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An interesting thing happened at the office...

Thursday, January 03, 2013

At lunch today, I was was watching clips on GMA about People's "Half My Size" issue. There are 3 of us in our tiny little office, so of course, my coworkers could hear what I was listening to. Co-worker #1, who knew me "before," also had a weight problem when she was younger. Co-worker #2, who just started with us a couple of weeks ago, has no idea how fat I used to be, or that #1 had a weight problem at all.

After a few minutes of listening to these inspiring stories, #2 says, "I don't understand why, when someone stops eating fast food and gets off their butt, they get to be on a cover of a magazine." Keep in mind that this is coming from a young, thin, 20 something.

I'm not sure how I felt about her reaction to the stories...

On one hand, I was irritated that she said that... I kind of wanted to yell that I've nearly lost half my body weight and it's no easy feat. On the other hand, I feel like she has a point. Why should anyone get recognized for this? I'm the one that made myself fat, why should I get a medal for fixing it.

All at once, I had a multitude of thoughts running through my head. How can she say something like that... do I tell her MY story... will it change her thoughts about people who have struggled with weight... how can she look at me and not think I'm still overweight... maybe she's trying to tell me that I need to lose weight...

And yet still, more thoughts... she doesn't think I'm fat... how can she NOT think I'm fat... maybe I really do look almost normal now... she can't think I'm overweight AND still say something like that... can she???

I wanted to talk to #1 to see what her thoughts were about all of it. Maybe she really wasn't paying attention, I'm not sure. I really like the new girl, I have nothing against her regardless of her feelings on the subject. It just brought some weird feelings to the surface on my part, and I just found it all very interesting.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    When I was in my 20s I saw things in very black and white terms and had strong opinions. I probably have said insensitive things like your new co-worker did to you. I sometimes think back to how ignorant I could be and hope my friends and family don't hold grudges. It took me a long time to get to a more mature place. I always hold out hope for the younger generation to discover the same.

    In other news, I am originally from WNY and a SUNY Fredonia graduate. I enjoyed hiking at Panama Rocks in college. emoticon
    1952 days ago
    Holly, you are an amazing success story! Losing so much weight is indeed a wonderful accomplishment, and you provide wonderful inspiration for others to persevere in working towards their goals!
    There are so many wise comments here. When that young woman gains some maturity (and wisdom) in the years ahead, her attitude might change. Show her kindness always, and forgive her.
    Thank you for being a fabulous role model -- You are a superstar, Holly!
    1978 days ago
    20 something is SO young. I'm sure she doesn't realise that she may look a whole lot different at 30, 40, 50 or older. I weighed less than 100 pounds when I married. Then there was pregnancy; budgets that simply didn't allow for stretching. When you plan two paydays ahead to buy shoes for the child that will need them the most, you don't go to a diet group, buy magazines, join a gym, etc. You buy the food you can stretch the furthest and you may not realize that you can get all the exercise you need at home. Then Sparkpeople comes along!
    I hope she will not always remain as naive as she is today. She should stand in awe of you and others who have had the strength to turn their lives around. Someday she will.
    In the meantime, just continue to be a good example. She needs role models of kindness, wiseness, and moderation in all things - including speech.
    I'm glad you are not harshly judgemental of her judgements, that is being a role model!
    1980 days ago
    I would have taken a moment to think about it (and would have had very similar thoughts running in my head as you did) and I would have responded with, I think those people get to be on that special issue and get coverage because they are inspirational to the millions of Americans out there that don't know how to begin to get healthy. We as a country have a major obesity problem and the more coverage these success stories get in the media, the more chance of motivating someone and possibly saving their life. That's when I would have shared some of my weight success if I were you. Some naturally thin people are just unaware of how difficult it is to lose weight and some almost treat fat people like they aren't even human beings with feelings. Although my heart has been broken by many a snide look or comment or job dismissal (I was even asked bluntly by several girls at a party once how I got my fiance to fall for me-- I knew they weren't trying to be rude-- just unable to make the connection in their brain that an overweight girl could have found her soul-mate. But it still hurt and annoyed me), I know that I can make myself a healthier person and lose weight and someday be as beautiful on the outside as I am inside. And those thin people that are hurtful whether they mean to be or not will always have an ugliness within them.
    1982 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/20/2013 2:01:06 AM
  • COOKIE_AT_51
    Whatever you decide to do it is an interesting thing to ponder. You need to do what makes you feel good so you can let it go ... because you are emoticon
    1990 days ago
    I can see it both ways. But at the same time, it's still a huge thing to be proud of. We celebrate people for getting over alot of addictions they have. We tell people its great that they gave up drugs, or alcohol. Food is and can be an addiction so part of me says we should celebrate that, but we also got ourself into this problem.
    1994 days ago
    Honestly, I do not think you look fat AT ALL! If I heard someone say that, it would piss me off. They obviously do not get what a struggle it is to lose that much weight. For someone like me who has been fat their whole life, I have never known anything else. I know people who eat crap all the time, never work out, and they are not fat, but I have to bust my butt and still can't eat how they eat. It's completely unfair, and people who have never had to lose a lot of weight just don't understand. I think people who work hard deserve the recognition. It inspires others.
    1995 days ago
    First, Holly, what you have accomplished is nothing short of awesome!

    I definitely agree with the comments about young 20-somethings not having appropriate filters and not understanding something they have never experienced.

    I think the reason these things are in the news, etc., is because people want/need the inspiration. If you have never succeeded, it helps to know that people out there have and to learn more about how they did it. For those of us who have succeeded only to backslide (like me), I need to know there are people who make it to the other side and stay there.
    1996 days ago
  • HOLLYM48
    People don't realize they are being insensitive because they don't think twice about saying stuff like that, especially some of the younger thinner people who have never had to deal with weight issues. I don't think they are trying to be mean, they just don't get it.
    I am sure she doesn't think of you as over weight because you aren't.
    At some point, it might be helpful to share your story with her if you feel it would help her to be more sensitive to others that aren't naturally thin or really have to work for it. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1996 days ago
    As someone who knows you all your life, I know you have worked hard to be where you are right now. She is young, but that is still no reason to make a remark like that. I feel she probably doesn't see you as fat. Because you are NOT that girl nof 2 years ago. You need to see yourself the way others do no as LOOKING GOOD. I think you should put the pic of you in the beginning of your journey and a current one in the office. See if she comments.
    1996 days ago
    I think she is speaking from a point of ignorance. She doesn't know you what you have faced in life and what you have had to endure. No one is Just fat for the sake of being fat. Often it is a result of growing up with some trauma and turning to food to try and numb the feeling from said trauma. So to say that with no idea what these people have been through is ignorant and judgmental. So I personally think it was a very rude and ignorant comment. Same types of comments are made about unemployed and the poor. that they are just lazy and shiftless. It is just not true. if you don't have or don't know or associate with poor people how would you know.

    Do not let some one else's ignorance diminish your accomplishments. she has no idea what work it is to dig out of a 120+ lb whole. You have probably lost her whole weight in it's entirety. Be proud and define your self by your work and not the comments of others!

    1997 days ago
    I would have been taken aback too... it's the whole "until you've walked a mile" adage. She has no idea.

    I'd just let it fly (this time!)
    1997 days ago
  • -POOKIE-
    I find this sort of thing interesting from a sort of opposite perspective right now.

    I started this new job when we moved, nobody knows I used to be over 300lbs... all they have seen is this I am now, bit of pudge, nothing serious, certainly nothing outside a lot of people.

    A couple ladies are trying to lose a lot of weight, I feel I dont want to tell I used to be the same as you, I dont want to be seen any different, "judged" any different I guess....

    We did put ourselves in that fat place, but we also got ourselves back and if that works as an inspiration for somebody else to take control of their health then its a good thing being on that cover.
    1997 days ago
    I love weird situations like these which provide food for thought! There are many subjects that we can talk about here. I don't agree with your young colleague, even though I understand her somewhat disrespectful reaction. We tend to know everything and have an opinion about everyone at this age. I hope she realizes soon enough that usually the achievements which look the simplest in our eyes are usually the ones which require the hardest commitment and the biggest sacrifices.
    As for you, Holly, do as you feel like. If you feel the need to talk about what you've accomplished, do so. Not because you have to prove something to anyone. Just because you deserve to get praised for this as much as everyone else who has managed to lose so much weight. Because it's one of the most difficult things we have ever done and it requires qualities like commitment, self-respect, strong will and determination which are becoming harder and harder to find in our days.
    Be proud! You deserve it!
    1997 days ago
    Ahh, to be 20 again. And not have that internal filter that strengthens with age...

    A few thoughts...

    I can watch football on tv and say he's playing a game, why does he get all this fame and fortune? But I haven't been around for the years of preparation, blood, sweat and tears. The girl just hasn't lived it, so she doesn't get it. Also, she probably doesn't have a clue about what you've been through and she does see you as "normal." My guess is that you just aren't used to meeting people who didn't know you before. It's hard to break out of the "fat girl" mindset. Even when we do celebrate accomplishments, we still manage to see some shadow around ourselves in the mirror.

    I disagree with you about being rewarded for something done to ourselves - yes, we did this. But that was the easy part. No one ever got rewarded (well, maybe in some record book) for reaching a morbidly obese weight. No one ever said, "Wow, how hard that must have been eating non-stop and laying on the couch all the time; Great job!!" I also think that no one chooses to get that way - it sort of sneaks up on you all the sudden and you say to yourself "how did this happen?" Losing weight, or even just taking on the commitment of a healthier lifestyle is really hard work. You've taken accountability for years of bad habits and made major changes in your life.

    Just my two cents... have a great day!!
    1997 days ago
    People who've never struggled with their weight don't understand how easy it is for some of us to pack on the pounds and how hard it is to correct the problem. Sure, we don't deserve to all get on TV and be awarded medals and whatnot for our success - but the truth is, we DON'T all get those things. Just a very few who, by luck/networking, come to the attention of news producers who think they might make for an inspirational feel-good story. Honestly, it IS inspiring to see someone work hard and make changes to correct a problem. It's very understandable that a few people make the news for losing weight. This girl just hasn't had to think about these things from a personal perspective before. Hopefully she'll never have to! But maybe if you're comfortable with it and the subject comes up again, you can briefly mention your own history and share your own perspective; can't hurt to expose her to another side of the issue. Maybe she'll realize she was being a bit insensitive, even if she had a point.
    1998 days ago
    Interesting - and yes, she doesn't see you as overweight! Or at least, has no idea that you've lost half your body weight, or ever used to be fat.

    And yes, she probably needs to have her eyes opened and hear your story.

    And the reason people like you belong on magazine covers is because the rest of the overweight people need to know they can change. YOU provide more motivation than seeing Heidi Klum on a magazine cover!
    1998 days ago
    Yeah, I agree with Pookasluagh when she said the girl probably had no clue. And you do look normal. And the new people will not know how far you've come or what it took. I moved to my new office last fall, and people saw me get rid of close to 40-50 lbs. And regain some. But they didn't see me lose the first almost 50. They don't know.

    But it's probably not the time to share. I just do what I do. Struggle and get back up. Every day.

    And yes, success stories do deserve recognition, as they provide others in a similar situation with hope. But I also agree it was ourselves that got us therein the first place.
    1998 days ago
    Hi there - how are you doing?

    Interesting blog post.

    Made me think about how hard it is to understand a situation until you've been there yourself. No offense intended to 20-somethings but there's still a lot of living and learning to do when one is in their twenties. Some people in their twenties are pretty mature. Others...well, not so much. I think back to how I was when I was in my twenties... thought I knew it all and had no problem letting folks know about it. Didn't really care what they thought either. Wow, was I naive and a piece of work! Perhaps I'm better now. I hope so.

    I think the point in "rewarding" someone for losing weight that they themselves put on is that this is an UNCOMMON SITUATION - the losing of the weight, that is. I know a lot of people and so I know a fair number of overweight and obese people. The VAST majority of them have either never really tried (where it was visible to me that they were trying) or never succeeded in losing the weight. I think that's because weight loss is hard. It is POSSIBLE but hard nonetheless.

    Someone who hasn't ever been obese - for whatever reason - really would have a difficult time understanding the world of an obese person, I think. It's the old "walk in another's shoes" situation. It's EASY to have some opinions about something that you've never dealt with personally.

    Of course, I'm assuming this young person you mentioned has never had a weight problem herself. I am, however, making an assumption that may, in fact, not be valid. Perhaps she's just been successful herself. Might be the case. Probably not though.

    I'm impressed with the success you've had, by the way. Congratulations on that!

    And hey...

    Make it a great day!
    1998 days ago
    I would have said something. But that is just me....

    I would be BRAGGING, GIRL, if I was you! You have done amazing things!!
    1998 days ago
    I normally don't feel like it's that big of a deal to have lost a significant amount of weight. (I'm down 100 from my highest point) It is just something I put my mind to and did it, after being overweight my entire life. To me the celebration should be those that have kept it off for two - three - 10 years! That is what amazes me. Clearly people don't understand the challenges it takes to find and balance the new normal. I find that much more challenging than the actual loss. Perhaps my response is a bit off topic but that is what came to mind emoticon .
    1998 days ago
    It is weird! I am convinced she has no idea that you had a weight problem and that is definitely something to celebrate! Congrats!
    You are so close to goal! Time to start grappling with that inner image!
    As for #2 and her comment...When I read about people losing massive amounts of weight and changing their lives, it's a story of triumph and inspiration, not only aimed at the morbidly obese. Convincing her otherwise is probably a moot point. Her initial reaction speaks volumes.
    1998 days ago
    Interesting indeed Holly. You know I love a chance to be analytical lol. Bless her heart because she is 20yrs old and thin; may she never have to know about the struggle with weight. I say bless her heart because she isn't alone. i think of all the people that wanted to add their 2 cents to my weight loss battle. "Curly, girl what you need to do is___, and that's it." They didn't know any better, because most of them have never struggled and even if they did; they weren't me. People get magazine covers, and articles written about them because it is our culture and our country. Mrs.Honeycomb said it best, people are looking for inspiration and help.

    So the 20yr old was right in a way BUT weight loss warriors like yourself are seen as heroes deserving of a cover (recognition of any kind) because a lot of folks DO recognize that it is NOT easy; that it is hard. Thank you for sharing this. emoticon
    1998 days ago
    I don't think It's about rewarding people for fixing themselves ...I think its about giving insperation and advice to those who need to "fix" themselves!
    1998 days ago
    I have to say people make really ignorant comments to me about the evils of fat people. It surprises me every time because clearly they have eyes and can see me. Finally one day I called one of them out on it and they said they didn't really notice it because I am there friend. Um, ok. People who have never been very overweight often can't truly get it just as I can't really truly understand how an alcoholic doesn't "just stop drinking". Then I have empathy for other human beings and realize we all have personal things we struggle with that make us human. If someone is able to overcome that flaw I think they deserve to recognized. Period.
    1998 days ago
    I think there's a good possibility that she just has no idea what work there is involved in weight loss, that there's more to quitting fast food and getitng off your butt, you know? I remember the things I used to think when I was thin and never had a weight problem, compared to the things I thought when my greatest weight problem was being at the top of a healthy BMI range and thinking I needed to lose 30 lbs, and even compared to when my all-time high was 185 lbs. Very different from when I started out morbidly obese. Just like someone young can't understand the point of view of someone older, the very thin who have never experienced obesity and weight loss can't really understand that either. Maybe it can be a teaching moment. :D

    And you DO look about normal now, Holly. I look at myself and realize that sometimes as well, and it just boggles my mind, especially knowing I have further that I want to go.

    And you know, not everyone on those magazines did it to themselves. Some people gain weight due to medications and illneses and all sorts of things. You know my story. My cousin gained a ton of weight when he had a brain tumor removed and has never been able to lose it. One of my good friends has RA and has been on experimental medications since early college. She was thin in high school, and around 250 now. Lots of people gain for reasons that have nothing to do with eating too much. It's hard work to lose no matter WHAT the reasons for gaining is.
    1998 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/3/2013 7:37:52 PM
    It was tacky of her to say anything. And pretty disrespectful. She has no idea what some people go through to find their way back to a healthy lifestyle.
    1998 days ago
    Ignore her. You are an inspiration to all of us, and to everyone who knows you. You have proven that you can do something that is very difficult and that few people are able to do. You follow through. You are committed. You are amazing.
    1998 days ago
    That's an interesting problem. I think you'll know when it will be the right time to talk to her. Until then hold your head high and be thrilled with your accomplishment!!
    1998 days ago
    Thanks for the interesting insight. I like it when people comment on how I have lost weight and am looking good, don't you?
    1998 days ago
    That's funny. I just started a new job and they call me the skinny girl. I have never been called the skinny girl.

    I do kind of agree though. Why should we be rewarding for essentially fixing something we broke??

    Either way you look amazing and that's all that really matters.
    1998 days ago
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