If I Can Do It, Anybody Can’t

Reality and PerceptionI have been thinking a lot about how people assume that what’s true for them must be true for other people, or that if one person can do it than everybody can do it, and how dangerous that is in terms of how we treat each other and how we view society. I see this all over the place…

Those who love running may wrongly assume that everyone will love running if they just try, or everyone’s body feels the same as their body feels.  This just isn’t true. It’s definitely not true for me – I was a soccer player in school and I ran a ton and the only “runner’s high” I get is when I stop running.  Conversely it would be a mistake to assume that just because I hate running the people who say they love it are lying.

Some people who are part of the small percentage of people who diet successfully think that everyone can be successful because they were and, that those who don’t succeed (never mind that it’s the vast, vast majority of us) must be doing it wrong even though plenty of people who do what they did have a very different result.

Then there are people who think that if everyone ate like they did, then everyone would be their size- so if they are thin and eat a lot, then fat people must be eating tons more than they do.  Of course everybody knows people who eat a ton and stays thin, it’s not surprising that others would eat a small amount and stay heavy.

It doesn’t help that we make role models out of people who are chosen for their ability to be statistical anomalies – we choose our actors, singers, dancers, and celebrities for their ability to meet a stereotype of beauty that is unachievable by almost everyone as our first priority, with their talent often a very distant second.  Then, though we are clear that not everyone can sing, act, or dance, we suggest that everyone could look like these people if they tried hard enough.

We all have things that we are naturally good at, things that we can do with a struggle, and things that aren’t possible for us.  It’s completely foolish to assume that  list is the same for every person.  The idea that “If I can do it, anybody can!” is completely false on every level, and is used to sell us all kinds of things that we want to believe are possible.  Maybe somebody did lose 80 pounds using the Ab-Doer, or 100 pounds with Weight Watchers, but that “results not typical” fine print is there for a reason.  That reason is because, typically, this is NOT the client experience.  Marketing a best case scenario that almost never happens is legal, and as consumers we need to know that.  If I marketed a skydiving school where we don’t use parachutes, with testimonials from people who survived the fall and a tiny “results not typical” note at the bottom of the screen, would people sign up?

Our experiences can be a great guide for us.  They can tell us more about ourselves and our bodies and how we react to various things.  Our experiences are a horrible lens through which to understand the experiences of others, and the more different our lives, the worse this is. “If I can do it anybody can!” is a lie, the truth is “if I can do it, I can do it under the particular circumstances that existed when I did it.”

So if we can’t tell anything about other people’s experiences based on our own, then what can we do to understand others?  We can consider them the best witness to their experience and believe them when they tell us what things are like for them. When I say that I gained a pound a week at Quick Weight Loss Center, people can take a pass on telling me that I must have done it wrong because it worked for them. I’m a grown ass woman and I can measure a quarter cup of rice – I did it fine, it didn’t work for me.

Consider not talking about your experience as if it somehow negates someone else’s.  If someone is discussing how they hated running, consider if you really want to respond with “I thought I hated running too, until I started doing interval workouts!  Now I love it!!!”  Even if that’s true and well intentioned, it can be heard as condescending and dismissive so I’m just suggesting that you consider if that’s the best time for that story.

Not using our experiences as a lens through which to view other people’s can be easier said than done, it can become reflexive to assume that the way we feel is the way that others feel as well.  Often well intentioned but completely inappropriate people say “I just know that when I’m heavy I don’t feel good about myself – there’s no way you can feel comfortable and happy at your weight.”   That’s just not so.  Maybe eating peanut butter for protein changed your life, but it would kill other people so back off.  Our experiences are for us, and us alone.

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Published in: on May 8, 2013 at 10:22 am  Comments (57)  

57 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. So, as usual you are reminding us to be good to ourselves and to other people. A hard lesson sometimes.

  2. ” If I marketed a skydiving school where we don’t use parachutes, with testimonials from people who survived the fall and a tiny “results not typical” note at the bottom of the screen, would you sign up?”

    The non-survivors must be falling wrong!

  3. Love this post, thank you! Little typo: “When I say that I gained a pound of week at Quick Weight Loss center,” (a pound A week) but that line just made me imagine an awesome fatty picketing the joint by standing out front with a sign that says “I gained a pound a week on this program!” Maybe it could even have tiny fine print that says RESULTS NOT ALL THAT ATYPICAL. 😉

    • Now that’s a picket line I would walk on! LOL!

  4. Excellent post! I guess it’s easy to be insensitive to this behavior, because I find that one way I try to connect with other people is by relating shared experiences, you know “That happens to me too!” or something along those lines. Sometimes I might be negating their experience by trying to fit it into my own.

  5. Dear Regan,

    Once again you put your finger right on the pulse of some of what’s wrong with our social norms. I’d like to remark that I feel that some of what you’re talking about has a lot to do with how Americans (women in particular) are taught to socialize. We’re a democracy, right? It therefore *must* be true that our weight loss solutions are one size fits all. Since I am at present a woman of over 5′ 8″ in height and weigh approximately 165lbs, I know that this isn’t any truer for weight loss schemes than it is for panty hose. One size fits small, is more like it.
    The second thing that strikes me about your post (and actually, I meant to write you about this several posts ago) is that some people actually think that they are Identifying with your struggles when they cut you off with, “No, you’re supposed to never leave your stationery bike EVER. It worked for me.” That is, if you talk about your trials as personal experience, if that hasn’t actually happened to them, they have to prove that they’re in your camp. As an example, I happen to also be an African/Caribbean American artist. I have a white male friend who seems to have no issues with some of the most Keruouac-esque parts of my Boho life — professional dancer, ceramicist, fondness for the Finnish language, long time interest in Jungian thought — none of those things bother him. Until I mention that I’m black. For me, saying that I’m black is like saying I have a big toe — it is a part of who I am, but not necessarily the most important part. However, somehow if I mention the cartoonishly inaccurate marketing strategies I am bombarded with on my Facebook page because of my racial/cultural background, said friend blows a gasket and has to prove that the things that I alone have experienced CAN’T be for the reasons I say they are (prejudice, ignorance, stereotyping). I think that some people go overboard in trying to ‘reassure’ us that we are just like they are and their insecurities about their relationships blunder forth as patronizing platitudes.

    Thanks for writing this blog.

    • Different situation but reminds me of the women who hear about a sexual assault & jump in with “But what was she wearing / why was she there at that hour?…” The desire not to feel painful realities is so strong that people would sometimes rather pretend there is some other explanation.

      • More often than not, it’s the men who take the rape apologist stance. Some women follow along (out of fear or ignorance).

        Men set the tone, women follow along (or in my case, rebel with consequences). Let’s keep the blame where it belongs; in the lap of Patriarchy.

        • I think this has more to do with denial and fear–we want to think “That would never happen to me” so we come up with behaviors we wouldn’t engage in ourselves, like dressing a certain way, hanging out in certain places at particular hours, etc., which gives us a (false) sense of security.

          I’d be interested in reading/participating in a discussion about how fat phobia is related to the it-couldn’t-happen-to-me concept. I get the sense that this attitude ties in somehow with fat hatred and fear, even though one would think that understanding that body size is mostly determined by genes would be comforting to fat-phobes.

  6. “Our experiences can be a great guide for us. They can tell us more about ourselves and our bodies and how we react to various things. Our experiences are a horrible lens to understand the experiences of others.” This sums it all up nicely.

    In marathon/ultra running circles (as in social groups, not running in circles–but sometimes we do that too!), it is often phrased as “Listen to YOUR body.” and “We are an experiment of One.”

  7. I got an object lesson in this concept at the tender age of seven when I made my first pie crust.

    It turned out golden, flaky, and simply perfect. My mother’s eyes teared up. It was only half maternal pride. The other half was a lifetime of frustration.

    You see, my mother was an amazing cook and a solid baker. She’d been making pie crust for a couple decades at least a few times a year. It never turned out like mine. It was usually a bit colorless and always terribly soggy on the bottom. It usually needed patching before it could be filled and baked.

    So here I was using the same recipe, the same ingredients, the same rolling pin, the same pan, and the same oven she did… but my results, I quickly learned, were not all that typical.

    To this day I have no idea why I seem incapable of making a bad – or even mediocre – pie crust. I have no idea why my mother’s was so bad. All I know is that there seems to be a particular ‘touch’ for pie crust which I have and most people I’ve met don’t.

    I can give friends tips for things that seem to help a lot of people with pie crust, but I can’t guarantee any of those tips will work for my friends.

    See, my results? They are not typical.

    Every little girl who learns to bake pie crust will be naturally as good or bad at it as she happens to be, just like most children taught to play musical instruments at an early age will not turn out to have the genius of a Mozart.

    We accept this. We may find it occasionally frustrating, but we do believe it.

    And yet a good friend of mine remains certain that weight loss is a matter of calories in vs calories out despite the fact that when I met her thirty-three years ago she’d already been taking that approach for years and has continued it ever since, and it has never once worked for her. The biggest weight loss she has ever experienced was the two pounds she lost undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. She was frustrated and a little honked off when her doctor greeted that piece of news with concern.

    Her results aren’t very typical, either. Most people can lose at least some weight temporarily on nearly any diet plan before the human body stops that shit right in its tracks. But even having experienced some forty-odd years of not losing weight no matter what she does, she refuses to believe it’s possible not to lose weight on a diet or to gain it all back unless one takes up extreme bingeing as a sport.

    My mother did everything right but ended up with soggy pie crust. My friend does everything ‘right’ and winds up weighing exactly what she started out weighing.

    I make perfect pie crust and Jennifer Hudson lost a hell of a lot of weight. The biggest difference between us is that five years from now… I’ll still make perfect pie crust unless I die or lose a hand, and some other celebrity will be telling the world how ‘successful’ WW is because she happened to lose forty pounds on it. Oh, and the tabloids will be slamming Jennifer Hudson for packing the pounds back on. You know, just like they’ve done for Kirstie Alley over and over and over again when her results wind up being typical.

    • Random – do you have any circulation problems? Do your hands tend to be cold? Keeping pastry cool is key to getting it just right, and those of us with higher body temperatures have to keep from handling dough too much, lest we ruin it. I think you should experiment with other things like tarts and croissants. And then share them with the rest of us.

      • Hmm, I have cold hands and feet (runs in the family) and I make pretty exceptional pastries and pie crusts. But I’d love to sample Twistie’s. From what I’ve gathered from other discussions, Twistie’s creations are to die for.
        Twistie, the offer of gardening for food is still open!

        • I was just thinking this… I’m a foods teacher. I immediately wondered if your mother’s hands were nice and toasty warm like mine (making me miserable at pie crust, handling chocolate or cottom candy). And you don’t have to have circulation ‘problems’ to have cool fingers… sometimes your capillaries are just deeper unless they are needed at the surface. I’m in agreement with you making more pastries and sharing… try some gluten free ones for me.

          • An expert pie crust maker taught me that the secret to making a good crust is not to overwork it, but to do it “imperfectly” and then just let it be. A good lesson for all of us. Maybe your mom was trying too hard.

  8. Good advice. It makes me think of how my dad thinks that if I just ignored the intense pain and dedicated myself to getting better at running, then I would. I tried to tell him that just because running and other things come easy to him, it doesn’t apply to me. It was always embarrassing as a kid in P.E. because I was the slowest runner, had the worst motor skills, and the other kids and the teacher would get frustrated with me. One of my P.E. teachers even called up my mom to tell her how bad my motor skills were, but he had no patience for dealing with me. It’s very upsetting and even triggering when someone goes into the “if I can do it…” or “you just aren’t trying hard enough” diatribe. There are so many kids getting this spewed at them every day and it makes me sad to think that there’s some pushy parent or teacher out there forcing them to exercise beyond their limit.
    P.S. @Twistie, I think Jennifer Hudson had surgery in addition to WW.

    • God, I got that crap every day in PE, and I got teased by teachers for having no interest in sports (when even the other girls would watch them – I was more interested in keeping my nose in a book). Eventually, I got diagnosed with Asperger’s, asthma, and early-onset fibromyalgia, which explained all of the problems in PE. I still kind of want to find my old asshole gym teachers and give them the business (or make them run laps with their legs hobbled and wet cotton stuffed in their lungs).

      Ironically, now that I don’t have anyone giving me hell about it or yelling about getting in shape, I love being as active as I can. (Of course, the essentially unlimited brain, lung, and pain meds help. Yay for things like oxygen!)

      • My problems are similar, and I had an easier time joining a friendly, fun-focused swim team. When the pressure is off, it’s easier to enjoy the activity. However, I felt that people expected me to have an athletic prowess I could never have because I fit their image of a “healthy” person. What they don’t realize is that there are thin people who have physical limitations and larger people, including many friends of mine, who are strong, healthy, and active. Since my problems were chalked up to laziness, I never found out what the root causes were, but I plan on discussing it during my next physical. .

        • Wowee! Will keep my fingers crossed that you find out what’s going on. It took 35 years to get all my diagnoses, so I understand what waiting and struggling feels like. {{{HUGS}}}

          • Thank you for the hugs, Susan!! I’m only 22, so here’s to hoping I find out sooner than later!

    • I’m sure there must be awesome P.E. teachers out there, but I’ve never encountered one. In the seventh grade, my P.E. teacher sent a note home for my mom to sign, informing her that I’d failed jump roping. My mom practically died laughing, since I already had D cup breasts. The flat-chested teacher couldn’t relate to why bouncing around jumping rope was uncomfortable for me; after all, it was fine for her. In the eighth grade, I finally found a physical activity I really loved to do. I wanted to keep on lifting on my own, but the P.E. teacher assumed that I must be way too sore to lift on a regular basis. She hadn’t been watching me, I hadn’t complained of pain, she’d just done a rectal pull and figured that no girl would want to voluntarily lift weights for fun. If other girls didn’t like it, I shouldn’t either, right?

      • How do you fail jump roping? There is no right way for that.

        • We had to do specific tricks and also do a certain number of jumps in a certain amount of time. I didn’t own a sports bra at the time, and my chest ached horribly. Add to that the fact that I was in the middle of a growth spurt and therefore was subject to tripping over my own feet. It was awful.

      • Your PE teacher fails in basic observation and simple physics.o_O

      • It is my PE teacher all over again. I was an E in high school and lacking a shop I could buy bras in my size that were supportive and I got hounded at by my PE and dance teachers because my boobs bounced. Well needless to say a male PE teacher and a flat chested dance teacher had no idea how uncomfortable bouncing was nor how hard it was to find proper fitting bras were.

        My mom didn’t laugh like yours did. She called a meeting with them and yelled at them for singling me out and if they had failed to notice that E bras were expensive and very hard to come by. Never again did either of them say a word about my boobs again.

        • I❤ your mom!

        • I wish my mom had been more like yours, although I don’t know that she would have been effective even if she had. (She would have lost her temper and gotten escorted out by security, most likely.) Next time you see your mom, give her a hug and tell her she’s awesome. Family, like bras, are best when they’re super supportive.

          • Will do for you tonight! We are having dinner to celebrate my college graduation.

            • Congrats, Amara!

  9. My example was always sports vs. singing.

    I have a coordination and balance problem. You can throw a ball right at me, and I won’t catch or hit it – I can stand right in front of a basket and not get a ball through it. Yes, I’ve tried, I worked at it (nothing like being the only girl in 8th grade who can’t make the basketball team…) but I cannot do this.

    When I open my mouth, music happens. I was being told I had a good voice by the time I was 7 or 8. Yes, I’ve worked on it – sung in good choruses, taken voice lessons, done vocalises and breath exercises – yes, the way to get to Carnegie Hall (where I have sung, as one of 90) is to practice.

    But working hard at it did not make me able to catch a ball, and working hard at it doesn’t give most other people my voice. But, while no one expects them to be able to sing, everyone expects me to be able to play, at least a little… I have found, though, that if I use this example, they understand, at least a little.

    And I didn’t lose weight on Weight Watcher’s. That’s my body. I only have my body to work with – I need to understand what it will or will not do. That doesn’t mean I never push – you don’t know your boundary until you reach it. It *does* mean that I don’t continue slamming myself into that boundary after it’s been well established. (I can’t hit a High C either… boundary established with some effort in voice lessons. Bb is cool… B is unlikely, but possible… C ain’t happening. I don’t strain my voice trying for it. One of the things you should learn, in good lessons, is what your own voice will and will not do.)

    And all of this is now affected by age and illness… but that’s another entire issue…

    • Carnegie Hall? Kickass.🙂

    • Excellent analogy. People who can’t sing don’t usually think they could if they only tried harder. I think I’ll use this. Along with the sky-diving school “results not typical”–love that!

  10. Hear, hear. I utterly loathe being told things like, “Oh, eat less, you’ll lose weight!” I have to stop myself from saying things like, “Bitch, I have to force myself to eat enough to fall asleep at night! You know what it’s like to live in this goddamn shoddy body?” (I call anyone a bitch, guys included. And my cat.) My results are not and will never be typical in that my body is atypical. People who know me well know enough to understand that, and they don’t offer solutions to things unless I ask. While it gives me a good mental defense against things like WW ads, it also makes it more frustrating when strangers say things like, “Oh, this worked for me! It’ll work for you, you’ll look great!”

    They… tend to be surprised when I say, “I look great already.”

    • Don’t ya just love it when folks say… “but have you tried (fill in the blank) diet? It really worked for me”… like any woman in the USA (and many other countries) over the age of, oh, 5, hasn’t already been exposed to diet industry crap and manipulated into some sort of dietary modification for SOME kind of benefit… healthier nails, smarter babies, weight loss, fat loss, nicer hair, LOL. I just want to say “Excuse me… my large size is not due to having NOT tried xyz diet.. it is because I tried them ALL!!!!! well, except the enema diet… NOT going there.

      • Gah, no kidding. There was actually one diet that made me lose weight–a vegan diet–but I think that has more to do with dairy screwing with my insides than calories or mumbo-jumbo. (Long story on why I went off, and I live with my elderly but-you-NEED-animal-foods! parents now. They’ve even been known to pull the, “Come on, it’s only a sandwich, a little gluten won’t hurt you,” tactic, knowing full well my doctors would strangle me AND them.) Really, I just care about my health. I do need to eliminate dairy, which probably won’t make a dent in my weight now that I’m on a ton of meds that cause weight gain, but if it makes me absorb nutrients normally, I’m all for it.

        Bleurgh, I spent a good chunk of my childhood on every diet out there, very much against my will. Nowadays, my diet *is* heavily restricted, but they’re medically necessary restrictions meant to improve my quality of life, not my waistline. I can live with that, even if it makes it a real pain to grab a cheap dinner on the fly. Really, as long as my restrictions in the produce department are minimal, I’m okay.😀

    • Once, I had a week-long bout with stomach flu. I gained 3 pounds that week.

      My sister says, “It must be muscle-mass from all that projectile vomiting.”

      Conversely, I did lose 3 pounds when I was on a ten-day cruise, with all-you-can-eat Italian meals. Pastaaaaa!

      Yeah. My body is soooooo not typical.

      Also, I cannot be hypnotized. My Dad, who once hypnotized his entire platoon was never able to hypnotize me. So, while my hypnotizable sisters were “enjoying” their “chocolate” and “strawberry” weight-loss shakes, my ten-year-old dieting self was suffering through the real flavor – YUCK.

      Diet shakes may taste better now, but they are just as unsuccessful with my body as those original ones were, thirty years ago.

      As for exercise, I used to do 5Ks. I didn’t run them, but I could, and did, walk them, regularly. Then I had my third (and hopefully final) car accident, and could no longer walk a mile without paying for it for days. I still can’t.

      My current rule is that I walk when I have taken a pain pill, but NEVER alone. I need the pain pill to get going, or else my hip will stop me from walking past the end of the block. I need a partner because otherwise, I’ll wander all the way to the courthouse, without telling anyone where I am going, or that I have, in fact, gone. Then, they wonder why they can’t find me. And, of course, I don’t bring my cell phone with me. My pain-pilled-addled mind never remembers to bring a cell-phone.

      • MEDICATION HIGH FIVE! Man, don’t you love the side effects? When all my pills kick in just right, and I decide to throw a glass of bourbon (but no opiates) on top of them, oh, wow, I’m in my special place. Occasionally, this means I’m at Target, two miles from my house, and nobody has a clue that I’m staring at the colors in the soda display (with a friend, who drives and is completely sober). My parents usually flip out for a while, but as long as I answer my phone and don’t sound like my mom did the time I called when she had a fever of 104, they settle down.

        (When I called my mom, she answered and said, “We’re at the hospital. Your dad’s had another heart attack,” and hung up. So I FREAKED OUT, got ready to leave work, called her again to double check which hospital she was at, and plotzed when Dad answered her phone. Yeah, that was an interesting day.)

  11. A couple of examples for me. First, I was never very athletic. I was always told to try harder. When I became breathless, my parents would always tell me it was because I wasn’t fit and was too lazy and I needed to work out more. As a result I hate pushing myself. As I got older, I started enjoying hiking but I’d still get breathless the minute I’d start working. I came back from a group hike in tears when a woman smoking a cigarette was able to pass me although I walked forty minutes a day at a slight incline and hiking every single weekend in the Columbia River gorge, although not on this trail and often alone (because then I could go at a pace I enjoyed).

    Fast forward a few years and I was hiking up a shorter hill with my naturopath. I’d been doing yoga and I got breathless. I decided, when she insisted we stop as I wheezed my way in, that I would move to yoga breathing to improve. I couldn’t take a deep breath. Turns out, after testing and simulations that she has diagnosed with exercise induced asthma, which I’ve had all my life.

    Yeah. Just push through it.

    The other thing–just as I was finding out about HAES, my husband, who is heavy, decided to try hypnosis to do weight loss. He got a two for one deal so I went to the session. It was a group. At one point we were supposed to put those foods that we know we shouldn’t eat or eat too much of in an image and then we were going to make them not so desirable. I have no particular foods that i crave other than chai latte. So I used that. Someone else put in peanut butter and someone else added chocolate. I haven’t had any change in my desire for chai but I’ve craved Reese’s peanut butter cups like you wouldn’t believe since that day… Clearly the suggestions were not coached to the way my brain works!

    My husband? He’s doing great. We’ll see if it lasts once he stops listening to the tapes…

  12. Write on! I could read a whole book about this!
    The condescending comparisons I hear all the time leave me writhing my hands with anger. It felt really comforting to read your thoughts on the matter. So thank you!

  13. For literally years I’ve had a little sign posted to my computer that says “If they can do it, you know you can”. You know what? I just ripped that sucker right down and tossed it. Even though I have embraced HAES and Fat Activism, there’s still a tiny voice in me that says “maybe you’re just not doing this right”. This post is yet further inspiration to tell that voice to STFU. Thanks, Ragen, for your ongoing awesomeness.

    • Way to go! Maybe you can get a new little sign that says “I believe in me” to replace that old sign. I’ve got a little ‘skinny-chick-mean-girl” voice in my head (sorry to those of you who are thin… this is just my personal history personified) that likes to remind me I’m ‘fuggly’ because I’m fat. Boy do I like the idea of telling her to STFU!

      • I have one of those voices, I dubbed it ‘silly brain’. It is the voice that sits there in the background carping on at me about being fat, claiming my partner doesn’t love me, that I will fail university etc.
        I found a while ago that calling it my ‘silly brain’ and treating that voice like an uninformed troll helps with ignoring what it is trying to say to me. It has also become shorthand with my partner for those days when I am self-doubting, I just tell him that ‘silly brain is loud’ and he knows how to help me get over whatever is upsetting me.

        I guess we all have our own variants on the ‘silly brain’ and learning to ignore it, and ignore the external messages that reinforce it is a work in progress for me, and I guess most of the people I know.

        • I love this way of phrasing it.🙂 I may borrow it or find my own variant.

    • If you need a new sign, I saw a book in a used bookstore yesterday called “You Have A Right To Be Thin.” How about a sign that reads “You Have A Right To Be Fat”?

  14. Thanks so much for this! I absolutely hate that phrase. It doesn’t sound motivational to me, just like a cheap, marketing tactic. And not only do people do this with weight loss, they also do it when it comes to mental health issues. I’ve heard people who complain about having anxiety or depression get told to do random stuff (smile more, take a walk, eat some random berry or vegetable) because the person “heard it worked (somewhere)” or it worked for them, their cousin, or their plumber’s sister’s son’s girlfriend, etc. If only people realized that saying “Just reduce your calories, it worked for me” or “Just turn that frown upside down, it makes me happier” doesn’t make you sound helpful, it makes you sound like an ignorant asshole.

  15. This isn’t just about bodies. I’ve spent most of my life thinking that my accomplishments can’t be that great because anyone could do it. It’s the thinking that makes people look at the homeless with disgust and think the poor must be lazy. The chronic low self-esteem (I hate that word, but I don’t have a better one) of pretty much everyoen means that even people who run companies think, “Anyone could do it.” Even if they only say that when it’s 3am and they’ve had one too many. The number one way to look at others differently is to look at ourselves differently and be proud and amazed at the things we accomplish every day. I got out of bed this morning and got my kid ready for school. That’s amazing. (I feel silly even saying that because, let’s be honest, I’m no expert in LIVING this.) But if we loved ourselves more, I think we could be more forgiving of others for being not-us.

  16. Everyone. Darn typo.

  17. One of my friends commented on this link on Facebook:

    http://www.cracked.com/quick-fixes/fat-officially-incurable-according-to-science/

    She’s very defensive about her efforts to maintain her weight. She doesn’t seem to realize that she is doing the obsessive things that the article mentions and doesn’t want anybody to say that trying to lose or maintain weight is pointless.

    I’ve seen other friends of mine post about the food/exercise they do in order to maintain/lose weight. Most heartbreaking are the ones who are down on themselves for not losing, or who feel bad for eating ‘the wrong thing.’

    I know part of her concern is diabetes, and I have the same concern. I’ve also seen her talk about eating food that she knew would raise her blood sugar.

    I don’t know what I’m trying to get at here. I guess that knocking weight-loss attempts tends to freak people out.

    Interestingly, I hung out a bunch this weekend with a friend of mine who is very thin. We ate very similar amounts of food. I think she exercises a bit more than I do, but basically, we are different people whose bodies work differently.

  18. I’ve had a problem with people assuming that I think exactly as they do. I have been so marginal my entire life that I NEVER assume anyone’s thoughts or experience resemble mine in the least, but I certainly know how it feels for someone to assume I accept mainstream ideas. I’ve thought of wearing a T-shirt that says, “Please don’t assume you know what I think.” Perhaps this post suggests a T-shirt that reads, “Please don’t assume my experience is the same as yours.”

  19. ‘If I can do it, anyone can do it’ is not the same thing as ‘If I can do it, everyone can do it.’

  20. I hated when an old friend said “Once you start running you won’t be able to stop! You’ll love it.” nope still hate it. It is hard on my joints, I hate how I feel after it and I just don’t feel well, I have puked after running. Biking, swimming, dancing? No those are more my speed.

    I also get tired of the “well if you really try you can lose weight!” uh no, I will tone the muscle I already have and gain muscle. Not lose weight.

    By assuming these things make people who are happy with their bodies start to wonder. It is bad enough that little nagging voice in the back of my mind won’t shut up at times. I don’t need anyone else do it to me as well.

    • Now*

  21. I hate, hate, hate being asked for diet advice, just because I lost some weight.😦

    • At one point, I was exercising 350+ minutes a week, not to lose weight, but because I loved it that much. I eventually had to stop because I ended up with daily migraines. (Yes, 30+ migraines a month. It was hell.) Anyway, I take weekly methotrexate for autoimmune problems, and my dosage got WAY upped, which triggered a weight drop. Suddenly, everyone at my gym started saying, “You look great! What’s your secret?”

      So what did I say?

      “Chemo.”

  22. I had to laugh out loud at the perception photo. I also love the idea of not commenting if it might just negate someone else’s experience. Can we have a shirt with that sentiment on it?

  23. This is a great post. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been told “You should try a low-carb diet. You’re probably gluten intolerant!”. Um…no. My body processes wheat & other grains just fine, thanks. It’s the RED MEAT that fucks with my digestive system. I have spent hours trying to explain this to hard-headed Atkins & Paleo followers to no avail. They always rebut with “It’s probably the grain the cows were eating; you need GRASS-FED beef”. Umm… then how come grains alone don’t make me sick? How come I only get constipated & bloated when I eat BEEF? And secondly, assuming grass-fed beef was even available here, and I could actually afford it (income-privileged asshats never consider this), what if I simply don’t care for it? Why do these meatheads persist with their illogical reasoning? I’ve never heard of anybody dying from a lack of steak. It’s quite the reverse, actually. But, according to these idiots, I’m supposed to ignore my body’s signals because I’m ONE POUND overweight (BMI crap) and I’d “look great 20 lbs. lighter”.

    Oh yeah, all of this obsessive bullshit is totally about health.

  24. You should try a low-carb diet. You’re probably gluten intolerant

    *headdesk*.

    Because all the carbs there are consist of gluten. And the moon is made of green cheese, so do not go out at a full moon when you’re milk intolerant.

    I run into these “no clue but think they know better anyway” twits far too often.


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