You don’t have to participate.

The past few days have been rough on the social media landscape. I normally try to stay out of political discussions on the internet (or anywhere, really), but there were a few instances these past few days when I felt I could not not say something. In those instances, I was choosing to participate in what I knew had the potential to be triggering territory. I felt it was worth it, and I was fully prepared for people to disagree, agree, or completely ignore what I had to say. Of course the beauty of the internet is that you can stand up and walk away when you want to get out of an upsetting or unpleasant situation. Sometimes it’s hard to do this– or even know that you can– in real day-to-day life.

Recently my workplace launched a “Maintain Don’t Gain” weight loss initiative. Okay, so I guess it’s technically a “weight maintenance” initiative, but let’s face it, the message is that you should be highly conscious of this single number that’s supposed to define your success or failure in the game. I’ve never been a fan of any type of workplace weight competition, but until recently I thought it was all my problem and I just had to suck it up and stop being so sensitive. I realize the committee who put this thing together has nothing but the best of intentions, and I appreciate their interest in our well-being. I just happen to disagree that these types of activities actually foster wellness. There are going to be scales placed around the office for us to use as we please, aside from the official weigh-ins with someone called a “Wellness Champion” (not sure who that is or how they got that title, but I’m assuming just a volunteer employee?). I just can’t imagine who in their right mind would voluntarily let another person they work with put them on scale? Boundaries, anyone? So odd. Anyway, at the end of six weeks, anyone who maintains or loses weight wins some kind of prize. Maybe a Krispy Kreme?

I was telling my dietitian about this and we had to laugh because for the first time in well… ever, I’m actually making a conscious effort myself to gain weight. I’m trying to get to a healthier BMI now that I’m taking this “become a therapist” thing seriously. And then along comes this initiative telling me to “maintain not gain!” Cool. I also can’t wait to be even more self-conscious about people seeing me eat now that we’re all supposed to be like, dieting. I know if I can get through these crazy six weeks and still reach my goals, which seem completely out of line with the work initiative’s goals, then that will be some kind of a miracle. I guess I won’t be getting that prize, but oh well.

Now obviously, participation in this initiative is voluntary. No one is forcing anyone onto a scale or blurting out their stats for all to laugh at (yet…). As you may have guessed, I will not be participating. I have no problem with other people participating, I just hope everyone realizes that the option not to participate is there. I know I’m probably far more negatively affected than most by things like this, but I also doubt I’m all alone. I’m not just talking about people with past or current eating disorders. This may not be a healthy activity for others for various reasons. Also, for someone already at risk, a competition like this could act as a breeding ground for an emerging eating disorder.

I hope this initiative serves all those who choose to participate, and I also hope those who don’t feel they’d be best served by it exercise their right not to participate. Simple as that. 🙂



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