A few times each week, I meet with a new Foodtrainers’ client. In these meetings we cover many of the things you’d expect. We discuss sleep and hydration, omega 3’s all that nutritiony/wellness stuff. I also like to gather a little history, a weight history, medical history etc. I start with the basics but always ask “when do you recall first thinking about weight” or “what were your parents like, were they big on compliments or critical?” The answers to these questions say a lot. The truth is you can be overweight or underweight, gorgeous or homely and there are often a few comments (negative or positive) that stick with you.
“You have such a pretty face”
“I just don’t want you to end up alone”
“I don’t want this to cause you the pain it has caused me”
I know, from these meetings, that 50 years can go by and these quotes are fresh in my client’s minds. There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to utter that one comment that my children will come back to. That one statement that flies out of your mouth and fucks your kids up forever. I know better, I have nutrition degrees and yet I mess up.
A little story, when one of my boys was little (1) I went to the pediatrician. My husband urged me to go,so you know I’m not the only crazy one. I asked the doctor about my son’s forehead. It seemed to protrude a little. My husband had pediatric neurosurgery so there was some basis for concern (or justification). I gave the doctor the background and he looked at my son. He then looked at me…closely. “Can you move your hair a bit?” he asked. I did. “Yup, I see what you mean. He has something called frontal lobing.” I didn’t have time to be concerned because he added, “and so do you it’s harmless, just the shape of your skull.” Years later said son discovered hair gel. The first time he tried a little bang off the forehead action I didn’t miss a beat “you can’t do that, your forehead protrudes and so does mine.” Yup, the good news is that he continued to sculpt his bangs “mom you don’t know what you’re talking about, I look good.” Excellent, future therapy averted (great) but I’m raising a narcissist .
And it’s not just parents and children. Friends, spouses and even bosses say things. Some comments are downright mean; others just sting because they are true. So what to do? Of course try your best not to be nasty. Nasty hurts even if there’s no basis for it. Second, if you’ve said something you regret- discuss it. “Did that hurt?” Or, “I wish I had said _____” can open up a discussion. I am reading a book called Mindset by Carol Dweck. One interesting suggestion she makes id not to laud what people are naturally given. We don’t control these things. Instead reward effort and work and encourage behaviors such as cooking or activity versus the result (weight loss or weight gain).
And finally, focus on how someone feels. An acquaintance mentioned she saw a relative who was much larger than in the past. I asked her how she handled this and she said “I said, You’ve gained so much weight.” Obviously we feel comfortable enough with family members to say things like this but I suggested, “you’ll probably do a lot more and help more if you ask how he is doing?” After all weight is never really about the weight.
What comments about your size or appearance have stuck with you? If you are a parent, have any “stingers” ever come out of your mouth? Have you ever noticed my forehead?