Sharing and Caring
Each of us have different comfort levels when it comes to sharing the details of our weight loss. There are people who go on diets and never tell a soul. Then there are people like me who will gladly share the details of how their current diet is affecting their poop. (I haven’t actually written that article yet; I’m saving it for a rainy day.) I can’t say why some people feel more comfortable sharing than others. I can tell you that public failure is a pretty rough thing to deal with. As someone who has had gastric bypass surgery and been asked “Why are you still fat?” by people, I can tell you those things sting and I can understand why not everyone would choose to do that in a public forum.
This just went on my Christmas wish list.
Social media has of course made sharing things faster and easier with more people than ever before. Ten years ago, only a few co-workers or family members might be informed about a new diet or exercise routine you were starting. Today if I announce I’ve started a new diet on FaceTwit, 1,500 people immediately get notified. In the old days, all I had to do to cheat on a diet was make sure I didn’t eat donuts with the same people that I had told about my new diet. Today, one virtual check-in at Dunkin’ Donuts or a selfie with chocolate icing in my beard is enough to bust me.
Some people share a lot and some people share a little and some people don’t share anything at all. All of those choices are fine. The one category of people I worry about are the ones that start sharing and then stop.
Boy howdy is it easy to share when things are going good. When I eat salads you can bet I’m going to take a pictures of each one and post that roughage on Facebook. When I exercise, every step taken and every calorie burned is shared immediately with people who I haven’t personally spoken to in twenty years (and some I’ve never met in person at all). Why? Because when we’re doing good, we want the world to know. Social media’s a funny thing. Very rarely do people post pictures of themselves eating cookie dough at three in the morning — mostly because selfies taken under a refrigerator light tend to be unflattering.
Before I had lapband surgery, I searched the internet to find other people who had gone through the surgery. What I found was an alarming number of abandoned blogs. Most of them started off strong with a lot of entries documenting their initial weight loss, followed by a few entries documenting their struggles, followed by… nothing. They just end. Nobody likes to post about their own failure. Occasionally those blogs, after being dormant for a year or two, would have one final update about how the author had fallen off the wagon but was “getting back on.” The problem is, when you share things openly, you don’t just fall off the wagon; it kind of drags you and your failures publicly through your friends’ news feeds.
If I ever get dragged behind a wagon, I will totally live tweet that event. #WagonDragging2015
Even those of us who share (some would say over-share) are guilty of this behavior. I don’t share every lap I walk with RunKeeper, but I never share the fact that I didn’t walk. (How sad would that be? A little blank map with “0.0 miles” written across it.)
Here’s my point: we don’t always realize we’ve fallen off the wagon. A day of not exercising can turn into a week of not exercising pretty quickly. Fortunately, I have a few friends who will occasionally poke me. “I haven’t seen you on RunKeeper lately.” “How’s my virtual walking buddy doing?” “When you walk, it inspires me to walk.” It really doesn’t take much to support a person. You would be amazed at what a few words can do.
If you’ve noticed someone who used to talk about diet or exercise has stopped, you should poke them today. Reach out and ask that person how things are going. They may want to talk about things and they may not. Just letting someone know that you care about their well-being might be enough to get them back on path. I’m not talking about nagging; I’m talking about caring.
Let somebody know you care about their health today.