How Do You Feel About This?

Last night I had an experience at the gas station that really got me thinking.  This isn’t the first time I have seen this, but I have been dwelling on it ever since.

It was 9 pm and I usually just pay with CC and don’t go into the store, but I decided to pay cash.  When I went in to pay.  There was a short obese woman probably in her mid 40’s maybe 5 feet and 220 lbs.  She had the lid open to all the bakery goods, you know, the muffins, cookies, and pastries.  She was having a conversation with the gas station worker that the new pineapple cookie didn’t sound good to eat that night.  This comment made it obvious that she was buying the cookies and muffins for that evening.  After she filled a medium size bag full of baked goods, she proceeded to fill up a 32 ounce cup of soda, then she filled up a bag of popcorn and with her hands full paid and walked out.

As she was walking out I was very close to confronting her and asking her what in the world she is thinking.  I try to not judge, I try to not be critical, I try to give the benefit of the doubt, I try to be compassionate, but when I see something like that it makes me sad/mad/frustrated/and upset. 

Why would the woman who is in such an unhealthy state, choose to make decisions like that?  Does she think nothing is wrong?  Does she not know those foods will make her sick and eventually kill her?  Does she live in denial, does she struggle with this everyday and want to stop? 

All of these questions were running through my head, I wanted to know what she was thinking?  I decided not to confront her about it, it really isn’t my business, but I am in the business of helping people and if I can get inside of their heads a little bit it might help me understand more and be able to help more.

Maybe next time I see this happen again at the convenience store or grocery store I might just confront the person, and you can be sure I will write about it!

I want to know your thoughts.  Have you ever seen this happen?  Do you struggle just like this woman?  What thoughts go inside your head?  Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts and helping me and the 1000’s that read this blog!

Comments

  1. Seen the person? I’ve been the person. Dustin, you are extremely lucky that you have never seen food as a comfort!

  2. Louise Schrunk says

    I am sure it is a habit and the person has done it for years. It is too bad but again it is a choice, you won’t find healthy in gas stations so it would not be a place for me to go if I were hungry.

  3. Dustin,

    That type of thinking is very ingrained and CAN be changed but it is related to a lot of things ..media..like Jodi said comfort…etc and her vision of herself at this moment or (I sould say in the past) is to be overweight and choose those types of foods.
    I think that being an example is the best thing to do ..when someone comes to you then you can be maybe more (confrontational) because they have desire to improve.

  4. Food can be an instant pleasure and comfort. I have to confess that I use it that way sometimes myself. I am about 20 pounds overweight though, not grossly obese. Sometimes when life is hard and you are stressed, food can make you temporarily feel better….it is a guilty pleasure. In that moment, you just dont care how it will affect your weight or health. I am not defending this woman by any means (or defending myself, as I know using food this way is wrong), but just saying that is probably her mindset. If she is that overweight and continuing to eat like this, she must not have any hope for change at this time in her life. She must feel pretty hopeless. She will continue to use food as a quick pleasure when she really should know that it will only hurt her in the end. Hopefully she will wake up one day and try to change…..Maybe you saying something would help or maybe not. I have to say that your website and words of wisdom help to keep me on track. I am not able to do bootcamp at this time, but I hope to in the future. I am trying to workout each week now and I have your first DVD. Thanks for all the inspiration that you give to all of us. Next time, if you feel strongly about it, say something….that woman needs something to wake her up to change. Who knows what might help her….

  5. Dustin, your skills and goals are admirable, but maybe you do not really understand addiction. Addicts are compelled to self administer their drug unless there is an intervention with treatment options. If you had offered her a card and a scholarship, along with your remonstrations against self destructive behavior, that might have been kind rather than critical.

    That women already loathes herself and is seeking comfort.

    Maybe she traded in an alcohol habit for binge eating!! Whatever she is doing, she already KNOWS it is insane but really does not have a plan to interrupt the compulsion. Peanut butter is not as soothing as gin and tonic or those icky bakery things.

  6. She probably has emotional issues that she resolves through eating poorly. She might have other issues as well, such as no health insurance to help with depression…and this is her way of coping.

    I’m sure she probably doesn’t feel very good about herself, which is sad. Been there.

  7. Don’t do it Dustin. Too many issues that you probably cannot even imagine or understand with this woman. And you may get hurt. Seriously.

    I would suggest doing some mentoring with professionals that help people who have low self-esteem/mind/body issues, etc. People struggle everyday with their inner critic and shifting one’s mindset can be very overwhelming and lonely. Self-responsibility is not a trait everyone is brought up with. You were given kind, healthy support growing up–talk to any educators and they can share stories with you about the abandonment and shame that accompanies many of their students’ psyches daily.

    Enjoy your day and thanks for “listening”.

    jacolyn

  8. Although I didn’t eat like that on a regular basis, I had some major emotional eating issues that I had to overcome (and still do fight). I never went to the store and intentionally purchased that much for a one time thing. I’d get one or two donuts sometimes. But if the kids and I made a pan of brownies in the morning and I was going through a difficult time, after nap time the kids would ask for another one, and they would be gone — I would eat the rest of the entire pan on a binge. Same thing with chips. I’d get the bag and start counting chips for one serving size…. I’d do just a few over, then talk myself into eating more…. just this once because of whatever was causing me emotional distress. I always felt really guilty afterwards, but I always managed to have another “just this once”.

    I still struggle now. I’m going through one of the most emotional and unsettling times of my life right now and it has been really difficult. I want to eat everything in sight and have had a few slip-ups, but have mostly controlled those urges. Even my slip ups now are just one serving of something as opposed to the entire amount. It is going to be a lifetime battle, but at least I know now that I CAN conquer it.

  9. PS I think I would feel more sad for that woman than angry.

  10. Hi Dustin,

    I think this issue is more about self-worth and mental health than anything. I can’t speak for all women, but I can tell you that depression effects my eating habits.

    I was once confronted by a health fanatic while I was getting my breakfast from a vending machine. I really didn’t appreciate his comments because I felt like he was judging me – and found yet another reason to get down on myself. He probably felt like you and meant well but that is not how I interpreted it.

    If people are paying you for your opinion, by all means, let it fly. I think any comment or suggestion made to this random woman probably would have fallen on deaf ears.

  11. I have seen this all to many times also, but I find it even more upsettting when it’s
    young people, they will continue the trend that needs to stop. I am in that 40’s
    group and we were not raised with healthy eating habits. I admit I have my
    “comfort” foods and I do allow my children them also. However, there needs
    to be balance and moderation. Hopefully all of us can inspire by example:)

  12. I’m thinking it’s a good thing you didn’t confront her. The first reason being that it would have caught her off guard, she could have reacted badly, and she would have been publicly embarrassed.

    Perhaps out of ear shot of others, you could casually hand her your business card and tell her you have a mom’s fitness group and would love to have her join in.

    Keep it light and friendly you don’t want her to whack you with her purse!
    Remember what happened to Tom Barrett- the good samaritan- Milwaukee Mayor last week…. Ouch!

  13. I have been there too. I use to travel every weekend at night and I would stop in to convenience stores to get a strong dose of sugar to keep me awake. Those days I even resorted to JOLT “All the sugar and Twice the Caffeine” Cola and down several of those $.25 little Debbie’s snacks (I think Lil’ Debbie is evil 😉

    The problem became more pronounced when I CONDITIONED myself to associate the good feeling that the sweets, sugar, amplified flavors provided with the freedom of being on the road & the high I would get. I would then get cravings for sweets at night even when I wasn’t driving. I then grew to always “have to” end the night with a bowl of ice cream or cookies, sugared cereal just before bed to feel complete.

  14. Even though we can find understanding in what this woman is doing to herself I find myself reacting much as Dustin did. I have close family members who treat themselves just in this way and I’ve never found confronting them to be helpful; in fact it has caused some distance between us.
    I can’t say wether a stranger confronting her would be different?
    It is difficult to watch someone hurt themselves over and over though.
    Lisa

  15. I do not know why I chose peanut butter as an example of ‘healthful options’ except that I dislike it a lot. Some of your spartan options are very appealing but if I have calories to spend, I will not be squandering them on peanut butter or smoothies.

    Zucchini fritata… That would be slightly “comforting”.

  16. I understand what you are saying, but the women will continue to eat the way she is until she is ready to change. Like a smoker, they may know that it is bad for for them, but until they decide to change,nothing anyone can say will have an influence.

    I know a person who is an alcoholic, he was put into treatment by family members. He was clean for a few months, but went back to drinking. Why, in my opinion, he wasn’t ready to stop.

    All you can do is keep presenting the info and hope she,as well as others, will hear you. Or when you want to approach someone, give them your card, or info card, and say call when you are ready. I will be there.

  17. kimberly strother says

    I do believe that your interest in approaching this woman is because it’s your life’s work to wish for everyone to be healthy and treat their bodies with respect, but to be compassionate and non-judgmental, you’d have to let it go. You are doing a wonderful service by offering your class, your grocery shopping tour, your website packed with wonderful information on healthy eating the functional fitness. She, would have to want to go out and seek this information on her own however. She will only make a change when she is ready to.

    The more I read about food (i.e. In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan) and the horrible choices of products that fill our grocery stores, the more I believe that like so many things in this country, money and profits for big business have a vested interest in keeping americans fat. Just like cigarettes, most processed food is prepared with fat, sugar, and salt, and like some smokers who become addicted to nicotene (sp), some people I believe become addicted to sugar and fat. Combined that with low self-esteem, the images the media portrays of women to what the “perfect” body is, blah, blah, blah. Anyone interested in wellness knows all about this stuff.

    Being overweight myself (but not for long 🙂 ) and putting GOOD food into my body and still struggling with my weight, I too might wonder how she can do it, but also feel for her struggle. But, there is so much at play. I think we need to start in the schools and get to kids at an early age, and get the non-food they serve our children out of the building. It’s early education, just like so much of the other campaigns to change bad habits. If we get to kids early, that might be a better place to put our energy… I’m afraid that for adults it might be too late.

  18. Dustin,
    Before you consider confronting the next person you see at a convenience store who you think is making poor choices in the foods they buy, you will really want to think about how you as a total stranger could do so in a tactful way that will get the results you are hoping for. You are reaching allot of people and changing the lives of so many in a very positive way. Mostly because those people are ready to make a change and are coming to you to get the help they need. My gutt tells me that approaching a situation in this manner would not get the results you are hoping for. More likely the woman might end up telling you to piss off.

    Here is a comparison for you. This is something I get very irritated with very often. My big thing is seeing children who are not buckled up in cars or are not in booster seats or the appropriate car seats for their age. I want to tell these people “What are you doing? You are risking the lifes of your children.” I can not tell you how many times I have thought this. Especially driving down the highway and seeing kids playing in the backseat and especially now that I am a mom. But, I have not said anything. In the end, people are going to do what they want to do. It is their choice and in this case they are even breaking a law and they still do it.

    Maybe you could have talked to this woman last night and she would have had her “Ahhhh Haaaa” moment right there in the gas station but I am not convinced that would have happened. I think people make poor choices and know they make poor choices. It is not until they are ready to make a change for the better that they will change their behavior. Just be careful how you choose to spread your message is all I am saying. I am extremely fond of you and everything you are accomplishing but this post kind of left a bad taste in my mouth overall.

    Have a terrific weekend, Dustin.
    Dawn

  19. whew…. I think we’ve all been “that woman” or had a loved one who fit this bill. For me, it’s both. The doctor that told me I was morbidly obese when in my head I was just a “big girl”, took me totally off guard. Totally and completely off guard, and she totally and completely changed my life. The odds are good though (even though I was living in my own fairytale world) that she knows she’s overweight, knows she’d obese. She knows that. If you were in her life already, or if you had on a “fit moms for life” t-shirt or something, it’d be different. If she knew where you were coming from, it could be different. All she knows is you’re in the gas station, and she’s being judged (at least that’s how she’d see it).
    I like Kathy’s advice of offering her your card, and support, it would take away her perception of being judged.
    We love you Dustin, and know you come from a good place. She doesn’t — yet. :o)

  20. I guarantee you this woman knows exactly what you are feeling when you look at her, without having to say a word, “…sad/mad/frustrated/and upset.” This look is familiar, all too familiar, she sees it in the eyes of the people at the grocery store, convenience store, church, school, restaurants, park, pool, etc.,everywhere, your look is a dime-a-dozen to her. It will ultimately be your kindess/compassion that will allow her to see the pain she feels; and thereafter, that food is a “grand canyon” away of ever helping her deal with the “real” reason she is medicating herself with it.

  21. Sean Gifford says

    Hi all,

    It is very surprising that everyone seems to assume that this person is dealing with emotional struggles, is depressed and seeking comfort, or that there is a problem (other than their health).

    This very much could be her nightly thing that she does without really knowing what the effect on her health is. For me, I like to stay up late and play video games – and that can lead to snacking….

    The poor choices people make are sad and disheartening, but we should not assume that from the outside looking in we know WHY they are making those choices.

    Plenty of people eat high fructose corn syrup and aspertame and have no clue what they are doing.

    It may be possible that this person does not know why or how they became overweight.

    Emotions are a big part of so much – but not the only part or even the predominant part.

    Just my thoughts.

    Best to you all,
    Sean

  22. While I think we all go through our own personal “rough or down” times, the majority of us get that wake up call or reality check that alerts us that we have gone too far! When an obese person complains about their knees or that the building is too far to walk to and are misplacing blame…I just want to say “do you own a mirror or a scale?” But then I remember my own times of distorted reality. It’s a case by case “trigger”…I think if you were comment in a compassionate & loving way, it may not make a difference at that very moment..but it may in the near future. Your intention behind the message is the most important factor in the delivery of the message.

  23. Maria Costello says

    My guess is this will be the most responded posting you’ll ever have. First let me say that I feel the same way when I see people smoking – which, by the way often can have an impact on me (thank God more places will be smoke free in coming years) or drinking too much. If you overeat you don’t affect me directly (yes, I know, insurance costs, etc. BUT no direct impact).

    Women tend to put everyone else before themselves (guilty as charged) and often it is food that acts as comfort. And unfortunately we all have to live to eat. I think the level of understanding by your “pals” here shows you how women understand this.

  24. I make poor food choices myself frequently. A large part of it is habit, part of it is trying to fill one need or problem with something else, part of it is junk being shoved in our faces constantly (marketing, advertising, vending machines everywhere, convenience, etc).

    Then there are other pieces that need to be in place to break those patterns that many people don’t have on a day to day basis, a good support group, normal healthy daily routine, regular sleep schedule, etc. Plus most everyone’s time now is filled with wasteful couch-potato activites, TV, movies, games, etc.

    But still, there are lots of excuses I can throw out there, but very few reasons… my real reason is that there is no reason. That’s why I am in boot camp now and trying to make changes piece by piece to get to where I want to be.

    But who knows what her excuses or reasons are, it could be what others mention above, or it could be that she really just doesn’t care.

    Chances are it indeed is complicated. I mean I recognize my poor choices, yet I continue to make them too (although I am trying to break/replace them).

    I agree though that bad eating constantly is not much different than the smoker or drinker who may or may not want to quit but never does regardless. It’s not a simple switch that can be turned on or off to correct.

    However, something does need to be said to her and to anyone else in that situation. Confrontation and agression doesn’t need to be involved, but people should comment to her. Negativity and publicity won’t help, but comments in private need to occur. Even if you are not in Dustin’s position, you can still try to help. Especially if you have been in her position before.

    Say “I used to be the same way and then I decided to make a change. I am in a boot camp, I can get you a one week trial membership for free, why don’t you come try it out with me, I’ll introduce you to some friends and you can see if you like it. You’ll feel better, have more energy, etc, etc…”

    Why? Because she’s not just killing and affecting herself, she’s (and anyone else like her) is doing it to all of us. If she already has or plans to have kids, what chance do they have? When she gets heart disease and other conditions, who pays for her medical care? We all do. She is taxing our healthcare system, engraining bad habits into others, etc.

    We need to do the same thing with people that fit into this condition/scenario as we did as a country with smokers. Look how much improvement has occurred nationwide in that area. If someone lit up next to you in public and was disturbing you with second hand smoke, would you say something? If they were practicing some other harmful or disruptive habit, would you sit quietly by?

    If someone walked up to me in public, said they don’t understand why I’m eating junk, told me I’m killing myself, etc, etc I’d be a little peeved and embarrased too, but if someone pulled me aside privately, even while still in public, and was polite, concerned, and trying to be helpful, I don’t see how I could be justified in being anything other than thankful (or possibly surprised).

    This nationwide epidemic affects us all, so we have a right to be involved, whether the people want to hear it or not.

    PS – And it’s not just women, us guys need help too 🙂

  25. For me, feeling judged, criticized and knowing that I am viewed in a negative light makes me completely withdraw from the person acting that way. Lead by being a positive example and if the person wants to learn, they will ask.

  26. There is many reasons for a person’s behavior and the “quick” foods.
    One issue with these quick marts is that they do not offer many healthy choices for a quick snack.
    I travel in my car all day for my job doing home care, if I don’t have time to pack a snack or lunch, I know better then to do fast foods, but, the quick marts, don’t all have smart choices, and a lot is processed food, very few fruits or vegetables for snacks, Plus, all the marketing for the “energy boost” drinks. I have become pretty good at figuring what quick marts offer healthy foods, there are very few, or I find the grocery stores that offer salad bars to chose from.
    But, the convience of getting gas, and a snack is so easy.
    I even asked a local grocery store, why by the check out they had all the sugary fruity and energy drinks but no Milk to grab and go..no one had an answer, plus I am sure it is marketing set up for product placement in the store.
    just a few thoughts….
    However, I can’t imagine eating a late night donut from the gas station-Yuck!

  27. Amir Khazai says

    I feel that when people give up on themselves like that, it’s got to be more about how they feel on the inside. When people don’t have much going for themselves they look to temporary solutions to the bigger problems they keep avoid addressing. Sometimes this disappointment (in ones self) even drives people to all time lows (such as drugs and alcohol). To sum up my thoughts, many of us are looking for instant gratification rather than long term solutions.

  28. Dustin,
    I hear where you are coming from…I work with people like this all of the time. The reality is we don’t know why and we don’t know the place she is in. That woman may have been eating all of those high fat, high GI foods for a few pure minutes of pleasure, she may have been eating because she was bored, she may have been eating to stuff feelings of despair none of us could even begin to imagine. No-one knows how she would have responded if you tried to talk to her. I think your best bet would have been to follow what we learned in last week’s sermon at Blackhawk.

    Best of luck with future encounters….

    Hallie

  29. One other follow-up comment:

    I don’t know if this is a part of the whole middle of the country Wisconsin politeness thing or what, but there are multiple comments above about how when a person is ready to make a change or ready to learn they will ask or seek it out, and well I just don’t agree with that. Ok yeah, some might, but many won’t.

    Marketers for junk food and other unhealthy products don’t take that attitude, so why should we? People are bombarded with useless stuff all day long, it’s a constant in your face attitude from companies, vendors, marketers, etc. So why do we assume people who already are engrained with bad habits will ignore all of that and choose right over wrong?

    I think everyone needs to get involved and help the situation because it affects us all.

    Again, it has to be in a positive manner and with the right attitude and such, but we need to be more direct, we need to be more in your face with the problem. We all need to be a part of the solution and not sit by watching large groups of people destroy themselves with the hopes that one day they might decide it’s enough and make a change on their own.

    I’m very happy that my wife takes an in your face attitude with me at home when she sees me doing something wrong (late night snack, junk food, etc). She does it in a loving, caring manner, and it helps, but she is still there and not taking a passive role. We need to do the same.

    Ok, I’ll step off my soapbox for the day 🙂

    Happy Friday everyone, have a good weekend.

  30. As a private life guide, through the medium of music(I am a piano and guitar instructor/performer) It has become very important for me to recognize the difference between a problem and symptom. I believe you have identified the symptom and you must approach it as such.
    I am a healthy altruist. I inconvenience myself and make compromises in order to provide positive opportunities for those around me. It seems that you Dustin are similar. That is you are a person who wishes to help our species to evolve to a healthy state of physical being and psychological balance.
    That said, every one us presents opportunities to the people around us. This woman was presenting an opportunity for you, the trick is how to proceed? We are very complex beings and just going up to this woman saying, “hey you seem a little stuck in life, and I kinda help people get unstuck and here is my card” would have most likely, not necessarily, but most likely, had a negative effect.
    Yes, you would have presented an opportunity for her, but it doesn’t sound like she is in a place ready to choose that opportunity. so what do you do?
    A smile, and kind conversation can be very, very powerful. Life is Love. Love is made up of Fear based reactions, and Trust based reactions. Hate is not the opposite of Love, but part of it on the fear side. Fear and trust are always present in every experience, just at different levels of awareness, at different degrees of intensity.
    To help others, we must present opportunities in a way, that the receiving person will feel our trustworthiness. In your situation, kind conversation could lead to her telling you what she does, and you telling her what you do, and the door opens, but you only have about one minute, and you have to choose your words carefully; full of care.
    Psychologically, it helps to somehow find a similarity with the person, that is, get them to see a little of themselves within you. Proceed with caution, but continue providing the opportunities that you do provide, to those of us who are ready to embrace those opportunities.
    Your videos have been very helpful to me, and in turn to those around me, and I am grateful for your efforts.

    peace from within to you

    Bootz

  31. Emotional eating is more than a hard habit to break. It fills a void in your life. We need food, water, sleep, and love, but when one of these is missing often food will fill that gap. Change comes when a person is ready and there is a hand reaching to help. Let’s all support each other.

  32. I may not be adding anything different than others, but I just have to say something.

    Making bad choices in regards to one’s health is complicated, & I think with food even more so. No matter how educated you are what you need to do, you still may not do it. I KNOW what are good food choices, I KNOW how to read labels, I KNOW how to measure portions sizes, I KNOW, I KNOW, I KNOW…..Sometimes is just doesn’t make a damn bit of difference. Is it messed up? Absolutely.

    I do believe that food can be like other addictions. The problem with food is that you can’t just not do it, like any others. (I’ve done that too-not eating.)

    Dustin, I have done SO many things to try & get at the “heart” of my issues. I have educated myself, but sometimes I just make bad choices. I don’t always know why. Sometimes its unconscious, sometimes I know & do it anyway. Are these excuses for my behavior? I don’t know.

    I try to do the best I can every day. Some days are better than others. Hopefully I can make permanent changes along the way.

    I could go on & on with all of this…. Please try & understand folks & not judge. Believe me, we know it happens. Just try your best to help one person at a time.

    Thanks,
    Laura

  33. I think you are obviously lacking a lot of knowledge related to over eating. There is some addictive process going on. Who in there right mind would eat to the point of obesity and beyond and live with the discomfort, inconvenience, poor health and social judgement that goes with it? It differs from other addictions in that you can not just stop. You must face food and choices related to eating every day and several times a day. With other addictions you do not have to decide which or how many drinks to have for breakfast or how much should I gamble on which game for lunch or how many of what kind of cigaretts shall I smoke supper, day after day.

    Your approaching her (confrontation) would have been totaly in appropriate. It’s none of you business, without an invitation, to speak on such a personal subject. Obviously the woman has problems. The thing to do would have been hold the door for her and smile. Not approach a stranger with the assumption that you can live her life better than she.

    I do agree with Austin above that we need to approach this poor and over eating on a national level and at the public health level. But face to face approach needs to be on a self intiated or referred to professional level. The extreme personal level needs to be with significant others not another customer in a mini mart.

  34. Wow! Maybe instead of getting mad you should be “thankful”! People struggle with many, many, many things in their life and turn to food for comfort. I’m not saying it is the right/best choice, but we all have issues.

    Next time remember – this person is struggling with something and rather than confronting them and pointing out what they most likely already know is wrong…
    Maybe you could flash a smile and throw some happiness or something positive their way!

  35. Dustin while your compassion and concern for this woman is admirable, please don’t ever confront a person like this. You just don’t know what’s going on in their life or head and it could be a costly mistake. What if those muffins, as sad as it may sound, are the only things holding her up that night? She may be alone and struggling and the activity of purchasing those foods and then retreating to her home to eat them may be, in fact, a life line for her. A simple – ‘hey those look good. Have a good night.’ Might have been the acknowlegment that she was craving in the food she was packing in. Her choices were a symptom – a private call for help. Food for thought……………

  36. Justin,

    Don’t judge. Dealing with compulsive eating is not as easy as you may think; there are many components. If that woman is like me, she already knows more than you ever will about the pain of overeating. She sees judgement, distaste, or pity in the eyes of strangers, feels people staring at her backside as she walks down the street,and has endured many lectures from concerned family and maybe a friend. She doesn’t need the intervention of a young male fitness expert–I can think of nothing more shaming. All she needs from you is compassion, understanding, and non-judgement. If she walks into your gym someday, you can offer her your expertise. I’d like to add that Overeaters Anonymous is one program that might be helpful. It’s free and it’s helping me.

  37. I think the major problem with the idea of talking to this woman was the word “confront.” That makes it sound like she personally offended you somehow in making choices about her own life and body. I understand feeling sad about her and wanting to help, but I think anger is inappropriate here. It would be almost as if she saw you in the store and wanted to “confront” you for being overly concerned with your physical appearance — you would be shocked that anyone would turn your interest in health into a negative thing, but to her, it might seem superficial and morally offensive. These things are just so subjective… I agree with a lot of the comments already made here — if you can approach a person like that from a supportive standpoint, you would be infinitely more effective. Your job is to help those that come to you, or perhaps to make it known that services like yours are available (maybe by offering a business card, as others suggested). You’re great at what you do, but (to me), it’s really important not to accidentally alienate the people you’re trying to help.

  38. It’s wonderful that you care too much, but I advise you to NEVER confront someone in a situation like this. It’s rude and your actions could lead to more self-destructive behavior. Like most people have said, you can never know what someone is going through (death in the family, loss of job, miscarriage, domestic violence, has 2 months to live,etc.) and a stranger’s unasked for advice could make everything much worse. Stick to helping those who are ready and are asking for help. If you feel so compelled to approach someone next time and you can’t control it, do it in a way that in no way criticizes her choices or appearance. Maybe say, “Hi my name is Dustin–I’ve recently started my own business and I’m always recruiting clients. Are you a mom? Great–I teach this amazing class called “Mama Tone” and you should check it out if you have time. Or check out my website–I’m trying to gain as many subscribers as possible.” You should have fliers or cards to hand out. Just a suggestion if you can’t stop yourself from approaching someone making unhealthy choices.

  39. Sadly I had to think to myself “Holy crap is he talking about me?!” That’s my description! Thankfully I made a better choice last night! Instead of running to the gas station for total crap I opted for the grocery store for a Lean Cuisine and frozen green beans to steam! Yea ME! 🙂
    I can TOTALLY relate to this woman. For me it’s the convenience that makes the crap appealing. I totally know it’s bad for me and I know how to make better choices I just don’t. I don’t eat crap b/c it’s comforting or b/c I am replacing another addiction. I eat it b/c at the stage I am in I feel that the crap will just keep me where I am (obese)and hey what’s one more doughnut going to hurt? I’m already unhealthy! As far as getting healthy I want an instant result.. I know that’s impossible but it’s totally my excuse!

    Being able to relate to this woman I don’t know how I would’ve responded to Dustin approaching me & saying “what are you doing to yourself?!” or even giving me his card.. I would have felt horrible but maybe it would’ve been the kick in the butt I needed to make some changes! I can honestly say that meeting Dustin & hearing what he has to say did make me start on the right path to getting healthy!

    As I am reading the excuses of why I eat crap I wrote above I think I am full of crap myself! All of my excuses are sad to me & seeing that the excuses are sad makes me even happier that I chose a Lean Cuisine instead! B/c nobody can change me but ME!

  40. Let’s assume for a moment that this woman just lost her 50th pound and even though it’s way off her eating plan she decided to buy herself a muffin to celebrate. You (a young, fit, MALE trainer) decide that her obesity needs a helpful comment. She listens to you tell her that she needs to do something positive for her life, change her eating habits and lose weight. She gets hurt by your comments, stops working out and jumps off the healthy food wagon. Have you helped her?

    My point is you have no idea what her back story is. It is true that she could have some deep seeded emotional issue driving her choices. She could be in an abusive relationship. She could be struggling to overcome a miscarriage. She could just really like muffins and wanted one or three or whatever. She could be strapped for cash and the only thing she could afford was the day old bakery from the convenience store. You don’t know. I don’t know. Only she knows.

    It is inappropriate for you to assume that she wants help. It is inappropriate for you to confront her. It is rude to preach that you know best to someone who didn’t ask for your help. I find the idea that you would stop a total stranger and tell them they are living incorrectly, completely naïve. I realize you want to help but I can tell you that if a young, male trainer told me I needed to lose weight, I would be incredibly offended, not energized. It’s her life. If she hits her bottom and wants to come out fighting, she will. If she calls you for help, THEN you will be able to do your thing.

    Your goal of helping 1 million moms is a fantastic one. Understand that the only way you will succeed is if you help the ones who WANT to be helped. You don’t need to stop obese women on the street to meet your goals. There are plenty of us willing to help you succeed. Focus on those who want help and avoid offending and hurting total strangers.

  41. Some people don’t care about health like you and I do. My other, most prevelent thought is sexual abuse. Lots of women, girls, people that have been sexually abused hide behind an unattractive body. They would rather do this than deal with sexual advances. Having never walked in their shoes…I try to remind myself not to judge.

  42. alot of people who chose to be in that state have low self esteem… it’s sad really… maybe by telling her she’s fat might have pushed her off the edge. my advice would be to let God lead you on these matters. don’t go unless He tells you to speak with them.

  43. polychromatic says

    Another thought. There are people who were brought up eating nothing but junk and go right through adulthood eating nothing but junk. It’s could be the way they were brought up. I think it’s easy to think someone is out of control or crazy when this is the focus of YOUR life. It might not be, and never has been for them. There are some people out there that are just fine with being overweight and sedentary. lol. 🙂

  44. These days, it can be very difficult to be a good Samaritan. You never know how the person will react, especially in a situation like this one. You don’t know what led this woman to destroy herself with food. As others have said, the root cause of her unhealthy eating and obesity is probably not what you witnessed at the gas station. What you experienced is a consequence of other stuff she cannot resolve. I am sure that the woman knows that the food she eats is unhealthy. But it tastes good in her palate and brings her comfort. Some of us have been there at one time or another and continue to fall off the wagon periodically (with varying degrees of risk). It is an illness and it can be an addiction to which no “band-aid” solution will work. So don’t get mad or upset. Rather, think of a way you can engage the person in a conversation that would hopefully lead to you counciling her on the best approach to a healthier her.

  45. To make sure both sides of the issue are presented so that we’re all considering all arguments…

    I have been reading through the comments. I think it’s a good discussion topic and don’t wish to offend anyone, but I just have to ask –

    Why is it not ok to say or do something in this type of situation? Where do we draw the line on topics that can be discussed with people?

    It’s not ok to talk to someone who is obese and making the situation worse by eating more junk food, but it is ok to step and in stop someone from yelling at or hitting their kid in the grocery store?

    Why is one form of abuse ok but not the other?

    They are literally killing themselves and causing indirect harm to others via reasons I list below.

    I am not saying “confront” people, but even if you just offered a business card or a kind word of advice, why is that unacceptable?

    How do we know that she doesn’t want someone to step in and help her help herself? Maybe she doesn’t know where to go or who to seek help from, maybe Dustin stepping in is just what she wants or needs.

    Many keep throwing various thoughts out there like maybe she was abused, maybe she has an addiction, maybe she seeks comfort. Well maybe she is just lazy and uneducated. There doesn’t have to be some dramatic reason behind it. Maybe there is, but can we assume that from the beginning?

    Being obese (not just slightly overweight or slightly out of shape) is out of control (barring medical issues), and, and this is key and everyone seems to keep overlooking it, she may very well be unfairly abusing us whether, intentionally or not, too.

    Having a good portion of the country being very overweight (an especially alarming number of kids) jacks up insurance premiums, increases medical costs, increases taxes, increases deficits, increases wait times to see doctors or be seen in ERs, etc, etc. We’re one of the fattest countries in the world, and just happen to have some of the highest medical costs per person too? That’s not a coincidence.

    So it’s not ok to be opposed to those things and reach out (invited or not), we’re supposed to just accept it, sit back and not care? We’re not allowed to speak up for our own financial or health situations that are changed by others unhealthy choices?

    If you argue that she has the freedom to choose how she wants to live (even though she is forcing other things on us indirectly and directly), why is our freedom to speech not as important. Why do we have to remain silent on the issue?

    No offense but if someone (carefully and politely) offers an opportunity that could have a very positive impact on their life is over the line or causes someone to fall off the wagon or give up, I question whether they were really making progress to begin with.

    I realize this does not apply to every situation, but at some point we have to change as a people, as a nation, and reverse this dangerous and deadly path. Everyone is pointing out extreme cases, when the average day to day people you run into are most likely just stuck in a rut with bad habits or lazy, not some abused, addicted, fragile person.

    I mean average TV watched per day by a given person is ridiculously high. Diabetes, heart disease, depression, and hundreds of other things just happen to be increasing as we get bigger at the waist?

    Have we become that sensitive, politically correct, and “tolerant” that we can’t even help people that most likely really need some help? In almost all other parts of the developed world, people would not be so casual about the topic.

    I have lived in Canada, Mexico, and various parts of Europe, I have also traveled extensively in addition to those places and I can tell you without a doubt that the people in those places/countries would flat out just tell you like it is. In my personal experiences, they have no problem telling people they are fat, out of shape, etc.

    Anyway, I do not advocate walking up to random people and telling them to lose weight, but if an opportunity presents itself where you can offer a membership, a helpful word of advice, etc, please take it. We need to change our direction before the situation gets worse than it already is.

    I too am slightly guilty of exaggerating my argument for the sake of getting a point across. It’s not quite as dramatic as my “freedom of speech” comment suggests. I just want to put some other thoughts out there to add to the healthy adult conversation already going on here. I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind, but just make you think. I know, it’s Friday, no one wants to 🙂

    One other question I am curious as to how people would react or what they would do… I travel A LOT, and this comes up occasionally, but what would you do if you were on a plane and the person sitting next to you was so big that they literally took up a decent portion of your seat too? Would you say anything in that situation?

    PS – I’m no where near my ultimate goals health-wise yet, but I am changing my habits to healthier ones slowly day by day. My wife and I enjoy the boot camp sessions we go to and enjoy killing ourselves running up Elver Park hill. We look forward to doing it again tomorrow with many of you posting on this blog 🙂

  46. I don’t know her story…I do know if I were that woman, and you confronted me, I would have told you to piss off and mind your own business. Then gone home and stuffed my face feeling even worse about myself. After all what nerve does that stranger have to judge me.
    You do such a great job helping the people that come to you. Let your clients be your advertising. Seeing many people just like myself succeeding at weight loss is way more powerful than being approached by some stranger.
    I’m convinced you’ll make your 1 million mom mark, Dustin. You’re a hard worker. The sad part is not everyone wants help…

  47. This is a sensitive subject and I may not be politically correct when I say:

    These are the people that motivate me to watch what I eat and exercise regularly. I work with some very large people and every day I look at them and am determined not to become them.

  48. So, Dustin… Hopefully, this question was a set up… a hot button to gauge your readers and measure their involvement.

    Was this ‘question’ your mother’s idea? She is a quiet voice here? Please separate your stuff from her.

    Sincerely,

    Nin

    • Nin,

      This wasn’t a hot button gauge question at all. I had this experience last night and am trying to figure out how to handle these situations in the future.

      My mom had nothing to do with this… She doesn’t even know I wrote this yet or experienced it.

      Not really sure what you meant by your question.

      -Dustin

  49. DUSTIN,
    I THINK THE NEXT TIME THIS SITUATION ARISES YOU SHOULD CONFRONT HER, AND I AM GOING TO DO THE SAME THE NEXT TIME I COME ACROSS THIS TYPE OF THING. I THINK INITIALLY WE WILL NOT LIKE THE RESPONSE WE GET FROM THE PERSON, AND I CAN’T SAY THAT I BLAME THEM. BUT HOW COOL AND REWARDING WOULD IT BE FOR YOU OR I TO RECEIVE AN E-MAIL FROM A PERSON SAYING ” I DON’T KNOW IF YOU REMEMBER ME, BUT YOU SAVED MY LIFE IN A CONVENIENCE STORE 5 YEARS AGO. I AM NOW ABLE TO SEE MY CHILDREN GROWN UP, AND HAVE CHILDREN OF THEIR OWN. HAD IT NOT BEEN FOR YOU I WOULD BE DEPRESSED, VERY SICK AND DIE AT AN UNNECESSARILY EARLY AGE. THANK YOU FOR CARING ABOUT A TOTAL STRANGER AND GIVING THEM LIFE BACK”.

    IT MAY BE STICKING OUR NOSES IN THEIR BUSINESS, BUT WHAT IS THE WORST THING THAT CAN HAPPEN FROM DOING IT? WE GET CUSSED OUT, SO WHAT!? WHAT IS THE WORST THING THAT CAN HAPPEN FROM NOT DOING IT? THE PERSON DIES.

  50. I am keying in to your kindness and references to other stuff. Your mother’s influence is obvious to me.

    I appreciate you and am amazed by your marketing stuff.

    Dustin, I admire your business but also recognize the hand of yo’ momma. I am impressed by you both.

    Regarding the ‘question’, are you really so ‘focused’ that you do not understand what crud you are dealing with? I guess!!

    I read some of your web pages. They do seem to be influenced by somebody else.

    Sincerely,
    Nin {Older than mom, and fatter!!} I did try the ‘burst thing’ but collapsed sobbing. I will try again tomorrow. Lately, I am pairing fruit with beef jerky.

    Thanks Dustin, aka admin.

    • Nin,

      The only thing my mom’s hand is in, is writing the nutritional segments. I have immersed my life into helping moms, having now trained well over 1000 moms. My mom lives 300 miles away and I see her a couple times a year, so she really isn’t that close near me. I guess my mom’s hand is in it by the way she raised me and why I now want to do what I am doing.

      Besides a few of my guest posts, I write all 100% and don’t ask my mom for any ideas or topics to write about, I tell her what nutritional topics she should write about based on questions I get from clients.

      Thanks for reading,
      Dustin

  51. Dustin i recently quit smoking and i make sure the first thing i do in the morning is work out im also a heavy person but my life is going to change because i am choosing only to do good for me . The thing is as many times as people told me to change i would always fail but when i choose to do it for me i will succeed.

  52. I truly believe everybody has the right to do whatever they want as long as its legal. Does it bother me that she’s overweight and eating junk? Nope, not a bit…do I want to live that way? Nope, never. Her decisions are her’s to make…not yours…not mine. It’s simply not my business.

    Debbie

  53. I think the last thing this woman needs is a total stranger coming up to her and start lecturing her about her food choices. We all know eating that type of food and being obese is unhealthy- you’d have to have your head in the sand to not know it. However, most obese people eat like they do because of emotional problems, then it in turn becomes physiological- the more you eat, the hungrier you are (at that weight level, that is, not a “normal” weight.) You then become more depressed, and eat to compensate. It’s a vicious cycle, and a well-meaning stranger will not change this. She would probably react with anger out of embarassment, and become resentful and close her mind to what you’re trying to tell her anyway. After that, she’d most likely eat it anyway out of a sense of “rebellion” (who does he think he is to tell me what I should and shouldn’t be eating- to hell with him, I want these cookies, it’s MY life, MY health and I’m eating them!)She may not become angry, but just even more depressed and eat them out of comfort, which is most likely the reason she eats that way to begin with. The problem with people who have never had SEVERE weight problems is that they simply just do not understand. It’s NOT a question of will power or not wanting to be healthier and looking better- it goes much deeper than that- you’re fighting both an emotional and physical addiction. I’ve been at both ends of the spectrum, thin and severely overweight, and believe me, obese people DO know it’s not healthy to eat like that, and do you really think they enjoy looking like that and being treated differently because of their weight? I’m still overweight, it’s a struggle and many times fall off the healthy food wagon, but I’m not severely obese anymore. However, like any addict who seeks something on the outside to make themselves feel better on the inside, I had to make the change myself when I was READY to make the change. No amount of people telling me how unhealthy it was, how much better I looked being thin (do people really think obese people don’t know they look better thin?) would make me do anything about my weight until I was ready. No doctors, family, friends, and CERTAINLY not a total stranger coming up to me in a gas station would make me suddenly “see the light” and come round. Most overweight people know quite a bit about good nutrition- it’s not that they don’t know HOW to eat healthy, exercise,etc., it’s just that they’re not emotionally ready to do it yet.

  54. Hey Dustin,

    Sorry, I started writing a note and something happened hopefully you don’t end up w/ 2.

    Many years ago a very dear running buddy of mine (who is no longer w/ us) once said to me, Everyone seems to struggle with an addiction, it’s finding a healthly addiction is key.

    I’ve thought of this so many times since then. People really struggle with BALANCE in their lives. That’s why we love doing what we do. Seeing people create a more balanced healthly life is so rewarding.

  55. How are you going to feel when you read the paper the next morning and the person threw them self off the bridge? Because a rude remark from a stranger was the last straw. She couldn’t take anymore blanket unknowing judgements from society.

  56. Really interesting Friday night reading!! Being a nurse and often wanting to help people to make better decisions, one must be very careful in how to encourage someone without alienating them. Love, kindness,understanding, a gentle touch go much further than any kind of confrontation, I have found. Yes, you hope that one gentle comment can make that Life changing decision for someone. But ultimately people decide to change when and if they are ready to change. You never know what is in that person’s life–it is amazing what strength people have and the burdens that they carry–so a kind word and smile can do more to make their day better than anything else. Carry on Dustin and know that you are reaching many people and when you see someone like the woman the other night. Choose something healthy yourself(lead by example–she might think that apple that you picked is really a better choice the next time she goes in) and smile like you really mean it and I guarantee that you will not regret your decision and it may even help in some small way. Hope to see you by the end of September when I get the okay from my doctor. Carry on Dustin..

  57. Sandra Meinholz says

    Dustin,

    I think some of us look in the mirror and see ourselves as that obese woman, regardless of how big or small we are. Society is cruel and being a marketing teacher, I realize that marketing is horrible to females in general. Look at all the magazine covers and what do you see? A beautiful, young, “small” woman who doesn’t seem to struggle. It’s hard even when we look at our children (and love them so much) and know that we are the way we are because of them.

    If I were you, I would have given every woman in that convenience store your card with your fitmomsforlife website on it. Sometimes it just takes a piece of paper to open our eyes. I’ve been watching you on NBC 15 for quite a while and have been struggling with the extra pounds for a year now. It took my husband to say, “Honey, why don’t you check out Dustin Maher’s website. Maybe he can help you be the person you want to be.” I didn’t take offense to that because he knows how much I want to get back down to that size 8 in my closet. It never occurred to me that YOU could help me. My husband had to point that out.

    I’ve only been to three of your classes but I’m feeling great (when I can sit up on my own) and I had someone tell me today that I look great. I didn’t even bring it up! I don’t know if you’re a miracle worker, but I’m hoping! 🙂

  58. there are some very good posts here. Being a counselor, and working with many addicted individuals, I can say from experience that people have to want to change in order for help to be effective. I believe Mindfulness is very important here. At times, we all judge others, but to be mindful is to try to be non-judgmental and approach situations with loving kindness. Dustin, I believe your heart is in the right place, you may just want to obtain some additional information on the psychology behind addiction and the way to mindfully approach it/treat it. The information you have to share with others is invaluable if they are ready for it and choose to listen.

  59. Dustin,

    I’m really shocked at your ego here and horribly offended by your reaction to this woman. I know someone who took their own life because of something a stranger said about her appearance. I know it wasn’t the stranger’s fault and it would have happened regardless, but you definitely don’t want to be the cause of anyone’s pain. Austin–you’re really not getting it either and maybe it’s because you are both men. I’m all for telling it like it is and being passionate when I talk about things I’m interested in. Free speech is one thing and being a complete jerk is another. My cousin gained a ton of weight and had no idea what was happening–finally after years of struggling, they found a gigantic tumor on her pituitary gland. She had it removed (went through hell in the process and almost died), and now she is thin and back to normal. If you had said something to her while she was going through this–you would have deserved some serious karma. Or how about my good friend who was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder–her doctor put her on steroids and she blew up. Her older brother was so mean to her with his comments about her weight and she cried constantly–all she wanted to do was get better. I’m just so livid at your reaction to this stranger and I know I’m not the only one. You will lose clients/readers over this and that’s really too bad. I hope these responses have opened your eyes and I REALLY hope you apologize and work on changing your attitude. I’m sure you didn’t mean it, but you came off as a bit of a self-important narcissist in your post. Please try your best to not alienate people, because what you offer is truly great.

  60. If you had confronted her, you would have only humiliated and judged her (well, you already judged her…).

    Honestly – we don’t know anything about her. She could be addicted to food. She could have an emotional attachment to food. For all you know she was buying that food for multiple people. Maybe she eats fairly healthily but has some kind of metabolic or physical disability that prevents her from being able to maintain a thinner weight, and you caught her on an off day. Maybe she is somebody who’s body is naturally fatter. Or maybe she just doesn’t care and is choosing to eat that way even if it has health risks. At any rate, she doesn’t deserve to be looked down on, made fun of or be dehumanized. Fat people are one of the few groups of people it is still okay to do this for, all in the name of people who claim to ‘care about their health’ but think it is okay to shame them into doing so. It’s really quite disgusting – and the constant stress actually causes more health problems than the actual being fat does.

    It’s kind of a touchy subject for me. I’m not obese, but I am a little heavy/thickset for my height and always will be. I maintain a fairly healthy diet and work out almost every day. But I’m kind of political about this subject because I see how much of it is fostered by the media and people who stand to make money off of this. If you look at blogs like junkfoodscience.com, there are a lot of stories about how being overweight probably isn’t as bad for us as the weight loss industry wants us to think, and fat people aren’t the lazy, depressed, weak willed slobs people seem to like to think they are.

    Now, those food choices are CERTAINLY unhealthy, and I do agree that it is not so great that she is eating all of that stuff – and if I had to advise somebody I would tell them not to eat that food, but for their health, not because they might be fat or thin. But I’d wager that if you walked to the gas station there are plenty of thin people also making those same food choices, but it’s only the fat people that register with us because it reinforces that whole stereotype. Trust me, that is the exact kind of crap my rail skinny husband would be eating day in and day out if I didn’t do the shopping. People are always trying to foist pie and desserts and third servings on him because he’s “too thin”. Why is it okay for HIM to eat unhealthy foods, but if somebody who isn’t as thin as he is, is automatically looked down upon even if they DON’T eat like that. It’s a hideous double standard.

  61. Also, and I have really enjoyed the comments, I do find it kind of offensive that so many people are assuming that she, or anybody else who is overweight, has these emotional problems or issues, or is somehow unbalanced. I don’t know what fat people you know, but the ones I know are perfectly normal people and actually eat pretty normally too. But for whatever reason I seem to know a lot of people with PCOS and it’s hard for them to maintain their weight. One of them is a friend with a blog who writes quite prolificly about what she struggles with and the judgments people make about her – blatant rude comments, people yelling insults as they drive by, etc. It’s really remarkable (and by that I mean disgusting) and I think that’s partially why I am so touchy about it myself. And she eats WAY healthier than I do – her family doesn’t eat any sugar or white foods, no junk food or fast food, lots of whole grains, lean protein, vegetables. Yet she is obese by any standard.

    I’m not saying that this (emotional eating, addiction, etc) doesn’t happen, because it does (I am one of those people who used to eat food for comfort and I have a hard time making good food choices when I travel for work…I’d say 50 percent are good)…just that it doesn’t apply to every single situation.

    I do think Austin (you were TOTALLY writing this at work ;)) is right though in that we need to emphasis health more. Even if it didn’t impact us directly, it’s still the right thing to do. I’m just now sure how you would go about it without really hurting the person, especially because every person is different and could be struggling with their weight for totally different reasons.

  62. This is a most interesting post! When I was an undergraduate dietetics student ~ 20+ years ago I wrote an editorial about discrimination of obese people… change happens so slowly….

    Dustin — as several have said, you have alot to offer. I buy your dvd partly to help you get off to a good start in your business, because you are a likeable person. Perhaps this discussion will be “career changing” for you — in that it will tell you how much you don’t know — and need to learn about the psychosocial issues around weight loss, including self-esteem, locus of control, personal change models, and so on. There is alot of literature about this — in general and as it relates to weight loss. I have also read research about how you need to change the “community” so that people realize they won’t fit in if they partake in immensely unhealthy habits (such as smoking). I’m pleased that my workplace is taking this on aggressively — by overhauling the culture. You no longer see donuts at my workplace for example. (Yes, you do see small peices of chocolate at times, but there is typically healthy food around, too. And people don’t tell one another how they should eat, behavior change starts to happen, anyway).

    This convenience store patron may not have friends/colleagues who are role modeling healthy behavior either. I doubt if a stranger will have a positive effect on her…. I agree with others, that it would likely back fire. I would be hurt and angry if you approached me in that manner. But, you may have a chance if you help many other people get on track and stay on track. Maybe you will influence children and the school systems so the next generation has a chance…. You will have to make some strategic decisions in the years ahead — where/how will you have the most influence? It is both a broader public health issue and a personal business decision for you.

    At least you are brave enough to put some interesting thoughts out on this blog, even if you get a little bruised up in the process. I suspect this will lead to a lot of self-reflection and learning. Good luck.

  63. Would you have been as angry if she were thin? What assumptions were you making about her? Perhaps she was taking those baked goods to feed her work crew, or a big group of kids at a birthday party…. Are there class differences that you’re overlooking in your response to her? Not everyone has access to healthy food, even if they are aware that they need to be eating it.

    I appreciate your goodness, Dustin. Have you ever done any diversity or cultural competency training? You’re such a smart young man, I bet you would find it both fascinating and useful in your work!

  64. Dustin,

    Perhaps the woman who is eating the extra donut that shouldn’t be is thinking about the extra time she was raped by a family member and shouldn’t have been.

    Perhaps she’s stuffing the bag of chips into her belly because her parents stuffed words into her head that told her she was ugly and stupid and won’t amount to anything.

    Perhaps she is drowning herself in extra large soda’s because she feels she’s already in a pool where no one will look at her because she’s bigger than most.

    Those are my thoughts.

  65. When I weighed 330+ lbs, complete strangers would come up to me and make comments about my “pretty face” and large body regardless of where I was. They didn’t know how hard I was trying to make healthy food choices and that I was seeing a nutritionist. The same thing happened when I weighed 275 lbs. When I weighed 210 lbs, I became certified as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor because I was sick and tired of fitness professionals who had no clue of what it was like on “the other side” and I wanted people who really struggled with weight to have someone to relate to. Now that I wear a size 4/6 at 5’8″ it still makes me uncomfortable when people comment on my body and/or eating habits and food choices. I do eat healthy and role model a healthy lifestyle for my children, but believe that there’s a right and wrong way to do things and to have an impact and positive influence. If you’re going into a place that’s a junk food haven, why not take that opportunity to go up to the manager and ask if you can post a flyer for your classes next time you’re in there and not target a particular individual? Let her be! You might have the right message, but you may (or may not) be the right messenger at that point in time. Who knows? Sometimes it’s more of a gift to be invited into someone’s life.

  66. How do I feel about this?

    Sad. Sad that someone can judge a person solely on appearance without getting to know them. Sad that people assume this woman was going to consume all of the bakery, popcorn and soda she purchased. Sad to think that a person believes that by confronting this person and giving her unsolicited advice regarding her weight problem this woman will thank her in the future for saving her life. Dustin, if you truly care about this person and others you see in our community then maybe you should take your endless energy and undying enthusiasm and attempt to reach a more diverse population of women. I know many overweight women who do not have the convenience of receiving your helpful hints over the internet or the luxury of attending your wonderful classes. These women are struggling, especially in this economy, to keep their job if they’re fortunate enough to have one. They are raising children without the assistance of a father, living pay check to pay check. Maybe you could reach out to these women through our various local community centers.

    People make changes in their life when they have access to resources and when they are ready!

  67. Wow, it will be very interesting to read your response to these comments,Dustin. Another thing to consider is that just because this is your 24/7 Dustin, it isn’t everyone’s, and although it is a healthy way to live your life, there are people out there doing just as important work in other areas. For all you know, that woman maybe works 60hours a week, volunteers, takes care of a disabled child, adult. The point is, is that to take health and fitness to a higher level for me, I have to have my life calm and not chaotic so that i can focus on myself and have time to exercise and think about what I am going to eat. People think that athletes like Lance Armstrong are so great, but really they spend 24/7 on their own bodies and don’t have to do some of the day to day things that most women and mom’s have on their plate.They also have personal cooks, coaches, bill payers, etc. We don’t all have that luxury. And when I throw in a pizza after 2 hours in the car driving kids here and there and it is 9 pm and I haven’t eaten, guess what–I eat the stupid pizza because I just don’t have someone putting down a fabulous seared fish and salad.You have to be pretty selfish to get “there”–and not that that is wrong mind you, but not everyone has the time,will, desire,finances-to “get there”. It is not your place to put her down or judge her because of a snapshot that you saw. You know nothing about her.Don’t judge unless you have walked in their shoes.

  68. polychromatic says

    I’ve been thinking a lot about your post since yesterday and I hope this didn’t hurt you. Your post is exactly what most type of women in her condition are afraid trainers/gym rats would be thinking about them and is a LARGE part of why they don’t get started. Just food for thought. 🙁

  69. Eating is an addiction, and like other addictions, the sufferer will not change until they are personally ready to do so. They already know they have a problem, and what they need to do about it. There is probably nothing others can say which will motivate them to make a change–it has to come from within themselves. Being there to offer help when the person asks for it is about all an outsider can do.

  70. Here’s a different angle on it for you to consider.
    I smoke. I’ve quit a few times, last year I went on the Chantix and made it not smoking the longest amount of time ever. I was so proud of myself. I could finally go anywhere, with anyone! It was wonderful. Then, my dog died & I had to work the next day. A smoke has always toughened me up. If I was crying, or upset, a cigarette would help ease the crying or problem. I know it’s stupid, it has always been a security blanket. I most often need one when I’m very sad. It always helps me to feel like I could handle whatever it is better. So, I had a couple of cigarettes, just until I got home and could cry some more for my little dog, well……you know what happened then, yup, not so easy to quit again.
    I’m not a rude smoker. I have known some people for years and they do not know I smoke. I go far away from everyone & sneak them. BUT, Total strangers seem to seek me out and tell me that I should quit. Some of them are really very mean about it. I can stand by a tree when it’s 20 below having a smoke far away from all people and someone will walk over to me to tell me I should quit. No kidding….
    I am not stupid, I KNOW THAT I NEED TO QUIT! Good Lord, I have to LIVE with me. I tried the Chantix again, just a while ago & it almost killed me. Instant bad, bad, bad reaction this time & I stuck with it for over a week, thinking it would be worth it if I just got back to not smoking long enough, but the drug was just too bad. I honestly think I was in a lot of trouble, I did lose some weight on it, because I couldn’t even eat while I was on it. It was like being in quicksand, mind and body. Making mistakes at work, come home, sit down and stare. And, still, I stuck with it for over a week, thinking, it worked last time, it’ll be worth it.
    Every day I wake up, not going to smoke. Some days I make it, some not.
    Having people come up and tell me I should quit smoking does not help. I know it’s bad for those around me, that’s why I would never smoke around a non smoker. I know they are bad for me, my teeth, they smell, they are expensive. It’s a battle. Someday I’ll win it. But, I wish I understood why non smokers go out of their way to harrass me. I end up feeling like an even bigger loser & you know what that makes me want? Another cigarette.
    I think this lady would have felt the same way. She has a mirror. She knows. She tries on clothes. I’ll bet she wakes up every day thinking “today I make it on that diet”. To confront her would only make her feel even worse about herself.
    As for me, the changes I am making to my eating, exercise and mindset, through your website, Dustin, is helping me see the smoking in a whole new light. I’ve been trying to quit for a long time now, I slip up way more than I wish I did. But for the first time, I don’t just want to quit smoking, I want to be healthy, the whole package. I’m sure I’ll be off them completely soon and, in part, thanks to you. But, if you’d have come up to me outside and told me I should really quit smoking, I would be angry and ashamed, I wouldn’t like you much and I certainly wouldn’t read your blog or buy your DVDs. But, my finding you (through your radio shows), is helping me to want to be healthy, which in the end, is what you want for all of us.

  71. Mary, I can understand your personal passion towards people that struggle with health related weight issues that are unfairly judged as I to have experience of this first hand and I applaud your unwavering support for your friends struggling with this. BUT before you bash Dustin and judge him unfairly for his thoughts I suggest that you reread his ENTIRE POST again. You will see that his reaction to questioning the person was not based on her physical appearance alone but was based on her ACTIONS as well. This tiny fact/observation makes a huge impact in how people are perceived. Would you have found your cousin in the convenience store making a similar purchase for herself? If you had, would you not have questioned her unhealthy food choices? Again, if you read his post, without personal emotion attached, you may see that he is not derogatorily judging the person but questioning the psyche behind her ACTIONS.

    We are all culprits of prejudiouses, you may not be aware Mary but even in your post you are making a judgment towards the very people you are defending “now she is thin and back to normal” Is this not stating your opinion is that people who have weight issues are not normal. On a side note: It’s great to hear your cousin is healthy again. It is very easy to read something you are passionate about and get stuck on one small comment that we lose sight of the entire contexts of the statement trying to be made. Naturally, this ensues unfair judgments made against the author. I write this not to offend but to give you another insight into what Dustin may have been trying to convey to his readers. I applaud him for having his ego in check, that instead of going with his strong gut feeling to confront her he subjected himself to criticism and name calling in order to get a fuller understanding, by asking his readers, what the woman’s thoughts and emotions may be on this very delicate topic. I would think his actions are the complete opposite of a self-important narcissist.

    Mary, you are right people have a right to express their opinions freely as it is also good to have your eye’s opened by others to how your words and thoughts are perceived because I have a feeling you would not want to come across as a complete jerk either.

  72. Anne Watman says

    Austin, I tend to agree with you. If abuse or whatever is causing this then it looks like everyone has been abused in recent years. I live in Southern Wisconsin and I’m guessing that it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that one out of three people here is overweight and often very overweight. When I was a kid this was very rare. We might have one or two kids that had weight issues (and I do wish we had been more compassionate), but now it’s everywhere. I regularly see entire families at the grocery store who are obese.

    Too much food and not enough exercise seems to be a problem for every living species, so it has to be more than physical or mental abuse. Let’s face it, food tastes good and we all like to eat, even anorexics. My dogs and horses will gain too much weight because they like to eat and if they don’t have to work to get it, all the better.

    I wonder what would have happened if Dustin had slipped her a business card and simply said something like, “please give me a call if you’re ever interested” and then just walked away. We all need a push sometimes to do what we really want in life and are having trouble accomplishing by ourselves.

  73. Michelle,

    By saying my cousin is “back to normal”, I meant that she is not slowly dying anymore, started menstruating again, can see out of her right eye again. In no way was I judging those I was “defending”. If she felt like eating a donut and a soda, I would not question her choices–why would I? Also, You should really re-read Dustin’s post. Clearly, this woman being over-weight was a huge issue for him, otherwise he would have left that part out. Why couldn’t he have said–“I saw this woman at the store and she was making unhealthy food choices…” NOPE!! HE SAID, “There was a short obese woman probably in her mid 40’s maybe 5 feet and 220 lbs.” I’m no genius, but I doubt he would have written, “There was a tall, thin, in-shape looking woman, probably in her mid 40’s maybe 5’10” and 140 lbs.” No, he wasn’t judging at all. You took your own personal prejudices and read things into my post that were not there at all. That’s too bad. Also, I never “bashed” Dustin as a person–Not at all. I said that is how he came off–not he is a narcissist (I obviously know he’s not, which is why I selected the words I did). I’m sorry your own personal views tainted what I wrote. I’m sorry my post caused you to be so judgmental towards me.

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