When I first started to lose weight, I didn’t want anyone to know. I was 99 percent sure that I would succeed this time around because I’d committed to exercising more and eating less — you know, changing my lifestyle. But I didn’t want to tell people in case I failed, and also because I didn’t want to deal with people checking out my plate at family gatherings and dinners out.

A lot of weight loss advice will tell you to tell others about your mission because they can help hold you accountable. That approach wasn’t for me because I knew that no one but myself could stop me from ordering a pizza or eating an entire bag of chips in one sitting.

The first few times someone commented on my weight loss, I was kind of uncomfortable, which is kind of out of character. People who have only met me recently might think that I’m drunk on the attention I get from my weight loss, but no. I’ve always been this way. I’ve always had an ego and I’ve always loved attention — even at 300 pounds. I’m a Leo.

September 2007: “Hey!! Take my picture!!”

I remember the first time someone commented on my weight loss at work. It was spring of ’07 and I’d been at that job for a few months. I came around the corner and one of my bosses looked up and said something along the lines of, “Hey! Oh, um hey. Ashley, are you, um, losing weight?”

I think she’d just really noticed a difference in me and started to blurt something out and then realized it might be uncomfortable. I just told her I was, that I had been for some time and that I had a long way to go.

I still don’t make it a point to tell new acquaintances about my weight loss or that I’m still losing weight. It just seems unnecessary, but if weight loss or health or running somehow come up in conversation, I will share my experience.

Even if you don’t ever really talk about your weight loss, eventually, people will notice. You can expect the following reactions:

Support. If someone truly cares about you, they will support your mission to be healthy. I have been very lucky to have a core group of people who support me. They have complimented me every step of the way and remind me of how far I’ve come when I get disgusted.

Snide comments. I will never forget a casual conversation that turned ugly very quickly. I’d just had a bridesmaid dress altered and was amazed at the price and great job the tailor did. So I was chattering away mindlessly about how I was going to take my jackets to this business, but only after a few more months because I didn’t want to have to get them altered twice. The person to whom I was speaking just looked at me and said, “Do you really think you’ll continue to lose weight this summer?” No, actually, I was planning to gain it all back.

There’s also my personal favorite of “Oh! You’re so good!” when choosing not to indulge in a group setting. Would it be OK if I said, “Are you sure you should be eating that?” Because that’s what I was thinking, but I was tactful enough not to make you feel uncomfortable.

The non-reaction. What someone doesn’t say can tell you just as much as a verbal reaction. Obviously, your coworkers and casual contacts probably won’t mention your weight loss unless you do; it’d be kind of uncomfortable. But if you have close friends and family who go out of their way to not mention it, you’re probably looking at …

Jealousy. Nothing will bring out someone’s green-eyed monster quite like a former fat girl’s new skinny jeans. This is the one reaction I never expected, and it’s not in my head. The Obesity Action Coalition actually has an entire tip sheet for dealing with the jealousy of the different folks in your life.

And finally, people will look to you for weight loss advice. I was at a bridal shower luncheon at Olive Garden this summer and no one wanted to be the first to order. Finally, I just said, “I’ll have the cheese ravioli,” and another woman said, “Well, if the guru’s gonna do it, I will, too!” The woman next to me actually thanked me for ordering “real food,” because she was “afraid” everyone was going to get soup and salad and she was hungry.

It can be flattering to be asked for advice. I started my blog because I wanted to help other obese people. I like to talk about weight loss. But talking about it can also be frustrating, because no amount of advice can make someone change their life. That has to come from within.

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