When people notice their peers have either lost or gained too much weight the first thing that usually comes to mind is, do you even go to the gym or you should eat a burger to gain some weight. Many people think that when they say such things that they are helping someone get healthier but often you are not and are just pointing out all the struggles of a medical condition.  Weight loss or weight gain is usually something to get excited about but sometimes it’s not and some medical conditions are the cause of your weight loss or weight gain. Weight loss generally is a sign you are getting healthier and the vast majority of people will not have chronic conditions preventing it but unfortunately, there is no way to know if that is the case if you don’t know someone’s story.  Many illnesses can be hidden very well and it is impossible to tell how much someone is struggling based on how much they smile because smiles can be deceiving and someone could be struggling a lot more than you think and still be smiling. Yes, it is possible to have a good attitude and smile all that same time while hiding a high pain day! Before you comment on someone’s weight loss without knowing their story here are some things you could be commenting that could be affecting their weight that isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Thyroid problems-  If you have a condition like hyperthyroidism(overactive thyroid) or hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and your thyroid isn’t working in the way in should then you could struggle with weight loss or weight gain. Conditions like these that are left untreated can cause other health concerns and you always want to visit your doctor if you think you could have either one of them and even if you are being treated for them nothing is foolproof and there will still be struggles. Medications can help manage these conditions and get everything back within normal range but sometimes during that process the medications you have to take to manage it makes it more difficult to lose or gain weight. Thyroid problems are invisible and you won’t know someone has a thyroid issue unless they tell you and most people will not and they don’t have to because you are not entitled to that information.

Cancer or other invisible illnesses-  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that cancer is a painful condition and you don’t need to have experienced cancer to know that. If you have cancer or some other debilitating disease like migraines sometimes the treatment you need to help you get better can significantly improve your quality but has a major impact on your weight. Cancer and many other disabilities are invisible and often you will not be able to tell someone is struggling or going through some intense chemo unless it is so obvious or they tell you. Not everyone will want people to know they are having such are a hard time so some people will not tell you and they are not obligated to do so.

Eating disorders-  I had a friend who had Bulimia and every time she ate any kind of carbs she would get upset because she was trying to lose weight and it wasn’t happening for her so she thought if she didn’t eat any it would help. I tried to help by explaining to her that your body needs carbs to function and you will never get results if you don’t eat them but she wasn’t convinced. I only knew about her eating disorder after figuring it out because not all people with an eating disorder will be open about their condition and some may be embarrassed by it or not want others to know.  If you comment on someone’s weight who has an eating disorder they won’t see a problem with what they are doing and will only get happy they’re dropping pounds and won’t be encouraged to make a change and will continue to harm their body. Weight loss is not always a good thing and if you know someone has an eating disorder one way you can help is to encourage them to seek professional help but if they refuse to do that just be a positive role model because if they have someone in their life that is making positive choices and getting results then they may be encouraged to get the help they need.

Body image disorders- When I was in high school I was obsessed with how I looked that I never at my lunch and whenever I was packed one I made my friends feel guilty by dangling my food over the trash can so they would eat it for me which pretty much worked every time.  I only ate about once a day because I had to and there was no way of getting out of it. I legitimately thought having that type of diet and increasing my exercise would give me a full-body transformation but it was doing nothing but hurting my body because I was not consuming enough and working out way too much. It wasn’t until I started eating right and developed and stopped being so obsessed with exercise that everything changed. It wasn’t until I started looking at weight loss as a sign or strenth that I truly was able to recover. There are days I still struggle with this and want to go back to my old ways but my positive community and podcasts have reminded me of how far I have come so I don’t want to go back. Not everyone has been able to overcome this and some are so obsessed with how they look that they will do so they will do whatever it takes to get as skinny as possible even if what they are doing is harmful towards their body. I used to be that person until I realized it’s not about how much you weigh and all about building your strength because you can be a very skinny person and not healthy at all or a slightly heavier person that is much healthier. If you know someone with a body image disorder and want to help them don’t tell them what they are doing is wrong but be a positive role model because if they see the positive changes you are making and getting results from it then they might be inspired to do the same.

Effects of Medications-  You can have a love/ hate relationship with medication because it can either significantly improve your quality of life or does nothing for it and just makes you miserable. Some medications like steroids help manage certain conditions but the downside is that it may have a significant impact on your weight loss or weight gain. Changing medication where that doesn’t happen is not always easy because sometimes the medication you are on is the only effective medication in existence to manage your condition. When you find a medication that works you don’t want to go looking for something else just because of a few small negative changes in physique. There are never any guarantees that if you change your medication you’ll be able to find something that works just as well as what you’re currently on.

Chronic pain- When someone has chronic pain you often will not see or even realize how much it affects your appetite but after years of having chronic pain, I know how much it can affect your weight. Some days you want nothing to do with food while other high pain days you may want anything you can get your hands on as a comfort for your pain. You only see the side of pain that chronic pain sufferers want you to see and some people are really struggling and what we need is not to be judged by non-sufferers. You never know if pain is causing someone to act a certain way and criticizing them is not helpful nor will it encourage anyone to have any desire to make a change but will only make them feel bad about themselves. If you want to help someone with chronic pain then if you notice they are struggling more then offer some extra help instead of criticizing everything their not doing. Chronic pain has enough frustrations and chronic pain sufferers don’t need you to add to it by killing their self-esteem!

Many people like to comment on weight loss thinking it’s a good thing and usually it is but not always is it the result of someone not eating enough or eating too many calories and sometimes it can be negative.  Medical conditions can cause weight loss or weight gain and all you can do is try and manage it to the best of your ability because there is no quick and easy solution to overcome it.  If I know someone personally has lost weight and has been dieting or working hard then I may compliment their hard work but only if I know them well and am very confident they don’t have a chronic condition that is causing it. Most people won’t have a chronic condition affecting their weight but there are too many invisible disabilities that it’s impossible to know if someone is on a medication or has an invisible disability so unless you ask them which you shouldn’t do or they willingly tell then you won’t know.  The only people that should care and comment on someone’s weight is their doctor or close friends and family that were specifically reached out to for help. Otherwise, it should be none of your concern as to why someone lost or gained weight.  If you don’t know someone’s story you could be saying something hurtful and making wrongful assumptions about that person because they could be struggling a lot more than you may think and you can hide a lot of pain behind a smile!  Do you struggle with your weight because of a medical condition?