The three stages of accepting compliments after weight loss surgery

The three stages of accepting compliments after weight loss surgery

The main thing you want to happen after having weight loss surgery is to lose weight. When it starts to happen hard and fast it doesn’t take long for everyone around you to start to notice. Then, absolute shock horror, somebody will compliment you on your weight loss. Not only will it happen once, it’s going to happen repeatedly and it’s something you need to get used to handling.

I’ve noticed amongst people who have had weight loss surgery there seems to be a series of stages you move through in accepting and dealing with the compliments. The way each of us deal with it seems to relate to if we are comfortable telling people about our weight loss surgery or not. If people know it can be a bit easier to deal with but no less awkward when the compliments start happening. Here’s a handy guide to the stages of accepting compliments you might just end up going through.

Stage One: Denial and generalised awkwardness

There’s a first time for everything and post-surgery the first time you’re complimented on your weight is going to take you by surprise. Unless you’ve put some thought into it already you won’t have a decent answer on the tip of your tongue. You’ll mumble your way through acknowledging it and, if you’re anything like me, try to change the subject. Also, because your body is changing quicker than you brain can keep up you probably can’t see the change in yourself that others can. I think this plays a huge part in us trying to play these kinds of compliments down to begin with because our perception of what’s going on is totally different to what the outside world sees.

The fact that our weight, body and appearance has been a source of shame or disappointment for so long in the past also contributes to our general unease when, suddenly, someone has something nice to say about it. Always try to remember that no matter how weird, backhanded or snarky these ‘compliments’ can seem that they are probably coming from a good place and the person complimenting you is just trying to put into words, and sometimes it’s badly, how well they think you are doing.

Stage two: Acceptance and understanding

After this has happened more times than you can count you will start to expect it, especially from those repeat offenders! You accept it’s going to happen, people just can’t help but mention it most of the time, and you have started to see and understand what everyone else is noticing. This is when it becomes easier to accept because you know that there’s a very noticeable difference in your outward appearance. Sometimes putting progress photos side by side is what really convinces you that you look different.

When you get to this point you probably have come up with your stock standard reply that most people who comment on your weight get back in reply. Don’t feel like you have to offer up too many details either. You don’t need to tell them how much weight you have lost, how many months out from surgery you are or even that you had weight loss surgery if you don’t want to. I think a simple, “Thanks, yes I’m feeling great!” Is a good way to acknowledge the compliment. You will find what feels right for you and of course different people are going to get different answers. You will probably want to tell your friends more of what’s going on but that random person at work can get you pre-canned vague response.

Stage three: Absolute boredom and exasperation

In stage one these compliments are nice but nerve-wracking, in stage two they are nice and you kinda start to like them. After a while in stage three it starts to get boring. I’m so far out from surgery now that I don’t get the, “Wow, you look great, have you lost weight?” Comments anymore but usually when I tell someone who I’ve recently met about my weight loss surgery and show them the pictures they are beside themselves and can’t get over how different I used to look. I’m so used to the new me now that I, very quickly, get bored of people going on about it.

Some of the strangest things I’ve had thrown at me through this process are:

“You’re melting!”

“Do you have a twin sister?”

“Oh look Melissa, you have legs!”

“Don’t lose any more weight!”

“You look great!”

“Have you lost a bit of weight?”

And so on and so forth.

Getting used to being the centre of attention because of your weight loss can be hard and weird but let me reassure you the fanfare does die down. Once you reach the maintenance period and your body stops changing every five minutes it’s not exciting anymore and people stop going on about it. Lap it up while it’s happening, it can be awkward to start with but it’s nice that people notice and care enough to mention it and get excited for you.

Do you like it when people mention your weight loss or does it make you feel uncomfortable? What stage are you in at the moment? Comment below and tell me, I’d love to know how you deal with this side of things.

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There are 5 comments for this article
  1. Erin at 9:33 am

    I have found it so awkward with everyone commenting on my weight. I work for a large organisation and am exposed to a lot of people in my role and have found it hard to deal with. I have found myself feeling the need to offer an explanation when they do comment in passing, someone usually says something along the lines of – “Erin, you’re looking so good, you’ve lost so much weight!” and my reply is “thanks, I have had 90% of my stomach removed!”

    I have always been happy to blend into the background, so to be noticed, even hear I am being talked about is really uncomfortable for me – but in saying that, having the surgery has been amazing and totally the right choice for me but I will definitely be taking on your advice and just tell them I am feeling great!

  2. TJ at 9:24 am

    I’m two years down the track and I’ve only ever told my close friends and family. Apart from my boss at work who is a very close friend I haven’t told anyone else at work. The compliments came really fast and really often. I’ve always just said thank you and downplayed it all as in the beginning I felt very guilty for not saying exactly how I had lost all my weight. It was harder when people asked what have you been doing? My stock standard answer has always been and still is I workout hard (I do) I watch what I eat (I do) and I’ve seen a dietitian (I have and still do). Neither of those are lies.

    Compliments are so much less now, but I still get the odd you look great, you’re an inspiration, you’ve done incredibly well. I just smile and say thanks. It’s nowhere near awkward like it was in the beginning. I love the compliments because I do work really hard at the gym and my body shape is something now I am really happy with.

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