Know Where To Stick Your Comments

**This is another article that I wrote during a previous weight loss attempt. It is funny how little editing I needed to do in order to make it apply perfectly to this week, nearly three years later. –MDG

Has anyone else had it up to here (gesturing just above my head) with people telling you what to do with regard to your weight loss? Is there someone in your life who thinks they know better than you? I suspect we all try to be polite to them, but sometimes it can be too much.

There was one person that I met recently who fed into my stress. As I said, I have very little patience for people who try to tell me what I should be doing to lose weight… no matter what their intentions are. Yes, they mean well… but do me a favour and keep your opinions to yourself.

“Mitch, you know that the extra weight you are carrying around is not healthy, right? If you were to do X, you would continue to lose even more weight. You will be so much happier when you do!”

I usually do not respond when someone opens their mouth like this, but I suppose was having a bad day, and this was just too far. ‘Hey, Fred (not his real name) … thanks for your concern. One of us has lost about 115lbs in the last year, and the other one of us should shut up and save his advice for when I ask for it. Would you care to guess which one of us is which?’

Yeah, ‘Fred’ was more than a little surprised that I would say that… but really, at this point I think I’ve done pretty well, and that the method I am using is pretty good, wouldn’t you say? If I did not want your advice when I was at my heaviest, what makes you think I would want it now? If you want to offer support, offer words of encouragement. Things that friends have said over the past few weeks:

  • Oh my G-d, Mitch… I cannot believe how well you are doing! Keep it up!
  • Mitch, you look amazing! Keep up the good work!
  • Wow… you are a shadow of your former self!
  • You are a true inspiration to me!
  • Mitch, you look hot!

All of these are perfectly acceptable (and welcome!) comments. Keep them coming folks!

The following, on the other hand, are neither helpful nor welcome, and if it is what you were thinking of saying, then just say nothing:

  • You are doing well, but you still have a lot of weight to lose.
  • Mitch, how much more weight do you think you need to lose?
  • If you’d like, I know a doctor with an amazing weight-loss plan that would help you lose the weight even faster!
  • You’ve lost so much weight and still wear a Size 38 pants?
  • You should do X to lose more weight.
  • The program you are following is not healthy, so be careful.
  • If you do not change your habits, you are just going to gain the weight back again.

Do you see that most of these comments sound like they are meant to encourage me? Some of them are from people who want to help, who think they are helping. Do you know what they all have in common? They are all unsolicited. I can almost guarantee at this point that I know more about weight-loss, but certainly about my own body and weight loss, than you do. I have also spent more time morbidly obese than you have. Please, keep it to yourself.

I welcome, I love hearing, I love getting words of encouragement. Positive reinforcement is wonderful, and when people tell me how great I look it makes me well with joy. I have figured out what works for me, and that is why I look the way I look now, rather than what I looked like a year (or even three months) ago. Let me keep at it… I assure you I have no desire to ever gain another ounce again. But I have figured out a way to do it without your help, and I am my own harshest critic.

When I was married to my second wife, I went on a weight-loss program. I asked Theresa (my now ex-wife) to be my Diet Sergeant. For a couple of months, she was… and with her help I did pretty well… until I did not. When I tried to get back on track, I asked her to resume her duties. She told me that it was unfair of me to put that responsibility on her… when no matter how strict she was, I could always circumvent her ‘authority.’ She was right… My diet is just that… mine. The responsibility is mine, and the success or failure of it is mine.

I am my own harshest critic… in all things, not just the diet program. I beat myself up over it all the time, and nothing that you say will be harsher than what I say to myself. The difference is that I have the right… you do not. My mother used to say that if you have nothing good to say, say nothing. She was the worst offender of this advice that I have encountered in my fifty years on the planet. That does not make it bad advice, it just makes her a hypocrite. If you want to encourage me, say something nice… and completely nice. Be prepared with a follow-up should I be self-deprecating. I’ll give you an example:

(You) Wow, Mitch… you look like you have lost a ton of weight!

(Me) Thanks, but it’s just a drop, and I have so much more to go.

(You) Well you are doing great… whatever it is you are doing, keep it up!

Do you see how easy that was? On the other hand, the following would be a terrible way to follow up:

(You) Wow, Mitch… I can’t believe how much slimmer you are than the last time I saw you!

(Me) Thanks, but I hope the next time you see me I will be even slimmer still.

(You) Make sure you have the occasional cheat meal, so you do not give up completely. Want to join us for pizza?

I cheat enough, and I do not need your encouragement or permission. If I tell you I want to lose more weight, just follow up with ‘Well, you are doing great!’ or ‘Whatever you have been doing, keep doing it!’ That’s all I want. That’s all I need. If you cannot say something 100% positive, then don’t say anything.

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