Dealing with the jealousy of family, friends, and yes even strangers after you have lost weight is one of the hardest things to deal with, other than dealing with it during your journey, of coarse. I have a "family member" who has always made fun of my weight, and being as she weighs as much as one of my pit bulls, I get it, but its always been so hard to stay focused and care about moving forward when all you hear are negative feedbacks about how big you are. I was always told it was a jealousy thing, and maybe it was, but she had no reason to be jealous, maybe it was pure hatred and cattiness, I do not know, but it did not hurt any less. Now that I have come close to the end of my journey, it is a whole new breed of jealousy, attacks, rumors and mostly from people I am close to or care about.
When we moved to the east coast in 2006 i was already big, not quite my biggest, but up there, so no one here knew me as a thin person. So now that I have lost weight a lot of people keep saying that it has changed my personality. Well of coarse it has, i am more outgoing, confident, and I will now stand up for myself. If someone called me "fat" before it always triggered a WELL DUH reaction, which was my way of blowing it off but gave them fuel for the fire which I didn't realize back then, it showed them it got to me, now I will put you in your place. One because I know how rude it is to say that to someone and how hurtful it can be and two because I have worked so hard to not be "fat" anymore. I am also more confident in my womanhood, I will wear tighter clothes, shorter shorts, and dresses, not to necessarily to flaunt my new ME but because it feels good to not have to hide behind baggy clothes anymore. But like any situation, clothes do not make a person, remember that!
I always asked myself what I did wrong to make them say these things about me, what did I do to deserve being treated like this? Being big was hard enough without the harsh words! But I assumed once I lost the weight that it would stop and I could go on being happy and not worry about what people are saying, and after 130+ pounds off it STILL happens, how is that fair? One thing I have learned through my journey about this is that I am not alone. It is a situation that happens to a lot of people in this situation. Jealousy can cause many relationships to crumble between friends and family and can cause rumors to circulate making it harder for start new relationships or friendships. According to a survey done by sparkpeople.com -- please tell me I am not the only one who remembers this website-- 31% of people who work out or diet would be jealous if a friend lost more weight than they did. In a perfect world, we would all support the successes of others and not see them as a sign of our own failure, especially in those we are closest to, but jealousy is a human emotion and a natural defense that we often have to deal with, and even more so as we lose a significant amount of weight. I am not even going to sit here and say that I do not get jealous, I do, oh boy do I, and that is normal, but you have to learn how to control it, and use it as a positive thing. Jealousy can show its ugly face among a lot of people in our lives and it always seems to be the ones closest to us or total strangers.
The main one, and the one that bothers me the most about these situations are significant others and spouses. If your spouse and you met when you were big and has always known you that way, losing weight can be especially frightening for the both of you. You are more attractive and you may be getting more attention and that can make your spouse feel insecure. Maybe you want to be more social than before you lost weight, that can add to his or her insecurity. "If a spouse becomes slimmer, feels better, and gets more attention from friends and strangers alike, their partner can suddenly feel threatened by the change in the status quo," McGrail tells WebMD. I have even seen situations were a spouse uses their partners weight as a way of controlling them If your weight caused you to have such low self-esteem that you never wanted to go out, that meant that you were home for your spouse and there is safety in that. Maybe you are the one who feels like your partner will not love the NEW you because you were not skinny when you met? Just know this, if there is an issue with that, than it is not love. Love comes from within!
How too deal? TALK ABOUT IT, be open about it, be honest, and communicate. Reassure your spouse that he or she is the only love in your life. Tell them how you feel and talk about what is bothering you, along with listening to what is bothering them. Sometime you may need to swallow your hurt and show him or her as much affection as you can, and compliment your spouse and support them in building their self-esteem and security within your relationship. If the situation is very serious or does not get better, seek couples’ counseling. Ask your doctor for a referral to a therapist who has dealt with these issues. You are together for a reason, do not give up on it!
Friends are the biggest issue I have, and by friends I mean both close friends and acquaintances, even though the impact is different, it is still hard to deal with at times. When you are one of, or the largest person in your group (or your family for that matter) and you lose weight, that means that someone is going to have to take your place. I can tell you from that persons point of view that that person doesn't like it at all! That person may have used you as an excuse for their weight by thinking, “At least I’m thinner than she is!” And Now that you are losing weight, that person is forcefully and unwillingly pushed into your role and could very well resent you for it even though it is not intentional on your part. Like I said before, you may have also heard from friends that you have changed and you are not the same person anymore. They are right, you have changed. You cannot experience tremendous weight-loss without that happening. You are the same person inside, you as a person have not changed, but weight loss affects the way people treat you and the way you feel about yourself so of coarse certain things will change. Do not feel guilty about your success, be proud of it, but do it quietly and in a respectful manor, especially around people who may have these feelings towards you. Just think about how you would feel before you do or say anything, you have been there! "You may find that they are suddenly excluding you from activities, saying mean things, taunting you about your new body or even your new clothes -- all born of resentment about not being able to achieve their own weight loss goals," says Warren Huberman, PhD, a psychologist who often counsels patients in conjunction with the New York University Program for Surgical Weight Loss. What's more, Huberman says, when you experience that resentment, it's not uncommon to have a "knee-jerk reaction" yourself and to pull away in anger and hurt. But this is the last thing you want to do. "You have to think about how you would feel in a similar situation, or maybe how you felt when others lost weight and you couldn't," Huberman says. "Try to put yourself in the place of the person who didn't win the lottery, so to speak, and you'll see that the resentment is all about them and not about you."
On the same note as friends and family, they are always the ones to take the lowest blows, the personal attacks, and start the worst rumors. Why you ask? Because not only do they know you personally, they know what gets under your skin and who will listen to what they have to say. It also hurts more for those reasons, do you care how someone on the internet you have never met feels about you? Maybe, but i am willing to bet that you do not care as much as you are about a friend or family member. I have heard stories about me doing drugs, having surgery, having and eating disorder. I have had people try to discredit how I have lost weight and tell others I am lying about details. I try to not let it bother me, I try to let it go, and for the most part I do, but it is hard enough from strangers, let alone someone you know and trust.
How to deal? Soften your voice, maintain eye contact, and tell the person how you feel about what is going on and ask them to express their feelings. ASK! Do not ACCUSE! Try to understand the root of their problem, and try to explain yours to them without negating their feelings. My Dad always says, "Look how hard it was to change yourself and you will understand why it is impossible to change others" -- If it does not get better after talking it out you may need to just remove those people from your life. Just like i said before, if a "friend" can do that, they are not a friend.
The other thing I get a lot and hear about a lot, and even feel myself is jealousy towards others who have either lost as much as me or less and look better, and people who started losing at about the same time. Starting a new friendship with people that we meet in a support group or at the gym is fairly common and easy, you obviously have something in common to talk about. But as soon as you start to compare and share personal details, it seems like the race is on, especially in support groups where people stand up and announce their weight-loss so openly like they are supposed to. The proof is in the numbers and numbers are hard to argue. Not everyone loses at the same rate, but it is difficult for the other person to not feel like a failure when they can not keep up. I have felt that way at least once or twice as I am sure you all have too. Remember to see that as inspiration and motivation not as a reason to feel bad about yourself or hate on them. "In some ways, your weight loss becomes a symbol of their inability to accomplish their goals, so they may begin to act resentful -- or even mean -- oftentimes without even realizing they are doing so," says Christian Holle, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at William Patterson University in Wayne, N.J.
How to deal? Understand that jealousy is a human emotion. It has much more to do with how the person feels about themselves than how they feel about you. People find the flaws in others they see in themselves. It can be very flattering that someone recognizes your success to that degree, but be gentle with the person as it is hard on them as well. Compliment the person on something that they are great at, something unique to them. Everything is not about weight. A comment like “I wish I could bake as well as you do,” or “You look great in that color,” can go a long way to making someone feel less insecure in any situation, but mean what you say!
Sometimes the best thing you can do is a self examination. Could it be true that perhaps you are acting in a way that might be hurtful to others? Could your elation about your shrinking size be insensitive to the feeling of others? Remember to not only tell people how you feel about things but listen to what they have to say as well, and above all, BE YOURSELF. Do not feel pressured to regain weight because someone is feeling insecure. Watch out for those who might try to sabotage your weight-loss to make themselves feel better. If you are truly losing weight for you, than your opinions are the only one you need to worry about!
Added, as I was asked while writing this blog!
What makes me Jealous?
People in the honeymoon phase of weight loss where it all seems to make sense and it happens pretty easily. I miss losing so much more a week, but I had more to lose, I have to remember that!
People who post 10lb off pictures and look like a totally different person! I have lost 130+ and just now feel like it shows!
My best friend Ashlee who is just naturally beautiful and skinny, and my friend Jenn who has lost 112+ lbs and looks like a freaking Barbie! They are just all around amazing!
People who can eat anything and everything and never gain a pound!
Girls who go running everyday. I hate running but wish I didn't! And people who LOVE working out, I want your enthusiasm.
Girls with abs!