Encouraging words

This isn’t so much a post for those who are trying to lose weight, but for the friends, family and co-workers of those who are trying to lose weight.

First off: I’m not saying this as a representative of Everyone Who’s Trying to Lose Weight. I’m saying this as me, and since I’m writing this blog and have written in columns about weight loss in a paper that reaches like 80 percent of homes in Northeast Mississippi, or something like that, I’m obviously very open about this fight to lose weight. I’ve had in-depth conversations about this struggle with everybody from my parents to complete strangers.

It doesn’t bother me a bit when someone, even a stranger, says something to me about my weight loss. Some folks, though, may be more private about their struggle to lose weight and may not want to talk about it.

But here’s, really, the point to all of this: if you know someone who’s losing weight, please pass on an encouraging word.

Just the fact that someone notices that I’ve lost weight means something and makes me feel ilke I’m really progressing. I know I’ve lost like 45 pounds or something (gosh, I haven’t stepped on a scale in nearly a week), but I don’t see it in the mirror. Body image issues I guess. So when someone else says something like, “You can tell you’ve lost weight” – that makes my day. It’s like, I know my jeans size is 2 sizes smaller than it was, but in my mind, I see myself bigger than I’ve ever been. Again, body image issues. But when someone else notices, it’s like, hey, maybe this is actually working.

So, don’t be afraid to say that to someone who you know is trying to lose weight. Just those words of encouragement – and maybe a little something extra, like “Keep going” or “You’re doing well, keep it up” – can work wonders. Knowing you have cheerleaders is really helpful.

I’ve had a few guys – friends, co-workers, sources – be sort of awkward about it, and I can tell they’re doing it in the best I’m-Not-Hitting-On-You way possible. It’s totally OK for guys to mention this to me, so long as they’re respectful. Most everyone has said something like, “Not to get too personal, but are you trying to lose weight?” or “It’s none of my business, but you look like you’re losing weight.” That sort of thing – followed up with a “keep it up” encouragement – is just fine, and I don’t take offense.

Basically, any words of encouragement, meant from the heart, are more helpful than you could ever imagine.

With a few Do’s, there are always a few Don’ts:

– If we go out to eat together and you order something obviously unhealthy (fries, lots of fried stuff), that’s fine – just don’t make a big deal about it. Don’t go out of your way about it. Just eat it and go on. No need to say, “Sorry, I’m having fries” or “Ohhhh!! Look at these greasy yummy fries!”I won’t brag about how low fat my meal is if you won’t brag about how fatty your meal is.

– If there’s a party or potluck event, please don’t say to someone trying to lose weight, “Oh, I guess you’ll bring something healthy” (said in the snarkiest voice ever). Can’t tell you how many times I heard that during Thanksgiving/Christmas, and I never brought anything healthy because I felt like I was letting everybody down. But just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean I should eat poorly, and healthy food is actually yummier than fatty junk (TRUST ME).

Basically, if you can’t say anything nice, keep it to yourself. Those trying to lose weight often aren’t doing this for vanity – we’re doing it because our lives depend on it. So, be positive, because that what I’m trying to do myself. It’s not always easy, so lend a helpful hand – or an encouraging word – here and there.