I don’t want to tell coworkers about my weight loss surgery, client called me “beloved,” and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. I don’t want to tell coworkers about my weight loss surgery

I’m considering going in for bariatric surgery next year, and I don’t want to tell anyone at work. I plan to take a week off for vacation right after the surgery, and because I work a lot from home I can easily extend my recovery time.

What do I do when the weight loss becomes too noticeable? People who have the procedure I’m planning drop a lot of weight in a very short time, and I know my coworkers will notice. I’ve contemplated faking stomach trouble, but I don’t think that excuse will work for long. I’ve also thought about telling my manager that I’m going in for surgery due to severe ulcers or maybe a gallbladder problem and just passing off the weight loss as a side effect.

To complicate matters, I work in an extremely health-conscious workplace. Nearly all of my coworkers are very fit and exercise regularly, and are just generally buff. I stick out like the proverbial sore thumb. It’s extremely likely there’d be strong backlash if news of my surgery leaked out. I’m a very private person anyway and never discuss my health with anyone at work. It’s no one’s business and I’m not on the company health plan, either, so no way would HR know. What’s the best way to conceal my situation?

I don’t think you should outright lie, but you also don’t owe anyone any details about medical stuff, beyond just letting them know that you’re okay if they’re worried. If someone comments on your rapid weight loss, I’d go with something vague that only responds to the possibility that they’re worried about you, like “yes, it’s been a real change but it’s nothing to worry about” or “I’ve been treating a medical condition and this is a side effect, but there’s nothing to worry about” (which is true). If someone asks you what your weight loss secret is or something like that, you could say, “It’s been the side effect of a medical condition.”

If pressed, you could say, “Well, it’s medical so I don’t really want to discuss it. Thanks for understanding!”

2. Paying for a team birthday lunch

My colleague has arranged a team lunch to celebrate two teammates’ birthdays. Our manager didn’t set this up, and is sort of thing is usually buy your own. Would it be ok for me to anonymously (or not?) pay for everyone? It’s a small team, and I earn more an the others. I just wonder if it would be awkward for anyone, including my manager.

Don’t do it unless you’re also going to pay for everyone else’s birthdays in the future; otherwise it will look like favoritism.

Read an update to this letter here.

3. My client called me “beloved”

I’m a freelance Torah scribe, and part of my work is visiting communities whose scrolls I’m working on, to drum up enthusiasm.

In my new project, my contact person has just introduced me to community leaders (by email) as “Our beloved Torah scribe.”

I’m not exactly surprised; I often get a lot of emotional input from client communities. People have very intense feelings about their Torah scrolls, and sometimes they project those feelings onto me, since I’m the one working with their scrolls.

I don’t want to be churlish, but I want to put a stop to this “beloved” business now, at the start of the project. I just don’t exactly know what to say. My job involves being warm and professional and welcoming and inspiring, but “beloved” is taking it WAY too far. Please help!

I can definitely see why it feels overly personal too you, but unless it’s part of a pattern of boundary-crossing, I don’t think it’s particularly outrageous. If there is a pattern of boundary-crossing, you’d of course want to address that broader pattern … but if this is the only thing that feels off to you, I’d chalk it up to different personal styles and let it go.

If you absolutely want to address it, you could frame it as “I’ve found that keeping more of a boundary with the communities I’m working in leads to a better experience for everyone; it makes it easier to talk about problems and (fill in other reasons).” But if it’s just this one thing, I think it’s better to let it go.

Read an update to this letter here.

4. Should I give my boss a heads-up that my grandparents are very sick?

My grandparents (both over 92!) are starting to be very sick, and as such, they’ve spent a lot of time in the hospital recently. Based on their conditions, they will never fully recover, and will probably pass away soon.

I was thinking that I would give my boss the heads-up that they are very sick, but that I would not need time off unless they passed away. Is this overshare with my boss? Or is this information they would want to know?

If they were your parents, spouse, siblings, or children, I’d say yes, definitely give your boss a heads-up. With grandparents, there’s often isn’t the same need to, since the assumption with grandparents is usually that you’ll only be taking off a couple of days for travel and attendance at the funeral (whereas with parents, etc., there’s an assumption that you’ll need more time). If that assumption is wrong in this case and you’re likely to take off more time, then yes, I’d give your boss a heads-up about what’s going on. (And ugh, this sounds so coldly transactional, and I wish it didn’t.)

I’m sorry about your grandparents.

5. When should college seniors start applying to jobs for after graduation?

I’m going to be graduating college in May of 2017 and am in the awkward limbo of wanting to begin applying for jobs but unsure of how to proceed (along with other soon to be grads). I am fully aware the hiring process can be long and arduous, and I want to get a jump start, but I’m not sure how early is too early to apply.

I’m compiling postings with closing dates in January and onward. On my resume I have “expected graduation May 2017,” but how should I address this in cover letters, etc.? Is something like this an immediate disqualifier in your managerial eyes?

It depends on your industry. Most places hire for 1-3 months out, but there are also industries where it’s normal to start applying now for jobs in May. This is something where you really just need to know how your field works. If you don’t, try talking to a handful of people who can tell you firsthand. And if it turns out you’re not in a field where hiring happens far, far in advance, then I’d start applying around March.

When you apply, definitely do say something in your cover letter like, “I’ll be graduating and available for full-time work in mid-May.”

{ 311 comments… read them below }

  1. Artemesia*

    Many large businesses have a hiring cycle for new grads and those may already be closed or well underway. I know lots of undergraduates who were interviewing for large companies in the financial, consulting and similar industries or for management tracks of large corporations very early and had positions locked up well before graduation. Recruiting from the new graduating class is often very routinized and not just filling a position here or there, so you need to be finding out what the practices are in the fields and with the companies you are interested in. Applying in the spring may be too late.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Typically, though, I’d think the OP would know if she’s in a field that operates that way. (It’s possible she doesn’t, of course, but my guess is that she’s in one of the more common fields without a structured cycle like that.)

      1. Career Counselor*

        I worked as a career counselor to undergraduate students including seniors for a little bit. The field we were in was definitely one were companies would start recruiting students for June jobs as early as September (!) and a lot of the jobs at big companies would be gone by December or January. The latest an undergraduate would responsibly need to start looking might be early March for a June job but I had students coming in the last week of May just starting their search! So I never assumed the students knew what they needed to do.

        (All that being said, I interviewed and landed a job out of the same graduate program in May, so last minute doesn’t necessarily kill one’s chances. However by then I did have the opportunity to get multiple rejections, go to a lot of career fairs, and have multiple interviews. My job searching skills were definitely way better after all the earlier practice and I’m sure that helped me land my job!)

      2. Just Another Techie*

        She’s just graduating from college, so she might not. Especially if she’s spent her summers doing research or working on-campus or study abroads instead of internships in industry. I would hope her department advisor would have given her a heads up, but in some fields (*cough* like mine *cough*) the professors don’t really have a good grasp on what industry is like, or their notions of what industry is like are twenty or thirty years out of date.

        I’d recommend she look at her school’s alumni network and see if she can get assigned a mentor in her field, working in the type of workplace she’s interested in (academic, industry, non-profit, startup, etc), and ask that person what hiring timelines are like. I know in my field, most big employers have already finished hiring for all our reqs for recent graduates for May/June 2017.

    2. FTW*

      I would stop by the career center at your college to ask about the timing. They can they can let you know in major companies will be on campus and the deadlines they might have. They will also have advice on any career fairs that may happen in the spring.

      It is important to have an idea if the companies you’re interested in have a standard cycle where are more ad hoc. A trap to avoid is networking in too early. By the time it comes to make a decision on hiring you are no longer top of mind, or if you are you had to put in some serious effort over multiple months to stay that way.

    3. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

      So true! My firm and team has already had two graduate assessment days and signed a couple of people.

    4. BananaPants*

      Yes, we do our recruiting for May grads in the autumn, with a goal of extending offers in December or January. I accepted a job offer before Christmas of my senior year of college, and I was far from the only one in my class who committed to an employer mid-year.

      Check out in your field about what the typical timeline is – major employers can all do things differently, while smaller employers are often more flexible, but may have fewer positions available.

    5. Trout 'Waver*

      This largely depends on the size of the company as well. In my field, the multinationals hire new grads up to 6 months out, but most medium and small sized companies hire for immediate to up to 2 months out.

    6. my two cents*

      I graduated with a BSEE. Most of my classmates were hitting up the career center after we got back from winter break, as the ‘major’ companies (think R-Well, J-Controls, A-Bradley) that recruited directly from the college were already having rounds of on-campus interviews and I think the college’s career fair was held in March. I had applied to a smaller company (via Craigslist, yay 2007!) that February prior to graduation, and by March it was confirmed that I would start part-time (10hrs/wk until graduation) in April and be full time starting that June.

      Also, you should be able to pick up an “unofficial” transcript from your Registrar which may help bolster your application process, as it should detail your current GPA and completed course work. It won’t be acceptable for much else, such as transferring college credits, but they should be able to print it out for you while you wait and shouldn’t require that your tuition balance be $0.

    7. EddieSherbert*

      Another good source of information could be your academic advisor – in theory, they’re worked with a lot of people that graduated with your degree!

      But I think this really, really, REALLY depends on the field (and maybe company). My advisor told me to start applying in March at the earliest! Which seemed weird, but my reality has been that the companies have wanted me to start working less than a month after extending a job offer (and I have been at a couple multinational companies).

      (Also, I am in communications/marketing, if that helps)

      1. justsomeone*

        This was my experience with comm/marketing/pr as well. The recruitment cycle for May/June jobs didn’t start until March and was still in full swing in April. I didn’t have my paid internship locked down until mid-May for my June graduation.

        It really, really depends on your industry.

    8. k*

      In addition to resources at school that others have mentioned, OP should look up a handful of the big name companies in their field and check the Careers/Employment section of their websites. If they do have a formal recruiting cycle like this there will almost certainly be information about the timeline on their website.

    9. Snargulfuss*

      One thing to keep in mind is that college recruiting can be very different from off-campus hiring. Colleges and universities often host career fairs and information sessions to help students line up jobs during the fall of their final year. Many universities also have recruiting policies that require employers to give you several weeks to make a decision about an offer. In contrast, in non-college hiring employers are usually looking to fill a spot within a few weeks or months, and it’s practically unheard of to allow 3+ weeks for the candidate to decide on an offer.

      My advice is to take advantage of both on and off-campus recruiting. Swing by your career center and become familiar with their resources and events, but also pursue companies and jobs of interest on your own.

    10. Sparrow*

      It very, very much depends on field. I work with college students in a wide range of disciplines, and, yes, the ones interested in more corporate gigs (finance, consulting, investment banking, etc) have mostly secured post-graduation jobs at this point. It makes their classmates in other fields kind of panicky, honestly, because they feel like they’re behind even though the industries they want to work in just don’t hire that far in advance.

      I think it’s still a good idea to start preparing early, though – work on materials, research companies, start looking for openings, etc. It helps with the “I should be doing something about this” pressure, prepares them to hit the ground running when hiring does kick into high gear (most of them are not prepared for how much work job hunting can be!), and ensures they don’t miss anything cool that might open earlier than normal.

  2. Gaia*

    I am fascinated to learn about about the Torah Scribe. How did you get into this field? What special skills do you need? Did you always want to do this? Can we have a special post about this position? Fascinating!

      1. Gaia*

        Add this to the list of jobs I would have never thought existed – and yet, it makes sense because someone has to do it, right?

        1. Random rabbi*

          (not op)

          The person who writes a torah and/or other sacred objects is called a sofer. Things like Torahs must be written by hand, with ink, on vellum. The writing itself is more akin to calligraphy than writing and it requires a steady hand and attention to detail. It also must be done by a trustworthy and honest Jew “for the sake of heaven” so the person writing it needs to be a religious Jew. Orthodox Jewry would also accept only a Torah written by a male, while other more liberal streams of Jewry would not necessarily insist on this. Training for this job is usually an apprenticeship situation. While there are books that cover the laws, regulations, and technicalities of writing a Torah, nothing can possibly replace hands on experience.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I’m in triage mode currently, but OP, if you’re willing to answer questions, the Friday open thread would be a great place to do it! You could start a thread there where people could ask you questions (only if you’re interested/willing, of course).

        I was curious about this job too and was asking my (much more religious) sister about it. She told me that there’s a Torah scribe in her area who works in a sort of glass box so that people can watch the process, which I thought was really interesting.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          That’s cool about the glass box. Sounds sort of like when they do lab work at museums and they have viewing windows so you can watch them clean fossils, etc. I think the Page Museum in L.A. (at the La Brea Tar Pits) has this. There was a mammoth skull in there when an ex and I visited.

          1. Another Lauren*

            I used to work there! The fossil preps HATE being watched, but it’s the best part of the museum, so they just had to deal. Pretty sure Zed the mammoth is still in there.

    1. Sarah G*

      I definitely knew this job existed, and Torah Scribes also write mezuzah scrolls. I agree that it would be interesting to learn more about OP’s path to this career!

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        I got to take a class in scribal calligraphy once where we wrote our own mezuzah scrolls and it was so cool.

        (And made me appreciative of the one piece of Harry Potter fanfic I’ve ever encountered which pointed out that writing with a quill on parchment is REALLY DARN HARD if you’ve never done it before. :-b )

  3. Gaia*

    OP 4, I am sorry about your grandparents. I know that my grandparents (mid – 70s) are very important to me and when they pass I will need a more than a day or two to travel, plan and grieve. Because of that, if I had suspicion it might be near the end, I would forewarn my boss. If you are less close (and that is perfectly okay) and feel like you’ll only need a few days (or whatever is allowed for bereavement, if anything) then I don’t think they need to be warned. Bereavement is almost always unexpected. It is part of life and part of business that people will suddenly need it without much notice.

    1. Megan*

      I did that too. A few years ago my grandfather was on the way out and I gave my boss the heads up if I got a call, I would need to run. She was very understanding, but thankfully it didn’t end up happening when I was at work.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      One thing about bereavement leave is that it’s not intended to be “here’s the total amount of time we think you’ll need to grieve,” but rather is about giving you time for dealing with logistics, which are more likely to fall to to you if it’s, for example, a parent than if it’s a less-immediate family member. Obviously there are exceptions to all of this though.

      1. Gaia*

        I agree, my comment was worded poorly. I didn’t mean grieve in completeness, I meant more “grieve to the point you can be functional again”

    3. Sled dog mama*

      OP doesn’t say this, but I was raised by my grandparents. When my grandmother died a lot of things fell to me as their “daughter.”
      If that’s more the case definitely give your manager a heads up.
      I found that HR was incredibly understanding then and again this year when I asked for a few days to help my aunt when my cousin died unexpectedly.

      1. ChemMoose*

        OP here – It happens to be both of my father’s parents and there are 2 other siblings to help out, so the logistics don’t fall to me. I’m sure though I’ll be taking care of them though, and I’ll have to fly across the country to get there. Thanks for your input!

    4. Laura*

      I had a long answer typed and then the browser froze. To sum it up, I lost 3 grandparents to old age basically at the same age. They were moved to hospice for awhile before they passed. I gave my boss a head’s up at that time with what the doctors told us. So I said on Monday that we moved my grandmother to hospice yesterday and they are telling us within a week. I don’t think they were surprised when I called off on Wednesday because she had died Tuesday night.
      Also, take the time your company does offer. They were all local and while I didn’t need the 3 days, it was good to take them. As the department admin told me, the company isn’t going to give you a medal for not taking them.

    5. Liz*

      When my grandmother became very ill and didn’t have much time left, I did give a heads up to my boss that I may need to suddenly take off. Fortunately she was local so there wasn’t a great deal of traveling involved, but I know many things can happen when someone is so ill that might require coming in late/leaving early/suddenly taking time off. Since I knew in advance I thought a heads up was appropriate.

    6. ThatGirl*

      I share enough personal stuff with my manager(s) that I’ve given them general heads up when my grandparents were dying and when my husband’s were. But that was more for my own peace of mind – they never would have minded if it had come seemingly out of the blue because that’s the nature of death sometimes.

      1. Judy*

        It also would seem to be easier if you can tell your manager about it when you’re not so emotional. When my aunt was in hospice, I told my manager about it as she was entering hospice. When she was near the end, I just walked up to him and said “My aunt” and he didn’t even let me finish the sentence. He said “Go, we’ll talk later”.

          1. Judy*

            After I received the call from Mom, I texted my husband, then sat there and did some slow breathing before heading to his office. I planned a few short sentences to say. He just didn’t let me say anything past “my aunt”.

            I miss that manager.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Yep, that was also part of it for me – that way I could just send an e-mail when it happened and not have to face them. I’ve cried in front of my department head exactly once and that was embarrassing enough.

          So sorry about your aunt.

      2. ChemMoose*

        OP here – that’s true. They aren’t to the hospice point, which I’m thankful for, but as Judy points out below, I’m sure a heads up while I’m not as emotional will be good. Plus our whole group shares quite a bit about each other so it wouldn’t be weird to tell him.

    7. kac*

      I think the relationship you have with your manager is also at play here. I’m quite close with my manager, and we often chat about all sorts of major life updates. If I were in your shoes, OP, with my current manager-relationship I’d probably give her a heads up within the context of “please send a little extra good vibes in their direction for me.”

      1. yasmara*

        We have pretty strict bereavement time off guidelines. In fact, it’s supposed to be “immediate family only” although there is quite a bit of manager discretion. I think my manager gave me 1 day to travel to Husband’s uncle’s funeral service (which was only 3 hours away, so we were the closest non-immediate family). Otherwise, you have to take vacation days. If you don’t know your company’s policy or if your manager would extend any extra benefits like a day off, it might be worth mentioning while you’re not too emotional. “My grandparents are in their 90’s and struggling with health issues. How do you want me to handle needing time off?”

        1. MillersSpring*

          I worked at a company that had very generous bereavement leave and a very specific schedule based on the closeness of the deceased. It was one week for an immediate family member or your spouse’s immediate family member, four days for your grandparent/grandchild or spouse’s, and so on. And an employee could take extra vacation days beyond the bereavement leave.

          I was very offended at the next company I worked when they wrote me up for taking a total of three days when my grandmother died.

          1. Simonthegreywarden*

            Heck, my stingy retail company gave me 5 days when my grandma died. I had to drive out of state, but they even let me take off the day before she died so I could be there with her when she passed away (not as bereavement but as emergency leave and they switched my schedule even though I was a lead and had pretty set duties).

    8. Mona Lisa*

      I would also be in the camp of giving my manager a heads-up if I knew anything ahead of time. Talking about it with her manager would give the LW a chance to clarify and ask about the bereavement leave policy for her company, too, if she hasn’t had to use it until now. When my godmother was suddenly diagnosed with stage IV cancer and given 1-2 months to live, I went to my manager, explained the situation, and asked if she could explain the bereavement policy to me so I would know what my options were when the time came.

      1. ChemMoose*

        (OP#4) Thanks Mona Lisa – this is a good idea for me as I’m new to the company (less than 6 mo). Thankfully our company allows us to go up to -10 PTO days if need be.

  4. Jeanne*

    #1, I understand your concerns. If you don’t want to talk about your surgery, you shouldn’t have to. The suggestions are good. If you can imply the details are gross without giving any, most people will not want details. “I had a medical thing and you know they can be just icky but I’m doing better now thanks.” I am concerned that a week off is too short of an estimate. Surgery can take more out of you than you expect and you might need time to rest not work from home. Even with one week, your company may ask for FMLA paperwork to give you the time off. If you ask HR not to give details though, they probably will. They will tell you if they have to show your boss the paperwork.

    1. AMG*

      If I saw someone drop a lot of weight quickly, I would assume they had the surgery. I would be more worried for someone if I thought it Ws a side effect of some other medical condition. I can understand wanting to keep something sensitive private and not up for discussion, but you may want to consider the possibility that people will be supportive and view it as a positive. Someone I used to work with had the surgery and was complimented all the time about how great she was doing and were genuinely happy for her.

      Regardless of your decision, you may find that even among people who do know, nobody will consider getting bariatric surgery scandalous or a negative choice in any way.

      1. Isben Takes Tea*

        Although it does sound like the OP knows in their group, it might: “It’s extremely likely there’d be strong backlash if news of my surgery leaked out.”

        Everyone is different, and even “compliments” on weight loss can be burning social pokers prodding you throughout your day–and your life.

        Also, in some circles, bariatric surgery can be considered “cheating” or “lazy.” I COMPLETELY DISAGREE with that mindset, but it doesn’t help to deny it exists.

        OP, I think Alison’s wording is great, and I’m sorry you have to deal with that stress in addition to the potential surgery!

        1. Susan*

          I have also heard people make rude comments about the cost of weight loss surgery driving up insurance costs (which sucks, because those same people will also complain about fat people driving up insurance costs, so you can’t win). Even though the OP is not on her company’s insurance, her coworkers may not know that. This is the type of thing that people think is their business when it’s not, so I don’t blame the OP one bit for wanting to avoid discussing it.

          1. Mookie*

            Yes, it’s weird the arbitrary lines we draw between (nominally or factually) “elective” and “healthy and medically necessary” medicine and surgery. Sometimes, even the most objectively “elective” procedures carry less stigma than compulsory, life-saving or -preserving ones. And, as you and Isben say, fatness is perceived as a character flaw or weakness, even when it constitutes a disease (which isn’t to say all fat people are ill), but formerly fat people fare no better in a fat-hating culture unless their non-fatness was achieved the right way, through a cleansing program of masochism and self-denial, penance for the crime of fatdom. Like pregnant people, fat people’s bodies are up for scrutiny, judgment, and physical handling. And, just as pregnancy is regarded by some people as a punishment for sin, how one achieved fatness determines good / bad fat status. Surgery somehow implies, to these people, that weight loss and gains are matters of self-discipline, erasing the physical, genetic, cultural, and class-based origins.

            1. going anon for this one*

              this is so true. i didn’t tell a lot of people about my surgery because i was sick of feeling like my big fat body was a subject of conversation and open to discussion and judgement. my relationship to my body is a complex and private one and deciding to have weight loss surgery is no different – complex, private, painful, and not up for discussion or opinion.

            2. Artemesia*

              I find this very interesting. I have known a few people who have had this surgery and were quite open about it and have never heard this sort of negative talk. Alas, I doubt that the OP can actually keep this secret unless it goes really smoothly, so that a weeks vacation suffices for her to be in shape to go back to work and the weight loss is fairly gradual. sounds like the sort of people who would act like this would also be hypersensitive to it.

              I would practice a very nonchalent denial of information as Alison suggests but also be prepared to have a non-defensive acknowledgement if it comes to that. Or at least a non-defensive dismissal of curiosity. Being fearful or upset will make you look ‘guilty’ whereas a sort of ‘well, duh’ attitude (even if not expressed like this) will communicate the kind of confidence that deflects inappropriate probing.

              Good luck for taking your fate into your own hands.

        2. Kelly L.*

          Far from cheating, it’s always seemed to me a more grueling way to lose it, albeit potentially more effective. It’s not like poof! magic!, it’s a super strict regimen for ever and ever.

          1. Venus Supreme*

            I agree. A coworker of mine had bariatric surgery a couple years ago and is very open about it. Anyone can ask her questions and she says it was the best medical decision she could have done for herself. She said the surgery itself wasn’t the hardest part, it was re-configuring her relationship with food. It’s a concrete, literal lifestyle change. Your stomach and physical body is prepped for the anticipated weight loss, but you’re still going to crave bread and sweets!

            (My office culture has a very healthy relationship with food and exercise. I haven’t experienced shame for eating “bad” foods and everything here is enjoyed in moderation, and I think that has contributed to my coworker’s openness.)

            OP1, I’m so sorry your office doesn’t have a healthy environment. I wish you the best with your surgery, and I agree with everyone’s advice that you don’t need to go any further than “it’s medical” and “my doctor and I are taking care of it.” You are doing the best for yourself!

          2. Chaordic One*

            Any surgery, even minor, has potential risks and is not to be taken lightly. It sounds like your physician feels your are healthy enough to undergo the surgery and given the potential benefits, it certainly sounds like it is worth doing and I find it hard to understand why anyone would NOT support the OP in her decision.

            It can be kind of a fine line in what to say to someone who has had the surgery and then had positive results. You want to be complimentary and supportive, but not TOO personal and certainly not sexist. Even if someone says something borderline inappropriate, you are probably better off to take the high road and give the person the benefit of the doubt because their comments probably comes from a sincere place, even if they are badly expressed.

        3. OP1*

          OP1 here.
          Exactly, Isben! Sadly, some do view the surgery as the lazy way out but NO surgery is easy.
          Alison’s ideas are great, as well. I’ll definitely be using her words in case the issue comes up.
          Thanks to all for your input.

      2. Lucky Duck*

        OP, I have had a few friends who have had surgery. Some are very open about it, but one of them refers to it as ‘her weight loss journey’, and doesn’t answer questions about it on social media. In some ways I think this is a nice way to do it, in a work place situation I don’t think you are compelled to tell others, unless you want to, the same what you wouldn’t tell people about operations of a personal nature.

      3. DEJ*

        I thought about this angle as well – if someone I knew were losing weight and working to get healthier, I would congratulate them because I know it’s not easy, no matter how they did it. Yes, there are some people who might be nosy and outright ask if you had surgery. In addition to Allison’s suggestions, you could even leave them with ‘I’m working with a doctor and looking forward to continue getting healthier.’

        1. Danielle*

          Yes! I was going to add using language along the lines of “It’s a medical thing–my doctor and I are taking care of it.” Adding that you’re under a doc’s care will give folks the cue that you’re OK and don’t want to discuss it further.

          1. Artemesia*

            The key though is being non-defensive and non’guilty’ looking. Perhaps ‘I’m working on it and I so very much don’t want to discuss my body with co-workers’ with a well duh attitude or a laugh if you can manage it.

        2. SarahTheEntwife*

          As someone who lost a societally-lauded amount of weight through weird medical stuff, please only congratulate them if you’re actually sure they’re doing it intentionally. It was really, really awkward to get all these compliments and have to find some graceful way to get out of the conversation other than “I have no idea why I’m losing weight and it’s actually really scary and I don’t think this is healthy for me”. And on top of that I’d thought I looked fine before and now had to wonder whether my coworkers had all been secretly judging me.

          1. Fat anon*

            I’m getting over a weird viral plague that caused a lot of awful symptoms, plus a quick 10-15 pound weight loss. (Two weeks of fevers are good for that, apparently.) I drug myself to work throughout this and had lots of compliments on my weight loss, not so many about the hives and swollen lymph nodes. I was so anxious about my health (doctors were testing for scary things) but now I’m just thinking that my co-inkers think I was chubby…

          2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            Plus eternal ones. I lost a load of weight when I was broke and starving. People would compliment me on it because obviously lost weight is more important than the grey tone of my skin and my hair falling out in clumps.

      4. Beautiful Loser*

        I had gastric sleeve surgery on a Tuesday and was back working remotely the next Monday with just a bit of tiredness but each individual will have different results.

        You may be surprised by the amount of support you will get vs. the backlash if news of your surgery gets out. If diets really worked and as easy as some people believe they are, Weight Watchers would not be a multi-million dollar business. However, I am 100% in agreement that your health and weight are your business and they should be respectful if you simply say you choose not to discuss your weight loss.

        1. going anon for this one*

          everyone’s experiences are so different. :) I had mine on a monday and took 2 weeks off work. i wish i’d taken 3 – i felt so exhausted and sick during week 3, i could barely function at the office. by week 4 i felt like a new person. a grumpy, hungry one but physically so much better!

        1. Hotstreak*

          Yeah, this was my thought too. I would be more worried about someone with rapid unintended weight loss than someone who is obese! The whole notion of “it’s the side effect of a medical procedure” confused me when Alison wrote it in her original response. Weight loss is the primary intended effect of the procedure, so this is untrue.

          I would address this with a strait on response: “I decided to lose some weight” which has the benefit of being 100% true. If they ask how or why you don’t have to answer, but if you want to you could say “I’ve been eating less food”, which also has the benefit of being 100% true.

          If you’re dealing with fitness people, they can totally relate to eating less food as a way to achieve body goals. They probably do it on a regular basis. It’s a lot of work to be buff!

          1. AMPG*

            Yeah, I actually like this response a lot better. And it’s not too hard to refuse to get into details about your diet with a response like, “It’s a doctor-approved plan, no worries!”

          2. Epsilon Delta*

            The benefit of AAM’s advice is that it’s a lot easier to draw a boundary around talking about medical procedures than it is to draw it around talking about food. If you say you had a medical procedure and the weight loss is a side effect, most people know they should not press you for details (or they will stop asking if you tell them that you don’t want to discuss it). On the other hand, if you say that you decided to lose some weight or that you’ve been eating less food, a lot of people are going to take that as an opening for more questions, and it’s not as easy to give vague non-answers or directly say “I don’t want to discuss it.”

        2. Wendy Darling*

          Yeah, someone in my graduate school program lost 100 pounds over the course of a year and I sincerely hope he had bariatric surgery and not cancer or something (we weren’t close so I wasn’t about to ask). Also he didn’t buy new clothes for a pretty long time, so the fact that his clothes were waaaaaaaaaaay too big made him look even thinner.

          On the other hand my uncle had bariatric surgery and lost a ton of weight… because he needed to lose enough weight to get on a transplant list. So sometimes the situation is… complex.

    2. caryatis*

      If a coworker lost a lot of weight, I wouldn’t comment beyond “You look great” –unless they indicated it was okay to discuss it. Too much emotion around weight for it to be a routine topic of discussion.

      1. Julia*

        And even that might be too much. I once lost weight due to health reasons which made me feel so awful I wanted to die, and hearing everyone tell me I *looked* great just made things worse.

        1. Jadelyn*

          When my partner and I separated for awhile a few years back, I was distraught. I felt like my life was falling apart around me. I had no appetite, I could barely force myself to eat one meal a day, and lost about 20 lbs in the first month.

          If anyone had commented on my weight loss, even “positively”, I probably would have broken down in tears. Just…don’t comment on people’s bodies. You don’t know what’s going on that’s leading to whatever change you’re seeing, and it may not be positive at all.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            Yes, this. A few years ago I had unwanted weight loss–I was at a “normal” weight to start with and became quite a bit underweight. I didn’t like how I looked, but more than than, there was no apparent explanation for it. I took to eating massive amounts of junk food just to get enough calories to not keep losing, which was very unhealthy. It was scary for me. I did not appreciate anyone telling me how thin I was getting because it just reminded me that something was wrong. Even when said in concern, if it was from coworkers who weren’t my friends, I didn’t want to talk about it with them.

            Just don’t comment on people’s weight unless you have reason to know it would be appreciated.

          2. Lison*

            I lost a lot of weight because I a) got sick b) my long distance boyfriend died and I hadn’t visited him in a long while because of a) and someone I work with congratulated me on my weight loss adding “how did you do it?” My reply “when I am desperately unhappy I can’t eat”. Her reply “oh you are so lucky when I’m unhappy I eat more”. Yep I’m lucky I had a potentially life threatening illness and someone I loved died. I just walked away. People are strange. And yes she did know a) and b)

          3. Simonthegreywarden*

            I lost like 10 lbs during the three weeks my sister was hospitalized with a life threatening condition and during her recovery at home. Hearing how “I looked great” really just ground it in that i was so worried I couldn’t keep food down.

      2. Artemesia*

        This. The secretary of the department next to mine gained a ton of weight with a twin pregnancy. She was about 4’11” and so was virtually square as it is hard to carry a lot of extra weight when you are short. She was like this for about 15 years after her kids were born and then having not seen her for months, I ran into her and she was svelt, looking much like she had before her pregnancy. I don’t know how she got there, but would assume surgery might have been involved. My response was ‘you look great.’ That is really all people need to say and should say unless the individual wants to share their diet, or their exercise program or their choice of surgery.

    3. Anony*

      Yes, this is my concern as well as someone who DID have the surgery. My two hour surgery, two day hospitalization, two week medical leave ended up 6 hours long, 7 days in the hospital and 8 weeks out of work.

      Hope for the best but also have a contingency plan. Considering the situation, it was a good thing that they knew about the surgery. My entire company knew and they sort of became my cheering section but then I wasn’t working with judgmental people.

      #1- Best of luck to you on your upcoming surgery. It is indeed life changing and even with my own complications- I wouldn’t change it for the world!

      1. Bwmn*

        What the OP is planning for was how a colleague did it (going for vacation for two weeks – no mention of surgery). There were really intense complications that turned into months out of the office. I still completely respect wanting privacy around this – but it was definitely a shock at the office and generated a lot of gossip.

        This colleague is similarly doing really well, but from the perspective of having it be a quiet thing done during a vacation – I just want to echo that it’s a gamble.

    4. Loose Seal*

      I had gastric sleeve surgery almost a year ago and I did not drop weight like I’ve seen others do. My mother-in-law, for instance, had her surgery about four years before I did and her weight melted off in a way that left her looking very ill. I think if she told people it was a medical thing she didn’t want to discuss, everyone would have assumed a fast-progressing cancer and would have worried — and talked! — about her more.

      My weight loss was a steady two-ish pounds a week. So not much different than a successful diet program. In my case, I could have said the changes were from watching what I eat and walking more, which was completely true; the surgery is just a tool to help you accomplish that. (I didn’t prevaricate, though. I’ll tell anyone I’ve had the surgery and started a website with recipes, etc. That’s my choice, though, and I can see why OP might want to make a different choice.)

      So I think OP might want to wait and see how their body is reacting to the weight loss before deciding what to say. Personally, if the weight was coming off really fast, I’d want to nip the cancer speculation in the bud because you know your co-workers will have discussed it thoroughly before anyone asks you about it.

    5. Jenbug*

      Yeeeeah, I know a few people who have had weight loss surgery and they all needed about 4 weeks off minimum to recover – and that’s assuming there are no complications. I had a breast reduction five years ago and was off for four weeks and then it still took me about two more months before I was back to 100% energy levels and able to lift things, so this is probably going to have a bigger impact than OP is expecting.

      1. anon for this*

        Without getting too off-topic, may I ask how you handled communicating about your breast reduction at work? I’m considering doing it next year, and I feel self-conscious about telling my (male) boss that that’s the surgery I’m having. (I managed to get through 3 years of fertility treatments without telling him what I was doing, but a big surgery with possible medical leave involved is different.)

        1. Jenbug*

          I was honest with my (male) boss and coworkers. I explained that it was for medical reasons (serious back pain) and they were all really cool about it. I was a little self conscious at first, but I figured it would be pretty obvious when I returned, so there was no reason to hide it (they removed 5 lbs of tissue).

          There is a great resource available at Breast Health Online and their forum was invaluable for me in preparing/recovering.

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          A friend used wording similar to Jenbug. She said she needed surgery to fix chronic back pain issues. She didn’t say she was having back surgery (and it wasn’t, it was front surgery), but it kind of left that impression and didn’t lead to more curiosity.

    6. starsaphire*

      OP #1, do you have one or more of “that person” in your office? The one who comes up to people and says something horrifically rude, usually super loud, under the guise of “honesty” or “concern?” The one who’ll ambush you in the middle of a staff meeting and ask at the top of his/her lungs, “Oh, did you have WLS?”

      IF you do, practice some responses in advance. And I mean practice them in the mirror, until you can say them coolly with an arched eyebrow, rather than sounding flustered. Here are a few suggestions:

      “Wow, what a bizarre thing to say!”
      “That’s quite an assumption.”

      Practice them over and over again. And stare him/her down, silently, until s/he goes away. If s/he doubles down and keeps talking, just shake your head, say “Unbelievable,” or “Wow,” and walk away.

      Remind yourself over and over that you’re not being rude by doing this. The person who is asking you intrusive personal questions about your body is the one who’s being rude. You are not being rude by declining to engage.

      (I had one of these at a place I worked. We did a departmental “exercise challenge” where we all wrote our daily minutes down on a sheet on the bulletin board. She followed me around with the sheet, asking over and over again if I REALLY did all those minutes, was I SURE, couldn’t I be mistaken? She wasn’t even the organizer of the event…)

      1. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

        1) That lady was a jerk. Just sayin’.

        2) For OP–if you have this person, another few suggestions: “I don’t want to get into that–don’t we have a meeting to start?” or “Really don’t want to talk about my weight, thanks.” Maybe even embrace the awkward silence then redirect the conversation…

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Haha, I’m the person who would interject right in Rude Lady’s face, “I don’t really think that’s any of our business.” And then just stare at her without blinking until she subsides.

      3. MillersSpring*

        My favorite for most nosy questions is Miss Manners’ suggestion: “Why do you ask?” (Pair with a raised eyebrow.)

    7. Zahra*

      Agree on the time off estimate. I had the most common major abdominal surgery in North America and the recommendation was to not drive, not lift anything heavier than 10-15 lbs, no vacuuming for 6 weeks.

      For the record, that “most common major abdominal surgery in North America”? C-section. That stuff isn’t a minor procedure. There are risks to any major surgery, regardless of how often it is done.

      1. Zaralynda*

        My understanding is that a C-section involves much more cutting of muscle tissue than WLS (which is done laproscopically, so you only have 4-5 small incisions into your muscles instead of a long opening that they baby is pulled out of).

        I’m scheduled for WLS for 12/19 and my surgeon’s office said to take at least a week off, but many people are grateful to have 2-3. I’m also planning to telework during the second week afterwards, but my supervisor knows that my schedule won’t be normal and I’ll be on and off depending on how I feel.

        I’ve been open about it with my supervisor (who is a gym nut) and my work friends, but have just told my project leads that I’ll be out for a surgery (no specifics).

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I’d say one week was sufficient when I had mine BUT the second week was really great to have because there’s a lot to get used to in terms of making sure you’re getting all your vitamins, making all those protein shakes, straining your soups, etc. It’s a big adjustment for sure.

          Good luck!!

          1. going anon for this one*

            Yup, recovering isn’t the only thing to worry about! Getting your protein in and staying hydrated is a full time job after surgery. It took me 2 months to get the hang of and and I’m almost 4 months out now and still have some days where I basically forget to drink water all day. It’s tough, your whole life changes and it takes a while to get used to!

        2. MnGreeneyes*

          Yes, as long as they do the laparoscopic surgery its really small incisions. At one year, you can hardly see mine anymore.

          I took two weeks off when I had my surgery, but the week I came back I was REALLY tired and ended up doing some half days. By week four, I was fine. If you can telecommute, you should be fine. I couldn’t so I took more time at home.

          Zaralynda – congrats on your journey. Good luck!

    8. MnGreeneyes*

      OP – I am just one year out from gastric bypass surgery. I have lost just over 100 pounds. I was very careful about who I told about the surgery before I had my surgery, but the fact that I was having surgery and was excited about it was a clue that something was up. In the first month I lost 20 pounds. My first 50 seemed to come exclusively off my face. There was no doubt that something was happening. That being said, I still only share my surgery as the reason for the loss with select people. One of the best lines I have heard to answer the question about the drastic weight loss is to just say you are really watching what you eat and being diligent about exercising. Which in my case was very true on both counts. People around the office heard me talking with others about my running program that I started and other active pursuits I was engaged in so they had no problem believing that was true and if they saw me eat there was little doubt I had found portion control.

      Whether you explain the tool (surgery) that aided in your loss or not is up to you. Keep in mind its not a magic bullet and you will have to work your butt off to learn to eat healthier because if all you do is eat ice cream all the time (for example) you will stop losing really quick. Don’t let anyone tell you that surgery is the EASY way out. But for me it was SO worth it and my only regret is all the time I wasted being fat and putting it off. Good luck! If you have any questions or concerns, let me know. I love to answer questions about the surgery.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        No regrets here either, other than having wasted so much time being fat and feeling like I was a “quitter” for even considering WLS. But it’s the best thing I ever did for myself and my family. I think the hardest thing of all about WLS is that it fixes your stomach, which forces portion control, but it doesn’t fix your mind, which doesn’t want portion control. That’s up to us to do.

        1. aeldest*

          The mind is what I need a fix for :( I can go 24 hours without eating and barely even notice the physical hunger as long as I’m not doing major physical activity, but mentally I “need” to eat a lot–and frequently.

          I’m fortunate in that I’m not overweight enough for WLS to even be a possibility (70lbs overweight at my heaviest, now down to 45 over), but I’m pretty sure if I ever did get to the point of considering WLS, I wouldn’t be able to do it because I’d probably ruin my health due to lack of willpower. Kudos to you!

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Thanks! Yes, it’s definitely the hardest part of this whole thing and that’s why it took me until 39 years old to finally go through with it. Head hunger sucks!

    9. TootsNYC*

      Someone who worked for me told me, “I have to have a surgery. It’s not dangerous–just something I need to have done.”
      Precisely because she didn’t give me any details, I was pretty sure it was a bariatric surgery. But I never even mentioned surgery when making plans with other colleagues; I just said, “medical leave” and let her deal w/ any details she might mention. (I did speculate like a maniac at home, though.)

      She never did. But she came back a slight bit skinnier, and then continued to slim down. Nobody ever talked about her weight loss. But I think we all assumed she’d had a surgery.

      Also–if you’re really heavy, you might find that all those buff people are more supportive than you’d think! They have to know how hard it can be to get weight loss going quickly enough to make a difference, using the normal methods.

    10. Mel Mel*

      OP, I had gastric bypass in a situation very similar to yours. I work in a very appearance-conscious field (media), and there was constant judgment. I scheduled my bypass on Wednesday, got out of the hospital Thursday, and worked from home Friday. I essentially only took two days off, and I was fine.

      Before the bypass, I started making very obvious changes at work, both with diet and I started training a couch-to-5k in the mornings (I arranged my work hours around training, so it was in the middle of the day). Anyway, pre-surgery I dropped 30 pounds, and post I had an initial drop of 20 pounds, and then about 2 pounds a week.

      Because everyone saw me working out every day, and saw me eating “diet” meals, they never said a word. No one asked how I was losing the weight because they saw it. They all assumed that my diet and exercise was all there was to it. I was so relieved–they have been really nasty about fat people before (talking about reps, clients, etc. behind closed doors). I don’t even know what they were saying about my chunky self.

      The thing is, you can never un-tell. Once it’s out, it’s out, so be certain that it’s what you want for yourself.

      1. OP1*

        Thanks, Mel Mel! Your first-hand experience is very helpful to me. What an excellent strategy!
        Thanks again to every commentator. Your insights mean the world to me.

    11. Vicki*

      Please tell them if they ask. AMG says “If I saw someone drop a lot of weight quickly, I would assume they had the surgery.” but there are other reasons for dropping weight quickly.

      A friend of mine had the surgery and dropped so much weight I feared she was sick. Your _face_ gets thinner. You will look sick. I was worried about cancer. The surgery is not embarrassing.

      You don’t need to go into detail, but please don’t let your co-workers wonder if you have a terminal disease.

  5. Sara M*

    Some people use the word “beloved” way more liberally than others. That sentence looks like something I might write. It probably just means what you said: amazing, inspiring, and other similar things. Not that they feel romantic or passionate love towards you.

    1. Artemesia*

      They didn’t call her beloved in the sense that they addressed it to her (that would be a tad creepy although there are some cultures that when they speak English do use this term note that it is a common address in the Nigerian scams). I would be a bit squicked if they actually addressed me as ‘beloved’, but to refer to me as the beloved manager, beloved Torah scribe, beloved professor, beloved doctor or whatever is entirely different and much more neutral. It just says ‘valued’ and has no ultra personal connotations. I would ignore that unless as Alison noted there were other boundary crossings.

      1. Jeanne*

        I find it easier to understand in the context of a religious group. While not ideal, I don’t think it was meant badly. If it truly bothers you, OP, just quietly say something in person. “If it’s ok with you, I prefer to use my title: Ms. Jane Doe, Official Torah Person.” (Sorry, I have no idea what the title would be.)

        1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

          Yeah, I’m not religious but I can totally see why a religious official might use that phrase, especially about a person who does something so… Sacred, I guess is a proper way to put it, as restoring holy texts.

        2. Raine*

          Honestly, the person might have no idea what the OP is even talking about unless the letter and the use of the word “beloved” is specifically mentioned.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            The Yiddish version of this– Soifer– is a family name. I can go back a few generations, but I have yet to find the scribe! Still, it has always made me proud that apparently I am descended from Torah scribes.

        3. Parenthetically*

          That’s a good observation and explains why I didn’t find it jarring at all — I grew up (and still am) religious, and “beloved” is a modifier designating warmth and affection, not romance or even necessarily intimacy, in my circles. “Our beloved pastor’s wife” or even “our beloved catechism teachers” seem pretty standard and quotidian to me.

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        That’s how I take it too. They *were* addressing her professionally, not personally. The OP is taking it personally.

        This is also a religious community and she’s working on documents that use the word beloved. I hope she can find a way to be comfortable in this job and with the term, unless there are other signals that boundaries are being crossed.

        1. ._.*

          “she’s working on documents that use the word beloved. I hope she can find a way to be comfortable in this job and with the term”

          That’s out of line. An editor of erotica shouldn’t be expected to put up with sexualized behavior just because she encounters sexual material as part of her job, either. I don’t think the context in which LW quoted it is over-intimate, but if a client did just go and call her “my beloved”, that would absolutely not be okay regardless of the fact that the word is contained in the Torah.

      3. Kathleen Adams*

        I think Artesmesia and others who think “beloved” is just being used to mean “valued” are probably right, but another possibility came to my mind. Is the person/people who do this native speakers of English? I am one of the moderators of a forum for English learners (both native and non-native speakers), and there are some forum users who address all sorts of people as “dear” or “beloved” – as in “Thank you, dear Kathleen, for your help” or even “Thank you, dears, for all the help.” These are almost always native speakers of Farsi or another Middle Eastern language, and of course the intent isn’t to be romantic – it’s to be respectful.

          1. Artemesia*

            The bog standard address in English letters is ‘Dear’ and I am sure that close variations seem totally normal to non-English speakers although they move this customary greeting into ick territory. e.g. Dear Artemesia is meaningless — just a customary greeting and ‘My dear’ is condescending and ‘Beloved’ which is sort of a synonym for ‘Dear’ is entirely inappropriate.

            1. Kathleen Adams*

              Yes, that’s exactly the issue with the Farsi speakers I’ve encountered on the forum. The “Thank you, dear ____” construction is pretty much an exact translation of what is ordinary courtesy in their native language. Then they see business letters that start with “Dear Dr. Doodad” and can’t understand how this is different. And what’s more, I don’t *blame* them for not understanding because, let’s face it, “Dear Dr. Doodad” is difficult to explain logically.

        1. HRKylie*

          I appreciate this comment because it explains so much! I have a co-worker of Middle Eastern descent who refers to me as “dear” and I wasn’t sure about it’s appropriateness. I thought it might be cultural, but I feel a bit better about it after hearing that it’s more of a language norm and a common term used respectfully.

          1. Kathleen Adams*

            If I were you, I’d at least consider asking him/her about it – not defensively, just factually, e.g., “I’ve noticed you address some coworkers as ‘dear.’ May I ask why you do that? I’ve heard that it’s a very normal thing to do in Middle Eastern countries and that ‘dear’ is a term of respect. Is that why?”

            Because while he or she probably means well, the fact that it can annoy Westerners is probably a good thing to know. I don’t mind that members of the forum that I moderate do this – I mean, there they are in Dubai or someplace, so how are they supposed to know? But if a coworker did it, it would annoy me quite a bit.

      4. CoveredInBees*

        A number of the commenters are assuming the OP is a woman when the profession (even in more liberal communities) is almost exclusively male (not male-dominated, like 99% male). Did I miss something?

      1. Venus Supreme*

        Yup. In my circle, we call each other “my love,” and I’m sure we don’t all love each other that much! I’d take “beloved” or “dear” as a term of endearment that is common in their community.

    2. Fiona the Lurker*

      Maybe if it comes up again, it would be possible to suggest a different word – like ‘esteemed’, for example. ‘Beloved’ just seems a bit too emotionally-loaded IMHO.

      1. sunny-dee*

        The first thing I thought of (funny enough) was when “beloved children’s book author Dr Seuss” died. News reports used that term a lot, and it isn’t emotionally loaded. It just means valued or esteemed for work that has a personal-ish flavor. Like children’s books (childhood memories!).

        1. TootsNYC*

          I think it does have a slightly more emotional tinge than “valued” or “esteemed”; but it’s not squicky.

          Because you can have a beloved teacher. It’s a little weird to have “our beloved manager,” bcs work is not generally emotional. But a beloved mentor wouldn’t be weird. And a beloved manager would have to be a manager who had a long and somewhat closer-than-normal relationship with

          But in a religious context, like if a choir consultant came several times to help us w/ our choir and we really liked her and felt so happy about the changes she was helping us make, I can TOTALLY see us calling her “our beloved choir consultant.”

    3. AnotherAlison*

      I thought the same thing. In this case, “beloved” seems to be more of a substitute for “awesome” or whatever, to communicate that this is a great business person that they love working with.

      When I read the article headline, I was expecting that they were addressing the OP as “beloved” in lieu of her name. Iyanla Van Zant does that on her show all the time. This is less creepy than I expected, but if it makes the OP uncomfortable, address it.

    4. MeridaAnn*

      While it’s not quite the same thing, one of the employees at a local fast-food place always says “Here you go, my love,” when she hands me my lunch. At other places, I regularly get “my dear”, “beautiful”, “sunshine”, “darling”, “sweetheart”, “sweetie”, “dearie”, etc. It’s almost always from other women, though their age doesn’t seem to matter, and I know nicknames like that are a “Southern Thing”, but it drives me up a wall. I don’t think there’s any way to avoid it, though…

    5. Bwmn*

      This totally reflects my professional bias – but the way I read beloved was far more in “donor speak”. Essentially, to have a Torah scribe likely impacts a religious institutional/place of worship investing money into that position. Whether it’s through doing specific fundraising efforts or diverting money from X to the Torah scribe, by saying to community leaders/decision makers – to me using the word beloved is a stronger word for valued. Essentially to say, “spending money this way is of incredible value”.

      As AAM said, if there are other issues at play – that’s fine. But if this really is just an issue with the word choice, this is how I see it done. As someone who writes a range of materials in the donor/stakeholder-universe, sometimes we make choices that perhaps are a little overly personal, but that is often where the intention is.

    6. NonProfit Nancy*

      I agree, I cringed thinking that I might write something like this in an email, where I tend to be rather flippant. I would never actually mean that I had romantic feelings or something. Whoops.

    7. Bibliovore*

      This is kinda funny to me. I worked for fifteen years in a very supportive, “touchy, feely” educational environment and am now in a top tier University. When people ask me the the difference between working in the former than the later, I say with a tinge of sorrow that I was used to being “beloved.” I do miss that.

    8. Anion*

      Yeah, I’ve referred to my agent and my editor(s) as “beloved” before, when speaking of them. Doesn’t mean I’m in love with them, it’s just a concise way of saying “I value this person very much, think their work is highly important, and enjoy working with him/her.”

      Plus, when it’s used as it was here, by way of introduction, it almost seems like it’s intended as a kind of heads-up; i.e. “We have a lot of respect for this person we’re introducing you to, and s/he is important to us, so be aware of that.” Like, “This is our Torah scribe, and s/he is an important member of our team, so don’t even think of attempting to say s/he isn’t and perhaps you can lower our funding because of it,” or something like that?

      Either way, I’m hesitant to tell anyone that they should just quit being weird about being spoken of in an affectionate manner, but in this case… It just doesn’t seem like a battle that needs to be fought. It’s kind of like getting annoyed when a female cashier calls me “my love,” or “sweetheart” (which often happens here in the UK): Just take it as a casual friendly gesture, and let it go; I think it would seem argumentative and hostile, even, to say something about it, and could be very hurtful–normally, of course, that’s not an issue, and if they were directly addressing the OP as “beloved,” it would be different, but here “beloved” is simply a warmer, more personal synonym for “esteemed.”

  6. Cazkiwi*

    Or they were actually meaning “scribe of their beloved Torah”…. And it wasn’t meant at her at all

    1. Anono-me*

      I read the line the same way.

      Would it be possible for you to refer to this Torah as ‘The beloved Torah of Community Blank” in future shared correspondence? Even if the intended usage was warmer than you are comfortable with this creates an opportunity for more distance.

      PS I would also appreciate learning more about your profession/ calling.

  7. Cat steals keyboard*

    #1 Are you getting counselling as part of the process? Talk to them, or other professionals involved. I bet they’ll have tips for you.

    #3 It sounds like you’re having a very strong reaction. When I read the post title I thought: oh dear, this sounds inappropriate. But actually reading the post it just sounds like they’re encouraging their community leaders to value what you do.

    I think I disagree with AAM’s wording. It’s not a boundary crossing. They have expressed how they feel to their community leaders. You can’t really tell them they don’t feel like that. You don’t have to do anything to live up to it or anything.

    #4 I wonder if you’re thinking about this because you actually really could do with talking to someone. I’m projecting my own stuff here as I’ve found if I worry about whether to tell someone something it can sometimes be because I actually wish I could tell them / want to confide in someone about what I’m going through.

    I’m really sorry about your grandparents.

    1. ChemMoose*

      (OP#4) Thankfully my family has openly talking about this for a while and I’m also able to talk to my husband about it. He just went through this a few years ago, so he’s really supportive. I’m new to working outside of academics and wanted to know if it’s something I should be looping my boss in on. :D Though all that said, I’ve been looking for a new councilor as I’ve moved recently and find them to be extremely helpful.

  8. Greg M.*

    OP1: I figured I’d weigh in here. I’m 300lbs. I’m fat and I’ve always been fat.
    It’s reached the point where I just flat don’t discuss my weight. Most people have no idea what they’re talking about or don’t have all the data when they offer you weight loss “advice”. I’ve also made the decision that ruffled feathers are a fair price to pay for my boundaries and mental health.
    Some scripts: “I prefer not to discuss my weight” “I’m not discussing this” “This is not a topic we are discussing” “Drop the topic” “I said drop it”
    The key is escalation. Start with simple and direct but polite. Slowly shorten the sentences and become more firm as you go. You also just up and leave the room at a certain point.

    Some people will respect a boundary that is merely a string and 2 stakes. Most will need he equivalent of picket fence. There are some though that look at a 10ft high concrete wall with barbed wire and immediately start climbing.

    You’ll have to figure out what works for you and the people around you. Just remember your mental health is worth way more than their nosiness.

    1. Lisa*

      I totally agree with this. I’ve never been a fan of making up untrue stories to deflect. It always seems to cause more problems in the end. I’d go with thanks for your concern but I prefer not to discuss it.

    2. Friday Night*

      OP1 – this. My experience has been that the vast majority of people follow your cues. If you don’t talk about it, they won’t either (This means not talking about being hungry, or your changed eating habits either). That doesn’t mean that there’s no weight loss talk at work, but it’s normally because the person doing it is obesesing about their fitness routine or diet and dragging everyone else into the conversation… and it’s boring.

      There has been 1 woman (and only 1) at work, who seems oblivious, and I’ve had to escalated. The first time she mentioned weight loss, I responded with a vague comment and a change of topic. The second time I said something like ‘wow that’s boring + I’m more interested in…” The third time I said a version of ‘I won’t discuss this but…’ + change of topic; The fourth time I told her that her focus on my weight was making me very uncomfortable. When she got defensive, I just repeated that . I suspect I may have to keep enforcing that boundary with her, but everyone else just comments to me how obsessed with weight oblivious-lady is.

      Your mileage may very, and you should probably prep a couple of vague (and a couple of escalation scripts) ahead of time, but I’ve found that most people are more than happy not to talk about the boring details surrounding weight loss.

    3. MsCHX*

      “Most will need he equivalent of picket fence. ”

      I think most people who are saying OP ‘may be surprised at how “supportive” people will be’ have never been overweight. People really do believe they have the right to discuss weight/health (and NO they aren’t one in the same!) of overweight people.

      1. Isben Takes Tea*

        Yes, and “supportive of losing weight” can also frequently mean “unsupportive of fat people.” Of course people compliment you in losing weight…but it’s a reminder that you were less visually acceptable before. (I know that’s not how most people “mean it,” but it’s still a subtle reinforcement of fat shaming.)

        1. MsCHX*

          And actually I do think a lot of people mean it that way. Perhaps people don’t intend to be MEAN, but it’s no secret that fat=bad; thin=good. That’s why I’m also not a fan of “Wow! You’ve lost weight! You look great!”

          Just treat people kindly. It works.

          And when someone shares that they lost weight or had some elective surgery, or anything like that, I usually reply “congratulations!” as I’m sure they wrestled with the decision and are probably happy that they finally did X thing.

          1. Greg M.*

            yeah I’ve had to just outright ban all weight talk with my parents at all. they just don’t get it.

            “Wow! You’ve lost weight! You look great!” is a great example because you can jsut shorten it to: “Wow! You look great!” and there we go. compliment without mentioning weight.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            I just compliment people’s outfits. “I love your shirt–that color looks fantastic on you!” I really don’t care if they’re fat or not–I work with them. I’m not their doctor or their spouse, so I don’t have any business asking about it.

            There was an overweight coworker at NewExJob I wanted to take shopping with me. She always wore the most beautiful outfits. I wanted her to help me pick stuff out because her sense of style was clearly far superior to mine.

        2. Simonthegreywarden*

          I have lost a pretty decent amount of weight by portion control and drinking more water/cutting sugars. I like hearing people say they notice it (I lost it from my face first so people noticed the change before the scale really showed) but what I don’t like is people telling me, “You lost weight, you are so pretty!” I gained the equivalent of another me between when i graduated from college and when i started losing weight due to back injury and depression. No one EVER told me I was pretty when I was skinny, because I’m not. I’m average. I hate the idea though that JUST because I’ve lost a third of what i gained, now I am “pretty” because pretty is synonymous with no longer fat. I don’t like the coworkers who say, “You’re shrinking” and I don’t like the ones who say, “you look so much better.” Both of those are hurtful. I didn’t gain weight because I was a lazy puffball, I gained it due to some conditions no one believed me about. Hearing that fat-me was somehow unworthy of being called pretty but suddenly-slimmer-me is pretty hurts.

    4. Emi.*

      Man, the number of complicated social problems that would be solved by everyone just not making unsolicited personal remarks! I’m sorry you have to deal with this.

      OP, please don’t let anyone make you feel like you “have” to talk to them about your health. That’s totally bogus.

  9. Today's anon*

    We had a new Torah written for my congregation and it was a very touching affair for everyone. It marked a certain point in our life as a congregation for one. We had sessions where the Torah scribe showed us how she worked. We had an opportunity to write with her so each person could have “written” a letter. I think the Torah scribe was beloved in the sense that she was the conduit to these experiences. Even though my own interaction with this person was minimal, even I might use “beloved” since I was allowed to have these significant experiences through her (there are other scribes who don’t share of their work so freely for example). I was grateful she guided me as I wrote a letter, something I never would have imagined doing in my whole life, and that was both intense and personally meaningful. While for the scribe maybe it’s her job, I think for us, it was something really personally significant. A bit like a therapist: the therapist uses certain techniques and knowledge to help us (it’s her job), but the changes that can happen in one’s life because of that are intensely personal and significant.

    1. Teclatrans*

      I was thinking that perhaps it was the role/function that was beloved, as opposed to the individual serving that role, and your story fits with that. I don’t really see anything inappropriate or boundary-crossing about that. (Though, I suppose that the OP might just want to play a technical role and not interact with emotional community members, in which case maybe it’s less a matter of inappropriate boundaries and more a matter of wanting part of the job but not all of it?)

      1. LS*

        As a frum Jew this was my interpretation exactly. The OP is facilitating / enabling / (choose your own verb) an incredibly significant experience and milestone for the congregation and their view of him/her is filtered through that lens. Given the fixed term nature of this role, I’d put my discomfort aside (unless as Alison says it’s part of a pattern).

      2. Boop*

        That’s exactly how I read it as well. They probably would not refer to her as a person as “beloved”, but she is encompassed in the love and affection they feel for the work she has performed.

      3. TootsNYC*

        I also think it can be both, and there is nothing wrong or squicky with being beloved because of the WAY you have helped someone to a spiritual experience.

        1. Former scribe*

          That’s the problem — the boundaries get confusing when you’re facilitating that kind of experience for people.

          When people are having an intense spiritual experience with the Torah they’ve just commissioned, it’s often very easy for them to fall into thinking that they have an intensely intimate relationship with the scribe who wrote it.

          And from the scribe’s perspective: These people are strangers, or near-strangers who you’ve only met once or twice or maybe a few times before. They don’t know you well, and you don’t know them well. You’ve facilitated spiritual experiences for them, and connected them to our most sacred object, and that was good, but now they want a whole lot more than you have to give, and there’s no polite way to say no.

          I think the OP’s question was probably along the lines of: I see this situation developing (as it tends to). How can I steer them away from those kinds of expectations?

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Yes, this makes perfect sense to me. Writing a Torah isn’t a regular job; it’s providing a very meaningful service that very few people can do. It’s a role that can be called “precious”, “treasured”, and, yes, even “beloved.”

    3. Rachel*

      That’s kind of the way I took it. I’m also Jewish, and the Torah scrolls are extremely important and sacred objects. There are very specific rules about the material used for the scroll, the kind of writing utensil used to write the text, and the precise way each letter needs to be written. (If even one thing is off, the entire Torah scroll is invalid.) When a synagogue or community gets a new Torah scroll, it’s a huge deal and there is a big ceremony.
      Since the scrolls are so sacred and it’s such a mitzvah to write (or commission) a Torah scroll, there is a lot of emotion involved. In this context, “beloved” is totally understandable. It’s not meant to demean or degrade or harass at all – it’s meant to convey the highest esteem.

    4. mskyle*

      I don’t know about the Torah scribe/congregation relationship but yes, some professional relationships are more intimate than others and the word “beloved” seems to go very well with these more intimate professions – teacher, pastor, rabbi, (music) conductor, coach, artist (though “our” doesn’t usually go with artist) all seem to take the modifier “beloved” pretty well.

  10. snorkellingfish*

    LW4, another reason to let your boss know about your grandparents is because you know it might emotionally affect you. When my grandmother was very ill recently, I told my boss–not just because I took a day off work to be with her in the hospital (since she has dementia and needs someone to check in on her and my Mum was overseas), but because I knew that I’d be a bit more emotional and distracted than usual and I wanted to give him a heads up in case that affected my work. It was easier for me not to have to pretend to be 100% okay when I was worrying and dealing with various family members etc., etc.

    It’s entirely your call whether you want to tell your boss, and obviously depends on the relationship you have with your boss. If you think it would help you though–emotionally or practically in terms of getting leave–then it would be completely legitimate for you to let them know. If you’d rather not tell your boss and just throw yourself into work as a distraction, that’s legitimate too. You should do what’s right for you, knowing yourself and your personal circumstances better than anyone.

    Also, I’m so sorry for what you’re going through.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      We were writing similar comments at the same time (mine is just below) and I agree with everything you’re saying here.

    2. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      Yes, this.

      When my MIL was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I didn’t say anything to anyone at work, because I really didn’t know anything at that point. However, I was immensely distracted, by the incessant group texts (and, also, compulsively checking my phone for updates to said group text), etc. My boss noticed THAT and (rightfully!) asked me what was up. In hindsight even though I thought I was keeping it all separate until it was actually an issue, it didn’t really work that way.

      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        I’ll add – as it so happened, my MIL passed away only a couple of days after my husband and I returned from a previously planned vacation (and right before I was supposed to return to work), and because my boss knew the details already, when I called her to tell her I would be out an additional week it wasn’t completely out of the blue.

  11. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    OP #4, I’m sorry about your grandparents. If you have a good relationship with your boss and just want to let her know that you have this on your mind, I think it would be completely reasonable for you to do so. I told my boss when I found out my father was going to need surgery, even though I thought it was very unlikely I would need to miss any work, just because I wanted her to know if I seemed at all distracted. Also, she is a kind and caring person and her sympathy was very welcome when I was worried.

  12. Astor*

    OP1, if you’re feeling particularly positive post-surgery, maybe even something like: “I’ve been treating a medical condition and this is a usual side-effect of going well, so there’s nothing to worry about”

    I’d definitely recommend finding/editing some suggestions that feel true to you, both for how you’re feeling now and how you feel after.

    Good luck!

  13. Hal*


    It’s just an expression, like “fearless leader” or “friendly neighborhood ______.” They probably don’t literally love you, so unless they’re being sarcastic, this isn’t a problem.

  14. Thomas E*

    Er… is it possible to do an “interesting job” interview with the Torah scribe?

    FWIW, my first thought was that it was a grammatical error. The letter writer meant “Scribe of our beloved Torah”.

    1. Observer*

      Not so likely. As others have noted, this is a fairly normal way of relating to the position. And, as they have also noted, to the extent it’s personal, it’s about being warm and non-obnoxious in the position.

  15. Thomas E*

    “yes, my doctor is very happy about my progress. How are you?”

    “Yes, I feel really good. What’ve you been up to recently?”

    “Oh, don’t worry about it. My doctor’s happy. How’s project Y doing?”

    1. Sled dog mama*

      I have a friend who had bariatric surgery a few weeks ago. She found that “using the d-word” was very effective in shutting down unwanted questions about her weight loss. As in “Thanks for asking, my doctor is monitoring it.” Then change the subject.
      I also have to second those that have said this is none of your co workers business and good for you on setting that boundary and adhering to it.

      1. Danielle*


        I mentioned this above. You’re absolutely right about “doctor” shutting down nosy folks. :-)

      2. k*

        Mentioning a doctor casually is a good idea. OP mentions backlash, but some kinder coworkers may be worried that OP has some serious illness or is doing an extreme unhealthy diet. Making it known that a doctor is involved and approves helps to confirm that all is well.

  16. PepperAndPale*

    As a similarly recent grad, one place worth looking now is with any recruitment firms in your field (ask your career centre and look to see whose names are coming up frequently in job ads). That’s the one place I think speculative applications really did pay off for me – they were happy to hear from me early and it got me my current job. They’ll also be able to give you a sense of whether you should be looking now or in a few months, based on how aggressively they’re pursuing you. Good luck!

  17. TheLazyB*

    OP4 that is so weird I am in the exact same position. I’m pretty sure I didn’t write the letter and I’m also fairly sure it’s not my sisters (!).

    I’ve told my line manager and she’s very supportive in general and understands that I’m not on top of my game right now as a result.

    Thinking of you and your grandparents.

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      Unfortunately, this is such a common thing. My husband’s grandmother died a month ago, and his grandfather (90 today!) went into the ICU yesterday with pneumonia. Both of them were “could go at any minute” for a year or more.

      1. ChemMoose*

        (OP#4 here) Yeah, my grandmother had sepsis the last time she was in the hospital, and will need intervention if her health goes downward; grandpa is about the same level. I’ve had an aunt with cancer for the last 5 years and has had touch and go times as well over those 5 years.

    2. ChemMoose*

      I figured I wasn’t the only one with this situation which is why I wrote in! I’ll probably will tell my boss because he’s super friendly and understanding. Thanks!

  18. AnonNurse*

    OP #4 – I’m sorry about your grandparents being ill. I am very close to my grandmother. My father was a single dad and my mother wasn’t in the pictures so my dad’s parents were a HUGE part of my upbringing. I lived in their home until I was 14-years-old and my father remarried. My grandfather passed away almost 6 years ago but my grandmother is 86-years-old and in wonderful health at this time. I know when that is no longer the case, I will definitely be looping in my employer, as losing her will be like losing a mother. Also, my father passed away many years ago, which only left my 2 aunts (one of which who lives out of town) and my brother (who also lives out of town) to assist with any care she may need. If you have a close relationship, and there are many multi-generational families where it is common, don’t hesitate to talk to your boss and let them know what’s going on.

  19. brushandfloss*

    OP1, I had bariatric surgery and I planned on not telling anyone but the weight loss was so rapid and noticeable (plus I’m a bad liar) I just started telling the truth. I did get some snarky comments from my patients but I didn’t care, because I did this for me. If your aim is to try to conceal that you had surgery, that’s going to be impossible. If you want to avoid talking about use the scripts Alison and the posters have mentioned. Also do not use gallbladder problems as a cover unless you know for certain your surgeon will be removing it during your surgery. Gallstone formation after bariatric surgery is very common, so you may end up having to remove your gall bladder at a later date.
    Best of luck.

    1. RNY*

      Agreed! I had bariatric surgery this year and have been very open about it. I felt strongly that I didn’t want to imply that I was ashamed in any way about making this choice for my health. When people have asked, I’ve been honest and straightforward. I did have to take FMLA so my supervisors knew I was having surgery but I didn’t volunteer what and they didn’t ask. They did send a fruit basket as a get-well gift, which made me laugh because I couldn’t eat it! In general, people at work were pretty polite and waited for me to volunteer the info. If you feel like you can handle the backlash, I would encourage you to just be honest. It is so much simpler and people will get bored with the truth very quickly.

      Of course you’re not obligated to tell people in any way. But do be prepared for people to ask. They will be rude, and they will make assumptions no matter what you tell them. They will ask what you’re “doing,” they will comment on your protein shakes (you won’t be able to eat solid food for awhile so think about where you eat lunch at work, etc), some will whisper and ask if you’re feeling okay, etc. Part of my job is working with teenagers who I see every few months, so the changes were stark and they had no filter. Stock answers are good but I wouldn’t blame it on your gallbladder or stomach troubles, as it will only make people think you’re sick. “Just working really hard on my diet and exercise” is mostly true, and then you can pivot to another topic. Or “I’m working with a doctor- it’s intentional and I feel great! How about that meeting the other day…”

      Sidenote- go you! This was the best decision I could have made for myself. It’s tough, but you’re going to be so glad. Good luck!

      1. RNY*

        One more thing- the possibility of complications is real. You’re planning to use your vacation time, but think about a back-up plan (FMLA) if anything doesn’t go according to plan. I used 2 weeks off and was very glad. I know others go back more or less quickly depending on the kind of job they do. Just be thinking about what happens if you need more support down the line.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Good point. I wonder if this is something would qualify for short-term disability. I’ve never used it so don’t know much about it, but I know it’s there for longer absences that are medical-related.

        2. fposte*

          It looks like FMLA is tricky for WLS; some HRs have balked, saying it’s cosmetic and therefore not covered, and some accept the doctor’s statement that it’s medically necessary. It’s clearer sailing if an overnight stay is required. (If your complications send you back to the hospital, that’s inarguably covered.)

  20. Melissa*

    OP4: I went through this exact thing this year, and luckily my manager was enormously accommodating and understanding, both before and after my grandfather passed away. I live in a different country from my grandparents, so I took two bereavement days for myself immediately after it happened, and then worked with my manager to figure out a way for me to attend the funeral. I ended up working some half days while I was there, but I got nearly two weeks with my family which I appreciated beyond measure.

    It might be helpful to be candid about the situation and your reaction to it, as well as your expectations for time off and ideas for how to work with your employer to achieve a good middle ground.

    It’s an awful thing to lose a grandparent and I truly feel for you.

    1. ChemMoose*

      (OP4) Thanks Melissa. I live across the country from them, so I’ll have to take some time off. I’ll definitely have a conversation with my boss about these points – thanks!

  21. MyKee*

    Letter Writer #1: I had weight loss surgery and lost 112 pounds (I am 5’4 and went from 242 to 130 pounds over a period of 9 months). Believe it or not, no one in my office was suspicious about how or why I was losing weight so rapidly. When people would comment on it (not often, but every once in awhile I’d get a “You look great; have you lost weight?”) I’d just say thank you and that’d be the end of it. I wouldn’t worry about your coworkers being unduly suspicious. Best of luck with your surgery!

    1. Mookie*

      My weight was reduced similarly (150 lbs in ten months) a few years ago, and no one I worked with acknowledged it at all, which I thought was amazingly fortunate. The only person I can remember commenting on it directly* was a DMW clerk who photographed my face for a driver’s license renewal (“bet you’re happy you get to replace the old one, huh?”).

      *I initially thought she was trying to suss out, in a roundabout way, whether I was actually the person pictured in the old license (like I was pulling a scam for someone else), but later I realized she was just being a snotty ass. I haven’t decided whether that comment was shade or just a read.

      1. MyFakeNameIsLaura*

        I think you mean “…comment was just shade or a read.” – And it’s hard to say just how much shade it was without being there. Could’ve been general boorishness or thoughtlessness also.

        1. Mookie*

          I find shade more of an accomplishment — the subtlety impresses me more than verbal dexterity — but mileage does vary.

    2. Gaara*

      It’s also possible that they suspected this, but were tactful enough to realize it’s not their place to ask if you had surgery. Even if obvious, it’s none of their business!

  22. Katie*

    For the person in #1: I wouldn’t worry about it so much. Part of the process of bariatric surgery includes a long-term diet, and you’ll be visibly eating much less than you do now. People will probably assume that your weight loss is the side effect of your dietary restriction and the visible quarter-cup of yogurt you’re eating for lunch, rather than surgery, especially if you work in a very health-conscious workplace. That said, it’s not uncommon for people to not want to talk about the surgery because it’s perceived as “cheating”, but it’s really not, so even if you don’t want to talk about it, please don’t feel bad about it. We use technology and medical intervention to make our lives better every day, and this is no different.

    1. Turanga Leela*

      Came here to say the same thing about the post-surgery diet. If someone comments on your weight loss, it’s fine/normal to say, “I haven’t been hungry lately,” or “Thanks, I’m being very careful about what I eat.”

      Another possibility, which I kind of love for situations where you don’t want to talk about your weight: act surprised. If someone says, “You’ve lost so much weight!” you can say, “Oh, I guess I have.” And then change the subject. The key here is to make it sound genuinely like you haven’t thought about it; you don’t want to come across as hostile.

      1. Nolan*

        I use a similar technique when people try to gossip at me about stuff like this about other people, especially if the person it’s about has actually told me whatever it is. “Omg Suzy is losing sooooo much weight, do you think she got that surgery?” “Oh, I hadn’t noticed. (Followed by silence and judgement)”

  23. People!!*

    OP #1: Are you in any facebook groups for people who have had or are thinking about having bariatric surgery? I’m in a group related to another health issue and the peer-to-peer advice is very useful. I’d guess that in a FB group you could find out how other people have dealt with questions at work following surgery.

    Re: OP #3: Being a Torah scribe is a VERY HEAVILY male dominated field, and there have only been female scribes for less than a decade. I’m assuming OP #3 is one of the few female scribes. I’ve read the comments above suggesting that the wording was “(beloved Torah) scribe” rather than “beloved (Torah scribe)” but 1. I’m assuming that the email used the Hebrew word for Torah scribe rather than English, so it’s one word not two, and gendered (soferet for a female Torah scribe and sofer for a male Torah scribe)–therefore “beloved soferet.” And 2. the gender dynamics in the field are such that even if the email did use English, assuming sexism (**even if not intended**) is completely reasonable.

    OP #5: DEFINITELY go to your school’s career center.

    1. Colette*

      I know nothing about the world of Torah scribes, but I don’t think it’s a good practice to assume that a client is being sexist unless you are sure that’s the case. Assuming good will will be more likely to have a good effect.

    2. Cambridge Comma*

      I wouldn’t conjecture too far along gender lines here because it sounds like you might dox the OP without meaning to.

    3. Observer*

      I totally don’t get where the sexism comes in? It’s not clear from the letter if the scribe is male or female, but I know that men ARE called “beloved sofer”. So, it’s clearly not a term used just for women.

      But, you are correct that if they actually used the Hebrew term for the role, there would be no way for this to be a reference to the Torah.

      1. Mookie*

        People!! is pointing out that examining the grammar can determine whether the “beloved” was modifying the word “Torah” or the word “scribe.” They’re not disputing that a man is sofer and a woman is soferet.

        1. Observer*

          Yes, but she also EXPLICITLY said that the use of the word beloved is probably sexist.

          the gender dynamics in the field are such that even if the email did use English, assuming sexism (**even if not intended**) is completely reasonable.

          1. Mookie*

            Nope. Nowhere did People!! say it “probably” was. They said it doesn’t preclude the possibility. There is no point in misrepresenting what commenters write, unless you are interested in arguing against a strawman.

    4. Former scribe*

      It’s also not just about sexism; it’s also about expectations of intimacy.

      Which don’t necessarily involve any ill-will. Boundaries are tricky in emotionally and spiritually charged fields, and that’s not always anyone’s fault.

  24. NarrowDoorways*


    I work in a very tiny office with about 15 people. One coworker had bypass surgery and no one noticed for a year! I think it took about that long before someone really looked at him closely, and even then it was to talk about his nice new outfit. when you see someone every day, even dramatic changes are less noticeable. He was pretty casual about the whole thing, but then so is my office.

    Best of luck!

  25. Zip Silver*

    Op1 – all you have to say is “oh I’ve been eating less” or something along those lines. That’s how the surgery works, by physically restricting your food intake, so there’s no need to mention that you had the surgery to your coworker’s and no need to come up with some elaborate lie.

    Op5 – I graduated last year and I started job searching 3 months away from graduation. I started my new job 2 weeks after graduation. It’s better to start early. Many of my friends, who waited, were unemployed for months after graduation, and burning up the clock on their 6 month grace period for student loans. If I were you, I would start putting out applications in February. Definitely hit up all the job fairs your school hosts.

  26. Trout 'Waver*


    Even if you’re in an industry that doesn’t hire that doesn’t hire that far out, it can’t hurt to start applying. Unless the position explicitly states a start date that you can’t meet, go ahead and apply. When I get great entry level resumes for a position I posted but that candidate wasn’t available for several months, I contact the candidate and explain that I needed the position filled immediately. But I also ask to hold onto the resume for consideration in future openings.

    By the way, I’m in a STEM field where entry level people with good degrees are in high demand.

  27. Rusty Shackelford*

    OP #1 – I know a woman who responded to intrusive* comments about her weight loss with “yeah, it’s a side effect of the chemo.” But you probably don’t want to go that far.

    *Intrusive being anything beyond you’ve lost weight, you look good.

    1. Jenbug*

      I hope you’re not suggesting that the LW lie about having cancer to avoid talking about her weight loss surgery.

    2. Emi.*

      I like Miss Manners’s response to intrusive comments: “Surely you didn’t mean to say that out loud?” But that may not be to your advantage in the office.

  28. shep*

    OP1 – I was out earlier this year for an elective surgery I told my boss about because I was worried about my mobility in the coming weeks. I have an office position, but I was surprised at how difficult even getting into and up from bed was with said surgery, let alone carrying my typical load of bags into the office each morning. I also suffered a mild version of a pretty serious bacterial infection, ironically caused by the preventative antibiotics prescribed to me before and after the surgery, so I was out longer than anticipated, and I’m glad my boss knew so she didn’t think I was just asking for extra time off on “vacation” or what have you.

    Next year, I’ve scheduled a week and a half off for another elective surgery. It will be a rhinoplasty, which is much more difficult to hide, and this time I’ve decided not to tell anyone. I’m sure I’ll get questions, and/or comments along the lines of, “You look different! Did you change your hair?” I’m a member of the RealSelf plastic surgery forums, and many people say if they don’t tell their coworkers, they will notice but usually can’t figure out WHAT they’re noticing. My office is full of mostly very nice but also very gossipy folks. I’m not sure how I’ll deal with direct questions, especially while trying to play coy with INdirect questions, but I think the forums will be a nice resource for scripts. (My sassy inclinations would make me want to respond to direct questions with, “You saw my old nose, right??” or “YEP SURE DID GET IT DONE” to indicate to the asker that WOW, is that ever an invasive question, but I would probably just say yes very cheerfully and not offer any more information–although I feel I’d be perfectly justified saying I didn’t want to discuss it or just flat-out no.)

    As someone suggested above, if you aren’t already involved in a forum, maybe that would be a great place to start to explore how people have dealt with having the procedure and still maintaining a certain amount of discretion about it. I wish you luck!

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I think it would be funny to drastically change your hair before coming back to work after your rhinoplasty, just so you can say “Yep, you’re right, I changed my hair!” ;-)

      1. shep*

        Omg that is a BRILLIANT idea! I *am* going blonde the month before…bet I can totally capitalize on that. :)

        1. Anonymopoulous*

          I got breast reduction surgery about 2 years ago. Best decision I ever made. I told my direct supervisor my doctor recommended I have “surgery to reduce my constant back pain and migraines, and prevent worsening pain in the future.” Just like that, super general, he was great. I told no one else in my office of 16. Everyone else knew *something* was different, but couldnt figure out what it was. I got “Did you loose weight, you look great!” and “Did you get a new outfit?” and “Did you cut your hair?” I would just laugh to myself, smile and say “Yes!” (because most of the time that was also true, I *did* loose 5 pounds (!), I *was* able to get new outfits I couldnt have worn before, and I *did* cut my hair soon afterwards.

          1. Also anonymous...*

            I want a BR so badly! I didn’t think I was “big enough” to need one but an internet friend recently got it done going from a 34DDD (my size!) to a 34C and I.want.in! I’m going to set up a consultation soon and was thinking of wording for the surgery and yours is somewhere about what I came up with. “Surgery to reduce headaches and back/neck pain”.

          2. Loose Seal*

            I had breast reduction surgery a little over a decade ago. They removed 11 pounds of breast tissue and I went back to work wearing a compression bra so things looked even flatter. No one at work noticed! A couple of people asked if I had been to the Caribbean on my “vacation” because I looked so well-rested but that was it. It was weird that it was so obvious to me and yet they were oblivious.

            1. MsCHX*

              I do think that it’s harder to see big changes in people we see everyday.

              My son grew over 6″ from age 12 to 13. It wasn’t until I looked at photos taken a full year apart that I noticed he’d grown so much.

            2. shep*

              It’s so funny what people notice and don’t notice! I ended up getting a breast augmentation after losing what little I had from working out, and went up to a full C. I’m sure some people noticed, but one of the coworkers I told went “Oh, good!” when I came back. I think she thought I was going to go for some crazy-large size. So it was a big change for *my* body, but I think the change is pretty nominal to others to the point where most didn’t notice at all.

              It was kind of awkward telling people where I’d been for a week and a half. I didn’t want to lie but I certainly didn’t want to tell the truth. And since it was purely cosmetic–no medical benefit at all–I know that carries a certain amount of nose-wrinkling among certain people. I’m very happy with my decision, but I didn’t want to be judged for it. Ain’t no one got time for that!

              That’s the main reason I’m just going to let my nose be suddenly different without warning. SO much more noticeable–but then I can also just say I have a deviated septum if someone is intrusive enough to ask.

    2. Zip Silver*

      I’ve been needing to get a nose job, but putrinf off for when I’ve got more spare cash.

      Broke my nose when I was 4 (bike accident) and I’ve only got one nostril at 100%, the other is like 40%

    3. going anon for this one*

      i had weight loss surgery in august and have lost 70 lbs. a coworker just asked me if i dyed my hair the other day hahaha! “you look different – is your hair lighter?” (no, my ass is.)

  29. WS*

    OP#5: Talk to your professors if you aren’t sure how long hiring takes in your field. My professors my senior year were really open with all graduating seniors about how long hiring takes in my field, what sort of companies would mass-hire recent grads to fill positions, even what areas in the country (I’m in the US) were having a hiring boom in our industry. Most of the graduating seniors in my department started putting resumes out around late February/early March. The students who were planning on moving across the country following graduation usually started their job search earlier (January/early February) so they’d hopefully have a job waiting for them when they moved and weren’t scrambling to find something.

    1. sarah*

      Er, sure, try your professors, but I wouldn’t put too much stock in what they say. :) I am a professor, and I have zero clue how normal hiring works for normal jobs. Academia is bizarre and has weird hiring processes, and while I am certainly knowledgeable about that process (and the grad school application process), I am totally clueless as to how to get a job in the “real world.” :) So, feel free to ask, but be aware that subject matter knowledge really does not translate into real work job market experience!

    2. nonymous*

      and be prepared for professors that say “I have no experience outside of academia – maybe you should see the career office about that.”

    3. Emi.*

      This will probably work better in career-focused fields like accountancy, where professors are expecting that you’re going for a “regular job,” than in fields like math that tend more towards academic careers.

  30. ZVA*

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think the “beloved” is that big of a deal. I’m not trying to invalidate your feelings, OP—I just suspect that your contact is using it more in the “highly regarded,” “admired,” or “esteemed” sense rather than the “adored” sense. (Which are all synonyms for “beloved” according to the New Oxford American Dictionary.) I also think the fact that it was about you (in an email to a bunch of people) rather than to you makes it less personal—if the guy had privately called you his beloved, it would be a different story… Like Alison said, I’d keep an eye out for boundary-crossing in future—but since this is the first incident, and one that seems open to interpretation, I wouldn’t address it for now.

    1. CM*

      Yep, I’ve also been called “beloved” in a work context. It’s just your client being effusive about how much they appreciate you. They’re not in love with you. Plus, it’s not “MY beloved,” which would be weird, it’s “OUR beloved,” as in, we as a community really think this person is a great Torah scribe and we are lucky to have them.

      1. Kelly L.*

        There’s a business I regularly buy from that addresses their shipment notifications, “Beloved (Name),” rather than “Dear” or whatever. This business has kind of a spiritual bent to it. I think I’d take “beloved” more as religion-y language than as overly personal language in this context.

      2. ZVA*

        Exactly! When I was a proofreader I had one client who greatly appreciated my work & was more vocal than most about it—she never called me “beloved” but if she had I doubt I would have been surprised… It’s probably more effusive than OP is used to but not inappropriately so, IMO. And I agree that the distinction between “my” and “our” is important here.

  31. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

    I had weight loss surgery in 2014 I was nearly 400 pounds and dropped 200 pounds in 18 months. People will guess and assume that youve had WLS. You’ll get it from family, friends, people at the grocery store looking at your ID. Pick a story and stick to it. There are hundreds of ways to loose a dramatic amount of weight. Ideally with weight loss surgery you will start an exercise routine and start eating healthier not just less. You can say ‘Diet and Exercise” and that isnt a lie. People will come right out and ask you if youve had “the surgery” if you say things like i dont want to talk about it people will assume that you have which if you dont want that isnt a good thing.
    Im ok with you outright lying even though ive taken a public route, both on social media, news articles and even a magazine article.
    Working in health care i see the medical histories of alot of people including public figures and coworkers. People lie about it all the time. I dont think its something to be ashamed of but if you want to avoid the drama that comes along with it more power to ya. I swear if i never had to hear another story from some ones cousin “the surgery didnt work for” i could live a less stressed life. The surgery works for nearly everyone, the only thing the surgery has to do is remove or rearrange your digestive system depending on sleeve VS bypass and as long as that physically happens the rest of it is on you.
    if you want to chat more and of course candidly my insta gram is @The.Angela.Show.Returns feel free to send me a private message there.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Agreed. I’ve also heard lots of stories that “WLS didn’t work for my cousin, husband, mother, etc.” Kind of hard for it not to work as long as the patient follows the program. Can there be complications? Yes. But even with those, people still lose weight.

      I’d love to stop hearing, “My son/mother/sister did it the old fashioned way.” If I never hear that again, I’ll be happy.

      OP, feel free to contact me, too. Just click on my name and comment on a blog post and we can get in touch.

      1. Artemesia*

        My husband did it ‘the old fashioned way’ about 30 years ago and has kept it off BUT he was 35/40 pounds over weight. It is impossible pretty much to do it without pretty heavy intervention when you are 150 pounds or so overweight or more. We have a friend who is a nurse practitioner who works with dramatic weight loss programs and bariatric surgery patients and it has been interesting to hear from her the real physical challenges to weight loss that people have when they are seriously over weight. The kinds of steps that a person slightly or moderately overweight can use just don’t apply for very physical reasons for people who are dramatically over weight and most people just don’t understand how impossible it is.

        It must be beyond tedious to have to put up with even well meaning advice and comments and stories and to have this be such a big part of how you end up interacting with people. Hope the surgery goes well for the OP and she never has to hear about weight or get advice or judgment about it again.

        1. Mookie*

          This is straying from the point, but:

          It is impossible pretty much to do it without pretty heavy intervention when you are 150 pounds or so overweight or more

          Honestly, that’s just not true, as the NWCR amply demonstrates* (warning about fatphobic and essentializing language there) but intentionally and deliberately reducing bodyweight with “intervention” or aids is not, as you and others say, invalid or cheating or anything else. The endresults are generally about the same (that few people maintain serious bodyweight reduction in the long term).

          *not everyone, or even a small majority of people, can reduce large amounts of bodyweight through stringent calorie reduction, but many have

    2. Alton*

      When it comes to weight loss in general, people should really mind their own business and realize that the same approach doesn’t work for everyone.

      I know I wouldn’t be a good candidate for surgery, but that doesn’t mean no one is. I generally trust people to make these decisions for themselves, especially if their doctors are on board with it.

      I get tired of seeing one-size-fits-all advice. I’ve had people tell me that exercise is basically meaningless for weight loss and that if I don’t notice much loss just from tracking calories, I must be doing something wrong and am eating too much. Look, I know my body and I know I lose weight easier if I’m physically active. And there’s only so much I can reasonably cut, calorie-wise.

  32. TotesMaGoats*

    #1-If you don’t feel comfortable sharing this and since you say you haven’t shared anything in the past, then keep up with that. There are a lot of good scripts listed. I will say I had an employee who had surgery and told us after the fact and the weight loss over the next few months was dramatic. We were nothing but congratulatory (which she appreciated) as she continued to lose weight. Find what’s comfortable to you and don’t ignore the rest.

    #3-I’m not Jewish but have many Jewish friends and can only imagine how personal the work you do would be to a community. I would take the appellation in stride and move along unless other behaviors indicate that they are trying to cross boundaries.

  33. The One with the Brother*

    Heyo, it’s the anon whose young brother passed over the summer with opinions. A few months after my brother passed away unexpectedly, my grandmother had a stroke and things were not looking good. I was away from work for almost two full weeks for my brother because traveling, logistics, helping my parents, and grieving because it was/is a pretty significant trauma to work through. So when it became clear that Grandma was reaching her end and we had some sort of timeline to work with, I did give my supervisor a heads-up. He’d been really understanding about the situation surrounding my brother and I wanted to return the favor of giving him the courtesy of a heads-up since I’d already been out so much this year (prior, I’d gone to visit family in January and had to take additional unexpected time off because of a flight “delay” of three days thanks to snow).

    So, I’m of the mind of give them a heads-up if you can, especially if you have time sensitive projects or the manager has previously extended extra courtesy.

  34. paul*

    My boss knows my remaining grandparent is in ill health. I think some of what the best course of action is depends on the logistics of it; we aren’t sure where we plan to scatter his ashes (NM is likely but TX and Alabama are also in the discussion) so I may be traveling a couple of days. So a heads up that hey, I may have to take 2-3 days on short notice in the near future isn’t a bad thing. It’s also not as needed as it likely would be if my parents were ill though (just because that’d be more disruptive and I’d have to miss more time) but I don’t think it’s inherently bad to do.

  35. The Other Dawn*

    RE: #1

    I had gastric bypass three years ago. I worked in a small company–15 people–and I told everyone. Not only because I didn’t want to hear anyone speculate on my rapid weight loss, but because I just didn’t give a crap if people disagreed with it, and I’m a pretty open person most of the time anyway. I had severe sleep apnea, was borderline diabetic and was beginning to have knee issues. It’s one of many weight loss tools, and why not use the tools available to me to become a healthy person? Sure, I’ve had a couple people say that I took the easy way out, but who cares what they think? (And they didn’t even have the balls to say it to my face.) It’s coming from a place of ignorance. It’s not the easy way out. It’s the last resort and it’s the hardest thing you could do, really. Yes, the weight flies off like there’s no tomorrow, but it takes quite a while for your mind to catch up with what’s happening and you really, REALLY have to work at it to keep the weight off. Plus, there’s a lot of work that goes into the process before and after, and lots to remember in terms of your food plan from day-to-day.

    Personally, I’d rather people know what’s going on than to have them speculating and making lots of wild conclusions, most of which will be wrong. Or worse, gossiping with others about it. If they have an issue with you having WLS, that’s on them, not you. But that’s a personal choice. If you don’t feel comfortable telling people, then I’d go with, “Nothing to worry about. I’m healthy.” I personally wouldn’t mention anything about it being a side effect of treating a medical condition. I feel like that opens it up to more speculation, like OP has cancer and is going through chemo or something.

    In the end, though, it comes down to knowing your audience and doing what makes you the least uncomfortable.

    I’m at the point where I’m getting ready to have the excess skin removed (February!). I now work in an office with 100+ people. All the people in my department, as well as my boss, know what’s happening. Will I tell others if it comes up? Yup. It will be pretty obvious when I come back that my flabby stomach is no longer there. Plus, I’ll be out of work for at least two weeks, and likely working remotely or part-time for a couple weeks afterwards.

  36. Spooky*

    Re #1 – a coworker of mine had that surgery this spring, and told everyone it was to get her gallbladder removed. It was very obviously not true, and everyone knew it, but nobody said anything negative. If anything, we were happy for her, and glad the surgery was such a success (she dropped 80 pounds in just a few months). I’m sorry your office won’t be supportive of you, and you can certainly use the same cover that she did – I just mention this to let you know that if your results are anything like my coworkers, your colleagues very likely won’t believe it. That kind of dramatic change in body shape is fairly obvious. But anyone who says anything negative about it is a grade-A a$$h0le. Don’t let them get you down.

    1. 2 Cents*

      To echo what someone says below, the gallbladder may need to be taken out a few months after post-op, so maybe pick another body part — or don’t! It’s your body, OP, and you don’t have to explain/justify what’s going on to anyone else.

    2. designbot*

      I’d caution you against assuming your coworker was lying. I’ve been dealing with acute pancreatitis, which caused me to drop some weight very quickly, and I’ve spoken with other pancreatic patients through online support groups who’ve lost 100+ pounds dealing with this disease. And guess what? Many of us get our gallbladders removed to prevent future attacks, since gallstones are one of the major causes of pancreatitis. It’s perfectly plausible that your coworker was telling the truth, but there’s more to the story that may not be weight loss surgery. I’ve told my office that I’ll have to take a week or two off in the spring to have my gallbladder out, and I really hope they’re not speculating about me the way you are about your coworker.

      1. designbot*

        Actually the more I think about this, the more options there are. Many people can eat normally or nearly normally without a gallbladder, but there are also a fair number who do require changes to what and how they eat because they no longer have that extra bile storage to help them out with a bigger/richer meal or alcohol. For some people they find they need to eat smaller meals more frequently, eat a lower fat diet, and/or cut back on their alcohol intake–all of which can lead to weight loss, especially if that is a big change for the person in question. The gallbladder surgery could explain the weight loss completely if she is one of the people more affected by it, so please don’t assume she’s lying.

  37. going anon for this one*


    I had vertical sleeve gastrectomy in August. I didn’t plan to tell my coworkers but had told my former boss last year because I had constant pre-op appointments (for anyone who hasn’t gone through this, you have months of hoops to jump through – physicals, bloodwork, mental health evaluations, nutritionist counseling, upper GI, gallbladder and liver ultrasounds, surgeon consults and checkups, hospital pre-op appts, not to mention the countless hours on the phone with insurance and the surgeon’s office, etc.). I needed a lot of work from home days for doc appts and figured honesty would be the best thing so my boss didn’t think I was interviewing for other jobs with all the sudden time off requests. Then my boss left and I had to tell my new bosses, which felt less comfortable to me. They were supportive of the time off and kept my secret for me, but they weren’t people I would’ve chosen to tell if I didn’t feel I needed to. As I got closer I told a few people I trusted that I was having surgery and they were all supportive. (I told a number of people I was going on medical leave because everyone wanted to know where I was going for vacation. Some people would ask “oh what are you having done?” which I’d consistently reply with, ” it’s a minor surgery but I’d prefer not to discuss details, thanks for thinking of me though and I’ll be fine and back in a few weeks!”)

    Here are some things I can share about pre- and post-op weight loss surgery issues in the workplace. None of this is meant to convince you to tell them or not tell them, but just some things to think about based on my recent experience.

    *If your team has a habit of eating or drinking together, you will stick out for at the very least a full month, probably 2. Most people are required to do a 1-2 week liquid diet of protein shakes and broth to empty the stomach and intestines and to shrink the liver 10-20% prior to surgery. During my 2 week liquid diet, we had a happy hour, 2 big fancy dinners for visiting colleagues, 4 catered work lunches, plus we get snacks delivered and I had to cancel the things I usually order for myself since I couldn’t eat. I still had to sit with everyone during these lunches and dinners, drinking protein shakes or water, so it was obvious that I was on a diet of some kind. Post-op I was on liquids and soft/mushy food for a total of 8 weeks so I lost count of how many social and professional meals I had to avoid during work. I also skipped our summer party because I was 2 weeks post-op and aside from feeling like a pile of tired garbage, I couldn’t bear to watch people eat and drink cocktails at an open bar for hours while I sipped painfully on water. Even once you’re a few months out and eating more normal foods without pain, you still will eat such minuscule portions that people may suspect you’ve become anorexic. Softer foods I can eat more of (like a full container of yogurt) but denser foods I can only eat 3-4 bites before I’m uncomfortably full. People notice if you order grilled chicken with veggies instead of potatoes and only eat 3 bites… they may not say anything but they notice! It’s VERY hard to navigate if you’re keeping it a secret.

    *Your weight loss will be rapid for a while, definitely. But people who see you ever day aren’t going to see it as dramatically as people you may not see as often. My coworkers didn’t even start to notice my weight loss until I was down over 50 lbs. (I had 150 to lose.) In my first 3 months I lost 65 lbs, and now I’m predicted to average about 5-10 lbs a month for the next 6 months. It comes off fast at first, then slow and steady. But people who see you ever day are the last to really see it.

    *You will be on an emotional roller coaster for 1-3 months. Your hormones will go nuts. When you lose weight rapidly due to surgery, your fat cells release a ton of stored estrogen. (Sorry I assumed you’re a woman, if not, you will have some emotional stuff happen but not the estrogen!!) I had pregnancy hormones x10. I cried every day for a month and a good portion of the people in my online support group (200 people who had weight loss surgery the same month I did) had the same experience. I argued with my spouse, I couldn’t focus at work, everything felt very personal and painful and isolating. You WILL get through it and it is SO worth it – it passes and the benefits outweigh the side effects of the first few months. But people may notice you’re a little off. In my experience and a lot of my support group’s experience, people noticed their emotional changes more than their weight loss in the first few months. It is also extremely hard to feel hungry all the time. Weight loss surgery helps with physical hunger but what you don’t realize at first is that head hunger is stronger than physical hunger. I thought desperately about food for months and felt super depressed and isolated because I was drinking chicken broth and chalky shakes. I would’ve killed for a freaking salad in month 1. It takes a toll on you.

    *As you know, weight loss surgery is not magic. It’s a tool that helps keep you on track (like bumper guards in bowling! You’re still doing all of the actions of bowling yourself, but you have these guards that help you stay out of the gutter). It doesn’t do the work for you – it physically helps you with portion control and repairing your metabolism, which for overweight people is completely out of whack. But the truth of it is, you will be eating less than 1,000 calories a day, you’ll be eating 60-100g protein per day, you’ll be super low carb, and you’ll be exercising. That’s a big enough lifestyle change that if you decide not to tell anyone about surgery, it explains the weight loss. While I ended up telling some people I trust, I did keep it from probably 3/4ths of the people in my life. Those people know 75% of the truth – I am on a medically supervised very strict diet that is high protein, low carb, and 1000 calories a day, and I went from going to the gym NEVER to going 5x a week. People who see you every day will see that you eat differently and work out more, and that can be enough to explain the weight loss.

    *Someone above said not to lie about gallbladder surgery unless they’re taking it out during weight loss surgery. Good tip because it’s extremely common to have gallbladder issues by about 6 months post-op and you’re in a pinch if you have to get it taken out “again” :)

    *I also have a lot of physically fit coworkers and stuck out as the over 300 lb outcast who doesn’t talk about gym classes every morning. I’m not thin and athletic yet, but my weight loss has helped me feel like I fit in. I go to the gym, I track my food on my fitness pal, and I feel more kinship with them than I did previously. Honestly, I feel like a new person. I’m only really talking about work here but for me, WLS changed my entire life… and it saved my life. All of the pain and struggle and emotion is worth it. Down 70 lbs at 15 weeks post-op, 80 or so more to go, and I feel awesome. I wish you the best of luck!! If you are not part of one already, join a group online. You may already be on Bariatric Pal but those forums are filled with nasty fights between newbies and veterans and there’s a ton of infighting and judgement. I’m in a closed group on facebook – the name of the group doesn’t indicate that it’s a surgery group and everyone in it had surgery the same month as me. (I found it through a thread on bariatric pal, actually.) Those people got me through the darkest days. Instagram also has a huge WLS community – search “VSG” “RNY” “WLS” and follow everyone you can! I started a private weight loss account separate from my personal account, and have over 2k followers and follow over 3k – only weight loss surgery people. It’s an amazing community and you’ll get so much support, which is imperative if you’re not telling everyone in your life that you’re doing this.

    Good luck!

    1. Marcela*

      It’s very true what you say about head hunger. Once I underwent surgery for my endometriosis and got peritonitis as a consequence. Of course, I could not eat after the other surgery where the perforated piece of my intestine got removed, and I did not need to eat for two weeks for I received “food” via a catheter, but I suffered a lot from the lack of food. I don’t even like fish, and I remember being so happy to eat a bit of fish the first time I got food. Now I’m dieting or more correctly, trying to eat only within my energy requirements, and sometimes I know I’m not hungry, but I want to eat nonetheless.

    2. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      Not the OP, but I wanted to tell you thank you for such an honest and thoughtful comment!

    3. nonymous*

      Thanks for being so open and educating me about some of the logistics involved. Usually the people I see go thru this are very private about the experience but your description (especially the hormonal side effects) makes me wonder if that just makes it harder for the individual? I am perfectly happy to chat about other topics, but I can be more supportive/accommodating at a distance if I have a better general understanding of the general challenges involved. I want to compare it to any other kind of surgery/rehab that an acquaintance might go thru – if someone had foot surgery I wouldn’t pester them about joining the softball team!

    4. AJS*

      You’ve said what I was thinking about saying. Good tip about the gall bladder–I had a VSG in June 2015, and my gall bladder had to come out this August. BTW, the latter experience was much more painful and recovery was slower.

      1. AJS*

        One more thing–I’m in an online (FB) group for people who had the surgery the same month as I did–just like you–and it has been a true mainstay of my life. Several of these people have become real-world friends. A year and a half later we still gave things to teach each other. (as the only man in a 150-person group it gets odd at times, but I just laugh and roll with it)

  38. ceiswyn*

    OP1: It is also possible that essentially nobody will notice.

    I have, through stringent dieting, lost over four stone (that’s over 25 kilos, or 56 pounds) in two and a half months. So far, I have had one (1) comment that I’m ‘looking a bit fitter’.

    Then if anyone does comment, you can use one of Alison’s scripts. I think something like ‘It’s an expected side effect of a minor medical procedure’ gets across the message that you don’t want congratulations, there’s nothing to worry about, and they don’t want to ask any further.

  39. Adlib*

    #4 – I’m so sorry about your grandparents. I lost two of mine in the last year and a half. I also hope that your workplace is understanding and allows you whatever time it is that you need.

    1. ChemMoose*

      (OP#4) Thanks Adlib! They’ve been very accommodating so far, and I’m sure they will be in the future.

  40. Former Retail Manager*

    OP#1….what stuck out the most to me was your comment that there would likely be backlash if people found out. Backlash professionally or in the form of rude/snarky comments? If you meant professionally, I find that concerning and a symptom of at least a minimally dysfunctional workplace. If you mean personally, I assure you, they are talking about you now. If you are overweight enough to be qualified for this surgery, I’m sure they’ve already made at least a few comments behind your back. I also find it odd that such fitness obsessed people wouldn’t be happy for you and congratulate you and taking steps that will have a lasting positive impact on your health for the rest of your life.

    Either way, congrats on the surgery! Hope it goes well and gets you the results you want.

    1. Kelly L.*

      It seems rather rude to suggest, without evidence, that her co-workers are saying cruel things behind her back. It’s possible to be very into fitness for oneself without being an ass about other people’s bodies.

    2. MsCHX*

      Going off of OPs letter, and knowing their workplace and colleagues, I don’t think it’s rude/farfetched. In *my* workplace, I couldn’t see anyone receiving backlash. But OP says it’s “extremely likely” that there will be backlash — which makes me think of people who see WLS as “the easy way out” and overweight/obese people as “lacking willpower” because “*ALL* they have to do is eat less and move more”.

  41. FiveWheels*

    OP3 – I don’t interpret the comment that they called you beloved personally, more that they consider you beloved in your roll as Torah scribe. Similar to a client calling their lawyer amazing – it means amazing as a lawyer, which very often is not amazing as a person at all ;-)

  42. Looey*

    OP#1 – I’ve know 2 people who have had the same surgery and both needed at least 3 weeks recovery time. Also, their doctors encouraged them to talk to colleagues and friends about the surgery to build a good support network for afterwards.

    1. going anon for this one*

      I mentioned this above as well but I took 2 weeks off for the vertical sleeve surgery and I wish I’d taken 3. Week 3 I was a little more mobile and wasn’t in any physical pain, but my exhaustion was so severe I could barely keep my eyes open or walk across a room without getting tired.

  43. Minhag*

    Another Jew chiming in on question 3! I totally get why this is verging into the squicky territory for you. People are projecting and gushing and almost genuflecting to you because of your role. Just a guess, are you a female scribe? I can see this behavior towards a male scribe but because female scribes are so new (in the modern age), I can see people having Major Feelings about a female scribe. I would say you should gently push back because you want to keep things professional even in this emotional work. I’d say try, “Oh, please just call me Soferet Judy. Let’s save the ‘beloved’ stuff until after you sign off on my work!” Yuk yuk. But you do want to drive home that you’re a professional and if there’s a problem or a disagreement or even a major falling-out between you and the congregation, they can address it with you without tons of complicated Mommy/Goddess/Beloved feelings.

    Ps. I’ve totally seen this overly emotional dynamic with rabbis. “Please meet our esteemed shepherd, the greatest sage of our day, a true tzaddik, Rabbi So-and-So (Who our executive board hates and is trying to forcibly retire).”

  44. Amy M in HR*

    OP #5 – Definitely know your field AND list when you are available to work in your cover letter. I am dealing with this right now as I recruit for an open position we have. For me, if you are applying for a position (regardless of what you list your graduation date as on your resume) I am assuming you can work now. I conducted phone interviews with three applicants who are grad students and not willing to work until after graduation in May, it was very frustrating to spend several hours of my day on applicants who are not ready to work. If they had simply listed in their cover letter that they were not available until May I would not have interviewed them!

    1. Artemesia*

      Every grad student I know who is employed and same with law students were interviewing in fall and early spring for post grad positions. My husband had a job in December and couldn’t start till the following September (he was in a two year accelerated law program and graduated in August; he didn’t want to take 3 years since he had lost a couple of years with military service). People who don’t start looking till they are ready to work will have a much tougher time finding a job.

      Of course their date of availability should be clear in the application but if they indicate they graduate in May, then you should probably clarify that at least as they assume that that IS informing you of their availability.

    2. penny*

      I disagree there Amy M. When I see a resume with “expected graduation May 2017” I assume they can’t start work until at least mid May & maybe later & they’re just trying to get a head start on the job search. They’re usually still taking full time classes last semester. I clarify during an interview because occasionally one can start earlier but it’s a safe assumption. Most college students live where they attend school so that’s another thing to consider. If it’s an unrealistic daily commute & they’d need to move, its a safe bet they’re aiming for post-grad start.

  45. PK*

    My first thought about the intention was ‘Beloved Torah’ Scribe. So the comment was really meant to describe the Torah and not the scribe.

    1. Observer*

      As noted in an earlier comment, this is unlikely. If the email actually used the commonly use title, it’s not possible as the work Torah doesn’t even show up. For that to be the reading the sentence would have had to have been written as “The scribe for our beloved Torah”

  46. 2 Cents*

    #1 Please don’t feel you need to apologize for your surgery to coworkers who are able to maintain their weight and health through other means. As someone who’s looked into surgery because of a related health issue, it’s NOT a quick fix, but rather a tool to aid in weight loss. You don’t need to apologize for using a tool at your disposal to help in your health goals. If someone makes a snarky comment, that’s their problem. You’re taking care of you in your way; they can take care of themselves in their way.

  47. SG*

    LW #5 – in my industry (and I’m currently working in recruiting) you should definitely apply to things you feel you could do. If we feel the same, we might not hire you if we have to fill the position ASAP, but we’d keep you in mind if something else came up later. Can’t hurt to get your name out there.

  48. Penelope Pitstop*

    #3 – Whoa – such an awesome job…few lines of work affect people so deeply and emotionally as yours. I understand that might sometimes feel like a weight; it’s also a privilege.

    I understand that beloved is a heavy word, laden with meaning and weight. However, (and assuming that there’s not other boundaries being crossed) I hope you can come to see it as deeply complimentary of the impact you have on the people you serve and the importance of your work.

    My writing pays the bills; your’s affects history and lives over generations. There are way worse professional fates than being a beloved embodiment of what people hold dearest. :)

  49. Dhya*

    Re: Bariatric Surgery
    Having gone down this route, I totally understand your desire to keep it all private. Please understand that as you lose the weight, rightly or wrongly people will start commenting on it. They’ll likely all mean well and if you can possibly feel encouraged by it then that’s good, but do also be prepared with kind words to redirect the conversation if you don’t want to talk about it.
    I attempted to not talk about it and not tell people for a while but had a bit of a “sod it” moment and just told everyone and held my head high about it. It worked out pretty well but it’s very bizarre. It was kind of taken as permission to comment on my body and my health, which felt quite presumptuous at times but I think I mostly handled it okay. If I felt people were overstepping the boundaries of politeness, I’d comment back about their bodies – not in a nasty way, just in a similar presumptuous way. That usually got the message home.
    I really hope the surgery goes well for you. You’ll feel amazing with the things you can do afterwards – it really will give you a whole new lease on life.

  50. Marisol*

    For #3, I read the word “beloved” as a hyberbolic stylistic device, in the same way someone might say, “our amazing assistant,” our “fabulous boss” “our miracle-worker editor” etc., rather than an actual…declaration of deep and abiding love for the contractor. More cutesy than serious, in other words.

  51. Volunteer Enforcer*

    #3, I get a version of this fairly often. My organisation shares a building with a separate one, the nature of the other one means that clients come to the building. Some of them call me things like nice, lovely etc. I cope with it by professionally acknowledging with a thanks then diverting the subject quickly. Best way I find is to acknowledge but don’t make a big deal of it.

  52. Megan Schafer*

    Re: #1 – I’m also looking at weight loss surgery, unfortunately for me I work at a facility that specializes in elective/medically indicated surgeries and it’s highly likely I’ll have it done there. Because of the nature of the work, my medical information will be made available to my co-workers for the purpose of my care. I’m mostly O.K. with this, but I’m worried about how to address it afterwards – obviously they will know I’ve had something done, but HIPAA will make them uncomfortable commenting on it or talking about it in any capacity – i.e. offering compliments, support and encouragement, sharing their own story, whatever. It’d be weird for it to just NEVER come up, right?

    I’m sure I’m just overthinking it, but I don’t want them to feel stiff or weird about it. I suppose if I just make it well known before I have the surgery done, it’ll be public knowledge and less of an elephant in the room right?

  53. VroomVroom*

    When I was a senior in college I began applying for jobs (in marketing, PR, advertising) in December when I returned home from my study abroad program. I even got a few interviews over the holiday break.
    However, most of them said things like ‘Thank you, we’ll keep you in mind if we have a need in that time-frame.’ I continued applying all spring, and started getting more interviews in March/April timeline. I finally got a job offer in the last week of April – and started 3 weeks later (1 week after graduation, though they wanted me to start the day after graduation).
    It really depends on your industry. In mine, applying in advance was pretty pointless. I’d say February/March is your best bet. My husband (boyfriend at the time) began applying for jobs in the same timeline as I did (finance related jobs). He continued applying all summer, finally landing one starting in September – but he started 2 weeks after he got his offer.
    Granted this is many moons ago at the height of the recession. In the years preceding my graduation many people already had jobs lined up by graduation to begin the following fall – maybe the economy is back to that status quo.

    1. VroomVroom*

      For perspective, I also frequently hire people for fairly entry level roles. One of my past companies always hired 2 incoming ‘classes’ a summer – one in June and one in August, and they’d extend offers for those classes as early as the preceding fall.
      However, at my current company if you applied now for a hopeful position beginning in May, we’d be like – well we have the need NOW, not in May, so we’ll keep you in mind if we have another need in May…

  54. Random rabbi*

    LW #3

    One of the problems with Jewish communal work is that you yourself become part of the sale, even if what you’re selling is a good or service. For example communal rabbis are subject to significant (and unofficial) scrutiny of their behavior. As are their families. (To be honest community rabbis have it the hardest. I’ve heard more than one describe it as living in a fish bowl). You may be selling a Torah, but like it or not you are part of the sale. Are you friendly? personable? A talmid chacham? Possess yirat shamayim? The congregation wants to feel comfortable with you, and the synagogue is trying to help create that level of comfort by making it clear that there is a close and personal link between you and the synagogue. Add to this the fact that the synagogue is probably in the process of soliciting donations for the sefer torah, and it becomes obvious why they’re trying to personalize and endear you to their congregants.

    I know it can be a pain, but it’s also life in the Jewish communal world.

  55. AJS*

    I decided to be completely open about my gastric sleeve surgery in June 2015. I’ve received nothing but support and friendly curiosity from everyone, including coworkers, friends, and mere acquaintances. The checkout woman at my grocery store rushed over to me and asked if she could give me a hug because I looked so much healthier.

    I can’t tell anyone what to do, but, having learned from part experience that lies beget more lies, and then even more lies, I decided to assume good will and be honest. Please think about this! Most people are not as awful as you might think they are.

  56. Former scribe*

    I think the answer and replies to the Torah scribe OP missed some context: being a Torah scribe means operating within a context of normalized boundary-crossing. So that context does actually already exist, even if this particular congregation hasn’t otherwise done anything too weird yet. It’s more or less inevitable.

    Language like that has different connotations with Torah scribes than with other professionals. When you’re a doctor, or a manager, or professor or whatever, you can assume that most people you encounter professionally will treat you will appropriate professional boundaries. And most crucially, most people you work with will not assume that they have an emotionally and spiritually intimate relationship with you. In that context “beloved” is a bit weird, but not necessarily something worth pushing back on.

    It’s different being a scribe. When a congregation commissions a Torah from a scribe, they often assume that this creates a deeply intimate relationship between the scribe and everyone in the community who wants their attention. This is particularly true when the scribe is female. (And often goes along with things like intensely charged hugs that it’s hard-to-impossible to say no to.)

    In that kind of role, if you want to have any sort of emotional boundaries at all, you have to be very intentional about drawing and enforcing them — and it’s complicated on a number of levels. I can see why the OP wants to nip this in the bud, given the context.

    Unfortunately, I’m not sure how to go about doing that either.

  57. Momonga*

    Re: being called “beloved” –

    I’ve been in the workforce for about 18 years and have received a lot of compliments like these – I see them as just warm recognition of good work and a good reputation. I would put this under the category of “OMG YOU’RE THE BEST” and “You can never leave this company, I will lock the doors!” – which, on the face of it sounds creepy of course, but was said out of authentic appreciation. And no, no one ever locked any doors.

  58. Billy*

    OP #5, you should go ahead and apply now. Your campus should have a career office that can help you and can confirm when the companies are expecting their new hires to start work, but certainly by January any company posting ads on a college campus are expecting the new employees to be May graduates. Different industries have different timelines, but I have directly head from an employer who skipped a campus-sponsored career fair because “March is too late – we’ve already filled all our positions.”

  59. Michelle*

    I apologize in advance for the length of my comment.

    OP #1, I’m 5 months out from gastric sleeve. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. You are really going to learn a lot about people through this process, yourself included. I had to jump through insurance hoops to have it covered (my employer finally agreed to allow the insurance coverage) and every hoop was worth it, including the psych evaluation and nutrition classes. Some people know (including my boss and HR) and some people don’t. Most people have been supportive, others have been very nosy. Even the supportive people have been nosy. I don’t like being the center of attention, so it’s difficult for me when someone says anything more than “You look nice,” or “You look great.”

    I was not prepared for the noises my system now makes. I pray for noisy meetings so no one can hear me gurgle. I sound like Jurassic Park in a drain pipe. I blame it on the hiatal hernia repair that was done as part of the surgery (oh, every since I had a hernia repaired I seem to make a lot of noise.) People believe it (I think). I also was not prepared to be as tired as I was. My energy didn’t get back to normal for about 6 weeks. I stayed home for 2 weeks and then worked part time at the office/telecommuted for the next 2 weeks. I really needed that time just from an energy/focus perspective. A co-worker that did it at the same time was back in a week because she didn’t want to go on disability and I think she regretted it. We got it done the same day, same hospital, same surgeon. Of course, people that I didn’t tell assumed I did it too because they saw us speaking a lot. Oh well…

    People are going to judge. They are going to open mouth, insert BOTH feet. But their comments are really about them, not about you. Don’t let them emotionally hijack you. I think it’s a great idea to have some pre-planned comments ready. I didn’t, but I wish I did. Some I’ve come up with (some snark is included) on the fly are:
    1. When asked how much I’ve lost – “I’m not counting.”
    2. How do you you feel (by both people that know and people that are fishing)? “Fine/great! How do you feel?/How about that game last night?”
    3. Have you lost weight? “Maybe” or “Nope.” Then I keep walking. Or, if it’s someone that is just making conversation and is kind of dumb (a lot of those are in my office), “You’ve suddenly lost a lot of weight. What are you doing?” I spoke honestly but evasively, “Oh, I’ve been working on this for a year. You’re just noticing now. Just made a few changes that seem to be sticking this time.”
    4. For those that shout down the hall (literally) “WOW! LOOK AT YOU! YOU SKINNY MINNIE!” “Ummm…and LOOK AT YOU!! How are your kids/wife/husband?”
    5. Before the surgery: “Why can’t you do it like I did it!?” “I’m not you.” “You’re going to look old and sick.” Respond with a stare or silence, or “Thanks for your support.” (Deadpan.) If they don’t let up (I’ve had this happen before and after), “I don’t have to defend my decision to you. I’m doing what’s right for me and the rest isn’t your business.”
    6. A woman in HR said, “Well, now you’ll have to change your behavior. Are you getting counseling for that?” This is after she already knew about the medical issues majorly contributing to my obesity (not food addiction, as confirmed by the psych evaluation). I can’t print here what I said to her, but she responded with an apology. Even if it was food addiction, she had no right to say what she did.
    7. “How much more do you want to lose?” “What’s your goal?” “I don’t know/I haven’t decided.” Or depending on who it is and you want to mess with them, “Oh, I’m going to gain 20 lbs. I think I’m too thin.”
    8. “Turn around so I can take a look at you.” “No, I’m not turning around.”
    9. “Your face is going to sag and you’ll need a face lift.” “That’s the last thing I’m worried about.” “Well, your’e going to need it! I’ll remind you in a year!” “Don’t bother.”

    I’ve had a few people realize that they’ve embarrassed me and have apologized for it. The genuinely nice people really don’t want to offend.

    I can’t emphasize enough how much life is going to change. I know some of my answers seem fresh. I work in company with almost 1000 people. They don’t all need to know my business and they haven’t all treated me with respect, especially when I was at my heaviest. I respond as professionally as possible (even with the snark) so I can’t be accused of anything. To the people that I know are genuine and/or are struggling with weight as well, I answer honestly after asking for their confidentiality.

    If you haven’t seen the forums on bariatricpal.com, check them out. I found them to be extremely informative. Best wishes on a safe and successful surgery and a speedy recovery. I’d be happy to provide more info but don’t know how to connect here.

    1. The Strand*

      Thanks to everyone for these honest, detailed responses to OP#1. A friend of mine found WLS to be a roller coaster. Her marriage ended. Friendships ended. It was very hard for her to have some people start treating her more nicely after she lost the weight.

      A major change to your body tells you who your real friends are, what people really think about weight and appearance, and whether people you are close to are invested in you being obese, “the unattractive friend”, unhappy, etc. I loved the discussion of boundaries, and the people who see a large wall and immediately start scaling it. Roll back whatever boundaries may have been broken and feel support in being firm. You may discover, as I did, that you feel confident and not ashamed about what progress you make, that you can talk about failures, correct ignorance, and that there’s a bit of joy in making rude people squirm.

      Here’s to you for the major journey you are starting.

  60. Anonymooooooose*

    LW #5: Congrats on the near graduation! I agree with Allison that when to apply is field-specific, but most people I knew (I’m a spring ’16 grad school grad) started applying in late-March.

    And two things I wish people would have reiterated more for me when I was looking for my first post-grad job: though this varies by work experience, etc., don’t just take the first job that bites because it does. If need be, take something to tide you over, but don’t stop until you find the job that fits your current career trajectory. Also, red flags during interviews turn into massive stop signs or sink holes about 2.5 weeks into the job. For your own sanity, listen to your gut the first time.

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