A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Gracefully handling comments about weight loss

on July 9, 2014

A couple of weeks ago, I had a client at work say “So, I looked you up online and you look really different . . .”  I just smiled, said I’d lost a lot of weight because I felt like it was important to set a healthy example for my son and changed the topic back to less personal ground. I am slowly but surely getting smoother with handling these comments thankfully.

A hundred pounds makes a very noticeable change in one’s appearance, so I’ve gotten a lot of comments over the last year or so.  Most of the time, the comments seem well intentioned. Initially, things like people calling me “skinny minnie” or commenting on how they wouldn’t recognize me made me pretty uncomfortable and I’d end up stammering and blushing. I’ve only ever had one person ask if I’d gotten sick (and she seemed genuinely concerned, so that was okay) and with the exception of one crazy relative, every one always seems genuinely happy for me.

The most awkward experiences I’ve had by far both have come at the hands of the same person who works in my building. Twice she’s called out loudly across the workspace “Oh my god! How much weight have you lost” while I was talking to clients. It’s so inappropriate I’m just stunned and stammer for a while before I try to smile and go on with my job. I’m a lot higher on the food chain than she is, albeit in a different chain of command, so could certainly take it up with her supervisor but it would feel like such a petty, weird thing to complain about. Instead, I just brace myself whenever I run across her and hope she doesn’t embarrass me too much!

That is probably not the best way to handle things, I know. So, assuming we’re all successful in losing the weight we want to lose, we need to learn to handle comments about our physical changes gracefully. I think the most important thing, and maybe the only thing, is to say thank you. I am tempted to deflect and self-deprecate because I don’t want to seem cocky or arrogant or shallow. However, by doing that I do several things:

A) I’m being rude in rejecting the compliment in the first place. It isn’t arrogant or cocky to say Thank You. It’s polite. Otherwise you’re sort of dismissing the judgement or opinion of the complimenter and that’s never kind. The least I can do is honor their effort and their kindness with a smile and a thank you.

B) Instead of worrying I’m going to look arrogant for accepting the compliment, I should worry that I’ll look like I’m fishing for more by deflecting it! Trust me, in my experience, deflecting the compliment frequently turns into a never ending round of “No really! You look fantastic” which sounds more fun than it is.

C) I’m potentially closing the door for someone who might have questions or need support in changes they’re trying to make in their own lives. It’s not arrogant or cocky to admit that I did something substantial. It wasn’t earth changing or rocket science, but I learned a lot in the process. Those things I learned, whether it is something about food or running or balancing all of those things with the whole working mom gig, could be of use to someone else and of course I’d be happy to share and help out! That’s a big part of the reason I write here after all.

D) Getting into a cycle of self-deprecating talk can lead to a lot of mental self sabotage. We should be giving ourselves credit for the things we’re doing well not discounting them and the same is true for other people giving us credit for those things!

For now, I try to smile and say thank you. If things don’t naturally move on, I either answer the specific questions people may have or mention that Oliver was a big motivation which naturally changes the topic to my adorable little guy. 🙂 It’s getting much smoother. (Except with that one chick – still just brace myself for the awkwardness when I run across her)

Cooking a healthy dinner with my guys - always a safe and easy topic to ease into when this comes up!

Cooking a healthy dinner with my guys – always a safe and easy topic to ease into when this comes up!

Articles with more graceful advice than mine on taking compliments:

How to take a compliment . . . graciously (funny and Animaniacs-esque for all of you 90s kids)

How to take a compliment from Fitness Magazine

http://modernmrsdarcy.com/2011/06/how-to-graciously-accept-a-compliment/ (Love that she quotes Anne of Green Gables!) Also includes suggestions if you want to go beyond a simple Thank You.

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11 responses to “Gracefully handling comments about weight loss

  1. I love this!! This is so true. We need to say thank you and accept the compliment rather than trying to deflect them – it really does look like false humility to other people! You’ve worked hard to achieve your weight loss goals and it’s perfectly okay to graciously say thank you! As for your co-worker – in front of clients is totally unprofessional, so she really does need to stop doing that. I do not think it’s petty at all. Personally, I think I’d say something to her myself – something like “You know, I really appreciate your enthusiasm for my weight loss and I think it’s awesome that you’re cheering for me, but I get really embarrassed when you talk about it in front of clients. I would really appreciate it if you would tone it down a little when clients are around”. It’s not just awkward for you – it’s awkward for your clients, too. Or, definitely talk to her supervisor and ask the supervisor to have a talk with her about it not being appropriate in front of clients. I honestly don’t think this is petty at all.

  2. leannenalani says:

    I’ve gotten used to saying thank you but sometimes I just don’t know what to say so occasionally I will say something that I later wish I hadn’t. But whenever someone says, “You look great!” I typically smile and say, “I feel great!” That seems to do the trick without making things awkward.

  3. Love this!! I never thought about how dismissing compliments closes doors to show support for others… what a great way to to think about that!

  4. Mama Ames says:

    I’ve had problems accepting compliments in the past. Great blog!

  5. Kristin says:

    You’re so beautiful and amazing!!! You’re such an inspiration!!! XOXO!!!

  6. […] a blithering idiot because I had no idea how to respond appropriately. I talked more here about how to respond to comments gracefully, so you can handle it better than I do. […]

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