Eating Healthy. Working out on a daily basis. Being awesome. It’s all well and good, but what about the struggle? No one ever said Healthy was easy, especially given today’s low dietary standards. A woman came into work yesterday and ordered a kid’s meal for her four-year-old son. When I asked her if he would like me to cut up an apple or orange, she grimaced and said “well don’t you have cookies or something else?” That kid will probably grow up to be that guy who has never seen broccoli before. Like I said, the journey to health can be a challenge for sure, but no one ever talks about the challenge of getting your friends and family to support you. Yes, everyone in my life wants what’s best for me, but when I discussed my plans for a juice fast, they were less than enthusiastic.
“Where will you get your protein?…You’re crazy!…Your body needs to chew on solid food…That’s such a long time. You shouldn’t do it…. but good luck with that, we just want you to be happy.”
They all thought I was crazy. Well, most did. A few people, like my dad and Ethan, were very enthusiastic for me. Ethan even did the fast with me! Other than that, though, my supporters were being kind for the most part, but I could definitely tell they thought I was crazy!
Around day 7 or 8, my pants started getting a little baggy, and people at work started noticing my weight loss (I had lost about 9 lbs. at this point). Instead of telling me how great I looked and patting me on the back, I got comments like:
“Wow, may I suggest a belt? Why can’t you get pants that fit you?”
“Yeah, you look good. You’ll gain it all back in 2 days, though, so don’t celebrate or anything.”
“Hey, Katie, we’re getting pizza delivered for lunch. You want some? Oh, wait. You can’t. (then proceed to purposely take huge bites only while I was looking)”
Thanks for the support, everyone. I know I can’t be the only one who has been met with passive-aggressive responses when making a radical, life-changing decision. I don’t think these people dislike me, so I began thinking about why so many people in my life weren’t regarding my healthy choices with enthusiasm. I think the negativity can be attributed to a few different things:
Jealousy. People see you making a big change in your life, and they start to see the physical consequences of those changes. Healthy choices can be hard with a McDonald’s nearby (in my case, Wendy’s), and I honestly think that people get jealous when it seems like they are gaining all the weight their friend is losing by saying no to all that fast foody, greasy gunk.
Self–Esteem. I was supposed to meet my friend Sarah for dinner while I was fasting, and she called me last minute to reschedule. When I asked her what was wrong, she told me that eating in front of me while I drank a water would make her feel bad about herself, since she was also trying to lose weight and be healthier.
Anger. When friends offer me food, a lot of times, it will contain refined sugar, bleached flour, or some kind of animal product. When I politely refuse, it may come across as snobby or condescending (“I’m the healthy one, and what you eat is pure crap, unacceptable for my body to burn as fuel, but you go ahead and use it up.”) This is an ever-debated topic among healthy eaters, and among other circles. Vegans have a tendency to be stereotyped as snobby eaters who think they’re just better people. When you say no to someone’s food, it’s like you are telling them you are too good for their cooking.
With the anger issue (which I find the most prevalent), my advice to you is to pick your battles. There are dishes my mom has made forever that have meat in them, and when I go home once every 4 or 5 months, I have a couple bites to appease her. My family is very Italian, and my Italian grandmother puts cheese on everything. EVERYTHING. Do I tell my 93-year-old grandmother that I can no longer eat her delicious cooking or help her grocery shop? Of course not. I eat a small portion and rave about how delicious it was. If someone offers you a cookie they made or a tuna fish sandwich, though, you can always say you aren’t particularly hungry. That sounds better than “I don’t eat meat, and the bread you buy lists bleached flour and refined sugar as the two main ingredients. I guess I’ll have to eat later…” It also helps that I have a dietary sensitivity to dairy, since people are less likely to take offense to a girl trying to avoid an allergic reaction. If you have no other choice, feel free to fake a food sensitivity to avoid hurt feelings when you have to reject that plate of brownies Suzy Q’s mom brought in for you.
It saddens me that some people in my life aren’t happy for me and my life choices, but I guess those people aren’t the ones who really matter. Don’t be smug about your choices or judge others for their health practices or lack thereof. I whoop and yell to every runner I pass on my way to work, whether fat, skinny, tall, short, young, or old. I say “Yeah! You GO!” My butt is in my car, unmoving, while they are up and running! Good for you! A favorite quotation of mine is “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Me cheering for all those nameless runners is me doing just that. There needs to be a change in the way other’s perceive health-bound individuals, and how better to start such a change with the health-bound individuals themselves?