I don’t come from a family that hands out compliments frequently. In fact, my entire small hometown in Pennsylvania is filled with the kind of people who will rebuild your house should it burn to the ground, but will not congratulate you should something wonderful happen to you. Now, of course I’m generalizing. In fact, I had a grandmother who used to tell me that I had lost weight and my hair had grown every time she saw me even if I had gained ten pounds and gotten my hair chopped short. She was also essentially blind. But I digress…
Last week my family and I traveled to my brother’s house for Thanksgiving. Thanks to social media, my brother and sister-in-law knew that I had been losing weight and had even seen pictures. However, other extended family members hadn’t seen me in a very long time, some since Thanksgiving last year. I remember long conversations last year about someone growing out her hair, how long it had taken her, what made her decide to grow it out. I also remember many conversations about various protein-rich diets that another family member has been on and how his weight has fluctuated. This is not a family afraid to share their observations. I braced myself for negative feedback: “Oh my God, what happened that you lost so much weight? Are you sick?” or my personal favorite, “What diet are you on?”
Instead, they didn’t say a word. It was as if I looked exactly the same as I had a year before despite the fact that I had actually lost 18% of my body weight.
Midday my aunt stopped by to join the rest of the crew, and she almost immediately commented that I looked completely different. She even asked what I was doing to lose weight. Once she said mentioned the elephant in the room (no pun intended), another family member offered, “Yeah, you really do look great.” And that was it. The conversation was over.
I’ve had a similar experience with several local friends who didn’t see me all summer, yet didn’t seem to notice how different I looked when I reappeared at the start of school. In fact, the most supportive friends in my life seem to be those I know through social media and the Mamavation community. So how do I keep from letting this get me down?
The fact is that I’m not making these changes in my life to gain the approval of others or even so that they recognize the hard work I’ve done over the last few months. I’m making these changes for me and for my family.
That is what is going to get me through as I continue this journey. Some days – many days – I’m going to be alone in what I’m trying to do. And that is going to have to be enough.