Thursday, November 24, 2005

New pet peeve #1 - "How much weight have you lost?!"

So, I'll apologize in advance for this post, but I just have to...

I have two new pet peeves on related (and sensitive) issues. I'll write about them in separate posts. Today's post is about numbers. In short, I don't want to talk about them.

Most of you know that I've been diligently going to the gym for about six months now. It’s part of a lifestyle-change process that has been going on for much longer than that. It includes – but is by no means centered around – shedding excess weight.

My weight has swung wildly up and down over the years, usually tending towards the “up” side of the scale. My goal now is to get to a healthy size and stay there… over the long term.

Notice that this goal does not include a number on the scale.

The goal is actually much harder to define because it includes lifestyle choices, like getting regular exercise, eating properly, getting enough sleep, etc. Even though any of those can be quantified, it’s really all about the “quality” of one’s life. Or that’s my take on it, anyway.

I’m guessing that just about anyone who starts out heavy, and then incorporates regular exercise into their life will shed pounds. So, the fact that I’ve lost some weight is not surprising. I should, considering where I started at.

My new pet peeve is when otherwise well-meaning people feel compelled to ask about the numbers. For example, “You’re looking great. How much weight have you lost?”

Forget it.

I won’t discuss the numbers with most people (and especially not if you ask.)

In case you’re wondering why, here are the reasons:

  • I don’t want to obsess about the number on the scale. As I am learning, having a healthy body involves more than weight. At one point my trainer warned me that I might actually gain weight due to increased muscle mass. That hasn’t happened (yet!) but hopefully, if it ever does, I’ll be at a point where it won’t freak me out.
  • In my experience, a discussion centred around numbers will often lead to comparisons. I don’t want to compare myself to anyone else, and I won’t facilitate others’ comparison of themselves to me in this regard, either. Every body is different. (And yes, I wrote "every body" as two words for a reason.)

This “obsession with not being obsessed” by numbers is relatively new for me… But it is a conscious choice on my part to be discreet about it.

Don’t worry, I know exactly what the numbers are. I weigh myself twice a week.... But probably not for the reason that you think.

I know what is a reasonable about of weight to lose in a week and I get on the scale mid-week to see how I’m doing. Sometimes I’ve lost too much weight by mid-week I have to actually increase my calories so I don’t lose too much too fast. (I’ve done this in the past too…) It’s part of the process to stop the wild yo-yo effect. I try to keep the process balanced... and consistent.

This is a huge learning curve for me… learning what, when, how much and how often to eat… balance it with exercise, getting enough sleep, and making sure I incorporate some fun into most (if not every!) day. Oh yeah... and be a full-time student and work while I'm at it.... It’s not a perfect process, but rather ... a life’s work.

So about my new pet peeve….

You would never say to someone, “You’re looking horrible. How much weight have you gained?”

That question is not socially acceptable, so why should the reverse question be?

If you feel the need to say something, then a simple positive or encouraging comment – without a follow up question -- would be delightful. But even that’s not necessary. :-)


ipodmomma said...

boy, do I know all that you are going through... I did Weight watchers here, after the few first weight classes I took ended. WW used a points system, based on the amount of fat in food... for a few years after I lost the weight I was a slave to points... and weighing myself weekly.

then, in '01, I just stopped going to the scale. it was like, this has to be not what matters.... not a number, but a sense of how I'm eating and what I'm doing. and I havn't stepped on a scale since.

and I also, about the same time, gave up counting points. and other than putting on a few pounds early in 2002, I have been fine since then.

anyways, for me it's been about figuring out a desired kind of physical activity and healthy eating habits. you are in my thoughts, because I know the road you're on.

right now, after a really delicious T-day dinner, I am so full! looking forward to just crashing and going to sleep...

Granny said...

I did Weight watchers years ago as well and did okay but the counting and, at that time, weighing food, got to me.

Why do people think they have the right to ask you those questions? I guess they just don't realize what it sounds like to the questionee.

zouzou said...

eep! Hope I'm not one of the guilty ones! If I am, I am most abjectly, grovellingly (is that a word?) sorry!

henceforth all weight-related conversations are banned (except for those relating to the size of my belly, of course)

Sarah Elaine said...

Z - no, you're not among the guilty. :-) YOU always encourage me... and being the *goddess* of discretion yourself, where do you think I'm learning it from????