Reader Weigh-In: Asking for Help

Did you watch Brené Brown on Oprah yesterday? I did and found it to be a very informative, enlightening, and powerful discussion of vulnerability, joy, gratitude, and a whole host of other issues. The video will be up all week, so if you can find 40 minutes or so, I really do think it will be worth the time investment.

please help meOne of the topics discussed was asking for help. As you might expect, my thoughts went to weight management and why it’s so difficult for many of us to seek out support, whether it’s from friends, family, co-workers, or all of the above. I think Brené Brown is on to something with the vulnerability factor.

Here’s what I’m thinking: Many of us who have had difficulties managing our weight already feel judged, to some degree, by those around us. In asking for help and/or support with weight loss from the people with whom we interact daily, we feel even more exposed and are fearful of being seen as weak or incompetent when we veer from plan. In a way, we equate asking for help with asking for judgement, when that’s not what we want at all.

Complicating matters, we sometimes don’t know what we need in the way of support. It’s one thing to ask for someone to remind you when you’re reaching for the snack jar and another thing entirely to receive that reminder. (Or maybe I’m just projecting my own grouchiness in that regard.) So we ask folks to back off and then we feel adrift and unsupported. Vulnerable. And the people who care about us and want to help us are likely feeling vulnerable, too, and hesitant to offer help in the future. So now we’re all just one big unhappy wad of vulnerability.

What if we identified what help we needed and then, as Brené Brown says, “leaned into vulnerability” to express that to others.

Will you listen to me when I’m struggling?

Will you offer suggestions when I ask for them?

Will you let me find my way, MY way?

Whatever needs we have, we first have to know them and then express them in a calm, honest, and respectful exchange, and then keep the lines open so that when those needs change, that can be communicated (calmly) as well. Yes, there’s vulnerability involved, but it’s entirely possible (probable, even) that it will lead to joy.

I am very fortunate in that I have had tremendous support throughout my weight management adventures, both here on the blog and in my everyday life, and I’m so grateful for it. Even the annoying well-intentioned, “Is that on your diet?” is appreciated, because I know it comes from a place of love or caring. (I’ve gotten pretty good at the internal eye roll. :) )(At least, I hope it’s internal.)

But these are just my ponderings. I really wanted to get YOUR input. Do you get the support or help you need with your weight issues? Do you know what you need? Is there anything I can do to help you?



16 thoughts on “Reader Weigh-In: Asking for Help

  1. I am fortunate as well because yes, I do get the help I need. And I get it from several sources. I am also lucky in that my primary support system (Bill) also seems to know exactly when to back off. Perhaps that comes from having been married to me for 35 1/2 years, but it’s still important. I am grateful for other friends IRL and for a wide variety of friends in BlogLand. That added a whole new element of support for which I am extremely grateful!

    • Well, if Bill ever goes off the deep end, you know you can count on far away support from this end of the state. (Today, a very soggy state!)

  2. I think so much time has gone by since I stopped losing and went into maintenance that the people in my “real” life have forgotten that it’s still a struggle and so I don’t seek out their support like I used to. I tend to keep it to myself and ask for support online only. Perhaps I need to “lean into” my vulnerability with some of the people I see on a regular basis. But to do that, I would have to admit I’m vulnerable, right?

    Brene Brown also did a podcast with Krista Tippett on NPR’s “On Being” last November. I keep it on my iPod because she says so much that takes time to absorb.

    • We do end up in a kind of vulnerability warp, don’t we? The only way out is OUT. I’m a gal who likes options. :)

      Thanks for the tip on the interview. I’ll see if NPR still has it available for downloading.

  3. My life changed the day I ran across Debby’s website on The Quilt Show! A whole new world of mind, body, soul opened up for me. The Girlfriends maintainence group has led to an abundance of other sites rich with life strategies that I was unaware of! Brene Brown? How had I missed her (not a big Oprah fan)? You all are making a huge contribution to folks everywhere who are feeling invisible..women like me..a 63 yr old retired nurse, Christian, quilter, hiker with aches & pains, survivor of infidelity, Labrador lover..who was just looking to minimize my WW points when I discovered, via your blogs,the big picture….we are all in this together & it’s not so much about the FOOD! Thank you all for being vulnerable! Now off to Kindle to download Brene!

    • You’re not invisible, Deb, and I’m happy to see you here! Welcome! I hope you’ll feel free to join in the conversation. The more the merrier! (Btw, have you met Sharon who blogs at Gains & Losses? Besides being an awesome woman (and I’m proud to say, my friend), she’s also an avid hiker despite some aches and pains)

      You can find more of Brene Brown’s interviews on her website: http://www.brenebrown.com/videos , and she has a blog that she updates fairly frequently: http://www.brenebrown.com/my-blog/ .

      • Thanks for the kind words! Yes, I follow Sharon, and Lynn & the whole gang! I love when you share about your Spring weather as Spring is in June here in Southern Wyoming! Thanks also for the links to Brene.

  4. I think for many in the beginning of our weight loss adventure, we are more reluctant to ask for help because while you *kind of* want accountability, you also don’t because if you fail at that attempt, there’s a witness or someone to be disappointed in you other than just yourself. Or I know I started and restarted so many times, we stopped saying something to people or proclaiming ourselves on a plan because you get that “look” or eye roll of “yeah, I’ve heard THAT ONE before.” I have the support of my Mr and in the end, I feel like that’s all I need because so many people just have screwed up ideas on what a healthy lifestyle is that we know what works for us. Does that make sense? As far as what you can do for me? You already do it babydoll! I appreciate your support!

  5. I think it can be harder at maintenance because people always come to *me* for advice and help and then you feel like you have to appear so strong and have no one to lean on. I am lucky that my husband is uber supportive of me with my weight and in general. I will at times ask him to be a food police for me such as when we are at family gatherings and I keep dipping into the cursed M&Ms. His code words are “Would you like me to put those up high?” to remind me of what I do at home when I am over snacking on something. He only does this when I ask him to – we set that rule pretty clearly – otherwise I get grouchy 😀

  6. I get resentful when I’m questioned on my food choices, but I do appreciate it when friends make the effort to, say, choose a restaurant where the menu leans toward the healthy side. I guess I prefer (almost) silent support?

  7. Great post Cammy & s true! I have always had support of family with my craziness – friends too BUT many do not & seeking out help is not a form of failure – it is a goo thing…. I feel validated when people ask me for help…

    Thx for sharing & caring!

  8. Oh yes, the vulnerability. Something I avoid like the plague. But it is necessary. We were not made to live in isolation. God made us for community. That requires vulnerability (humility,) darn it!

  9. I hate it when anyone, without being asked to do so, questions any one else’s food or lifestyle choices (that seems so judgmental to me, even though I’m sure it’s meant in support), but like Shelley, I see support in picking a place where the person on the weight loss journey CAN make the choices that are right for them at the time, or going for a hike with them, or telling you they are noticing their weight loss efforts and you’re looking nice. Support with kindness works more for me that support with judgement. :)

  10. For the most part, my friends are supportive and don’t laugh at me when I take the bun off of my hamburger. The only thing they DON’T seem to get is that alcohol has calories… Several times during a meal they will ask if I will join them in having a drink. Despite my reminding them about my eating choices, they seem to think that alcohol doesn’t matter. I am a former 2-glasses-of-red-wine-a-night kind of girl. I love it, but I was willing to give it up in order to be healthier. I think sometimes they assume that when we’re out it’s a “special occasion” and I should cut myself some slack. I do, occasionally, but I have to be careful not to use the “special occasion” excuse too much, or I’ll be right back where I started.

  11. In the past my family has shown great support when I shared the ins and outs of my eating plans and I have always tried to keep some of their favorite meals and treats in the rotation. I have felt that vulnerability with strangers, but not, fortunately, with my family.

    LOVE Brene Brown and read her blog frequently.

  12. This is one area where I choose not to share with people in real life. For me it’s not a vulnerability issue, but a boundary issue. I’ve found that when I open that door, I get “invaded” by people who might mean well, but actually have no idea what I’m going through. I’m mainly talking about colleagues and family – my friends are a bit more savvy and some of them grow their own organic food and serve healthy meals anyway. We can talk about food with passion and knowledge and there is no judgment, stupid advice or expectations.

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