While I probably should begin this rant with a thoughtful caveat about how I mean no offense to anyone who “battles obesity,” I refuse. Even though I’m indifferent about people who choose to be overweight (or, in whatever rare instances, are genetically or medically dispositioned to bulking up), I need to express my feelings here. And in order for me to best express my feelings—you hear that? MY overlooked, size-proportionate feelings- I can’t commit to being inoffensive right now.
My bottled-up opinion is thus: If you work at a law firm, that’s what it is. A law firm. Not a Jenny Craig. It’s not a professional support group for those who eat their feelings. It’s not a place where you should be “held accountable” by your peers for what you put in your mouth or an inspirational forum for you to be celebrated if you power-walked in the mall the night before. It’s a law firm. You got that? A. Goddamn. Law. Firm.
Since January 2, a sizable (no pun intended) group people at my firm have been participating in a “Biggest Loser”-style competition, which is nothing more than a group diet. It’s organized each week by one the paralegals and was put together at the insistence of a group of women attorneys who, at some point last December, detached from blaming themselves for their own holiday weight gain and vowed to band together. In the new year, in the office.
It finally ends in 20 days. On June 1—after six months of incessant codependency—the final weigh in will take place. Though I’ve witnessed minimal results thus far, everyone insists they’re “in it to win it.”
To win what, you ask? Well, the “winner” of the eat-or-be-eaten challenge will take home $350 and an overhyped, non-cash prize they abusively call “bragging rights.” What a bunch of winners.
Since we’re now less than a month away, people are getting a little desperate, making it even worse around here. Last-minute diet fads. Juice cleanses. Jillian Michaels workout routines. And nonstop talk about The Biggest Loser.
A few weeks ago, I asked a group outside my office door to shut the hell up about it. Their response was indignant.
“What about Lost or 24? You always talk about those shows.”
Indeed I do. For about five minutes. Because those shows are amazing. But at no point do I ever suggest to the office that for the next 180 days we should all create parallel lives where we attempt to simultaneously exist in a universe where we never became lawyers. Or ask if anyone wants to join the firm chapter of the Jack Bauer fan club. No matter how much either of those things should exist.
The competition is comprised of 22 people, not including the receptionist who got fired for giving out client information over the phone and the secretary who moved back east last month. There’s a scale in one woman’s office where they all go on Monday mornings to “weigh in” and waste at least an hour of the workday. Then they spend the rest of the week making jokes about how nervous they are for next Monday’s weigh in. They insincerely cheer each other on, exchange recipes with various permutations of yogurt sauce, celebrate each other’s minimal progress and tell guilty eaters “It’s okay!” a lot.
The way they enable and justify each other’s excuses maddens me.
I have two kids and a mother with Alzheimer’s. I work 60 hours a week. I have a family to support. I have the same managing partner as the rest of you. I have real-life pressures and stressors. I love beer. I have a house filled with kids’ food. I have an unforgiving metabolism. I go to parties with end-to-end trays of artisan cheeses and gourmet cupcakes…
But guess what? I’m also over six feet tall, weigh 174 pounds and have a 34” waistline. Why? Because I watch what I eat, mind what time I eat it and get my tired ass up four days a week to go to the gym. I make time. And I do it all, mainly, so I never have to degrade myself by joining a Biggest Loser office pool.
Want to change your life and get on a healthy track? Wonderful. But do it on your own damn time. And guess what? Our insurance provider offers Weight Watchers and gym discounts. Read your plan! Then you can confess in those meetings about how hard it was to decline the homemade carrot cake brought in by Ruth from accounting, and you can bullshit in a locker room instead of a conference room about how sore you feel after spin class.
Finally, I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t this guy going to feel like an asshole when other people in his firm read this and figure out he wrote it? And the answer is no. In fact, I hope they do. I haven’t said anything here that I haven’t said to their faces, one way or another.
I’ve politely told all of them that I’m annoyed with their office challenge. And I’ve been called a bad sport and a “Debbie Downer” as a result. I’ve been looked at disapprovingly in the halls, and two women told me separately that I hurt their feelings.
Which only better proves my argument. If you’re dealing with a personal issue that you’re that sensitive and emotional about, don’t deal with it at the office!
What about my feelings, huh? My feelings of annoyance and intolerability. Anyone care about those? They’re just as real. Where’s the support group for those feelings?
Maybe if other people comment here and have the guts to admit that they too can no longer handle working in the middle of an over-obsessed weight loss contest, then they’ll finally get the hint. Help me out here. Who’s with me?