One of the food shows I enjoy is Chopped, where the contestants have to prepare meals with ingredients in a mystery basket. Mostly the chefs are a random assortment, but sometimes episodes have a specific focus. This past week, for instance, featured chefs who had lost a lot of weight (90+ pounds). It was fun watching them cook and hearing their stories, but what most struck me was a comment one of them made during a break.
He said he’d never been around so many FFK’s (former fat kids) before, and that it was a good support group.
Bear in mind that the show only has four competitors, so it’s not as if the studio was swarming with FFK’s. But I realized I couldn’t think of an occasion when I’ve been around more than one or two other people at a time who have successfully overcome their weight problems, especially without surgery.
This isn’t truly a surprise. After all, most statistics say that only 5% of those who lose significant weight are able to keep it off; it’s not a large population base. Even more than that, it’s not something that comes up in everyday conversation – maybe I know more people than I think who fall into that category. And finally, the people I do know are from different areas of my life (church, work, Am I Hungry?, health coaching) with no reason to be in the same place.
That made me think about the fact that even though I never felt the need for a group when I was losing weight, or really even in the years of maintaining, in some ways my experience is isolating.
After all, even those who know what I’ve done but haven’t been through it can’t really appreciate certain things. The continual joy of being able to fit through smaller spaces, or not worrying about crowding someone on the bus seat. How long it takes to recognize your new self in the mirror (if you ever do). How to handle compliments instead of insults, and to accept that the compliments are sincere. The mental shift it takes to wear clothes that show more skin. Worry that others will resent or envy your accomplishment. Uncertainty about how this will affect your relationships. Wondering what you would do if you ever started gaining again.
I realized that even if I don’t need a support group, per se, it’s always nice to know that I’m not alone, that others have this as a shared experience. So I am grateful to have a few people in my life who fall into this category, and for various forms of media that help me learn about others. And to anyone else out there in this demographic, if you ever wonder and in case it helps, know that you are not alone.