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Life After Emotional & Binge Eating

Why Are We So Damn Proud of Weight Loss?

Why are we so proud of weight loss?The other day, as I was swiping my credit card at the Costco checkout line, I was surprised to hear a man’s voice say, “Hi, Ellen”. It was a very nice man I’ve known for 25 years. He works for the computer company that has sold me and serviced every business and personal computer I have owned since 1989.

It had been about 18 months since I’d seen him (no computer crashes in that time). The last time I’d seen him he was on crutches and clearly in pain. I asked how his knee was doing. He shared that he had had a successful knee replacement. Good for him, I said.

As he walked me out of Costco and into the parking lot, he volunteered how pleased he was with his 30 pound weight loss in prep for the surgery. Then, he told me how proud his wife was of him for losing the weight. Then, he went on to say how thrilled his doctor was that he had shed 30 pounds. And then, we said goodbye and headed to our cars.

I was so struck by how proud he was of his weight loss.

On my drive home, I found myself thinking, what else might he be proud of in his life. In the few minutes we had together, I would have loved to have heard about some interesting or selfless act he had done for a neighbor or friend. I would have loved to have heard that since his surgery he’d been walking homeless dogs at a local shelter, or about a wonderful trip he and his wife had taken to a new city, or country, or to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

What is it about sticking to a diet, weight loss, being or getting thin that makes people feel so proud… or so ashamed, when the outcome is not what they hoped? Is that really what we covet most in life? Is that the most important goal we could possibly achieve?

What do you think? Have you ever missed out on more enlivening, enriching, enlightening, enjoyable life pursuits or activities because all you could think about was how much you weighed?


Ellen Shuman is an Emotional Eating Coach who specializes in helping people overcome compulsive eating, binge eating disorder, and food addiction. She is continuously amazed and saddened by how much time people spend obsessing about weight; their own and others!  She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present), Past President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (2011/2012), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, Contact Ellen, ellen@aweighout.com, or 513-321-4242.


  1. I think it’s got everything to do with a sense of moral superiority. That’s a pretty seductive thing.
    Most slender people I know regard their natural slenderness as a point of pride. They are cosmetically adequate, and therefore superior to people who aren’t. So when a person loses a noticeable amount of weight, they’re joining the “In” club. They act a bit like the loser who just scored the corner office; suddenly better than those poor schleps still down there in the mail room.
    I cope with this attitude by relabeling it. In my own mind I call people who take moral pride from their appearance as “cosmetically compliant”. It’s snarky, but I don’t share it out loud.

  2. Ellen Shuman, Emotional Eating Recovery Coach; A Weigh Out says:

    I wish that were not so, but I think you’re right on about the superiority…in insecure people. In my TeleSeminar with Paul Campos (author of The Obesity Myth), he talks about pride in being thin as a way to not be seen as someone who oveconsumes—I’m not going to give up my McMansion or my gas-guzzzling SUV, but look how thin I am! And then there all all the people I know who are physcially thin, and still feel inferior…still dislike certain (or many) body parts…evidence that this all has so little to do with size and/or shape!

  3. Maryalice says:

    I’m very proud of my weight loss! Not because I’m now thin but because I’m dealing with my issues that had me eating anything I could get my hands on. I don’t believe there is a magic number that makes me better at all. But to know I now have the tools that are helping me with my issues is making me damn proud!!!

  4. I know this is from quite a while ago but I don’t agree about the superiority written above. I am proud of losing weight because for me weight was a mental health issue. I have an eating disorder and use food to cope. When I was finally able to train my brain to be ok with healthy food, that in tern had me lose weight and not feel so ashamed of what I was eating and how it was affecting my health. I am proud of being stronger than my cravings. I am not proud because I look better. I’m proud because I was able to do something that made me feel better. I am able to play with my kids. I am able to run around with my dogs. Losing weight isn’t something that happens overnight – it takes a long time to do it the right, healthy way and sticking to something even when it gets rough is something to be proud of. It’s not necessarily about appearance for a lot of people.

  5. Ellen Shuman, Emotional Eating Recovery Coach; A Weigh Out says:

    I love the feedback this reader posted about this post on her website,
    “Beautifully and honestly captures the angst and futility felt by so many of us who have held out for happiness in the form of weight loss.”

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