What Makes Them Different?

Perhaps you’ve known people like this, who in an eating situation can just say:

“I’m going to pass on dessert because I’m full,” or may say, “No thanks, I’m done.” When I was obese I’d stare at them like they had lost their minds.

I couldn’t seem to say NO. Even as a teenager I rarely said no to my friends when they asked if I wanted to go through the drive-thru after school. I never remember saying no to the anonymous voice of the drive-thru cashier when she asked if I wanted to “value size” my already gigantic order. I always said, “Oh yes!” And my waistline, hips, arms, face, and legs showed it. They were the stark evidence of my inability to say no to food. Any food.

The people I knew who could say no to food baffled me. Why in the world would you turn down a perfectly delicious donut when it was free? And why say “no” to the second trip through the buffet line? Why?

They seemed to possess an internal full signal on their food tank that I thought was missing in my body. I was rarely full enough to say no to food. I was rarely concerned enough about my calories to say no to food. And so I rarely said no.

As I finally got serious about my weight loss I knew I needed to learn to say that one little word. “NO.” Quite frankly, it was hard to say no at first. I didn’t really want to say “no” to the yellow bag of peanut M&M’s that I saw at every grocery check-out line. I didn’t really want to turn down my friend’s offer of some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

But I did. And along the way I learned something important about myself. My friends who could just say “no” to food items weren’t really much different than I was. I had the ability to say no just as much as they did – but what I was sometimes lacking was the desire and self-discipline to say no.

So I practiced saying no and the more I said no, the easier it got. Of course the fact I was seeing the scale move in a downward direction was a great help during that time period of learning to say no to foods I didn’t need.

Thinking back on those early years of weight loss and maintenance made me realize something. That practice of continually saying no to the foods I had no business eating served me well even today. Now when I am tempted by the 2nd cookie, or candy that has no nutritional value at all, I remember that if I don’t say “no” when I know I should, then I can start to regain my weight.

And that would be a definite “NO” in my book.

So I continue to say no when I should, and allow the occasional yes’s to enter in. I learned that I’m no different than my friends after all – I just needed to find my inner “no.”  

Have you learned to say “no” when you know you should? Has it been hard?  Diane

44 thoughts on “What Makes Them Different?

  1. Marisa (Loser For Life) says:

    It’s very hard! Especially with family members. My family is a very loving Italian family, but pushed the food on you like nobody’s business! I try saying no, but sometimes it’s just easier to say okay, so they’ll stop shoving every food in the house in front of you!
    .-= Marisa (Loser For Life)´s last blog ..My Vegetarian Lesson =-.

  2. Marcelle says:

    I also had to learn to say NO…and when I did I felt so proud of myself….and over time I also say yes to a few things..and no to others.
    .-= Marcelle´s last blog ..MRI =-.

  3. Diane says:

    It is very easy for me to say no, and even more amusing to ask “Why ” when asked if I would like that super sized. I have never understood what I call 7-11 logic with food ( buy this 32 ounce beverage for 50 cents and for a nickle more, make it a full 50 gallon drum size !). I do not understand most things sold at warehouse type stores either ( who really needs 2 pounds of celery salt in their home or a thousand scotch brite pads ???). I do shop at these for items that we use often, but much of it just makes me scratch my head. Deserts are another thing I have no problem passing up on . Now conversations with others at social occasions – can’t get enough of those ! Buffets are best managed with a first pass being a massive plate of salad( loads of greens and plain ole veggies)with no cheese, eggs,nuts, bacon bits or anything in a mayonnaise sauce and small amount of salad dressing( half ladle or less) and then a second plate of meat and veggies. If dessert is desired, take one and split it with a friend.
    .-= Diane´s last blog ..Nutrition is a powerful thing and remebering the rest of my life. =-.

  4. Susan says:

    I have learned to say No when I should most of the time. Saying no in the beginning of the journey was a lot harder than it is now. As your beliefs about yourself and what you deserve change your resolve to say no gets easier. Also I try to leave a little food behind to break away from the clean your plate club so that is a form of NO also. Sometimes its just best to stay out of the situations where you must say No a lot in especailly in the beginning.
    Great Post you always make me think!
    .-= Susan´s last blog ..Slip that leads to a Binge =-.

  5. Sandy says:

    We are on vacation and I have been having a hard time saying no to Blue Bell Ice Cream, one of my favorites from our Texas days. This morning I am feeling very successful because I said no last night to ice cream. One success in a week of vacation missteps. Today is a new day.

  6. WaistingTime says:

    Sometimes I can easily say “no.” Sometimes not. But what I HATE, HATE, HATE is when I say “no thank you” and the other person keeps insisting! Those words should be enough for them to back off. No, I do not want to try your chips. No I do not want the cake you baked. No reason needed, just “no thank you.”
    .-= WaistingTime´s last blog ..Reboot =-.

  7. erin says:

    My husband is one of those people who has no problem saying “No” to food if he’s full or not hungry. To this day it still baffles me because if I manage to say “no,” it’s not without a huge mental and sometimes emotional struggle, but for him it’s easy! I don’t know if it will ever be easy for me, but I am going to keep trying!
    .-= erin´s last blog ..My Arms: Exposed =-.

  8. Laura says:

    In my case is slightly different. I’m one of the people who always says “no”. I have been saying “no” for years. Then, people stare at me and see that I’m overweight. I can be gaining weight, but anyway I say “no”. And they always say that it’s only for one day.

    When you are thin or losing weight, is easier to say no. For an overweight for almost of my life, saying no only give bad comments. But I still say no. It’s what I’m used to do.

  9. Bella (Stilettos on the Streetcar) says:

    “No” is a slippery little word for me. I can say no to the bag of Mini Eggs before it’s opened, but once the seal is cracked there’s no stopping me.

    I also find that I don’t get full, which makes “no” a touch word because my body isn’t signaling me to say it. I was discussing this with my mom over Easter weekend. We can both clean our plates, have dessert and still don’t feel full. It takes a lot of food to get me to that feeling. At this point, I’m learning to say “no” when I’m satisfied instead of waiting for full.

  10. julie says:

    Sometimes it makes me very sad to say no, though usually at this point I don’t want what is being offered, so it’s not so painful. I’m not even that strict, but you get used to a certain lifestyle. What gets me is when people get defensive and challenge me on it. I have a neighbor who always wants to make excuses and justifications re food, and if I say no to something, i get a whole bunch of “why, you went to the gym today, you can eat this”, or “don’t tell me you’re still trying to lose weight, really?” or similar. I try to hold my tongue, but sometimes I snap at her, and then she remembers not to push stuff on me for a little while.
    .-= julie´s last blog ..wheels keep spinning =-.

  11. vickie says:

    did you find that you learned to say NO to other things too? like sale items? like volunteering for things just because someone asked you? shopping for recreation? attending an event? time wasters?

    I found I needed to learn to say NO and not be a push over. Food was just part of it.

    Good post.
    .-= vickie´s last blog ..I just feel very weird when these things happen =-.

  12. Mia says:

    When I was younger, and 50 pounds heavier, I was like you. I couldn’t say No. I wouldn’t dream of saying No. In fact, I usually was trying to figure out how I could get more of whatever was being served without looking like an absolute pig. I had quite an addiction to junk food and bad carbs!

    What really really helped me loose weight was The Nutritional Label! When I started reading the value of foods, I was absolutely shocked! Things I thought were healthy, really were not. I started with just reading Fat Grams. This progressed to Protein content and then Fiber grams. Most recently I have been looking at Sodium content! Wow! That has been an eye opener. Today, I have a good idea what is healthy and what is not. Any TakeOut or FastFood is not. Even if there’s less calories and fat, there’s tons of sodium! All this information has scared me enough where, Yes! I can say No!

  13. 'Drea says:

    I have learned to say no to Krispe Kreme donuts and hardcore ice cream like Haagen Dazs because I know, in the back of my mind, that if I want something sweet there is, at least, a better option.

    Of course, it is challenging when there’s a group and everyone’s eating something decadent and you’re the only person abstaining…
    .-= ‘Drea´s last blog ..The Arabic Music Phase =-.

  14. Sunny says:

    For the most part, it’s been far easier than I thought. Like you said, the rewards, internal and external, outweight the enjoyment of the empty calories. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy. But I know myself well enough that I realize those are times of either stress or boredom, and try to find other solutions to soothe those emotions. 😉
    .-= Sunny´s last blog ..I Plan on Losing Eleven More Pounds! =-.

  15. Ashley says:

    I had a lot of trouble saying no before they diagnosed my insulin resistance. That made it impossible to get full with normal portions and sizes and was very frustating, especially because the first two years of eating right and working out had corrected the condition on its own. When I hit a plateau, it came back, and I didn’t know what it was at first.
    .-= Ashley´s last blog ..Tijuana Flats =-.

  16. Jody - Fit at 52 says:

    Diane, I am sure you know I live by the word NO! 🙂 I learned it a bit too late BUT I have made it a staple in my fitness area of life…. friends & family don’t even question me anymore. AND, if a person that does not know me too well questions it, I just say that if I always gave in to every situation I was tempted with OR I did not say NO when I wanted to, then I would not look the way I do…. think how many situations there are when people want you to eat.. NO has to be part of the vocabulary. In fact, in real life too… you can’t be everything to everyone.
    .-= Jody – Fit at 52´s last blog ..Jamie Oliver Petition; Protein Bars =-.

  17. Beth says:

    Great question, and right on time. You helped me remember to say no. When my head’s in the game and I’m focused on big-picture (like what my eating plan is today), then I can say no, but when I’m not focused, the word no doesn’t occur to me.

  18. Jen says:

    When I was 300 lbs, I never ordered dessert. It really had to be a special occassion. My family didn’t do it when we ate out and now I don’t. I don’t have a problem saying no to dessert at the restaurant. It more that I don’t want to spend the money and it just isn’t done.
    .-= Jen´s last blog ..Craziness! =-.

  19. Rebecca @ How the Cookies Crumble says:

    Saying “no” is hard to do even for those of us who have never been obese. I’ve always struggled to maintain my weight it’s just a difficult for someone who is thin to make the right choices as it is for anyone else. It’s all willpower and you have to know when to say no.
    .-= Rebecca @ How the Cookies Crumble´s last blog ..My First Half Marathon =-.

  20. Katie says:

    Wow, how do you continue to come up with great posts and ideas for posts? This in itself amazes me! I love your point that learning to say “no” is just a skill you learn and once you learn it it’s so easy to rationally think, well, do I want that? Yes or no? I think that we somehow believe that we need a personality change to effect this switch to being able to say “no” but it’s just a skill, a tool, and WHEN we learn it, it does change you from the inside out.
    .-= Katie´s last blog ..A Collection of Funny Sites =-.

  21. Nicole, RD says:

    This is something I think about a lot. There is a huge difference between someone who naturally turns down food once satisfied and someone who can’t say no for any number of reasons. I find myself fitting into both places depending on the situation, but I need to work on “No” more. Great topic, Diane!
    .-= Nicole, RD ´s last blog ..Loose Flexie =-.

  22. Diana says:

    I have learned to say no. I do it often.
    Other times I still go for it even when I’m not really hungry. But as long as it balances out in the end… I’m not too worried. 🙂

  23. Leah says:

    I know when to say “No.”, but my desire hasn’t leaned in the direction of wanting to do it all the time just yet.

    It’s something I struggle with and I’m learning to do better and better.

    You’ve given me some very good things to think about. One of my goals is to become a person who says, “No.” and is fine with that. Being content is a big part of my problem, but I’m getting better and better.
    .-= Leah´s last blog ..Thankful Reflection =-.

  24. Siobhan says:

    Years ago one thing I realized was that I was easily able to say no when it was something I didn’t like (like any kind of raspberry anything) and much harder to say no to things I liked (like anything chocolate … unless, of course, it also had raspberries). It made me realize that the times I thought I was saying yes out of politeness weren’t really out of politeness, but because it was a good excuse to eat something I shouldn’t.
    .-= Siobhan´s last blog ..hang ‘em high =-.

  25. Carla says:

    My friend at the office asked me if I wanted to share a chocolate bar with her the other day. I very kindly said “No thank you”! I was very proud of myself because in the past I NEVER said no to food. Great post!
    .-= Carla´s last blog ..Self-sabotage avoided! =-.

  26. Fran says:

    I’m not there yet but I’m getting better at it. On days I feel good it’s easily to say no but on days when I’m not feeling well or a bit depressed it’s difficult and I don’t always say no. But I do regret that after eating it because I not really wanted to eat it but I was weak.
    .-= Fran´s last blog ..A day in my life: Friday April 9th 2010 =-.

  27. Dr. J says:

    I’m continually amazed and especially pleased that even though I did not have to achieve what you did for health and fitness, Diane, I’ve learned the same lessons!

    As she looked up at me, sliver haired and sweet faced, the face I had known and loved for all of my days, while holding out that plate of just baked cookies, speaking in her lovely seductive voice, “Please have another of my cookies little J.”

    “No, Grandma, I don’t think I will.”

    The rest of the No’s have been quite easy after that

  28. zaababy says:

    The first no is the hardest, I believe. The more you exercise that no muscle, the stronger it gets. Sometimes you neglect to flex that muscle, and it gets weak. No problem, easiest one in the world to fix, just say NO again and tada! I have to pair my no’s with another important action: RUN AWAY. Yes, run from the kitchen, from the food that is tempting me. I am good at running away like a little girl. And now that I am more active, I enjoy running away and riding my bike or taking a walk/attempting a bit of a jog.
    You know, I just haven’t found a food out there that is SO WONDERFUL that I’m willing to be fat again for the joy and pleasure of eating it. It might taste good–for a few seconds–but then I’m wracked with guilt and anger at myself forEVER it seems. How much nicer to say no then feel really really good and proud of myself forEVER.
    Most applicable post as usual Diane.
    .-= zaababy´s last blog ..Day 327–Promised Pics–before and after, and my new bike courtesy of Jack Sh*t’s contest! Oh, and weigh day. =-.

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