While on vacation, I saw two friends whom I only get to see rarely these days because we no longer live in the same city.
I was thrilled to see S., who had been my maid of honour at my wedding 17 years ago. We see each other about once a year and I definitely have changed since last year. S. had generously offered to put us up for the night before we headed out on our last leg of the trip to the cottage.
As S. and I stood talking on her back porch, she asked me if I'd lost weight, to which I answered yes, because I have lost weight. It hasn't been tons and tons, but enough to make a difference. Then she asked what I'd been doing and I told her about reading Paul McKenna's book "I Can Make You Thin" (I cringe every time I write the title, but it's a great book) and the general principles of intuitive eating. S. is not a heavy person. Yes, she's put on a bit of weight over the years, but she's still well within the boundaries of "just fine", as far as I'm concerned. She listened with interest to what I had to say and laughingly admitted that she tended to eat past the point of feeling full. We didn't dwell on the topic and continued our wonderful visit. I'll admit that I was pleased that she had noticed the change in me.
Ten days later, I ran into another friend, A. I haven't known her as long as S. She came into my life about 6 years ago as the girlfriend and then wife of a good friend of my husband. Again, due to the fact that we moved to Toronto, I see her very rarely. She too is a lovely person who must constantly deal with the difficulties and dangers of living with severe allergies to numerous foods, animals and products. It isn't easy, but she seems to face her problems with great strength and bravery. Fortunately, she has a wonderful husband who is devoted and supportive.
A. had a baby about 2 1/2 years ago and is still carrying a fair bit of that "baby" weight around. I vaguely recall that she went on WW at one point, but it clearly didn't help her.
Unlike my long and leisurely visit with S., I only had a few minutes to talk to A. Upon seeing me, her face lit up and she immediately commented on how great I looked. She didn't specifically mention weight loss. To her eyes, I just looked awesome. Now, one other important thing has changed in my appearance since last year: my hair. It's much longer now and I get compliments from everyone on the new do. I think A. was reacting both to my hair and my general (slightly "lighter") appearance.
Here's where the problem comes in:
What, if anything, should I have said to A.? Being Canadian (or just North American), I like to be polite. My French colleague has often complained to me about how Canadians don't tell the truth. They'll always say, "you look great, too" even if the person has obviously gained a ton of weight or has had a most unflattering haircut or whatever. When in France many years ago, an esthetician blithely commented that I should lose weight and that I had blotchy skin. Another, admittedly overweight, friend who was shopping for a dress in Paris was told in no uncertain terms by a sales lady that they didn't sell clothing for "people like her" (i.e. fat people). This is par for the course and I still love France, but you get my drift.
So when A. started going on about how good I looked, I felt uncomfortable because I just couldn't say back to her that she looked great too. She looked just the same as the last time I saw her: a wonderful, charming woman who had put on weight since giving birth. I thanked her profusely for the compliment and stopped there. I'm sure that if we had had more time to talk, we might have gotten on to the topic of weight loss and the changes I've made over the past year, but we just didn't have a lot of time together.
Clearly, this predicament has been "weighing" on me somewhat. It's not an incredible crisis, but I'm just putting this story out there and would love to hear how others deal with similar situations.