Weight Loss Platitudes

In one of my support groups on Facebook, someone was sharing her fears about being around all of the temptations that will be in her house for the Super Bowl. Several of us gave her practical advice, and she will either follow it or not, but I am sure we all hope she will succeed.

One person posted: Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

I want to be clear that I feel that this statement is absolutely true, and that looking back on the 390 days of my depriving myself of all of the foods that I love, when I look at myself in pictures (not yet in the mirror) I really feel good about myself, and the only thing I would change is that I would have cheated less so that I could be further along my journey than I am. Skinny feels great! (At least, skinnier does… I have not felt skinny since I was in the Army.)

With that said, the original poster was sharing her fears and feelings about a real challenge, and not about a generalization. I wonder how helpful this very clever platitude will be when she comes face to face with pizza, wings, chips, beer, and sodas all over her house, and there for the taking.

There are so many of these platitudes out there and they are all true. I just wonder how helpful any of them actually are. Yes, we all know that weight loss is a marathon and not a sprint; we know that losing weight is hard and being fat is hard, so choose your hard. We have been told a thousand times to not eat our emotions, and that fat loss is a mental challenge rather than a physical one. Of course, we know that our desire to change must be greater than our desire to stay the same, and that we have to change our habits in order to change our bodies… and that if we have discipline, drive, and determination, then nothing is impossible. We are aware that we did not gain all of the weight in a day, so we should not expect to lose it in a day.

All of those statements are inspirational, and I think there is a place for each and every one of them. Weight loss is a mental challenge, and it is an emotional one. We cannot expect to help people with strictly practical advice, especially when they are feeling down or despondent or weak. We have to inspire their emotions and their mentality so that they can either stay on track, or too often get back on it.

We all respond differently to different situations. When I started the program the second time, my doctor was an Army veteran, so when I told him that I did not want him to blow smoke up my six, he understood that I needed the regimented discipline from him that he would have given his soldiers. He understood that I would not respond to the inspirational platitudes that so many of his patients needed to get ahead. Today I may feel a little different than I did then, but more often than not, I prefer concrete advice than inspirational quotes.

My wife has the unenviable task of trying to read my emotions and seeing if it is one of those rare times when I need the platitudes… or if she needs to be firm with me. Last night we were talking about ice cream (she loves a particular flavour that is only available in Canada) and I told her that I would have some in the house for her next visit… and that I might even have some in the freezer now. She told me that if I had gone out and bought ice cream that she would kick my butt… ice cream is one of my kryptonites, and she knows that having it in the house is a bad idea for me. If there was a pint in the freezer today, it would not be there by the time she comes next. More likely than not it would not still be there by Tuesday.

At the same time, there have been several days when I have been down about my lack of progress this last week. She has been supportive in reminding me how well I have been doing, how far I have come, and how weight loss is about the downward trend, and not the individual plots on the graph.

Leslie has learned (though a lot of difficult times) that there are times when I need her to be harsh with me, and there are times when I need her soft reassurances that I am doing well. I doubt that any dieter is all that different. So, when one of them comes out and says, ‘Oh my, I am disappointed that I have not lost weight this week!’ it is important to tell them that they are doing great, and to keep doing what they are doing, and the weight will come off. On the other hand, when someone says something like ‘This is what I have facing me today, and I am worried about how I am going to deal with it…’ then it is probably time for practical advice.

I have often said that weight loss is simple, but it is not easy. Putting aside for a moment that this too is a platitude, I am not really sure how true it really is. Yes, if you consume less foods (and even less of the wrong ones), and if you exercise, you will lose weight. However, that only addresses the physical… and if you are in prison or the military, it might be true because you are given the food that should help you to lose weight. It does not take into account all of the mental and emotional stress and anguish that we go through when we make the choices that face us every day. Here is what you need to eat in order to lose two pounds per week. Great. That does not cover the anguish and anxiety, and it does not necessarily stay at the front of mind when we are on the go during our busy week.

There is a place and time for platitudes… they truly can be inspirational. There is also a place and a time for practical advice. Knowing which is which is also not always easy.

3 responses to “Weight Loss Platitudes”

  1. I hope she succeeds!


  2. Be careful with that line… it is the mantra of anorexics.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point! That is not something that I know a lot about…


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