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What a difference!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

There are groups of people in my life that I only see once a year - extended family and other members of my profession. In the last three months I saw those two groups for the first time after my 90-pound weight loss.

My family was great - telling me I looked great and congratulating me on the hard work. Many shared their own weight struggles, and we had fun discussing diet plans, exercise routines, and the best way to stay motivated. We had a great time, swapping stories. One cousin was motivated to join Spark, and we exchange e-mails about our progress.

My professional colleagues' reaction was similar, but in many cases they looked right past me and did not recognize me. I had to call out to them to say hello. The best reaction was someone I worked with for 9 years who I now see only once a year. She actually had to look at my name tag to figure out who I was! I loved her instinctive reaction "My god, you've lost a lot of weight!" I have indeed, and I'm glad that others have noticed.

I don't mind anyone telling me I look good as if I looked bad before - I know I was not looking my best with 90 extra pounds. I know I look better now, and I'm glad that other people notice.

When I am complimented, I say thanks, that I've been working hard, and I still have a ways to go. If people ask, I tell them I did it the old-fashioned way, with diet and exercise, and if they continue to ask, I tell them about Spark People and offer to share my nutrition plan.

I do notice that at work, my image overall has improved. My expertise seems to be more valuable, and while I haven't gained skills while I lost the weight, I know that subconsciously people are attributing more value to my contributions because my physical shape has improved. I knew that when I was heavier - that my abilities were overlooked or diminished because of my size.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    You're right. We sometimes match our own stereotypes. I think we want to be invisible when we're heavy, hoping no one will notice the weight. What we do, though, is erase ourselves altogether.

    Being overweight is one of the last acceptable types of discrimination, maybe because it's considered a controllable situation. One of the things that motivated me to lose weight was the realization that it was something I could do for myself - that I was in control of my weight. I got tired of being overlooked at work when I knew I could contribute a lot more than I was being asked.

    Thanks for commenting!
    2703 days ago
    That's really interesting, that you can feel a difference in how you're treated at work. I've read articles about the instinctive stereotypes held about overweight people (and actually, that overweight people THEMSELVES also subconciously hold these stereotypes - which of course hurts our self-esteem and self-perception) that to be fat is to be lazy, sloppy, or dumb. It's so unfair, that "failure" in one area of life (eating/exercising) is so obvious physically, and is judged so harshly. Whereas other types of "failure" (no successful relationship, smoking, reckless driving - anything! including much more harmful things than being overweight!) don't get judged the same way, likely because they're not as visibly obvious.
    2703 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.