Thursday, January 7, 2010

weight in the workplace

what is it with all these office weight loss competitions? every time i visit a client, there's some posting on the wall about shedding pounds as an office event (an eating disorder nightmare, if you ask little ole me.)

blogger friends write of the torment of watching their colleagues quite publicly obsessed with weight. i can't imagine a work place where everyone's counting calories, inches, fat grams, carbs, servings..........

is this a healthy thing? is there doctor supervision?

what happens if someone who's already really thin wants to sign up for the inhouse Big Loser project. does anyone worry that it's not such a good idea?

we know a lot of women suffer some for of disordered eating. even if they don't join, how does it effect them? don't they start thinking they should be dieting too, restricting along with their peers, exercising exhuberantly to burn those extra ounces?

what happens to the gal who gains weight one week? is she ostrasized? who factors in that men lose weight so much faster than women, let alone a menopausal woman. what happens when the pounds creep back, as they so often do? is this a frequent office bonding event throughout the year, i dare to ask?

i passionately believe in the separation of church and state. i feel the same about weight watchers and the workplace.

i have a few other weight rants today:

speaking of the Bigger Loser, that sadist Jillian Michael, BL trainer, has some product out that claims to burn fat. does that sound right? isn't she supposed to be all about healthy diet and exercise? i'd like to strap a harness on HER (has anyone seen how she does this to contestants? it freaks me out.)

it's post new years and EVERYTHING seems all about weight loss. i went to my little neighborhood barnes and nobles today. usually, the first table is for new arrivals (yummy). but not now. oh no, the whole front section was diet books! and when i finally found the new arrivals table, nearly half the books were about getting thin.


moving on. when i work from home i occasionally (cough, cough) flip on morning talk shows. the today show had ways to dress 10 pounds thinner. the view hosted a variety of doctors, all recommending a different weight loss plan. the bonnie hunt show had a best-selling author who hypnotizes people thin (he was her ONLY guest that day.) rachel ray featured some guy who talked all about cleanses.


apparently i'm one of the healthy ones. i'm not on a diet. i don't dress to slim. i would NEVER do a cleanse. i'm reading a world history book. although everyone else in my office is on the southbeach diet, i'm eating my sandwich alone.

when i'm the gal who's demonstrating the best mental health, we need to re-think what we're doing.


  1. haha love that last comment!

    I hear you. I hate this time of year. Yet I inevitably get swept up in it.

    We live in a sick society.

  2. American culture is totally obsessed with weight. I can't say I'm much better myself but it seems just about inescapable every place you turn.

  3. Yep New Years revolutions. You too can loose weight. The started it up again at work, forget about count calories they brought in a SCALE! I was so freaked out for about a week before and then all this week. Some one asked me for advice and I told them to just stop eating. The looked at me like I was nuts and I told them that was what I did.

    This stress is way too much deal with right now. Diet's everywhere. I did good today and didn't get on the scale 1 time. Yesterday I was on it like 8 times. How nuts is that? Anyway I'm with you let's get the scale out of the office!

  4. lisa; i wrote that comment facetiously, but i swear, i start to wonder if it's true. everyone's gone mad.

    i admit that i watch too many women's talk shows and read too many women's magazines, but isn't it sad that everything geared toward women is about weight loss?

    fat IS a feminist issue.

    Frugalista; exactly! how are we supposed to get better when we are swamped with all this diet-hype? tv cries for brittney murphy than switches to the next low-fat segment.

    maybe i just need to hibernate with my history book and my knitting. well, actually history doesn't often treat women well either.

    eating alone; did you notice that you wrote new years "revolutions"? i like that!

    a SCALE at work. ouch. do you mind telling more about what they actually do. i'm interested. tape measure? weekly weigh in? how long is it? what does the winner get? does everyone laugh at you if you don't lose one week? if you don't want to think about it, don't worry.

    i love your answer --"just stop eating". it's brilliant, really.

    bravo for a scale-free day. when i was a crack addict (can you believe it?!) a friend said, "just put down the crack pipe". i'll say something like that to myself, "step back from the scale". it can work.

    yes, let's get our adversary out of the office

  5. My husband has biggest loser type competitions with other men at work. Whoever loses has to take all of the others out to dinner. He is constantly eating salads and going to the gym when he is doing these. He always loses weight, but then starts eating the old way and gains it back. It seems healthier to just stay the way he is if you ask me.

    So it's not just women! But it's mostly women definitely.

    I haven't worked in a traditional workplace in 20 years, so I'm not familiar with the current practices, but I agree with you that weight should be kept out of the office.

  6. harriet; i guess some people are healthy about the whole thing and have a good balance, and i'll bet that's your husband? the poor guy who has to take his buddies out for dinner (and you know these guys probably go hog-wild when they're off the diet right?) probably has a good laugh about the whole thing and just bemoans the price of the meal.

    if it were i who lost AND had to hear about it from my friends over a meal i was paying for, i'd be devastated. and you know i'd have crazy eating disordered thoughts during the meal. and the whole competition would have sent me down a dangerous cycle...

    i haven't worked in a real office in a few years, and i don't miss it at all!

  7. This does sound absolutely heartless and cruel. I know they mean it to be a "healthy" thing, but with so many people with eating disorders (either underweight or overweight) it can be a very dangerous thing. Plus there's always that ONE asshole in the office that seems to do everything just a bit better than everyone else, and rubs their noses in it endlessly. It sounds dangerous to me. I wouldn't participate, no way. And I'd tell everyone why, too.

  8. i guess losing weight is so important to me because it seems like one of the few things that maybe i can acomplish....just need to get rid of 10 or 15...or so....

  9. They weigh in on a weekly basis - but almost every steps on it at least one day. And it's just the weight, no tape measure's. Everyone that is in put's in $20 and the biggest looser get's 1/2 and the other 1/2 goes to the susan kolman foundation to fight breast cancer.

    And I was the insperation for it. Oh joy. Of course when you see someone loose xxx lbs it shows. No way you can hide it. And of course I was on liquid only diet so every one knew. And that first year of the looser contest I was all for it, still active in the ED and it controlled my life fully. Now I'm fighting it and it suck's!

    Sorry really long comment.

  10. Oh my goodness a scale in the office? This is horrifying!

    Agree there is always ONE asshole in the office who has a perfect figure and rubs nose about how easy it is...

    Cow's office is filled with fat women whose favorite thing to say to Cow is "YOU don't need to lose weight" because she wants to lose only a little and they need to lose, like, a hundred.

    Of course Cow exercises every day and lunch hour and THEY Never get up from their desks and plus order lunch IN every single day, but Cow is seen as the odd one for putting a little exercise in her day instead of being totally sedentary as they are.

    Sorry about the rant. Your post touched a nerve.


  11. Cow; how unfortunate that you are surrounded by such dissatisfied sloth. do they really give you a hard time?

    this happens to me too. it's really uncomfortable, although i feel very sorry for the people who make the comments because they are clearly so unhappy with their own bodies.

    here is my current solution. it's 11 degrees here. i DESPISE the cold. every day i wear a t-shirt, TWO turtlenecks and a serious wool sweater. i only take off my coat if i have to. therefore my co-workers, all on the southbeach diet can never gauge my true weight.

    oops, i forgot -- you live in mississippi. this may not work for you. i will rack my brain for another solution.

    in the meantime, as you are the one exercising -- you are faster than they are. run away when they talk to you.

  12. I've been lucky to not be in a real office environment for a long time, but I do worry when other employees will begin to be hired that the whole "let's talk diet" will begin. Whenever this comes up, I just say moderation, moderation, moderation and leave it at that.

    I think the worst thing is walking into another office and seeing a scale in the bathroom. That happened to me a few months ago when I was at my realtor's office. I mean can you get any more blatant than that? Argh!

    I hear you in regards to the diet culture surrounding us everywhere! It's like you can't get away from it. That's when I think about living on a mountain. ;-)

  13. I completely agree. I work for the Canadian government so thankfully I'm pretty sure I will NEVER see a biggest loser competition at the workplace. That would create some issues I'm sure. Just as we are not allowed to have Christmas parties so as not to make anyone feel discluded, we can't have a competition that awards prizes for weight loss. Personal life is very seperate from the office where I work. For this I am very thankful.

    Everyone is OBSESSED with their resolutions right now. I just try to avoid it all - which is next to impossible. I guess by avoid I mean: not participate.

    I also find this is the time of year that people think it is ok to comment on other people's weight and lifestyles. When did it become ok to tell someone their weight was acceptable adn therefore they aren't allowed to want to eat healthy or exercise? I get this alot.

    Ie: "You are so GOOD for working out before work every morning. You don't need to do that though, you aren't big at all."

    I think these kinds of comments just are never a good idea since nobody has any idea what side of the coin I come from.

    I could go on an on about this

  14. Crikey - weight weight loss comps sound very dysfunctional but as a cook I have discovered some of the many ways to be dysfunctional and a lot of it involves food.

  15. Amen!!!

    We have more 'weight loss' products, books, etc than ever. Yet there are more obese, unhealthy, severely underweight, and eating disordered people than ever. How's that??

    We need more focus on whole health, whole foods, including most importantly mental health. With all this one shouldn't need to seek out a weight-loss regimine.

  16. tracy! i am so sorry i didn't respond in my last comment. thank you so for writing.

    all i used to do was control my weight. that was it. the rest of my life kind of fell by the wayside.

    i guess i've found that trying to control my life is too tough. i've kind of gotten into surrender -- sounds so AA, and in some ways i don't even know what that means.

    i'm interested to know what it's like to work in food service and to have feelings about weight, et al.?

  17. Wow some great comments here!

    Thanks for the tip, like this idea of wearing so many clothes. It is 14 degrees tonight in MS so might work!

    Thanks to Suzie Q for the "you are so GOOD" comment yeah Cow gets that a lot--like it's a moral imperative to walk? wtf? these women need to be bitch-slapped when they comment of other's weights and exercises, reeally.

    Keep warm!

  18. tiptoe; yes - to the mountains. you really can't get away from it. at the realtors!

    i really like everything you've written about the Biggest Loser. i find that show so sad. i can't imagine the pain it took for someone to get to 400 pounds. we need a lot of work as a society.

    Suzie Q: it is really odd that people think they can say whatever they want to us. i'm a completely average weight but at christmas everyone everyone kept telling me i'm "lucky to be so skinny". all of them battle their own weights. it was my fiance's family, so they don't know that once i was so, so skinny. people have made so many comments over the years -- why aren't you married?, why don't you get married and have children? you shouldn't eat that...

    wow Suzie Q, you really got me thinking. thank you for commenting. i hope today finds you well and comment-free

    Lulu: after reading your blog, i did wonder what you come up against. as a chef/personal chef you must see some very interesting food preferences, indeed. i would love to hear more.

    as a woman with life-long eating disorder (but it's soooo much better) i can't imagine being a chef.

    thank you for writing! i'm so glad i got introduced to your blog.

    ending the deception: they say if you leave a child be, he'll make the healthiest food choices. what happens along the way?

    adding mental health to the equation would be great. imagine families working together to get healthier, emotionally and physically?

    this is a really tough time of year for those of us who don't need to hear about weight loss plans, "thinner is better", lose 20 pounds in 2 days....

    happily, we have each other.

    Cow: i can't stand the cold. when i was young, my mother would find me asleep with my hairs inching toward the heater. i would try to touch it while i was sleeping. it nearly broke me when the heater was taken away because it was too dangerous. better to have full body burns, and to perhaps burn down the house, than to experience chill.

    i hate when being thin becomes some moral issue. if we don't eat chocolate, we're "good". so, thin equals good? therefore, if we give to charity and help the elderly, are we "svelte"?

    hey, let's go bitch-slap some people.