadth of my acheivement (which is fine) and I know that others are just mentally trying to figure out my starting weight (not so fine). I can almost see the wheels turning: ("OK she lost 90 lbs and she looks like she's around 200, so... wow, she was pushing 300!") You wouldn't ask someone their weight straight out, so this question should almost always be similarly taboo in places that are not weight loss-related communities (i.e. Sparkpeople).

2. "How did you do it?" (if you don't really don't want to hear or believe the response of "Watching my food intake and exercise.")

This question can go extremely well if the asker is looking for honest advice for how to lose weight. But if not, this seemingly innocent question can turn ugly quickly when the asker is disappointed that the answer is smarter food choices and more movement and is looking for the name of a quick fix diet or another solution like gastric bypass or band surgery. So unless you want an honest answer and will not question or judge someone's methods, stay away from this one.

3. "You look so much better now!"

This is just backhanded, pure and simple. I don't understand why you can't just give a compliment without degrading the way a person looked before. I understand that I was very fat before. I'll never forget that. It has made me who I am today. But I think I looked good, just not very healthy. You wouldn't go up to a person who had a mole removed and say "Wow, it looks so much better now that you got that thing chopped off!" and so it should be with weight loss. "You look great!" will suffice just nicely.

4. "You're a whole different person!"

No, I'm not. I'm the same person. My personality did not change, nor did my thoughts or beliefs, or my profession or my family or friends. I may look different, but at the core, I am the same person. I still eat creme brulee and mojitos and I still love TV and movies. The difference is that I eat these things less and I watch less TV in order to make time for exercise. I got a few new hobbies. Those minor changes does not a different person make. I'm not ashamed of who I was before. I loved that person, fat rolls and all. I just needed to feel better, get healthier, and make life easier for myself. Life is not easy for a morbidly obese person.

5. "I could never do that."

Yes, you could. And by saying that you couldn't, you're elevating me to some kind of Superwoman when I'm just a mere mortal who REALLY wanted to lose weight and got SERIOUS this time. As much as I'd love to be Goddess of the Universe, I'm just not. It pains me to see a person elevate me (and thereby denigrate herself) by denying that weight loss is possible for her. You can do it. And it will be hard at times, especially at first. And you might not lose weight as quickly as I did. But living healthy and making better choices is completely possible for anyone out there.

So there's my Top 5. How 'bout you? Do you have any to add to the list?


6. "You should stop losing weight now. You look good the way you are."

I just got out of the obese BMI category and you're telling me to stop? Why? Because I'm smaller than you now? Because you liked me to be the fat friend to make yourself feel better? Say it with me, "It's NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!" I don't know what my goal weight will be, but I know it's not now. I've got plenty of more work to do!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Hear hear! Well said!
    2833 days ago
    YES YES YES YES YES to number SIX. It discourages, demotivates and downright upsets me when people tell me that!!!! Amen sista!
    2837 days ago
    Thanks for the insight. I've asked some of those inappropriate questions even tho I'm on the same journey!
    2837 days ago
    Amen Sista! I had #6 told to me, and was litterly gob-smacked this past weekend. Like what the heck, for telling people when, how much, whats good for them. Some people are just insaine - unfortunatly when they are family they are walking a fine line! So I just breath.....
    2846 days ago
    Love this blog!
    2847 days ago
    I love this blog! I definitely have to add the "Do you have all kinds of saggy baggy skin now?" THAT is the question I'm asked most frequently, and it bothers me. I lost 100+ pounds, and all you have to say is, "Do you have saggy skin now?"!! :)
    2852 days ago
  • KJH0029
    you know the other day my friend said do you have saggy skin on your belly and arms and i thought you got to be kidding me what kind of question is that.. so i said no its not bad but i can live with that i just cant live with the fat.
    2853 days ago
  • SPARKY2097
    Iagree i have had people tell i don't need lose weight i know i need to
    2854 days ago
  • BICKEY11
    I agree, my favorite is when people say "you're going to wither away to nothing"

    Have you ever noticed, people who are skinny never say these things to you? Just an observation. My boss and about 3 of my coworkers are HARDCORE, worker-outers. When I lost weight the last time, they were SO encouraging and so nice.

    You know who wasn't nice? My mother, who was gaining weight cuz she quit smoking, the overweight guy i work with, who was heating up 2 French Bread Pizzas when he saw me. And the entire side of the family on my dad's side, because all of them struggle with weight.

    I admit, when I'm up a few sizes, i'm not very supportive either, but if you're looking for KUDOS from somebody on your weight loss accomplishements, look to the people who take care of themselves and are happy with their weight!
    2855 days ago
  • ALIBJ572
    Amen sister! Thanks for saying how I feel!
    2855 days ago
  • MUGSY0499
    My response to #1 is"
    "Why would you need to know that?"
    2857 days ago
  • MUGSY0499
    My response to #1 is"
    "Why would you need to know that?"
    2857 days ago
  • MUGSY0499
    My response to #1 is"
    "Why would you need to know that?"
    2857 days ago
    This is a wonderful post, and you are spot on with Number 6. That one bothers me the most. And I think it really is because my friends (especially my overweight friends) feel comfortable having overweight people around them. So to hear them say I'm "too skinny" when I'm a ways from my goal weight just makes me question their motives.
    2859 days ago
    Gastric Bypass and Lapband surgeries are just tools, like sparkpeople. They help in losing weight, they are by no means a "quick fix".
    2859 days ago
    Brilliant and well spoken. Actually, # 6 was my favorite. I gained some of my weight back after losing to my goal weight and people actually said, "I thought you were too skinny." Yikes...say nothing, people!
    2859 days ago
    Have a while to go but good forewarning :)
    2860 days ago
  • JASHLEY0822
    Absolutely right! With me however, no one ever gave me a compliment or made any comments about my weight loss--they simply look at me from head to toe then look away. Jealous? Maybe. I think so. And that is fine by me. I feel better about myself and I look darn good and I constantly check myself out every chance I get whenever I pass by in front of a mirror or glass and the best part is...I like what I see!
    2860 days ago
  • MELLY1317
    Loved Number 1 and number 6.. I get both all the time!
    Number 6 really bugs the crap out of me though, because i feel like they dont want me to be skinny like them! I get it all the time,, and im not at a healthy BMI yet.. and thats what i tell them so they shut the hell up
    2860 days ago
    Loved your list! Thanks.
    2860 days ago
    You hit the proverbial nail on the head! Keep blogging!
    Delois emoticon
    2860 days ago
    Great list!
    2860 days ago
    True, true!
    2860 days ago
    I completely agree with #6. I totally pisses me off when people tell me this especially when they are overweight. I will be the judge in how much I need to lose!!
    2860 days ago
    I agree, #6 is right on target. Well meaning(I assume) acquaintances, coworkers, family friends have said "Stop losing weight now, you look good, you don't want to get too skinny." I have n intention of stopping, my goal is 20 more pounds, it is my body after all, and if they don't like it, that is there problem. I would add something to the list;

    # 7 "You will gain it all back in no time."

    How do you know? Do you know how I am eating or working out? Or how I am succeeding at making it a permanent lifestyle change? Maybe these people have seen fad diets fail this way. That dose not mean that success is impossible. Thanks for sharing. emoticon
    2860 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/28/2010 1:43:46 PM
    What about the people who you work closely with everyday and they NEVER mention the fact that you lost a significant amount of weight? No, "You look nice, or healthy, or happy". Is some sort of comment better than no comment at all? It does make one ask, did they ever even look at me? But who cares, I am happy and that is what matters, not what co workers say or think right! Just wondering if anyone else has had that happen to them? emoticon
    2860 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/28/2010 10:21:07 AM
    Many people have told me I look prettier and I actually like it! But I'll take a compliment wherever I can get it! The one compliment I hate is "You have such a pretty face" It's like shut up!! I get it!! I'm fat! Great blog though!
    2860 days ago
    Awesome blog...I love this! Thanks for sharing!!!
    2860 days ago
    The extra credit question killed me dead because it is so very very AND painfully true. _-_
    2860 days ago
    Oh I so agree with you!! Awesome blog!!
    2860 days ago
    I really enjoyed this blog. Thanks for shedding some light on this topic... and for making me laugh!

    2860 days ago
    Fantastic read! Thank you so much for the heads up.
    2860 days ago
    The bonus number 6 is crazy and my favorite. I want to ask people if they need psychiatric help when they say that to me. One person stopped me the other, looked at me very sincerely and said "I am worried about you getting too small" What? I weight 191 lbs (I am not 6 feet tall, only 5'5) and I wear a size 14. I may be a LOT smaller, but I am not done and you never needed to tell me how "worried" you were about me when I was 95 lbs heavier, so lets not start now...
    Hmmm...that feels much better to get off my chest!
    2860 days ago
    While some people are truly trying to be complimentary, others are just being smart-alecs due to their own inadequacies. After losing 70 lbs many years ago a friends' husband opened the door upon my arrival and continued to look outside after I had entered saying, "Where's the rest of you?" I'm happy to say my friend divorced that jerk. No matter our outward appearance our inner being is who we are regardless. Thank you for speaking up :-) emoticon
    2860 days ago
    I love this blog! Everything on it is so true. My dear, keep up the good work. You are doing excellent. !!!
    2861 days ago
    Ok. I like these ideas for comebacks! I'll try and keep them in mind for when I hit that point.

    My big one so far - I can see your weight loss in your face! Yeah, but what about the rest of me? My clothes are practially falling off me and you can only see it in my face? Did you even look at me before?
    2861 days ago
    emoticon Loves it!
    I think this does it too and this is just cruel and wrong.
    "See, you are a pretty girl" - Now that's just not cute!! I haven't lost much, but I've heard it said to a friend. I can't wait for my day to come. emoticon
    2861 days ago
    Hee hee hee! You probably DO know how many times I wanted to slap someone up side of the head...noneya! as in none ya business!!! Thanks! It was a great read!! emoticon
    2861 days ago
    Awesome. Thanks!!
    2861 days ago
  • JIMMA97
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2861 days ago
  • SUZEQ09
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2861 days ago
    YES YES YES!!!! I have also lost alot...and I hear these same things EVERY DAY
    2861 days ago
    yep heard every single one.. and yes number 6 has been said by my mom.. no idea why.. by thin mean friends whom truly do not want me to be thinner than them.. weird cause i like having skinny gfs who partywith me.. hot by association? and mostly my heavy friends.. i think due to their insecurities and lack of success at sticking to weight loss.. i used to get offended by it but now i'm starting to realize that many of them have just given up and accepted their weight
    2861 days ago
    When someone says something to me and it upsets me. I try to stop and consider the source. If it is a close friend I should be able to explain to them how they made me feel. If it is an aquaintence does it really matter.

    In many ways we are different people when we lose weight. We become more active, you said you dont watch as much tv, you are exercising. So maybe you no longer are as concerned about what happened on a show. Or you might have had a friend that you lunched with before and now that you are eating healthy they feel uncomfortable having their cheese fries.

    I know there are two sides to every story. In most cases people are just reaching out to us. I have a friend that really needs to quit smoking I told him that when I become successful losing weight that I will be all over him to quit smoking, I told him look out when I weigh 120, he said you dont need to weigh 120, so I guess I can get after him at 220.. he just wants me to be more healthy and thats what I want with him.
    2862 days ago
    I hate it when people ask me how much I've lost too. The reason I hate it is because yes, I am proud, but I am also embarrassed that I let myself get that big.
    2862 days ago
    Well, personally, I love when people ask "How did you do it." (#2 on your list). Those are perfect opportunities for lighting a spark in someone else. I also don't really mind #1, cause generally I feel the folks asking are doing so good faith curiosity of wanting to know the extent of my accomplishment. I can see how the implications of the question might change drastically depending on context though.

    The comment that really annoys me is one my mother gave to me just recently... "It's so much easier for a guy to lose weight than a woman." For all I know, that statement might be true, but it does nothing but trivialize the effort that was put in to lose the weight by comparing it to a standard of reference I have no hope of measuring to.
    2862 days ago
    Love this! How about this one, when learning I lost weight my BIL said "OH, I thought you just got taller."
    2862 days ago
  • _TRIXIE_
    I love this blog. So many truths here. It makes me sad that some comments suggest you can't accept a compliment. No, that's not the point AT ALL. The point is that you should just have some common sense about what to say to others and this blog serves as the reminder.

    Thanks for writing this. It makes me sad to think I might have said similar things to friends of mine who've lost weight.
    2862 days ago
  • MSA2127
    These are so true. I lost weight when I was (about 10 years ago) younger after being overweight my whole life, and I heard every comment listed on your blog, especially number 6!! In the last 2 years my weight has come back, not screamingly fast, but steady, and especially since I don't see my family regularly throughout the year. Now due to my setback, I hear all of these other comments about my healthy life "failure" that are just as crushing as the comments before. It's really brutal. But I'm getting back to the healthy me I was, so no worries there. Just wanted to say.... Way to go for standing up for youself, and everyone else out there. emoticon emoticon
    2862 days ago
    Number six is my favorite! but you are so right about one thru five. This should be mandatory reading. emoticon
    2862 days ago
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