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When to say sorry

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Last week, a friend looked over at me mid-chat and informed me: "You have lost a lot of weight." I agreed, and then she said: "You look very different now." In a slow, contemplative way. I then said, apologetically, that my doctor had "made me" due to blood pressure issues.

I have learned the last few months to talk matter-of-factly or with an attempt at humor, when friends or coworkers bring up my weight. But this time, I felt the need to apologize. I'm not sure it was the appropriate response, but it was what I felt at the time.

My friend was still recovering from surgery she had a few days earlier, and waiting for biopsy results. She is also more overweight than I have ever been, and over a decade older so has had more time to learn to live with it. I guess it felt awkward to joke or talk in detail about my weight issues when she is dealing with potentially much more serious health issues.

My friend is one of the most amazing women I know. She's brilliant - it's sometimes hard for me to keep up with her since she thinks and speaks at light speed! She and her husband adopted two young boys with special needs, internationally so they are a multicultural family, and the boys are unrelated so had to learn to love each other in addition to their new parents. Their kids are still young and their health issues will need a few more procedures before they reach adulthood, so parenting requires so much more effort and patience than most would be able to provide. I think of my friend and her husband as modern heroes, for the family that they have made with those two boys.

So I'm not sure if it was logical, but I felt apologetic not just for my weight loss, but for my relatively good health (at least for now!). I've been fielding questions about my weight loss from other people who've asked for advice, but have never offered it unasked. But for my friend - I wonder if it would help for me to bring it up the next time we get together for lunch, after she recovers from her current health near-crisis. She's mentioned being concerned about her husband's weight in the past, and that she had to work hard the two weeks before her surgery to eat healthier and be more active. Maybe she could use a friend to talk to about a longer-term effort.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I remember in university what rivalry there was among us girls to see who could eat the least and lose the most weight. I wonder if my college friends, none of whom I've kept up with (unfortunately), are now as overweight as I am. I'm betting they are, because the way we starved ourselves and put so much pressure on ourselves to be thin--we set ourselves up to be part of our country's obesity problem.

    But that doesn't answer your question. I was just reading Pam's comment and reflecting about how people can be so sensitive about their weight. I used to be SO sensitive about it. I would not have wanted anyone to say anything to me about it. Now, I am much more accepting and can even laugh about it. I would not mind having the subject broached by a caring friend, but I know, after all these years of experience, that it wouldn't do much good at all. All adults know whether they are obese or not, and all motivation to change must come from within. So if I were you, I would not mention it unless she brings up the topic again, at which point what she really might be saying is "I admire you. I want to be like you. Please tell me how to achieve your kind of success."

    Maybe you can inspire hope in her. She might be very motivated at the moment by her uncertain health. Diet is certainly under our control, if we choose to control it. (Talking to myself here.)
    2083 days ago
    Although you shouldn't, perhaps you were feeling guilt? you have lost weight and gotten healthy and she hasn't. My BF has always been smaller than me. She gains 50-70# over the course of a couple of years, diets hard and loses it, then resumes her old eating and slowly regains. We have lost together, Weight Watchers, and she is the best cheerleader when WE ARE BOTH LOSING. She is now heavier than I've ever seen her and never ever mentions my weight loss. Sometimes I will make a remark, "I had to buy smaller bras this weekend, boo" and then think, wait, could she take that as a shot? I try not to mention anything that would make her feel bad, and then wonder if I did on accident. She's just not ready to lose now and, when she does, she is too restrictive, loses fast, and regains. My feeling is, if she wants to know what I'm doing, she will ask. If she wants to know how I am keeping off the loss and still losing (slowly), she will ask. If she asks, I will offer any into I have. Until then I will keep my mouth shut. She knows very well she is heavy. She doesn't need to feel like I am rubbing her nose in it.
    2084 days ago
    I would, but I would probably go in thru the back door. Something to the effect of how's your hubby doing and is he still losing weight? You can play it by ear from there and tell her it might help him if she tries with him. Then give her pointers and mention Spark to her. You would be doing her a favor.
    2084 days ago
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