Dealing with Criticism of Weight Loss/Changes in Fitness

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Dealing with Criticism of Weight Loss/Changes in Fitness

Post by InkAndComb on Sun Jan 03, 2016 5:47 pm

The title says most of it, but: I live in a place with a very high obesity rate and very meat-and-potatoes type location. When I moved to this town, I was happy and healthy. I did yoga 3-5 times a week in a hothouse setting, was walking often, was very happy. I struggle with MDD, Anxiety, and ADHD so this was amazing.

I quickly lost my support group re: friends, was very homesick, and started struggling with my (now ex) SO. I gained 30-35lbs in less than a year, stopped fitting all my clothing, and started eating poorly. I lost all will to exercise or be active, started being far less social, and couldn't muster up the energy or will to find a new therapist.

Now, I'm clawing back to health; trying to be active 3 times a week at least, keeping a log of my food on MFP (day sI dont want to eat I touch it up, days I have eaten too much I at least can see what's happening), and have started dressing and feeling better.

But... I am starting to get pushback. I'm not even at my goal weight (It is the weight I was when I came up here, which my doctors were ecstatic about back home), and I have people telling me "I look fine the way I am" and "I shouldn't lose *too* much weight". My coworkers have been surprisingly supportive; they notice I've lose weight and compliment me.

Some of my friends, and a few nurse practitioners at the student health center, have done the opposite; telling me it's not about calories or weight, it's about "feeling good about my food" (I mean I think it should be about both, for me, since they are tied very closely together). That I shouldn't make it a goal to "look good", it shoudl be about "feeling good" (again, I get the idea behind this but it comes across very frustrating for me because I wasn't "feeling good" before).

I feel like wanting to improve my appearence *does* make me feel good about my body, but I am starting to be offered more snacks, etc. by friends, getting guff for not wanting mcdonalds, being told I'm being "too harsh" on myself when I'm very careful to speak in a positive manner about my body.

I don't know how to respond to these kinds of concerns. Does anyone have any suggestions? Scripts? I'm so frustrated; I have a therapist and he is not worried about me having an ED, but I feel like I get these implications whenever I am making obvious efforts towards health. Meh.
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Re: Dealing with Criticism of Weight Loss/Changes in Fitness

Post by BasedBuzzed on Sun Jan 03, 2016 7:10 pm

Your body, your feelings goes both ways. They're chipping away at your boundaries collectively and it smells like the bad type of peer pressure. You have a qualified professional whom you trust that confirms that you're mentally in the right place: whether the motivations behind the comments are bad or benign, they're beginning to grate, so a polite but firm "thanks for the concern, but I feel good" and the like should be enough to shut it down. If they still continue, they're clearly overstepping how much uninvited commentary they can give.


Last edited by BasedBuzzed on Mon Jan 04, 2016 5:36 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Dealing with Criticism of Weight Loss/Changes in Fitness

Post by Wondering on Sun Jan 03, 2016 7:38 pm

I agree with BasedBuzzed.

Depending on how blunt you want to be and if they keep pushing at you, you could say something like, "Criticizing me for my weight is no different if you think I'm too skinny or too heavy. You are pressuring me to feel bad about my body when I don't, and that's not okay. You need to stop."

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Re: Dealing with Criticism of Weight Loss/Changes in Fitness

Post by eselle28 on Sun Jan 03, 2016 8:22 pm

I also endorse the strategy of shutting down the conversation entirely and not letting it get to the point where you feel frustrated. Food and weight don't need to be topics that come up in every friendship, and it sounds like in these ones, it's not something your friends can talk about without being pressuring.

The other part of this goes beyond enforcing your boundaries and into that difficult intersection where your feelings about your nutrition choices and your weight meet up with your friends' in social settings. One strategy that I've seen work for people who have varied and sometimes conflicting nutritional choices is to try to shift hanging out times away from situations where there will be food at all. Instead of lunch, where your friends might prefer McDonalds, you might want to shift hanging out an hour or two later when everyone's already eaten. Or, if they tend to offer you snacks when hanging out at home, perhaps you could change things up and invite people out or to where you live.
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Re: Dealing with Criticism of Weight Loss/Changes in Fitness

Post by bomaye on Mon Jan 04, 2016 1:00 am

I think one-word answers and things like that. Give them nothing to really respond to.

The people around you have likely placed you inside a specific box within their mindspace, and a noticeable change upsets their mindspace. Humans resist change, some more than others, so you're getting pushback just because they would rather you remain in the familiar mindspace than have to rebox you and reassess the social hierarchy and everything. Most of it is unconscious and people don't really realize it. I'm not sure if it helps to think about their statements in that way or not, but that's where most of them are probably coming from, especially if there's a tribalness around eating in that area and you're sort of setting yourself apart from the "tribe"
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Re: Dealing with Criticism of Weight Loss/Changes in Fitness

Post by sky on Mon Jan 04, 2016 2:06 am

InkAndComb wrote:Some of my friends, and a few nurse practitioners at the student health center, have done the opposite; telling me it's not about calories or weight, it's about "feeling good about my food" (I mean I think it should be about both, for me, since they are tied very closely together).  That I shouldn't make it a goal to "look good", it shoudl be about "feeling good" (again, I get the idea behind this but it comes across very frustrating for me because I wasn't "feeling good" before).

I feel like wanting to improve my appearence *does* make me feel good about my body, but I am starting to be offered more snacks, etc. by friends, getting guff for not wanting mcdonalds, being told I'm being "too harsh" on myself when I'm very careful to speak in a positive manner about my body.

The two phrases "feeling good about my food" and "being 'too harsh' on myself" here are making me wonder if maybe some of the problem is that you're living in an area where enjoying your food (and lots of it) is culturally prioritized over fitness and eating healthy. Some of the pushback you're getting could be because you're deviating from behavior that's socially expected of you.

Regardless of the reason, these people are not being helpful to you and they need to stop. Here's a few things I can think of that you could try:
"Please don't offer me snacks/extra snacks when we hang out. My goal this year is to eat a diet that makes me feel healthy and I'd appreciate if you could help by not tempting me with snack foods."
"I look and feel good when I'm healthy, and that's what I'm working on." + change of subject
"Thanks for your concern, but I'm not looking for advice." + change of subject

I agree with the other advice to shut down or avoid discussions about your fitness/weight/nutrition, and to try to spend more time with your friends at times or places when food won't be involved.

Lastly I want to congratulate you on clawing your way back to health! That is super hard and you are amazing for doing it. Keep it up, I'm cheering for you!
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Re: Dealing with Criticism of Weight Loss/Changes in Fitness

Post by InkAndComb on Thu Jan 07, 2016 9:37 pm

Thank you for everyone's comments. I appreciate the faith given at face value to my post; I made a similar post on reddit and got a lot of fearful individuals who have struggled with ED worried I was in denial about my health, and it really brought me down.

I spoke to my therapist yesterday and he validated a lot of what everyone her said; that culturally I am in a location that struggles to separate food from acts of love (good insight there, I spaced on that), that people are very resistent to change on a more local level, and also that people often see red flags based on the population they interact with most (something I hadn't considered).

Most of my health care (aside from my therapist) has been through college health; this has the consequence of having all my appts being viewed through the lens of "here is an everyday college student, prone to ED and stress" etc etc, versus treating me on an individual basis (I am older at 26 and a lot of my experiences make me more familiar with medical treatment, leading me to be vocal about poor reactions and self-advocating compared to a shy 18 year old from a small town nearby).

I've been trying to keep your scripts in mind, and his as well; the "thank you for your concern; my thinking is healthminded, not disordered, I promise" and gentle redirections for food outings.

It was also a great relief to have him validate me in feeling frustrated and anxious towards the "looking good makes me feel good, I'm just trying to be healthy here" attitude. He said that's very normal, very healthy, and sometimes you have to trust in what you're experiencing. That wanting to be fit, look better, feel better is nothing to be ashamed of, and it's completely normal. That wanting to lose weight when you have a healthy goal is ok, and wanting to feel comfortable in my skin is worth aspiring to.

He said I can help with the snacks at a friend's house by bringing my own that seem unhealthy but aren't; either that, or arriving after eating, etc.

Just, thank you again Smile this community has been wonderful with all my questioning posts. Iappreciate it.
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