I've posted a few links on Facebook and Twitter regarding Mika Brzezinski's new book, "Obsessed: America's Food Addiction and My Own." I think that the book and all the interviews (check out this one) surrounding the book point out a really important issue, not just for our weight loss/health gain community, but a larger issue that addresses the biases and prejudices we have towards how we view other people. I will state here that I have not had a chance to read the book.
In other words, you could look at someone (a friend, a family member, a stranger) and be jealous of the body (thin, toned, etc.) they have and have no clue as to their daily struggles. (For instance -- time when I asked this very thin woman in a store how she stayed so thin and she smiled, revealing some of the most medieval-looking braces you've ever seen. She said it was because it hurt to eat.) You could look at someone who is overweight/obese and assume that they're doing nothing to take care of themselves (*makes stink eye at the random guy who once told me to "put down the Twinkies.").
And because we make these assumptions, we don't ask people how they are doing. We assume they're okay, or aware of their own problems and are addressing them. We assume they are getting adequate support. The book was born out of one friend (Mika) telling her friend (Diane Smith) that she was worried about her weight (Diane was 75-100lbs overweight). But the other half of the conversation was a confession that Mika was miserable, that she was slowly dying in her war against her body.
Mika and Diane realized that though they were on different sides of the spectrum, they had many of the same issues regarding balancing the need to eat and the terror of food, issues regarding body image and societal pressures/perceptions. Together, Diane lost weight and Mika is learning how to be okay with having gained 15 pounds or so.
The weight loss/health gain community is wonderful, but I must admit that I see some people that choose to put on a sunshiney veneer when they're actually having trouble. I worry that some people write one thing and do another. Then they go radio silent because they're ashamed for not being perfect all the time instead of reaching out for help. Or deep down they know that what they're doing isn't healthy, and so they try to hide it.
Supporting someone is easy when you're applauding their successes. But I think true friendship and love is when you're willing to risk that friendship/love to say "Talk to me. I'm worried about how you are treating yourself" instead of choosing to look away.
The whole point of this post is just to remind you (yes, YOU) that even if you feel like you're alone and no one understand your particular struggles, that every single human being understands what it is like to struggle. Struggle is the pathway to empathy. And the more we talk about this with each other, the more we bring into focus what it truly means to be healthy both physically, emotionally, mentally as individuals, as a community, as a society.