Monday, September 14, 2009

A few more thoughts on that intern lunch


I almost didn't post my weight. Draft one of this post began with "I'm not going to post my weight today." I woke up late for work today, so I didn't really have time to go to the bathroom. It was one of those "stumble to scale, stumble to brush teeth, toss on clothes and get out the door" day. I, in fact, almost didn't weigh myself I was so late.

I'm extremely worried I won't have a loss this week. I'd need to drop 2.4 pounds day to day to even have a .1 pound loss week to week, which are not the best odds ever. I do have swings that big, though, and my weight this morning is artificially high, but it's still not looking great.

I did go to the gym on Saturday, and I'm glad I did so. Thank you all for encouraging me. I even tried running on the treadmill. It felt like I needed a bra for my butt. So, I think I perhaps am going to stick to the elliptical until I lose a bit more weight. I'm going to try to go to the gym today after work. If I don't mention tomorrow that I went, you all are encouraged to hassle me in the comments.

Last week, my post on the intern who wouldn't eat lunch generated two thoughtful response posts, one from Mrs. Sheila and another from Mommy2Joe. (Also, great comments on the post itself, I'd encourage you to read them if you haven't yet.) They both made good points about how we should try not to judge people for their food choices: for most intents and purposes I agree with that. (I think it's fine to discuss things here, in blog land, but it certainly would've been wrong if I'd come back from lunch and started gossiping with co-workers about the incident.)

Both of them also argue that we shouldn't subordinate our own eating plans to social/work situations: "But you know what? I’m trying to lose some weight right now. And it’s not easy, and I have to pretty much think about it every single minute of the day. . . . Maybe you care, maybe you don’t. But, it’s MY priority," wrote Mommy2Joe. "I have come to the conclusion I know what works for my body, and I won't 'take one for the team' to avoid being judged. You want to think I am so self centered that I only care about myself, then so be it. I can't eat your stinkin potatoes, and no matter how much you whine I won't even smell them!" said Mrs. Sheila.

Both of them, and many of the commenters, brought the issue into focus in a way I hadn't really thought about: what she was essentially saying with her actions was "sticking exactly with my planned diet is more important than minding my manners for lunch with my boss." Which to me says either she didn't understand that there were smart choices she could've made (picking at a green salad with no dressing is not many calories) or did realize those choices existed but valued dogmatism over being pragmatic.

One of the things Mommy2Joe brought up was that we would have been more accepting "If she was a vegan, or if she had severe food allergies, or if she just had dental work done." She's right, but I don't see any contradiction between the fact that those are acceptable excuses for doing something normally perceived as rude. "Not abandoning my moral principles that eating animals is wrong is more important than minding my manners for lunch with my boss." I don't share those principles, but I certainly understand the point. "Eating something I'm allergic to and needing an ambulance to be called is even more disruptive than not eating." That makes sense. "Not being in massive amounts of pain and needing to spend hundreds on new dental work is worth more than participating fully in the lunch."

She wasn't saying those things. She was saying "not picking at a salad and consuming maybe 15 calories is worth more to me than being respectful of my very important boss, who I'll eat lunch with precisely twice."

In the end, I think she made a bad choice, and conveyed a message that you don't want to convey. I don't know what got her to that point: as several of you pointed out, maybe she's lost massive amounts of weight to get where she is, maybe she had a big weigh in the next day. But, still, I don't see any of that as reason enough to not just order a salad to pick at.

It's a shame that we do have a culture of food, where it is rude in a business situation to not eat. And while individually, I'm going to strive to be someone who doesn't contribute to that, for now it is our reality, whether we like it or not. So, considering the circumstances, she made the wrong call, but I sure do wish the circumstances were different. In the mean time, I guess, we can all do our best not to judge, and not to contribute to the culture of food.


  1. I love the really thoughtful way that you analyze things. I shared your post with my husband and he came to the same conclusion that I did. It can be career suicide to make those kinds of decisions. That's the way our society works right now. . .

    And even if she had lost a lot of weight, what is she going to do in the "forever" part of her life?

    I'm glad you posted this. It still gives me a lot of food for thought!

  2. Way to go on returning to the gym!!! So proud of you!

  3. Men do not worry about things like this. I went to a business meeting at a resturant with 3 male managers and this is what the ordered: male 1-glass of red wine, male 2-glass of white wine, male 3-mug of beer. Bread was offered but they did not touch it. They talked business over their drinks and enjoyed themselves. It was a very productive meeting and a breath of fresh air for me. I admir man sometimes because they don't worry about the little things like the ladies. It's okay to just be you. In the end, just do what men do - drink!

  4. Congrats on returning to the did make me laugh with the butt bra because I totally get what you mean. ;)

    I'm with you on this one & stick by my original comment.
    I believe it is a-okay for us all to have different opinions on people's approach/method/version of weight loss. We all share what we do so we can help each other. It is trial & error because we are all so very different...not just physically, but in our mindset as well.

    But in my mind, the issue wasn't about weight loss - it was situational & was in regards to appearance.
    Yep, it sucks that so much weight (pardon the pun) is placed on our appearance - & not just physical, but manners & "fitting in" as well - but it is the way it is in many places of business. Good golly, my dh's company is so conservative that the higher ups look poorly upon those who wear (gasp) colored shirts. He says it is a sea of white (except for ties of courss). Shoot, these are people who wear suits on business casual Friday. This type of atmosphere does exist!

    Politics in the workplaces is one thing I do not miss! lol

    Anyway...I agree with you. I do not believe you were being judgemental. It felt a little judgemental when the others lectured about it & pointed out specific comments, but that is their right because we are all lucky enough to have the freedom to express our opinion.

    Okay, I have to go sing the National Anthem now.

  5. Enjoyed the post. I've had lots of conversations about it. I even went so far as to email my old boss (who is now a good FB friend) and discussed it with him. It was interesting to learn he had no recollection of me not eating or bringing my own food - since he teased be about it a bit at the time.

    Anyhow, like I said before, there are many reasons why we probably disagree, and if I was your age or in your position sitting at the table or came from your experience I might see things more your way. But I don't.

    I do wonder, however, after looking at all of our weigh-ins from all of our choices this past week, what HER weigh in was like. Because I certainly could have used some of her rock solid willpower at all or our get togethers last weekend! I'd for sure have lost more than one pound.

    So, good luck! Go GAG!

  6. Interesting thoughts, but I still disagree. I have to wonder if you'd feel the same if it was for religious reasons? I worked with a man whose religion (Muslim) practiced a set period of time where the could not eat during the day (Ramadan). I admired his strength to not be tempted, rather than judged him for not being glutenous while the rest of us were. Our society has become so much about doing what makes the larger group comfortable.

    Maybe the culture is different there than it is here in Texas. I've worked for professional firms my entire career and have heard the "you must eat" rule of conduct.

  7. I think not eating for religious reasons would be equally fine as not eating because you're a vegan/allergic/had dental work, to refer to the examples in the post. "I'd rather not break my moral/religious code of conduct than be polite" is 100% okay and not rude in my book.