Monday, September 13, 2010

Awk-ward...

I had my six-month cleaning at the dentist the other day. I've been going there for years - it's a real friendly place, the hygienists are all very sweet and my dentist is a good ol' country boy - lots of fun to chat with. I checked in and settled down with a magazine. The hygienist opened the door to the back and called my name - darn, I barely got started with the magazine (the ultra highbrow Entertainment Weekly, in case you're wondering) - I stood up and followed her to the exam room.

"Uh...Shelley Last Name?" she asked?
"Yes" I answered, figuring it was a new HIPAA thing, confirming who I was.

She looked at me for a few moments as I was putting my purse down and then blurted out "Did you have surgery?" and you know, it took me a second to figure out what she was talking about!

"Oh - uh, no" I said, as she tried to backtrack and apologize. Here's the thing - she didn't recognize me. The last couple of times I've had my teeth cleaned I've had a different hygienist, but this was Melissa, who I started with way back when.

Let me say this again: She.didn't.recognize.me.

She really thought she had the wrong person. Wow. I know I've changed, but I'm still the blonde-haired, glasses-wearing person I've always been...yes, the hair is longer and the glasses are different, but still. This is such a strange feeling - it happens pretty infrequently, and only (obviously) with people that I go a long time without seeing. But it throws me every time. And I'm sorry that people feel so awkward when they realize that they didn't know me...it's a strange thing to try and make them feel better about it.

For the record, she really was horrified that she'd asked the "surgery" question - she said she tries and can't even lose five pounds, so how on earth could anyone lose *that* much weight on their own?

People who discover I've lost over 100 pounds always ask me how I did it. When I say diet and exercise, I can see their eyes glaze over and literally watch them shut down. They don't want to hear that. My success cannot possibly be because I did what we all should be doing, whether we need to lose weight or simply live - eat healthy foods most of the time, and move your body, be it by riding a bike or walking or whatever. It's the whole "magic pill" thing - and yes, I was guilty of wanting that, too. No one wants to hear that it takes work, and time. Where is the fun in that? Where is the quick fix? Where is the instant gratification? (And I realize that even with weight-loss surgery, it's still not a quick fix - losing weight takes time, no matter how you do it.)

After we were done with the hows of my weight loss, she asked the next question - one that I can predict with certainty that will follow: "You're done, right? You're not planning on losing any more weight?" I don't know why, but that cracks me up. I mean, look at me...I'm not a stick by any means. What do people mean when they ask this? And really, why should they care? I don't go into any detailed explanations other than to say "no" or "maybe a little more" depending on who I'm talking with. After all, I'm not looking for an argument or feel the need to defend myself.

I am very willing to talk about weight-loss and exercise...obviously, as I've been blogging about it for over two years now. But when it comes up in real life, it's still a bit strange and yes, awkward, to talk about it - I just hope that am able to convey the fact that if I can lose the weight, than anybody can.

37 comments:

  1. Did you have any cavities?
    People are funny. I remember when I gained weight and saw someone I hadn't seen in a while, I watched her look me over. Your experience HAD to be better.

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  2. Youre a role model.
    like it love it or some days NotSoMuch it huh? :)

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  3. OK, Laurie's comment about gaining weight made me laugh out loud. (Let's not even get into the "are you pregnant" thing.)

    Even those who think surgery is the fast/quick answer soon find out that it's a lifetime of work.

    I hope you can just take this as complimentary as I'm sure that's what people mean. As you pointed out, the person who has made the gaffe feels awkward enough to try to back pedal. Probably because they know deep down that it takes a whole hunk of discipline to lose over 100 pounds the old-fashioned way - and they can't even lose 5 or 10!

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  4. Hahaha! This cracked me up. Your hygienist basically ran through the whole laundry list of post weight loss encounters. It's like you're a ghost.

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  5. Anybody can do it yes, but not everyone has your motivation to do it. It takes a strong woman to start a weight loss journey and finish it. Most people can start living healthy but only few manage to do what you did. That's why you and also Lori are such an example to me. And even though I don't have to lose as much as you once did I sure hope one day I'm at the same point as you are.

    And you shouldn't hesitate to talk about your weight loss, it's something to be proud of what you've accomplished.

    And my opinion when people tell me I shouldn't lose more weight (which they do now already) is that most of them are bigger than me and probably jealous.

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  6. Anybody can do it yes, but not everyone has your motivation to do it. It takes a strong woman to start a weight loss journey and finish it. Most people can start living healthy but only few manage to do what you did. That's why you and also Lori are such an example to me. And even though I don't have to lose as much as you once did I sure hope one day I'm at the same point as you are.

    And you shouldn't hesitate to talk about your weight loss, it's something to be proud of what you've accomplished.

    And my opinion when people tell me I shouldn't lose more weight (which they do now already) is that most of them are bigger than me and probably jealous.

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  7. Boy this doesn't happen to me too much any more. I have a dentist appointment coming up in October though...

    There were many occasions where I saw the 'surgery' question in their eyes, and sometimes I would answer it before they asked, sometimes not.

    It does amuse me to think that there are people in my world who have no idea that I was 'morbidly obese,' like new girls at work, or new people I meet through quilting or church. Its actually something I can't quite wrap my brain around--that these people just see me as 'normal.'

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  8. You know you loved it!

    It is strange when someone who hasn't seen you in a long time realizes you have lost weight. My husband's boss from 3 yrs ago saw me in my yard Saturday and he tried to be cool about it. He said that I looked good but he was eyeballing me up and down. I skipped back into the house.

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  9. Exactly the reason I blog about it as well - if couch-loving, vegetable-hating, chain-smoking me can do it, anyone can. And I felt hopeless at the time. And I didn't do it all "boot campy", although if people have that much fortitude, then by all means, good for them.

    Your Melissa did run through the gamut, didn't she? But I think it is unexpected - people don't expect people to change in any real way.

    I hope your week is spectacular!

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  10. People have the bad habit of speaking before thinking! When my daughter was little, people would see her curly hair and ask "is it natural?". As if I would give my 2 year old a perm!! Their next question was always, "where does she get it?", despite the fact that she was usually with me (I have natural curly hair as well, even much much curlier than hers.) Doh! I'm sure your hygienist was just shocked and tried to quickly recover without thinking first. I'm sure she was a little envious too because you look fabulous!

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  11. That's the best message you have - is that a woman, in her 40's, can get up, start moving, eating better and as the days add up good things happen.

    I think people just get impatient if the weight doesn't come off lickity split.

    And you had months where there was no loss, but you kept doing what you needed to do - move and eat well!

    Hopefully you inspired her as you do us!

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  12. Dude...I'm not surprised in the least that the girl didn't recognize you....have you looked at your progress pics lately???? I get the same sense of amazement every time I pop over to your blog...and it never gets old ;)

    I had mgr in a clothing store ask me about losing weight once....she was happy, cheerful and ready to help...and said I must have had gastric bypass. I said no. She said lapband? I said no..I did it the old-fashioned way...counting calories and exercising...suddenly, she lost all interest in me (she was about 400 lbs)....and walked away!!! Fascinating.

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  13. I had this happen at the doctor, she asked me what happened to the other half of me ;-). Isn't it a great feeling Shelley!

    Your hard work has definately paid off, hold your head high my friend you deserve it!

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  14. Oh, Shelley! There are so many people doing the surgery these days! I ran into a former co-worker last Friday that had the Lap-Band done, and she has lost 70. Whe I told her I had lost 80, "the old fashioned way", she was surprised, if not shocked. For health reasons, many people should go the surgical route, but it's not for me! I'm more the "I can do it myself, thank you" type.
    FYI... I don't get recognized, either. But that's a small price to pay for the way we look now! :-)

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  15. A very interesting encounter you had there! I did not understand "the surgery" question until you explained further. It would not occur to me to ask that. That's a sign of our society's newest "solution" to the problem of being overweight.

    Very interesting, indeed. I predict you will have more experiences like this in your immediate future. Good job of handling it in a polite way.

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  16. I've gotten the same thing. At least I did after I lost my 100 lbs. I am still incredibly overweight so this is the new "normal". People just thought it incredible that "simple" exercise and diet could ACTUALLY work. Of course, now I'm stale mate and would love to get back on the wagon!!

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  17. I love it when I see people I haven't seem for a while and they do a double take. Makes my day. It is funny how some people can't believe it's just diet and exercise. It's as easy and as hard as just that!

    Darling, you look MARVELOUS!

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  18. You look amazing! There's a woman in runner's club that brought in her photo book of her weight loss. And I would NOT have recognized her in those beginning pictures if she hadn't brought them in and showed us side by side. It truly is transformative and she did it the same way you did and she's still kicking it, too! Onward, my friend! You're awesome.

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  19. Did you ever get your teeth cleaned? You can be skinny, healthy and amazingly great looking and have scuzzy teeth and that is just gross.

    I can't wait to see a few people and see if they recognize me too. After I lost the biggest chunk, the first 100 lbs with dieting and exercise, and now post-surgery. I'm waiting for the double-take (without scuzzy teeth.) ;-) (on the 3 teeth I have left in my mouth)

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  20. I had someone come up and say "how was your surgery??" and I honestly had NO idea what they were talking about! "Huh? Surgery?" "Yeah! Your SURGERY. How was it?" ummm.......

    It is awkward but as another commenter said, it is way better than the looks you get when you haven't seen someone in a year and gained 80 pounds...

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  21. Wow - I'm so dense I didn't get the surgery question until I read the comments! What a great NSV. You truly are an inspiration, Shelley. Quite an unexpected experience at the dentist's! Congratulations on your continuing success and accomplishment.

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  22. You should keep a journal of double takes and comments like this. Fun for when the "new normal" takes over.

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  23. I have gotten some double takes, but never a not recognized.

    One thing that truly annoys me is the assumption that I had (or any of us have had) surgery. Not making light of the surgery *at all*, but you and I worked damn hard to get the weight off with the only tools being our minds and not a surgical procedure.

    It seems that the more people have surgery, the more it is assumed that if you lose weight, that is how you do it.

    But you are right. Many times when I do talk about weight loss outside of family, I start to hear tons of excuses as to why that person cannot lose weight doing it through diet and exercise.

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  24. I'm sorry - I just got on my soapbox there for a minute and forgot to say that you really are a role model. Your fitness regimen is so admirable and something I don't know if I could do!

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  25. I guess I don't the weight loss yet because no one's really commented. Of course, I'm pretty much a hermit. Maybe someday.

    I do, however, still get the "are you pregnant" question!

    Vee at http://veegettinghealthy.blogspot.com

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  26. Shelley, you are an example to others in so many ways, to so many people...and I love the way you handled that lady's comments. Your beauty is truly within as well as on the outside!
    I feel like I would have wanted to say to the lady regarding the "not losing any more weight..." "Hey, I'm just out there to get stronger and stronger and we'll see what happens!" Because that's what you're doing. Love it!!

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  27. Shelley..

    I loved this story! I can't wait until my cardiologist sees me in January. This man is the one person that took time to talk with me about joining Weight Watchers..I started in February of this yr and I am now down just about 60 pounds. I can't wait to throw my arms around him in January and I can't wait to see his face!
    People are funny about Weightloss in general whether they see you do it..or wish if and tried if for themselves. Your a role model for sure!
    Debi
    Second Journey

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  28. Awkward, but gee, the best kind of awkward, I think! Bravo to you for handling it with such style and grace. You ARE such an inspiration!

    *hugs* from Orlando!

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  29. You're right, Shelley, everyone wants that magic pill for instant gratification. I think some people have gotten so accustomed to believing they can't do it on their own that they can't even fathom the possibility. I lurked around here for awhile before I ever left a comment, but you really have inspired me to give it a go!

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  30. I remember that feeling well. You are living proof that it can be done and you inspire me every day!

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  31. What an experience! I love it when people notice but then the awkwardness sets in. I think they think I must be taking some "magic pill" or on some program. When I tell them that I am exercising and eating less and more healthy that seems kind of boring. And sounds like hard work! I know, because I've been there.
    You are an inspiration and everytime you tell your story someone will be inspired. They can choose to follow that inspiration or not.

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  32. It's good for people to see that changes can be made without surgery... there's this myth that ordinary weight loss doesn't last/work, and it's just not true.

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  33. funny how people can't understand you don't always need surgery!! you look great!! cavities??

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  34. I think it's good to make people uncomfortable sometimes. Just sayin.

    Also, in exact opposite news, I hope you're comfy with the news that I am giving you an award in tomorrow's post. Stop over and see it tomorrow! :) xoxo

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  35. Ha ha! You should have told her you had a nose job (or a boob job!). Also, I am glad I am not the only one who enjoys going to the dentist for the trashy reading material!

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