Losing More Than Weight: The Friendship Conundrum
It wasn’t hard for me to make the jump to “less social” once I started getting serious about my health. I’m a pretty “less social” person by default. A true introvert, I don’t like crowds, most social functions, loud environments, or small talk with strangers… I know; I sound REALLY fun. Not to paint myself in a negative light, but I’m totally fine rolling solo-dolo, flying under the radar, and marching to the beat of my own drum…alone. And it seems these days it’s a crime not to crave any and everything social; Activity, Media, you name it. If it’s social, people are all over it. Not the kid though. I’m not one to mind doing some things alone. So when my coach told me, “You might lose some friends once you embark upon this healthier lifestyle,” I didn’t think much of it seeing as how (1) I didn’t have many friends in the first place and (2) the few I had would surely still be there regardless of if I lost weight or not, and (3) I like my own company.
Oddly enough however, I did in fact become less social, and by default, lost touch with people I do consider real friends. I drank a LOT less. Alcohol is empty calories. Heck even a cupcake can have SOME nutritional value but not alcohol. So liquor was cut. Which translated into me not going to a happy hour in over 2 years. Also, I turned down way more parties and brunch invites. One, I lacked (and still do to be honest) the self-control that’s necessary when it comes to being around food that is “less nutrient dense” (READ: DELICIOUS). I’m just being honest; I’m never going to choose oatmeal and eggs over pancakes and sausage. I’m just not. I’m also never going to go to a party and not fix a plate if there is a plate to be fixed. Sure I might not fix two plates, and sure I might attempt to make a very small plate (READ: ATTEMPT), but I’m not currently equipped with whatever voodoo-self-control-magic really disciplined folks have when it comes to NOT indulging at all. I just don’t have that gene. The only way I knew to get around overindulging was to avoid a lot of events that centered around food. The other reason I turned down invites to social gatherings was because I was too damn tired to do anything. When I worked with a health coach, I was sometimes working out twice a day. Currently, I wake up at 3:00am (mainly) 6 days a week to work out, and then work a 10 hour job that includes an hour commute in the morning and evening. The last thing I want to do when I go home is be social, or move for that matter. So just by the sheer act of focusing so hard on my diet and exercise, I become even less social than I already was and to be fair, probably not the most interesting friend.
I also found that some “friends” (and I use the term loosely here) treated me differently. And to be fair, these friends were not of the super close, ride-or-die variety. Probably a better word would be associates. Whatever you may call them, after I lost weight and did appear somewhere for a minute or two, be it Facebook or out-and-about in the real world, they treated me differently. Not overly rude or anything that would be construed as outright jealous. But just…different. Which made me turn into myself even more. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life. Others who hadn’t spoken to me in months just hit me up to find out how I lost weight, under the guise of “checking in”… If I looked the same they probably wouldn’t have had much interest in catching up. But there was something they wanted to glean from me, so suddenly we were back on buddy status. I fear I often disappoint these types of friends when I don’t give them some magic answer like, ” I drank beet juice every night for 23 days in a row,” or “I only do cardio on the third Thursday of every month,” or “I have lima-beans with oatmeal for optimal fat burning…” I told them I just changed my diet and trained. If they wanted specifics I’d direct them to the health coach I worked with, but that’s really it. And after those friends received their very disappointing answers, they went back to the shadows, never to be heard from again.
Even if I wanted to be social, once I lost a big portion of the weight, I almost didn’t know how to do things anymore. How do you go out to eat with friends and not order the entire left side of the menu? How do you get up at 3am if you go to bed past midnight?
The answer is: who knows. For me, losing weight requires extreme mental toughness and focus. I couldn’t lose weight and still partake in those activities. Case in point, I’ve eased up on some of my rigidity, and since gained some weight back. But with all things in life, I’m learning there must be some balance. If I want to be social Bonita, I have to accept the fact that it could interfere with my strict eating and exercise schedule. And if that strict schedule is interrupted consistently, I will more than likely not be as lean. I’m just not at the point where I know how to successfully do both; have a big social life, and maintain a very healthy lifestyle. But I’m learning to navigate this new conundrum in my life. My weight loss has in many ways separated me from people and things I’d previously knew. But my true friendships have outlasted my crazy workout schedule and sometimes boring meals of tilapia and broccoli. And I also say f-it some days and eat the pizza anyway. Cause I don’t want to live in a world where pizza is off limits between friends.