Have you struggled with weight, dieting, or body image in the past? If so…

Your Brain May Be Blocking You From Losing Weight.

How susceptible are you?

Comments on Our Weight

I’ve been a regular at a local Thai restaurant for over 20 years now, and, more than once, a waitress who knows me by name has remarked that I’ve gained weight. I decided to record a Vlog about it because as we progress along our weight-loss journeys, we will all likely get comments about our changing appearances. Watch to hear my thoughts.

Podcast Audio

Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D. is a New York Times bestselling author and an expert in the psychology and neuroscience of eating. Susan is the Founder and CEO of Bright Line Eating®, a scientifically grounded program that teaches you a simple process for getting your brain on board so you can finally find freedom from food.  Read Susan’s Full Story

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Comments

  1. Cathey

    Totally understand I too had someone at the variety store coment on my gaining weigh…never went back again. I was doing so well on the progrogram and loved it..doctor ocommented that was enough when I still had 10 lbs to lose. Started gaining back two years ago and back on line now. This was an excellent blog for me..thanks

    Reply ·
    1. Bright Line Eating

      We’re so glad it resonated with you, Cathey. Sending you love, friend. 🧡

      Reply ·
  2. Prima

    Great vlog. I have actually had problems with the POSITIVE weight loss comments, too. In fact, after losing 10 pounds or so, and someone saying how great I looked, it literally threw me off the bandwagon!!! My scale is just as bad. If the number is up, I want to eat. If the number is down, I want to eat. It is best to literally just IGNORE all comments that come to you about your body – good or bad – especially if you are a 10 on the Susceptibility Scale. The best thing you can do is expect the comments, maybe think about the situation when it arises and come up with some responses you feel comfortable with, and imagine yourself going your merry way AND keeping ON PLAN afterwards. It really can be a pitfall. Luckily, I was able to get back on the bandwagon and lose most of my weight. My body is being very stubborn, though, with those last 10-15 lbs. But, I am certainly better off now than when I started BLE! Good luck & God bless your journey.

    Reply ·
    1. Bright Line Eating

      That perspective and the plan to avoid the pitfall–they are so important. Thanks for being here, Prima. 🧡

      Reply ·
  3. Lauren

    Hi Susan, just to add to your story about people commenting on weight. I’m from South African and the black culture there love to comment on people getting fat. For them it is especially complimentary to say you are fat. The interpretation is that your life is good and a sign of prosperity and well being. So now if people comment I say thank you and smile thinking back fondly on my people.

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      That is so interesting, Lauren! Thank you for sharing this with us! 🧡

      Reply ·
  4. Stephanie

    I have a friend who is morbidly obese. She underwent Bariatric Surgery. She never weighed her self nor did she look at the scale at her doctors.
    She did not want to know how much weight she had lost. She said seeing how much she had lost was triggering. In the back of her mind she could hear voices talking about people who had died from cancer and if she saw how much she had lost she would start thinking she had some dread disease.

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  5. Caroline Harlow

    Having experienced this as well as receiving great advice from my daughters, I no longer comment about anyone’s physical attributes ever. Good or not so good. I may say that I like someone’s outfit or something along those lines but I don’t wish to perpetuate a culture that feels it is okay to verbalize their thoughts about another person’s physical self. I know what I look like and receiving a compliment on my hair or some other attribute is not worth the price of also receiving comments about my weight. I wish Susan had mentioned this in her vlog to encourage people to refrain altogether. I feel much more clear and free about having that kind of bright line in my communication with people.

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  6. Sherry

    My younger sister worked in a nursing home which was the same one where my father was a resident . After visiting him one day , I got on the only elevator with a staff worker. She looked me up and down and announced that I looked like my sister, but that I was a lot heavier ! While this was factual, I felt that she was being quite insensitive, even if it was true , but I just decided to consider the source !

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  7. Robin

    I never feel uncomfortable with people commenting on my weight loss, although I do relate to this video. I am a 64-year-old woman with fairly recent, possibly virus-induced, congestive heart failure and a defibrillator that I got last year because of it. As the result of my medications, I now also have to watch my blood sugars. Following the Bright Lines method of eating, I lost the 45 pounds the cardiologist recommended. I am now (5’4″) 121 pounds , which is what I weighed in college. I am in maintenance. I look and feel good, have satisfactory energy, and have my diabetes in check. My cardiologist is pleased, although she is still quite worried about my low ejection fraction. I have been very open with people I know about my health situation and my choice of Bright Lines. I have noticed that the people who comment about my loss, including the hair stylists who told me a couple of weeks ago that I was “wasting away to nothing”, are either overweight or obese. Normal weight people have never commented one way or another.

    Reply ·
    1. Bright Line Eating

      We are so grateful that you are committed to your health, Robin! And that Bright Lines are a part of what you’re doing to keep yourself healthy. 🧡

      Reply ·
  8. Don Benedik

    I too experienced why I lost so much weight. “You are too gaunt;” “I’m brainwashed!” But I have to be very careful because I’m surrounded by people who live to eat – appetizers, desserts, alcohol – who do not understand what I am striving to do. I’m committed to BLE!

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  9. Stephanie

    Some people believe they can say anything they want. My Mother was like that. I have known others like that. They usually had some form of mental illness.

    Reply ·
  10. Maleena Brown

    Culturally perhaps there’s a misunderstanding. Fat is considered Happy/ Healthy. It lands different for us to be sure. Thank you as always for the Vlog. Professor Gary G. Bennett of Duke University explained to The Root, “In a lot of other cultures, weight is a sign of affluence. Where food has historically not been plentiful, there are just fewer social pressures to be thin.” This is the case in China, where being slightly plumper was a sign of beauty during the Tang Dynasty.

    Being plump or overweight signified wealth and prosperity because it meant you came from a household where you were well fed. Other beauty standards such as pale skin came from the same notion– dark skin meant that you were being tanned from working hard outside as opposed to rich women who stayed inside. This was not an idea exclusive to China, as many paintings and artifacts from the Renaissance and as old as 230,000 to 500,000 BC depict curvy bodacious women

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  11. Steve Camp

    My wife and I both enjoyed your VLOG! I would add one more point that could be helpful in understanding why some may make these kinds of disparaging comments about being too thin. Just look at the person making the comment and observe their appearance. Are they perhaps overweight? If so, then it can also be that they are threatened or triggered into comparing themselves to you and finding themselves as not measuring up. And rather than taking the comment personally, we can find a level of compassion for them, having walked in similar shoes ourselves at a time in the past.

    While I don’t participate in the Facebook or other group opportunities you offer, I very much appreciate and look forward to your VLOGs!

    Love & Light, Steve

    Reply ·
  12. Jenny Elliott

    Thank you SO MUCH for this Vlog on well meaning, but often painful comments when we lose weight. One lady chastized me because she said, “Don’t allow ‘this’ to change the shape of your face!” Another lady went on and on about how it ‘looked’ likeI’d lost more weight after I had THR surgery & was still swollen. Why did she care about my weight when it is a miracle that I’m walking? Good idea to warn us that it’s coming & how to respond! If people are taught not to discuss religion & politics, why can’t they add, “And don’t discuss weight-gain or -loss!”

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  13. Teresa Smith

    In our culture we have become so obsessed by body image. The comment from the server probably came from a person from another culture who never intended the comment to be hurtful or a put down. I am sure the server was equally hurt and bewildered by being told to never comment on weight again.

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  14. Desi

    I am so glad Susan has addressed this. I know for myself that someone’s —anyone’s—comment about my weight can totally derail me. I don’t know if it’s because I imagine I am invisible most of the time, and someone else’s comment makes that obviously wrong, or what. I have wondered why I am so vulnerable in this way. I have never gotten to giving anyone credit for positive intent on that score! It’s always something that requires serious coping skills for me.

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  15. Nan Doherty

    I would only add that I believe American men more than women , mostly friends comment on weight gain all the time when it is noticed. For some reason they are very comfortable saying,”Hey, gained a few!” Or “ Putting on the pounds!” They do not say it to women but it’s almost the very first thing they comment on to each other. Maybe it’s more with men who were athletic in their earlier life- but they are very visual and the comments do fly. I’m glad I’m not a man

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  16. Kathy

    It hurts so poignantly to be called “thin”. All kinds of people make comments on my absence of excess weight in terms varying from the factual/polite to comparisons with undernourished animals. I understand from my own history why this is so. But still, something inside me falls every time that someone comments on the lack of excess weight on my right-sized body.

    Reply ·
    1. Bright Line Eating

      Oh, thank you for sharing this pain, Kathy. We hope others can learn from your experience. 🧡

      Reply ·
  17. Fiona

    This is not unusual in some Asian communities, it is not meant in any unkind way. My work colleagues commented freely about weight in either direction.

    Reply ·
    1. Linden

      I have had this experience as well Fiona in Asian, Thai culture. While it felt hurtful and shocking at the time, it truly was not meant unkindly. I love what Dr Susan references around “assuming good intent” Not to mention there is so much, so many great ways to self manage ourselves and our responses. <3

      Reply ·
  18. Monique R

    I love that you mention this Liz! I think this is probably how it was meant, but gets “lost in translation” so to speak.

    Reply ·
  19. Ida

    The comment that resonated with me was about looking gaunt right after weight loss and eventually “filling out”. I think this tends to happen to me but not in a way I would desire. I am a combo of “apple” and “pear” shape, so fat around my waist, belly and hips. When I went from 180 to 150 lbs 9 years ago by becoming plant based, my sizes went down but alas! Over the years my waist expanded even though my weight stayed the same! Fast foward to November 2020 received an email from Neal Barnard recommending BLE, became inspired by Susan, went from 150 to 128 lbs in 6 months happy as can be and feeling svelte! Now I still weigh the same- 126 to 130, and I am someone who feels comforted by weighing myself daily at age 67. But the same thing is happening with my WAISTLINE MYSTERIOUSLY EXPANDING…..COULD IT BE THE SAME AS THE FILLING OUT OF THE FACE AND OTHER AREAS?

    Reply ·
    1. Stephanie

      I lost 15 pounds maybe more, during lockdown. Not intentionally but not eating sweets and junk will result in weight loss.
      My hips got slimmer but my waist like yours has not budged. I work out. Weight training , aerobics, crunches etc.
      Like you I am in my late 60’s.

      Reply ·
  20. Susan

    Susan, this really resonated with me. Thank you. When I was married, my ex-husband and I used to medicate our emotions with food, and as a result I gained an extra 40 pounds. After the divorce, I finally began to lose the weight. My mother used to comment every time I visited on how I was looking too thin. And like you said, I think her intentions were good. But it had the effect of shaming me into stopping my weight loss efforts. Finally I just broke down and asked her not to comment like this anymore. I explained that every time she did that, it damaged my self-esteem. And she understood and hasn’t done that again. When my siblings and I were young, my mother always offered us food every time we got emotionally upset, and as a result we all had eating issues. My sister became anorexic and my brother really is almost phobic about certain foods. This probably is linked to my marriage to a guy with the same issues. So finally, I have overcome these problems and made friends with food again, and am in a right-sized body. I really admire the courage it took you to speak to that waitress. And thank goodness that, like my mother, she understood and respected you.

    Reply ·
    1. Bright Line Eating

      Good for you, advocating for yourself, Susan. That relationship with food is a complicated one, isn’t it? We love that so many of our community members successfully learn how NOT to self-medicate or self-soothe with food. It’s so powerful. 🧡

      Reply ·
  21. Linda Steele

    I am currently three and a half years into BLE and in my right-sized body for over 2 1/2 years, I did get thinner than I had intended early on in Maintenance and scrambled to make another food addition to bring my weight up a few lbs. I maintained there for some time and then my binges began to resurface (only compliant foods in excess). My weight slowly crept up about 22 lbs over roughly two years. I have since re-set my goal weight up ten lbs from the amount that I had maintained successfully and am presently 3-5 lbs above this goal. I have developed healthy strategies to manage thoughts of excess food and as of 275 days ago I am delightfully binge-free and my weight has gradually dropped off very gradually. I say all of that to say this: I work in a dental office and my co-workers and patients noticed my dramatic weight loss (70 lbs in about 9 months), and I received many and varied comments ranging from encouragement to concern to pointed criticism. Same types of comments happened in my daily life. I know that the changes were shocking, especially to those who were not witness to my descent down through the lbs. My total weight loss from my highest ever was about 110 lbs, and of course close friends and family were familiar with me in that big body. I tried to take the comments that were less supportive in the spirit that they were intended, but at times they felt critical, hurtful and demeaning. My sister was particularly hurtful and harsh, she literally would yell at me, ”Eat something! You’re too skinny!!” OUCH! We must lean into our BLE community in those moments. For those of us who have no memory of living in a right-sized body the decision process of choosing a goal weight is particularly daunting. Breathe deeply. Focus more on how you feel in your skin than how you look. Give thought to what you want your goal body to be able to do for you. Listen to your own thoughts. It takes a very long time to connect with our new physiques. Body dysmorphia was a tenacious companion of mine. Eventually the comments die down, those in our own thoughts and those from others which are unsolicited. Well, USUALLY.
    Yesterday at work, this kind patient came for his check up visit. He always shows up with coffee and treats for us. He was a person who had gently expressed concern for me as I lost weight, genuinely worried for my well-being. Yesterday he brought me a banana, so very kind, he wants me to have a treat that I can enjoy, too! He saw me and said, ”You’re still losing weight, aren’t you? I hope you don’t get too thin.”, and then, it seemed, realizing that this may not be an acceptable comment buffered it with, ”But are you feeling good?” I reassured him that I do indeed feel very well and that I have actually purposefully adjusted my goal weight up 10 lbs and in a few more pounds down I will be sure not to go any lower. He seemed satisfied. One never knows whether someone has perhaps lost a friend or loved one to cancer or another serious health issue that resulted in a dramatic weight loss and that their loss and trauma are at the heart of their words, and with the most sincere and loving intent. Give yourself respect and grace. Give it to others, too. Trust your gut and your instincts and know that nothing is done that cannot be undone in regards to our food and our weight. We can make adjustments as we go and we can choose for ourselves.

    Reply ·
    1. Bright Line Eating

      This is lovely, Linda. You have clearly made an impression on that patient’s thinking and how they address your appearance and well-being. How sweet (no pun intended) that he brought you fresh fruit! 🧡

      Reply ·
  22. Liz Mirante

    Susan, FYI, in case no one has mentioned it, in Asian cultures, saying one looks fat is a compliment, meaning you look healthily round—coming from earlier times when to have thin meant one wasn’t getting enough to eat. When I lived in Tokyo in my 20’s, I got told this several times, oh Liz you’ve gotten fat! I was really upset, until someone explained to me. Yes, I get that’s not the point of this Vlog, but just that I’d pass along.

    Reply ·
  23. Sherill

    This is very thought-provoking, Susan. Thank you for bringing it up. When I was a toddler I developed celiac disease, lost a lot of weight, was hospitalized for 2 weeks and nearly died. As I was growing up, my relatives would often pinch my cheeks and comment on how good it was to see me getting chubby. So I grew up associating extra weight with health, safety, and positive attention. Thank you again, Susan, for writing Bright Line Eating. It saved my life by showing me how to have a truly healthy body. I am now 75 years old and I have been in my bright body for almost 4 years now.

    Reply ·
    1. Bright Line Eating

      It’s just fascinating the different messages we get encoded into us from childhood based on our individual experiences! Thank you for sharing this, Sherill! 🧡

      Reply ·
  24. Meri

    Susan this vlog spoke to my experience so strongly. The months and years of unwanted attention I received through comments about my body was almost unbearable. I’m not currently in my right size body, but no-one comments at all to me about my body now. Listening to this vlog made me reflect on how strategising around dealing with the attention will be part of successful maintenance when I get there again. Thanks for your insight and extraordinary empathy.

    Reply ·
  25. Stephanie Smith

    My 69 year old 145 pound body looks nothing like my 29 year old 145 pound body did.

    Reply ·
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