The “Oh-You’re-On-A-Diet?” Dilemma

You: I think I’m going to order the salad.
Friend: You’re having the salad? Why are you having the salad?
You: I’m just trying to eat healthier these days.
Friend: Oh. Well, you’re going to be hungry later. Salads aren’t very filling. I’m going to have the steak.

Does this conversation sound familiar? My best friend and I were discussing the negative responses that we sometimes receive when we try to be healthy. I realized that these subtle criticisms often deter me from achieving my fitness goals.

The problem is that healthy living is a lifestyle change, and food is an important part of social interactions. Friends catch up over lunch. Couples go out for romantic dinners. Mothers show their love by making our favorite comfort foods to nourish the body and warm the soul. When you decide to change your relationship with food, you also change your interactions with others.

I wish I could say that everyone I know accepts my journey to healthy living, but people will make comments that make my choices seem superficial and unnecessary. I feel conspicuous when I order grilled salmon and self-conscious when I ask for steamed veggies instead of mashed potatoes. Others take offense when I reject the chip bowl as if I’m passing judgment on them for being chip-eaters. When I do eat something “unhealthy,” I’ve heard comments on how I “must be giving up on that diet finally.”

My goal doesn’t revolve achieving Miranda Kerr’s figure. I have a deep relationship with food and don’t plan on distancing myself any time soon. However, I want to be fitter. Stronger. I want to be able to train my body to run a half-marathon, a marathon, and then a triathlon. I love the feeling I get after dragging myself to work out. The wind rushing against my face as I sprint. The sweat rolling off my back during a good hot yoga session. Exercising gives me a chance to get rid of my frustrations and worries whether it’s through an intense kickboxing session or lots of downward dogs.

I’m pretty sensitive to other people’s feelings, and I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. It bothers me that my decision to not have dessert can hurt another person’s feelings, but I deserve to be selfish.

The word “selfish” has such a negative connotation. In my household, I was taught that giving was the most sincere way of showing your love. If you cared for the other person, you showed your affections through giving. Being selfish didn’t seem like an option.

The thing is that we need to take care of ourselves. We have the right to make our own decisions about how we live. How can we care for others and completely neglect our own well-being?

My suggestion? Find people who share your interests. Join a running/walking club. Invest in a personal trainer. I find so much comfort and support reading fitness blogs, knowing that there are people encouraging me, even if they don’t realize it.

So, if this post touched a chord, know this: In the end, I am an optimist. believe that people don’t realize the effect their comments have. I also feel that the people who are worthwhile will support you in the end.

Ann at A Quidnunc Smorgasbord

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