‘You Looked Much Better When You Were Obese’… Really?

The author before her 162-pound weight loss.

Every year during the Arts, Beats and Eats festival I meet hundreds of wonderful folks who visit the Blue Care Network booth where I am located. I’m pleased that people feel comfortable enough to ask me several questions about losing weight after they view the before/after photo of myself that I display within the booth. I love to answer all questions and try to help motivate everyone I come in contact with to begin living a healthier lifestyle. I often receive comments, none of which raise an eyebrow; but this past Saturday I fielded one that raised them both!

After talking with a middle-aged man and his wife about my “secret to weight loss success” and walking, the man pointed down at my before photo and told me, “You looked much better when you were obese.”

It was the first time ever that I received that comment, and I must admit that it left me speechless. Okay, maybe not for long, because that’s almost an impossibility for ol’ Jodi, but I still didn’t give an instant reply like I normally would. It was very surprising and totally unexpected.

My first response was, “Excuse me?” He tapped my photo and repeated himself: “You looked much better… before.”

Aversion to Change?

So there I stood, wondering why in the world he would say that. I immediately went over the conversation we had just had.

His wife was overweight and she thought that they both needed to make some changes. She was very focused on every answer I gave about living a healthy lifestyle, especially when I began to focus on the amount of daily walking that I do. I noticed that her husband always had his arm around her, and he often interrupted our conversation as if he felt that he was very satisfied with the size that she was.

It was as though he was letting her know that he thought obesity was more attractive, that he didn’t want his wife to change in the way that I did. He wanted her to feel beautiful and that she should be pleased and content with her current physical size.

The author after losing weight.

I can only assume, anyways. I don’t know for sure because he never made any references like these… but in my mind it just had to be something like that. Why else would he make the comment that he did other than to help his wife feel better about her obesity?

In my before photo I am 300 pounds, morbidly obese with a big fake smile on my face. Okay, yes, obviously I’m much younger in the photo, but the man didn’t say that my wrinkles weren’t apparent, only that I looked much better when I was obese.

Appearances Can Deceive

After quickly thinking about what he had just said, I reminded him of one thing: “Sir, my body wasn’t healthier when I was morbidly obese… and that, to me, is the most important factor.”

He didn’t respond. That is the time when I gently explained why I made the lifestyle change that I did. It wasn’t only because I wanted to look better, but my main goal was to live a long and healthy life, and being morbidly obese would surely not help my chances of doing that.

His wife just looked at me and smiled, she didn’t say a word. He didn’t disagree with me, but he did walk away before his wife did.

Before she left, the woman thanked me again and took a leaflet that would allow her to stay in contact with me if she ever needed extra motivation. I thanked her, too, and told her that I knew she could make the healthy lifestyle changes she we had talked about. She laughed and said they’d be walking the rest of the day!

Her husband took her hand after she caught up with him, and I feel that he may have had to listen to a few words from his lovely wife regarding his unique comment about my appearance.

No matter — she’s ready to become healthier, and that is the most important issue to me. They’re a very attractive-looking couple now, yes. But after she convinces him to walk daily with her, they’ll soon be a healthier couple, too!

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  1. To be honest, you did look better with a fuller figure.  Rapid weight loss ages women, they always look a bit older after.  Also, the way you did it was extremely unhealthy. Rapid weight loss causes rapid weight regain in over 90% of the population.  Your results are not typical at all.  Either you were one of the few fat folks who were simple overeaters, you are lying, or your life revolves around staying thin.  It is an extreme disservice to imply everyone can do that just because YOU claim to have done it.  Furthermore, healthy is NOT necessarily thinner. Anyone who has done some real research knows it is how fit they are, not how fat.  As a sociologist who has researched weight stigma for decades, I come across your type now and then.  People who make “careers” out of weight loss as their prized accomplishment.  Sad we don’t develop our intellects or critical thinking skills.  Then we would not need to be so obsessed with weight loss in the first place.

    1. Hi
      Sherry, 

       

      I guess
      beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I will tell you that when I was morbidly
      obese, more than 10 years ago now, I certainly didn’t feel like I looked better
      and I’m sure I wasn’t healthier. 

       

      I’m
      confused by your assertion that you make about my weight loss being
      “unhealthy.” I’ve shared my story here frequently over the years and
      I’m proud to say that I lost 162 pounds in the healthiest way possible — by
      walking every day (about 1.5 miles) and eating a balanced diet. It took me
      about 16 months to lose the weight and I’ve kept it off for a long time now. I
      also know very well how people can be thin and extremely unhealthy. A close
      relative of mine is an example of someone who has been thin her entire life but
      never really took care of her health – she consumed unhealthy food and did not
      exercise daily.  She had a heart attack
      at age 61 due to these lifestyle choices. 
      I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.   I
      contribute to this blog because I want to help others who may want help staying
      motivated in their decision to become healthier no matter what their size,
      period.

       

      I agree
      that people should not obsess about their weight, or looking perfect, and maybe
      this blog post came across in a way that I didn’t intend — I apologize if it
      seemed insulting. The things I advocate: walking and eating healthy are good
      things to do whether you want to lose weight, or just take care of yourself. I
      know you say my results are not typical but I have helped several other people
      do exactly what I did and there is nothing unhealthy about how they lost their
      excess weight either. This is something I will continue to feel proud of. 

       

      Thanks
      for stopping by and helping me see how I may have come across in a way I didn’t
      intend.  

       

      Jodi

    2. Hi
      Sherry, 
      I guess
      beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I will tell you that when I was morbidly
      obese, more than 10 years ago now, I certainly didn’t feel like I looked better
      and I’m sure I wasn’t healthier. 

       

      I am confused by your assertion that you make about my weight loss being
      “unhealthy.” I’ve shared my story here frequently over the years and
      I’m proud to say that I lost 162 pounds in the healthiest way possible — by
      walking every day (about 1.5 miles) and eating a balanced diet. It took me
      about 16 months to lose the weight and I’ve kept it off for a long time now. I
      also know very well how people can be thin and extremely unhealthy. A close
      relative of mine is an example of someone who has been thin her entire life but
      never really took care of her health – she consumed unhealthy food and did not
      exercise daily.  She had a heart attack
      at age 61 due to these lifestyle choices. 
      I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.   I
      contribute to this blog because I want to help others who may want help staying
      motivated in their decision to become healthier no matter what their size,
      period.

      I agree that people should not obsess about their weight, or looking perfect, and maybe
      this blog post came across in a way that I didn’t intend — I apologize if it
      seemed insulting. The things I advocate: walking and eating healthy are good
      things to do whether you want to lose weight, or just take care of yourself. I
      know you say my results are not typical but I have helped several other people
      do exactly what I did and there is nothing unhealthy about how they lost their
      excess weight either. This is something I will continue to feel proud of. 

      Thanks
      for stopping by and helping me see how I may have come across in a way I didn’t
      intend.  Jodi

  2. To be honest, you did look better with a fuller figure.  Rapid weight loss ages women, they always look a bit older after.  Also, the way you did it was extremely unhealthy. Rapid weight loss causes rapid weight regain in over 90% of the population.  Your results are not typical at all.  Either you were one of the few fat folks who were simple overeaters, you are lying, or your life revolves around staying thin.  It is an extreme disservice to imply everyone can do that just because YOU claim to have done it.  Furthermore, healthy is NOT necessarily thinner. Anyone who has done some real research knows it is how fit they are, not how fat.  As a sociologist who has researched weight stigma for decades, I come across your type now and then.  People who make “careers” out of weight loss as their prized accomplishment.  Sad we don’t develop our intellects or critical thinking skills.  Then we would not need to be so obsessed with weight loss in the first place.

  3. To be honest, you did look better with a fuller figure.  Rapid weight loss ages women, they always look a bit older after.  Also, the way you did it was extremely unhealthy. Rapid weight loss causes rapid weight regain in over 90% of the population.  Your results are not typical at all.  Either you were one of the few fat folks who were simple overeaters, you are lying, or your life revolves around staying thin.  It is an extreme disservice to imply everyone can do that just because YOU claim to have done it.  Furthermore, healthy is NOT necessarily thinner. Anyone who has done some real research knows it is how fit they are, not how fat.  As a sociologist who has researched weight stigma for decades, I come across your type now and then.  People who make “careers” out of weight loss as their prized accomplishment.  Sad we don’t develop our intellects or critical thinking skills.  Then we would not need to be so obsessed with weight loss in the first place.

  4. To be honest, you did look better with a fuller figure.  Rapid weight loss ages women, they always look a bit older after.  Also, the way you did it was extremely unhealthy. Rapid weight loss causes rapid weight regain in over 90% of the population.  Your results are not typical at all.  Either you were one of the few fat folks who were simple overeaters, you are lying, or your life revolves around staying thin.  It is an extreme disservice to imply everyone can do that just because YOU claim to have done it.  Furthermore, healthy is NOT necessarily thinner. Anyone who has done some real research knows it is how fit they are, not how fat.  As a sociologist who has researched weight stigma for decades, I come across your type now and then.  People who make “careers” out of weight loss as their prized accomplishment.  Sad we don’t develop our intellects or critical thinking skills.  Then we would not need to be so obsessed with weight loss in the first place.

  5. Oh, BTW I am not surprised you are sponsored by Blue Cross.  Blue Cross/Blue Shield has a history of scapegoating fat people for the high cost of health care while paying their execs nice fat salaries.  Shame on them!

  6. Sherry.. I feel sorry for you that you feel the need to rationalize your being overweight by putting down someone else that clearly has had success that you cannot obtain because of your lack of discipline and self control at this point in your life.  She walked a mile and a half a day and consumed 1,200-1,500 calories… clearly a great way to become fit and by no means “extremely unhealthy”.  Do a little more research and maybe, just MAYBE… you’ll find your own way out of your obesity but until then, keep your mouth shut. 

  7. Sherry – I am shocked by your remarks. As a sociologist, I would think that the many psychology courses that go along with that field would cause your colleagues to see red flags all over your tone and your comments. We can have civil discourse and cordially disagree without making personal attacks.

    Clearly, the most siginficantly flawed statement you make is that Jodi’s results were “not typical” and that she engaged in “rapid weight loss.” Losing 162 pounds in 16 months is NOT rapid weight loss. An average loss of 10 pounds per month is considered very healthy by most doctors, health professionals and fitness experts. Further, Jodi’s “methods” are common sense, every day activities that most individuals can also do. She didn’t follow radical diet plans, work out like a maniac or anything like that. She ate healthy foods and walked – and that’s what she still does.

    Your research about the percentage of obese people who regain their weight is the only part of your post that’s even close to being correct. You miss the point entirely that Jodi is one of the 10% who has SUCCESSFULLY kept her weight off for more than 10 years! What better example could there be for the other 90%?

    I lived my life as a morbidly obese person from an early age. I was nearly dead at the age of 31 when I finally “woke up” and realized what I was doing to myself. I met Jodi shortly thereafter, and guess what? I started following the EXACT SAME PLAN. I started making healthy food choices and walking every day. It took me almost 2 years to lose more than 200 pounds, and I wouldn’t go back to my former life for anything in the world. Every day for both Jodi and me is a choice to be healthy. I still fight the internal demons that try to draw me back to an unhealthy lifestyle. I’m sure Jodi fights them sometimes too, but we make a conscious choice to continue making healthy choices.

    Finally, I am especially saddened by your post because it is true that many obese people deal with profound self-image/low self-esteem issues. If you are obese, I can “hear” your pain in what you are writing, but it’s no excuse to personally attack someone who is genuinely trying to help people, and has actually done that for hundreds of people across Michigan. Regardless of your own situation in life, attacking someone else indicates to me your mindset overall, and I have no doubt that if you do struggle with obesity – that’s exactly why. Obesity has little to do with the physical body – it’s a disease of the mind. I will pray for you.

  8. WOW!   First of all, Sherry, let me say that I will pray for you, because you’re obviously a very miserable person.   And I’m sure that stems from you being unhealthy or overweight yourself.    I don’t think you did your ‘homework’ on this one.   I have read Jodi’s blogs since DAY ONE (and I also know her personally) and followed her through her successes.   She is no-where NEAR a person who is obsessed with her weight.   She made me realize that it’s OK for me to have birthday cake at my son’s birthday party…it happens once a year and I’m not going to deprive myself on that special occasion, just take one serving and then enjoy the family!   She’s the one who told me it was unnecessary to weigh myself each and every morning…so that I could stop feeling ‘down’ about my slight gain or not-enough-lost from the day before.   She only weighed herself every 3 or 4 months.   I hardly call that obsessed.   She’s very simple…try to make good eating choices and MOVE at least 20 minutes a day.   And every little bit helps.  Believe me, she’s not doing this because of her looks…she was very pretty when she was heavy and she’s still very pretty today, but she’s glowing now because she’s healthy on the inside!   And I would hardly call 16 months ‘rapid’ weight loss.   Her biggest success is keeping it OFF for 10+ years !!!   She’s certainly not lying!   I’m not sure what kind of ‘sociologist’ you are, or if you’re a ‘wanna-be’, but you clearly have some vendetta with Blue Cross and/or anyone affiliated with them.   That’s pretty obvious.    It’s clear that you’re not happy with yourself, so you must lash out at others.   I hope you get the help you need and my prayers are with you. 

  9. Sherry you are a very mean, rude person. Who are you to judge somebody that you do not know and call her a liar? I can’t believe anybody would say that she looked better when she was obese it is very sad especially coming from somebody who themselves have struggled with weight issues and know the effect it has on a person physically/mentally. Are you really that unhappy with yourself that you do not like to see others overcome obstacles in their lives and becomes healthier/happier?  Most people, when they see her before and after photo’s would say “wow it really is possible, I want to change my life like she has done”.  I am overweight and started walking and eating healthier and have lost 30 lbs in almost 4 months, I work hard to achieve my goals and when I finally reach the finish line nothing would make me madder than somebody to say I am unhealthy or that I have done something wrong.

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