Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Reactions to My Weight Loss

I just returned from a week-long conference in Florida. My husband and I have been going to this conference for about 38 years and I've made many friends. But some of the comments I received about my recent weight loss weren't friendly at all.

"Are you anorexic?" one friend asked. The question shocked me. She didn't even say "hello" or that it was good to see me again. I'm not anorexic; I've worked hard to lose 25 pounds and get back to my college weight.

"You don't eat much, do you?" another friend queried. This question also shocked me. What I eat is my decision. Believe me, I eat lots of food, and I've learned to make good food choices. I've also learned to judge restaurant serving sizes and leave food on my plate or take leftovers home.

"Do you diet all the time?" someone asked. No, I'm not on a diet, I'm on a personal fitness program that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, normal protein servings, and daily walks. Right now I'm trying to incorporate more stretches into my fitness routine.

Fortunately, the questions I was asked were balanced with positive comments. Several friends told me how good I looked. Others asked for eating tips and recipes. Of course I was asked what size I wore. (I usually wear size eight.) The positive comments led to discussions about obesity in America.

During the conference my husband and I went to a theme park with friends. The theme park shows were spectacular. The number of obese people we saw was also spectacular. There were hundreds of people on motorized carts and, to facilitate traffic flow, the park staff had them park in rows. "I've never seen so many obese people!" a friend from Australia exclaimed. Neither had I.

Americans are so used to seeing overweight and obese people we seem to have lost the concept of normal weight. Clothing manufacturers are making "relaxed fit" clothing for kids. Many health experts say we're in the midst of an obesity epidemic, but we're actually in the midst of an endemic - a physical condition confined to a population or region.

Corrective health measures have not halted the American obesity endemic.

I think we should cheer for the folks who achieve a healthy weight. My doctor is cheering for me, I know that. When I had my last checkup she praised me for the steps I had taken. "You did everything I recommended," she said, "and it shows." Though I'm a grandma, I'm in better condition than many teens.

What can you say to someone who has lost weight? You may ask them why they did it. In my case, my blood sugar was slightly elevated and my doctor told me to lose a few pounds to prevent diabetes. Depending on how well you know the person, you may ask them how many pounds they lost and how they did it. Their tips may help you.

You may also praise the person for taking responsibility for his or her health. When all is said and done, reaching a healthy weight and maintaining that weight is up to you. Nobody can do it for you. Many health resources have been developed to help you achieve your health goals. Small steps, such as drinking water instead of soda pop, can have significant results.

The next time you talk with someone who has lost weight I hope you will be supportive. I also hope you maintain a healthy weight. Here's to you and your good health!

Copyright 2006 by Harriet Hodgson


Harriet Hodgson has been a nonfiction writer for 27 years and is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists. Her 24th book, "Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief," written with Lois Krahn, MD is available from http://www.amazon.com. A five-star review of the book is posted on Amazon. You'll find another review on the American Hospice Foundation website under the "School Corner" heading.


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