When I moved back to Ohio to start this business in 2009, my Dad decided that was when he wanted to lose some weight. He didn’t have a lot to lose, approximately 30 pounds. I was trying to find a location to set up shop in and I needed a place to train in the meantime.
So, my father and I got a membership at a local gym that had a low monthly rate and opened in the wee hours of the morning so that we could get a session in and he had time to get to work after.
It took my Dad approximately a year but, slow and steady, he lost all the weight he wanted to and he looked and felt the best he had in years.
After he hit maintenance, he had back-to-back surgeries spread 6 weeks apart for carpal tunnel syndrome. The surgeon requested that he stop exercising for the time being so that no sweat got into the place where incisions were made.
My father did as requested and a strange thing started happening.
He kept losing weight.
He hadn’t made any more changes to his diet and he had drastically reduced his level of activity.
This was the first sign that something was wrong.
We would soon find out that he was dealing with effects of multiple myeloma.
We kept the news quiet for sometime and just within our close friends and family.
One day, a neighbor saw my Dad walking outside and he said something along the lines of “Hey, Paul! You should probably stop that diet you’re on. You look like hell!”
At which point, my father, ever the diplomat, informed the neighbor of his diagnosis.
*take foot…insert in mouth*
I ran into said neighbor sometime later and he apologized profusely for making an incorrect assumption about my father.
Not unlike people who ask a woman with some “extra” around her belly when she’s expecting, there are some things you probably should keep to yourself.
With my clients, just keeping the momentum is difficult enough in and of itself. Some people have to contend with the unsolicited feedback of others that can potentially derail their efforts.
It’s this part that I find especially frustrating.
From an outsider’s perspective, when you see someone who is trying to improve their health, weight loss to some degree is likely part of that conversation. If you’ve become accustomed to seeing someone at a higher weight, even drops of 10-20% below their starting point can show dramatic differences.
At some point, genetics take over and there may be more looseness of skin in certain places or simply areas that don’t get as firm as one might like (especially if you’re using strength training to combat this.)
But here’s the thing (and I say this lovingly): it’s none of your business how much weight someone loses unless their health is in jeopardy (which is determined through a doctor.)
I know there are those with legitimate concerns like anorexia nervosa but this article is not about that. For those individuals, please seek the guidance of a general practitioner and a therapist with specialization in eating disorders.
For the weight loss client, what they need to hear is words of support, words of kindness and words of empathy. Not words that potentially trigger sabotage or make someone feel like their hard work and effort in improving themselves is a lost or unworthy cause.
Below, you’ll find a picture of my client and friend, Laura.
Laura has been training with me for over 4 years and had already seen great weight loss before we started working together. She works a very active job and manages to fit in 3 days of strength training with me in addition to hiking frequently as weather permits.
As her wedding day was approaching, Laura got her game face on and focused on hitting her calorie goals to reach her desired weight goal. She was motivated, determined and consistent with her food intake and her activity level. She even had to overcome the obstacle of a freak injury that occurred outside of the gym just months before her big day.
We worked around the injury and kept her focused despite the fact that it would have been so easy for this to derail her hard work.
Even leading up to her special day, she had people tell her:
“If you get too skinny, your wrinkles will show more.”
“You don’t want to get too much muscle because it will look ugly.”
“I liked you better when you looked normal.”
Do I need to say it? This is unacceptable.
For some people, they’ve waited months, sometimes years and sometimes decades to achieve a body they can be happy with. To have anyone look down on them when they’ve neared the finish line is appalling.
But I’ll you decide for yourself. I think Laura looked absolutely radiant on her wedding day and I’m not the only one there who thought so. She lit up the room.
And as proud as I am of what she accomplished, she deserved more acceptance than what she got.
Anyone does who’s trying to improve themselves.
If you want to be helpful, be helpful. And as the adage goes: if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.
But as for us, we accept everyone, we applaud everyone, we help our clients get to their goals because they earn it.
“We Make Great People Greater.”