Thursday, June 21, 2012

Investing in others can be tricky business

Let me preface this by saying I'm not talking about you guys or my online friends when I talk about this.  I mean family or friends I've known for years. 

When you have lost weight, people tend to fancy you some kind of guru.  It's like you've discovered the lost city of Atlantis or something.  Then they ask you how you do it and when you say portion control, smart, balanced eating and exercise they say "oh, I could never do that!" or look at you like you have 3 heads.  It's because of these typical reactions that I get excited when someone I know decides they're actually going to jump on the bandwagon.  They want to pick my brain and know everything I know and I'm more than happy to spill it.  But I tend to go overboard.  When someone asks for tips or pointers, I tend to give them more than enough info to get started and stay on the straight and narrow until they hit a plateau or something.

Problem is, 90% of the people who have asked me for this info end up doing the same thing I did when I wasn't truly ready to change and peter out before week 4 much less ever have a chance to hit a plateau.  Then when they stop checking in or gain back weight they've lost or whatever, I feel like either I've failed them somehow (knowing that isn't true) or I get ticked off because I feel like I invested more in their attempt to change than they did.  I do it in pretty much any aspect of my life.  If someone is going to Hawaii, they know to contact me, I give them way more than they can comprehend, they never write back about it, I ask how their trip went and did they go to any of the places I suggested and I get the wishy washy "ohh no, we didn't get a chance to go there, we went to (insert chain restaurant)" or "we sat on the beach the whole time."   Then I feel like "WHY did they ask me if they had no intention of taking myself advice they asked for and why did I waste my time writing a pamphlet of everything from the best restaurants to good and bad parts of town to the best attractions?"

I need to learn to temper this eagerness to give advice to people closest to me who ask for it and not spend more time on it than they are willing to spend on themselves.  That's not to say if they ask I won't answer their questions but I will give them the shortest and most to the point answer I've got and nothing more until they've proven they're serious.  It's the only way I can ensure that if they don't take what I said to heart that I can avoid taking it so personally.

Have you ever felt like you've invested more in other people's potential weight loss journey than they invested themselves?

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17 comments:

  1. Rest assured, some of us take your suggestions to heart--some of us (ME) just forget to let you know we followed your suggestions. When I finally did get to a TJ's, I tried a lot of your suggestions but don't recall if I ever let you know that. Whenever we are close to TJ's, we stop and pick up several of our now "must haves"--General Tso's Sauce, Cereal bars, the frozen quinoa/squash side and several others. I also discovered that I like their easy dissolve protein powder for my smoothies and the girls like their gummy vitamins. I promise, if I ever get to Hawaii, I will ask AND follow your recommendations!!! Have a great one!

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  2. Oh I'm not talking about you or people I *know* are on similar paths. More family or friends I've known forever. But I appreciate that you take any suggestions I might give! So glad you like those things. I hope you guys do get to Hawaii, the girls would LOVE the Big Island. Lots of cool exploring and history there!

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  3. Well good luck with giving a more brief reply! I imagine your responses to these inquiries are so in-depth because of your passion for those things, people and places you love! It will be hard to temper your passion; however, you could work on the "taking it personnally". Please continue to give your all and know that that is who you are. They can glean what they will from you but you will know you gave it your best (which I get from your blog, is very important to you). I will bet that you could not settle for less from yourself.

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  4. Yes, I've felt that, and even more so on the side of personal finance, which is a passion of mine. I've taught people to balance their checkbooks, helped them create a budget and shown them how to track their finances, only to have to bail them out for an unexpected--or expected--expense. Yes, I'm talking about my kids.

    I suspect that like your last commentator mentioned, you get some satisfaction from knowing and being able to present the best possible answers, just as I do. But yeah, I get it--if you're going to ask me for advice and I take the time to generously share my expertise, at least do me the favor of taking SOME of it!

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  5. You are eager to help because you are proud of your accomplishments, as you should be. It's funny because a lot of close family and friends come to you for so many things, especially to do with photography, for example, and yet don't always show their appreciation of your talents outside of when it directly affects them.

    They appreciate you in their own way but I think you are wise to cut back a bit on the time you put into providing so much help. Using Hawaii advice as another example. I think you should tell them to research a bit on their own first and come to you with specific questions because ultimately they will only end up doing what initially interests them anyway.

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  6. I just always figure they're not ready to embrace the lifestyle FOR LIFE, like we are. Everybody has to come to the decision themselves, and some people are NOT ready. I was NOT ready for way too long. I remember not long before my mom died, back in 1990, she and dad went on diets and a health kick. They were exercising, eating right. My dad lost over 100 lbs. (he was pretty heavy his whole life), while Mom, who was never too heavy, lost probably 30-40 lbs. and was tiny. Then she had a heart attack and died. But that is not part of this story. My story is that I know how disappointed both my parents were that I did not join them on their healthy journey, as I was fatter than both of them. But I wasn't ready. My own son lost over 100 lbs. during the time I lost 180 lbs., but I think he has since quit trying, at least no more weight seems to be coming off. But I don't say anything to him, even though he was FULL of advice for the world when he was losing. He would say all these things he was doing, and I'm sitting there at my goal weight--silent--while he is still close to 200 lbs. overweight. I have learned there's nothing we can say or do to make someone else realize they need to do what it takes to drop the weight and get healthy. It can only happen when they're ready.

    Now, I know you're talking about people who actually ASK for advice and start on a program to get healthy, and then quit. It is frustrating for you, but can you imagine how much more frustrating it is for them? I have empathy for all who have tried to lose weight and failed, because I did the same thing so many times. Good intentions are just that. Unless we follow through on them, nothing happens.

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  7. I get that as well--after losing 100+ pounds and turning my life around, I hear "you're such an inspiration! how did you do it?" I'm very cautious about how I respond now; if someone seems genuinely interested and ready to make changes, I'm more than happy to help any way I can, but in the end THEY have to decide to put in the work it takes. Most people, sadly, aren't willing to stick with it as long as it takes. I get it; I was there before, too. You always hope that maybe you can help light a fire that will help them make it all the way, but there's no guarantee.

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  8. Oh man...reading your post I realized that I've pretty much done the same thing with a friend of mine. For years she complained about how she looked so I'd tell her little tips and tricks and she'd nod and say the little oohs and ahhs and then...live life exactly the same way as always. It pissed me the eff off! LOL It's like, don't ask if you don't care. So now she's doing "something"...I don't know because I don't ask because her something usually means a fad diet of some kind of simply not eating, and every time I see her she's like "look how my pants don't fit anymore!" "I never have anything to wear because my pants are falling off of me!" And, honestly, I don't care. And I've actually wondered why I don't care and had attributed it to perhaps some kind of jealousy, but I think it's because I know it's not something that will last past the length of her current new relationship. I'm tired of investing in her health when she doesn't invest in it herself. Wow - talk about an epiphany!!!

    So I don't think I ever wanted to admit all that because it makes me sound selfish or jaded...but you're right - sometimes we have to do that to protect ourselves!

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  9. I haven't been on the same exceptional journey that you have (I have lost some weight, but the biggest change I've made is becoming much healthier in my lifestyle choices with diet and exercise, including going as far as becoming a personal trainer. I have to say that one of my biggest motivations is trying to find a way to help my mom to change her lifestyle and to make better choices. She has tried various times and had some success at losing weight by eating better and getting more active and healthy, but I don't think she's truly committed quite yet, and only lasts a short time being healthier. I really desperately want to support her through her journey, but I know deep down it's her that needs to make the commitment and the true sustained change. I can't do that. I do worry about her and her health though- particularly as she gets older and has had health issues. I don't want to force anything on her, and at the same time, I don't want to look back and wish I had encouraged her more. Anyways, regarding your post (sorry for my rambles!) I can see where it's driving you to ask "Why do I bother?" But you're a wonderful person for helping out and giving advice when offered. And maybe some day down the line when those people are really truly ready to make healthy changes, they'll remember your advice and put it into practice (... maybe not with the Hawaii travel advice though! hehe)Sorry for the long reply!

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  10. 'Morning, Mrs! Sorry I haven't been a around much... I've been SICK for the last week!

    I have always tended to invest more in other people's potential than they invest in themselves (it took me a while to figure out that falling in love with 'potential' didn't make for good relationships)... but I don't necessarily see that as a bad thing (I also tend to invest more in others than they invest in me operiod... but that's another story, LOL). Since nobody in my real life seems to have even noticed I lost weight yet, nobody really asks for advice in this regard. :)

    Yeah, I've had to learn to temper my enthusiasm, and realize that it sometimes gets me the opposite of what I hope for (it can in fact push people in the opposite direction), but overall it's a 'character flaw' I can live with when I consider the alternative. It's this quality that makes us encouragers, and positively focussed, and really great cheerleaders. Living examples of hope tend to be too few and far between in the world.

    As someone else already said, I've just had to put more effort in managing my own feelings about people's lack of regard for my 'generosity'... and I've become very aware of my own motives for 'helping' (how I value myself is no longer so tied up in my ability to be helpful to others... I am valuable simply for who I am , not only for what I can provide). It takes to a whole new level the understanding of where I 'end' and others 'begin' and I no longer overextend myself on the the behalf of others unless a crisis is involved.

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  11. I can totally relate to this because I do the same thing. I am just a type of person who loves to help people, and if I can give someone advice about something I know that works that they are asking for help with, I do. What REALLY ticks me off is someone just starting out to do something I've done, whether it's running or losing weight or being married or whatever, and then them acting like I am the one doing things wrong. That really ticks me off big time. So many people just are not appreciative at all. They all think they know better. All I know is that when I see someone get results I want, I will listen to them. I wish someone could have helped me back all the times before when I gave up and didn't know what to do. Right now I am paying for a gym membership, and a guest fee so that others could go with me. Only one person has, one time in several months. Everyone I know goes on and on about how they need to lose weight and can't afford a gym or can't workout at home because it's too loud, and then I offer and tell people whenever you want to go, let me know, then they don't do it. Just wanted to say that I get how you feel. I

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  12. I'm a sharer. Show and tell was my favorite subject in elementary school :). I do enjoy telling people all about something that I love. And, I've gotten mad at people who don't listen to me. Yep, I have recognized this tendency in myself and have been making a conscious effort to pull back and start with a small dose, gradually increasing if the person asks for more. It is a fine line when dealing with others and trying to figure out exactly what they expect from you when they come to you for advice. You hit a good point though about them doing what you did when you weren't ready for lasting change...hopefully, when they do get to the point where they REALLY want things to be different they will remember the things you told them and then they will realize how much help you really were.

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  13. Not with weight loss so much, but on other topics definitely. People ask for advice or suggestions and I floweth over. They get that glazed deer in the headlights look (I'm sure you know the look) and then do what they were going to do in the first place, or go ask someone else for a short version. It used to bother me, but now I've come to accept that I am just pathologically incapable of keeping my mouth shut. It's not their fault that I answered in book form when they were just looking for the Cliff notes version.

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  14. OMG, sometimes I can't help but think we are the same person! I totally, totally, totally go overboard in anything and everything I do for other people, and I always feel as if a.) It isn't appreciated or b.) it isn't reciprocated. Don't get me wrong, I don't do thinks for other people to get reciprocated, but it really sucks when you put a ton of effort into things when people won't do the same for you, you know? The bad thing is, I tend to always end up feeling that way yet I still continue to put a wholehearted effort into things for other people. Sheesh.

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  15. Yup, this happened with a relative of mine too. I gave her a bunch of WW materials, photocopied a bunch of my recipes (this was in the days before I had a food blog, you see) and when the weight didn't come off right away or as soon as she had expected, she gave up. And now I think she's trying the Sensa diet--ha! I think people just want an easy fix and if it doesn't work right away, they consider the diet a failure. When really, they've failed the diet.

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  16. Since I was first to comment, I came back to read other comments and see if you had responded to any. As I read through, I had an epiphany of my own. Your Hawaii experience, your health journey and your unique recipes all have value. You write very well. I'm sure you know how to self-publish a book, on Kindle or in tangible form. Write it down, and then when people ask for advice, it's all there for them. Create another blog to go with the Hawaii book. In fact, you have been to other places and found interesting things that I've mentioned before I never would have thought of. You've got a whole cottage industry going here...monetize it, Baby!

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  17. I can TOTALLY relate to this. It's honestly made me jaded. I have a friend who wants me to help her get back on track after her third pregnancy, and I'm not sure how much to invest in her. She seems serious, but they all do at first. It's so frustrating to see them start to avoid you and ignore your advice...

    But I guess we should be flattered that they ask us in the first place! Not everyone is ready to make smart choices, and we can't be responsible for them to be ready. Just like we weren't ready when we weren't ready.

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