It’s been a while since I had a good rant. Luckily, I have rant topics galore. Today’s topic, “what not to say to a person who has lost weight”… sort of. This idea started as such but evolved into an idea of self love. Let me explain.
Almost two years ago, I lost 20 pounds. I went from 155 lbs to 135lbs (though I’ve gained a lot of muscle). At 155 I was so uncomfortable with myself. I thought I looked horrible in all my clothing, I tried to hide behind my kids in pictures and the idea of going out in public in a swim suit had me in a panic. Now that I’ve lost the weight, I look back at pictures of 155 lb Ami I think, “What was my problem? She wasn’t as disgusting as I thought she was.” I don’t look at pictures of my past self and think I’m gross or unattractive. Yes, 155 lb Ami was chubby and could stand to lose some weight. And yes when I look in the mirror now or go clothes shopping, I’m much more confident. But I don’t feel like I went from a worthless human being to a person of great worth. What sparked all these thoughts?
Since I lost the weight, I’ve heard the same “compliment” from people on more than one occasion. That compliment: “You’ve lost a ton of weight!” Now granted, not only did I lose 20 lbs but it looks like more because I’ve gained a lot of muscle. But still, a ton of weight? A ton is 2,000 lbs! That’s roughly 1/3-1/2 the size of an elephant. So I’m sorry, but I haven’t lost a ton of weight. So why am I not a fan of this compliment? Because it’s an insult to 155 lb Ami. If I had a ton to lose, that means that ton was once part of me. If you wouldn’t go up to someone pre-weight loss and say, “You weight a ton!” Don’t go up to them post weight loss and say “You’ve lost a ton of weight!” Here are some better ways to acknowledge weight loss on someone, regardless of how much they’ve lost.
“Have you lost weight? You look great.” – No matter how obvious the weight loss is, this is a gentle way to acknowledge it. Adding on “you look great,” compliments their current state without insulting their past state.
“Wow! You were hot before but since losing weight, you’re even hotter!” Again, compliment their achievements but let them know they were always okay.
“Your pants seem to be getting lose, you must be working so hard!” Weight loss is really hard work. I’m more proud of my healthy active lifestyle than I am of my pant size.”
“I saw you from a distance and hardly recognized you. You must have lost weight.” I liked this one because it still acknowledged my achievement and let me know it was noticeable, without demeaning my past self.”
And my very favorite which I heard from those closest to me: “You look great! You really lost weight. You weren’t fat or anything before, but now you look so fit!” Not only did they compliment 135 lb Ami, but 155 lb Ami as well.
Now don’t get me wrong. After all my hard work, it felt good when people acknowledged the weight loss, so I’m not saying you should ignore those achievements. There are just better ways to do so than others.
When I lost weight and people kept telling me I’d “lost a ton” I went into panic mode. I was so scared to gain it all back and now that I knew what a lot of people thought of me pre-weight loss I was terrified. What if I gained it back? Would everyone think I was ugly? Would everyone be disappointed in me? Would I lose worth? Okay maybe this was an overreaction but I was so stressed out about this I exercised too hard and obsessed way too much about every bite that went into my mouth.
When thinking about this topic a few things struck me. Yes I feel better physically and am proud of my hard work, but 135 lb Ami and 155 lb Ami are the same person. We both love chocolate, love to hike, stay up way too late reading, like to sing in the shower, laugh at inappropriate times and drive too fast. We both love our friends and family and want to help them. Our top goals are to be a good person, wife and mother. Telling me I’d lost a ton didn’t negate these things but it helped me realize that 155 lb Ami was worth just as much as 135 lb Ami. I wish I’d defended 155 lb Ami when I could. I wish I could tell her not to feel so self conscious and to be proud of her achievements rather than let the number on the scale set her mood for the day.
So wherever you are in your journey, love yourself. Celebrate your achievements. Do your best to make healthy achievements but don’t beat yourself up if you slip up or don’t progress as fast as you want to. You have worth and you can do something no one else on Earth can do. Find what that thing is and do it the best you can. Love your past self, current self and future self.