This blog is an accounting of my personal journey to find fitness. All the content on this blog should be read as a biographical piece of literature, not a medical resource. I am a physician, but I am in no way giving medical advice or establishing doctor patient relationships with my readers. I am simply keeping a diary. If you are starting a diet or exercise program or require medical evaluation or advice, please see your own family physician.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Secret Club. Is there a handshake?

So, yesterday my Aunt and my cousin arrived for the weekend. They brought her granddaughter who is about the same age as my middle daughter. The girls always have a blast and it's always good to see family. However, isn't it funny how family can react to your new lifestyle?

My Aunt is overweight. Well, obese. She always has been. She and several other family members had the stomach stapling procedure done in the 80s. All of them lost weight. All of them gained it back. She is a Coke addict. I mean...Coca Cola addict. She drinks several a day. Today I went home for lunch and she told me, "Well, I told your son that you're fired." I was confused. "There's no Coke in this house." And I laughed. Didn't mean to, but it struck me as funny. I told her I was sorry, but it didn't even occur to me, which it didn't. I don't drink the stuff anymore. I honestly don't really crave it. That is until someone reminds me about it. Thanks.

The kids were hanging out and swimming with our Nanny, while she and her son were watching a soap opera. I fixed my yummy lunch of a sliced tomato, 1/2 cup tuna salad, carrot sticks with ranch dressing and water. It was tasty. We started to talk about what to fix for dinner. I think I have previously mentioned how much I hate this conversation. It usually goes like this.... Them: I don't care. Me: How about chicken? Them: Nah. Chicken doesn't sound good. And it goes on like this until they finally say what they wanted in the first place. Ack.

This time I asked and she actually suggested chicken or steak. I peered into the freezer and found we didn't have enough chicken for the whole crew, but I did have some lean flank steak. I don't know about you, but I have a plethora (note interesting word choice, ha ha) of cook books. Many of them from previous diet plans. I did South Beach for a long time. Never lost much, but I like the overall idea of this diet, at least from a health standpoint and for cardiovascular health.

Some of my favorite healthy recipes are South Beach, so I pulled out the book and started on the marinade for the steak. I used some of our fresh herbs from out back, balsamic vinegar and olive oil, garlic and red onion. My Aunt comes in to the kitchen and says, "Oh, so you're doing South Beach again." My first inclination was to be irritated, but I just grinned while chopping my onion and said, "No. I'm not really following any diet. I'm just eating healthy foods and working out." The look on her face was truly priceless. She really looked confused. Poor thing. Her mom was queen of WW and died weighing probably 600 pounds.

She said, "Oh well, it's good you're trying to be healthy." But I could tell she really had no idea what I meant. To her, you're on a diet or your not. You're counting points or calories or eating some weird vegetable soup and cottage cheese. The idea that you wouldn't be ON a diet is confusing to her.

Maybe it will spark her to think about what that means. She knows I've lost weight. She knows I was swimming laps in the pool at 6:20 this am. Maybe she'll make a connection. But, in that moment I felt kinda sorry for her. And at the same time kinda special. Like I'm in on some kind of secret.

Which leads me to my question? Is this what thin people feel like when they look at me? Not the naturally thin ones who "can't gain weight", but the ones who watch what they eat and work out everyday. Is this how they've felt when I see them looking at me at the next table in a restaurant and I've just been delivered a brownie fudge sundae? Do they pity me? Do I irritate them for not figuring out THEIR secret? I know some of them feel superior. You can see it on their faces. I've never had this feeling before in my personal life. I've felt irritated or sympathetic to a patient when I know they're destroying their health by smoking or eating Twinkies when they're diabetic and just won't get it. Just won't stop.

But, I've never felt this feeling of being welcomed into a secret society. Where I know all these things that others don't. I don't know if I like it, or not. I've never felt judgmental of obese people because I know what it's like. But, now that I know you CAN change, I'm struggling with those feelings. I love that I'm changing in so many ways, but it feels weird sometimes. It's something I need to sort out. Have you ever felt this way? How do your family members react to your new life?


  1. Another insightful post. Yes, you definitely start to feel like you've crossed a line. I am more comfortable discussing my eating plans and biking with healthy/fit people than obese/out of shape/indulgent people (the group I belonged to most of my adult life, except the last six months).

    Don't know if it's germane, but this post reminds me of a speech Bill Gates just made to the AFT (teachers union). He said, "Sometimes convincing your friends it's time to change is harder than fighting your enemies." Your aunt's visit will end, but how do we deal with those in our daily lives who metaphorically drink Coke around us and who aren't in the "secret club"?

  2. Hi Doc! Thanks for visiting my blog. I see you're relatively new to blogdom...this is a wonderful community of support, inspiration and motivation. I hope you find it as helpful as I have. Looks like you've already made some excellent progress.

    I'll be back to support you and watch you succeed! And hopefully I'll learn the secret handshake along way:)

  3. @ Alan-Thanks for the comment. I really like your question about how do we handle those in our daily lives we have to deal with. What a great question and I guess it's one we answer one day at a time, right?

    @Leslie-Thanks for your support!

  4. Oh yeah, welcome to the club. I don't think there's a handshake, but maybe a belly jiggle. ;)

    I can't get anybody to understand that I'm not on a diet, I'm only living more healthy. Eat less, move more, weigh frequently. No magic formula.


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