Tuesday, September 15, 2009

That’s great about your weight loss. Now please talk less.

So I’ve lost my weight, and I’ve been maintaining it (officially) since this past February. When I was losing my weight, I definitely talked about it a lot in various forums: meetings with staff, family, co-workers, people at Weight Watchers meetings, etc. I was part of the crowd that was sharing the struggle. When I went into maintenance, my need to talk about it did not subside. In fact, I even started writing this blog so even more people could listen to me talk about it. Frankly, some people found this a bit irritating.

From the perspective of someone has either just starting a weight loss effort or is perhaps just contemplating it, hearing from people on maintenance can be either incredibly motivating or intensely grating. The reasons it is motivating are fairly obvious, and by chance, I happened to be someone who liked hearing from people who had gotten to their nirvana weight loss place.

So why would having someone on maintenance regaling you with stories of their success and continued struggles be annoying? Frankly, I think the reason is that sometimes they (I) are being annoying. Specific behaviors that I and others on maintenance can be guilty of include:

  1. Look at me, dammit! I’m thin! OK, it’s true that looking thinner can be great fun and a really big boost. It’s been a great accomplishment to lose weight and keep it off, and I’m proud of it. Further, I really like compliments and accolades due to my inherent shallowness. It’s just that it’s kind of sad to ask for the compliments (even in a passive-aggressive sort of way).
  2. You should learn from my example! There are few people more ponderous than the converted. We have a tendency to proclaim our healthy lifestyle virtues at excessive decibels and frequency. “NO THANK YOU WAITER, I DO NOT WANT ANY DESERT.” Ex-smokers can suffer from this as well.
  3. Am I disciplined or what? This one is somewhat similar to #2. I push myself pretty hard on the lifestyle thing, and I don’t mind others knowing about it. It would also be nice if they would kindly take the time to heap praise upon me and perhaps carry me on their shoulders while running off the field.
  4. Yes, in fact, I am all-knowing. I possess all useful tips and knowledge about successful weight loss, and it is my right to over-dominate every conversation to ensure that all others benefit from my vast and unending expertise.

There is nothing wrong with feeling any of the underlying emotions in the above four points that might lead to the ensuing behaviors. I should celebrate my success, and a nice compliment goes a long way. I can show by example. I do have useful information to share, and I can help others. I think the trick is to make it less about myself and a little more about wanting to help the people I care about. This will help me in getting the volume levels a bit better calibrated.

Lifetime Members are an invaluable source of information, motivation and support in our meetings, particularly those that the become Leaders and Receptionists who run our meetings. Most of them do a really good job of getting the aforementioned balance right. I promise to do better!

So for everyone I have bugged over the past eight months, please accept my apologies for my ponderous rookie-like maintenance behavior. But seriously, do these jeans make me look fat?


  1. Great posting I enjoyed reading that. I am now one of your many followers! The "Look at me damnit" syndrome I am also guilty of. I had a weight loss surgery through MedPath Group and every since I lost all of that weight I like to be noticed. Some of my friends including my husband said they notice this new attitude hehe. Check out this company they are some cool people http://www.medpathgroup.com/bariatric_gastric_bypass_surgery.php

  2. You know what? Losing weight is SO HARD. If you think about it, it's a struggle each and every day. So OWN your success, you deserve it! ;o)

  3. The whole point of this blog is to talk about it and the people who found their way here are all avid listeners.

    To push it on outsiders, however is a no no.

    Just like the reformed smokers (which I happen to be as well) who feel the need to tell every single person alive one of those 4 things. The end result being the other party will punch you in the nose or ask you if you want a medal to pin on your chest.

    Where I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut, is when Dan Marino comes on the TV screen and picks up a White Castle sized burger with BOTH HANDS and opens his mouth wide enough to throw a football through.

  4. Thanks for posting your list. I'm a WW leader now, but when I was a member, I often never went back to meetings where the leader was guilty of everything on your list (especially #1)!

    By the way, I really enjoy reading about your struggles on maintenance, and how things are in real life... traveling, restaurants, etc.

  5. i love this post! i was just thinking this about myself today because i think i might be guilty of this too sometimes. i know what it's like to have been fat and to do things like cry in the dressing rooms and i want so badly to save someone from that awful experience! but i fear sometimes my passion to "help" is, well, annoying. thanks for saying this, it needed to be said! on the flip side, i think it's wonderful that you talk about your weightloss and maintenance because it is and always will be a struggle and that's something you should share! still, i'm with lissa, you gotta own that weightloss, it really is awesome!

  6. Ok Dave, I have to admit I love reading your post. I am a TM and have kept the weight off for 18 years and what you say is so true. Most of us feel just like that...especially keeping the sense of humor and smugness! The look at me...I am thin and keeping it off is THE BEST! And no, those jeans do not make you look fat!

  7. Great post David. I hope to someday be a part of WW on the other side of the scale. Until then I try my best to help fellow members during the meetings each week as a fellow loser. :)

  8. Check, check, check, check. Yep, I do all four of those things on a regular basis, and I've been at goal for 7 1/2 years. Yikes! That means I have 7 1/2 years of "I'm sorries" to start dishing out. Except, I'm really not sorry - so I might as well not bother. lmao

  9. So when's your success stories interview? It's about time!

  10. *Funny because it's true* post.

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  12. Just found your blog and what a great topic. I'm a lifetime member - 9:30 meeting in Webster (South Houston) and you attended one of our meetings recently! Of course, you were so nice and did not acknowledge who you were within the company only that you were a lifetime member. Later I saw your pic in the magazine. A few weeks ago I realized that I needed to stop talking so much - I don't want to be the person everyone rolls their eyes at and gets annoyed with. This is very new to me being on maintenance a little over 1 year and I can't believe some of the comments that come out of my mouth and how they must sound to others?! It's good to know that evidently it is human nature and just part of the learning process!
    Thanks so much for sharing and being this accessible! It's refreshing!

    Take care!

  13. Hi! I, too, just found your blog. And I am a "Return to Goal" Lifetime member as of August 4, 2009. I am very sensitive to the "maintenance gloat" that creeps into the language of those who get there, me included. Yet this time, and yes, there were other "return to goal" times, I don't feel it. I am much more conscious of my prior successes losing and gaining weight and the prior failures to stay at a healthy one.
    This time, I am learning how to do "Lifetime". That's the perspective I am choosing. I am not on "Maintenance" rather I am "Sustaining and Honoring my healthy body and weight". I had to reframe this in words that are resonant and thrilling for me.
    What is resonant and thrilling for you?

  14. Great blog. I have felt that way about others too. I am like, we need to pass a talking stick at meetings and if you dont have it be quiet! Really though, finding humour in weight loss is a great motivator.

  15. I LOVE the talking stick idea!!

    I use clothespins with my teams. Everyone gets two. when they've used theirs up, they have to say something affirming to another member or the team to get more.

  16. Hmmm. I've been on maintenance since July of 2009 and hadn't really thought about any of this but sometimes I do 1, 2, 3 & 4 so thanks for making em aware. I'll work on cleaning up my act. First time reading your blog. I like it. Thanks Helen

  17. I had the pleasure of meeting you Tuesday at the Town Hall Meeting in LA. It's extremely refreshing to know that as a WW employee, I'll be working with those who believe in the WW philosophy & lifestyle and truly practice what they preach. And I must say, your sense of humor is awesome!
    As a lifetime member who recently finished up maintenance & is currently training to be a receptionist & leader, this post made me smile and giggle a bit. So honest, so true & so right on...thanks so much David for your candor. It makes us all better losers!