Sunday, March 21, 2010

Good Support - and no, I don't mean "Spanx"

The DFC has drafted a letter for clients to send to their friends and family before they return home.  It has some helpful hints for the people in your life who want to help, but may not have the best idea of how to do that.  I feel like I am surrounded by the most amazingly supportive group of people - so I don't know that I think this letter is necessary for my supporters.  I did want to post it, in case some of you that read this blog have people in your life who may benefit from this information, so they can help you be the best person you can be - at whatever size and weight that ends up being.

Dear Supporter,

I am ready to rejoin you in our community after having spent time at the Duke Diet & Fitness Center. I have experienced a period of regulated meals, programmed exercise, and learning to make wise choices. This has been supported by many courses that have educated me in a new way of life.

When I return to the mainstream, I will need support from you and all of my friends. We have been taught that “support” may be broadly defined as “the respectful demonstration of caring and concern about a person.” Support can take a variety of forms depending on the needs of the individual. What is supportive for one individual may not necessarily be so for another. For example, some individuals find praise, approval, and recognition for their accomplishments to be extremely helpful, whereas others prefer their weight management efforts not be a focus of attention.

It is difficult for family and friends to fully understand what is needed to support me upon my return. Many of the things that people do, while meant well, can prove to be unsupportive in my effort to adopt a new lifestyle.

Here are some examples of what is not helpful:

• Lecturing about weight loss or freely offering “constructive criticism” can be detrimental to my self-esteem, and receiving unsolicited advice can be confusing. I know what to do to be successful and it will be difficult to maintain my focus in the face of unwanted advice from others.

• Despite your concern about me, my success does not depend on you “policing” my behavior. I, like most people, tend to rebel against attempts to be controlled. I am afraid that these tactics will backfire and lead to more eating and less exercise.

• Please don’t equate my regimen with deprivation. I will be making my own educated choices. I do not need to be on a deprivation diet in order to succeed. In fact, I have learned that many successful people plan to eat their favorite high-calorie foods as part of their overall meal plan. Furthermore, deprivation approaches can actually create or strengthen eating disorders.

• You can see I’ve already made significant changes in my lifestyle, which have resulted in weight loss and increased physical activity levels. Please don’t demonstrate any skepticism about the likelihood of my long-term success or my ability to recover from setbacks. Your negative support could cause me to lose my focus.

• Weight loss is a complicated process and is usually slow and irregular. The scale is not the only measure of progress and I may prefer to not report the details of my weight loss because of the normal weight fluctuations and plateaus that I expect to experience. You may feel that your questions about my weight are supportive, but they may be perceived as pressure or criticism and result in my feeling frustrated in not being able to report consistently better numbers every time you ask.

I hope that you will try to do the best you can to help me and I appreciate your efforts. I’d be happy to talk to you about ways that you can help encourage me. I know I can make a success of my program with your help! Let’s both work to keep the lines of communication open.

Yours in health,


  1. Hey Natalie,

    So awesome to hear you're back safe and sound and I am so impressed by you. you are amazing. keep up the positive attitude.

  2. Very happy to have you home, Nad - and thank you so much for sending this out note!! What a beautiful day for you to come back - and tomorrow is even better :) Hopefully you are settling back nicely - and enjoy your bed again - that is one of life's simple pleasures :)

  3. Nat! I think the DFC letter is genius. So happy to have you home! My SAB was suffering :)

  4. Thank you so much for sharing. I lost about 55 pounds a few years back and some of the things in the letter still resonate with me. It was so frustrating to always hear criticism and opinions on what is healthy and with that, the worst thing was hearing that I was "too skinny" when I had barely lost 30 of the necessary 55 pounds. I so appreciate your honesty. I found your blog in a really odd way today and am so glad I did. Great job!


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