Should You Keep Your Weight Loss Plan a Secret?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Most people who decide to make a lifestyle change will tell at least a few others about their intentions.  All of a sudden you’re buying more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and you’ve dusted off those gym shoes to go for a walk a few times a week.  Something is up, but how many people do you tell?  Do you tell anyone at all, or just let them figure it out for themselves?  New research shows that sharing your goals could negatively affect your behavior and success. 

Researchers at New York University explored the idea of an “identity goal”.  “In the case of weight loss, that goal is to be a successful dieter.  To reach an identity goal, you need indicators of your accomplishments. For a dieter it could be pounds dropped or praise from friends/family when they see how great you look.  Studies found that when you tell people what you intend to do, and that intention is acknowledged, the recognition qualifies as an indicator of accomplishment.”  The theory is that the sense of accomplishment makes you feel like you’ve already reached a goal.  This feeling then gives you less incentive to follow through with it.  Do you agree?

Researchers suggest creating an action plan to help you stick to the goal.  Instead of just saying “I want to lose 20 pounds”, develop steps along the way.  That way the sense of accomplishment isn’t complete until you’ve “lost 5 pounds by January 15th, 10 pounds by February 20th and 20 pounds by April 30th.”

Other researchers suggest that because human beings naturally have a problem with change, those around you will try to sabotage your efforts (consciously or not) by changing you back to what you once were.  One successful dieter said that she received comments such as “I liked you better as the fat friend,” from people she expected to be supportive of her goals.  Because of these reasons, some experts suggest keeping your weight loss goals a secret, or if necessary, only telling a few people.

I think everyone needs to do what works best for them, but I’m skeptical that keeping your goals a secret from everyone is beneficial for most people.  If you know that your family and friends won’t support your goals, reach out to others- like your friends at SparkPeople!  It helps to share the ups and downs of a healthy lifestyle journey, especially if it’s with others who are going through the same thing.  Surround yourself with those who want to see you be happy and successful. 

Do you keep your weight loss goals a secret from certain people in your life?  Do you find that telling others helps or hurts your progress?

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JTDIXON 6/3/2018
I’ve shared with those I anticipated to be supportive. One I was surprised that she (discretely) commented I would not make my goal, but all the others commended my decision to be healthier & have provided positive support & feedback on my journey so far. I’ve adjusted exactly how much or what I shared with who based on their past attitudes & opinions. So far this has worked really well this LAST time around (I hope). However, everyone’s different & each person needs to follow the approach which is successful for them. Report
KHALIA2 5/18/2018
I don't diet, I use moderation. Report
KHALIA2 5/9/2018
A good one! I try and share with those who support me. Report
030312 3/11/2018
I told my boyfriend
And his response was magic
If you doing this for yourself i will support you
What do you need me to do for you Report
Sadly, my support doesn't really come from home, although some family members pretend to help - but it's not the help I need and want. It's whatever they think is "helpful" even when I tell them it's not helpful. It's even worse because I'm trying to make lifestyle changes and the resistance on that is huge... even if it isn't "just a diet". It's still change and family and friends are resistant to change. Report
MARYGOLD5 11/13/2017
I don't tell my family anymore, because they don't think I need to lose weight. I try to explain that I am mainly trying to be healthy, but I just get comments like "Oh, you're always going on a diet." or "Oh, I've heard that before." so I just don't say anything now. My husband is absolutely no support. I get my support from spark people. Why open myself up for negative comments? It depends on the kind of support you can get from family and friends whether it is a good idea to share with others what you are doing. Report
KHALIA2 11/9/2017
reat info! Report
PJGART 11/9/2017
I didn't tell anyone. In about 5 year's I have lost total 80 pounds. Pretty much No one really commented. Until the last 10 pounds were gone.. Report
CPZ95M 11/8/2017
I don't tell anyone I'm dieting, even myself! LOL It just makes me crave junk when I think I'm being restricted! To avoid any naysayers, I don't even say that I'm trying to eat healthier. When we go out to eat I just say, "I don't know what it is, but salad sounds amazing today!" Report
CHRIS3874 11/8/2017
I know some people that either get jealous and/or try to help (who) by sabotaging my progress. Report
SPUNOUTMOM 11/8/2017
I agree. It has been a difficult process. And I am still in process of losing, I have a good support system, but I also have saboteurs. I sometimes even sabotage myself. Report
BEBABY77 8/16/2017
I am fully honest about the process on SP, but never on any other social sites, and only a few people know how hard I'm actually working. Mostly I only acknowledge my weight loss with others, if there is an unsolicited compliment. Report
KAREN1035 7/31/2017
I usually just tell a few friends. I don't tell family because I don't want to feel like a failure if I fall off the wagon. Report
CTYONIT 7/31/2017
I hand picked a few to tell while I was losing weight but now that I am at goal, I am eager to shout it from the roof tops! Report
In the past I recognized that when people noticed my progress I would quit. I didn't mean to, but it happened more than once. My MIL said it was "the most bizarre thing" she had ever heard. Hmph. I think in those instances, that recognition was all the accomplishment I needed.

This go-around feels different to me. I decided to base my success on things I could control. I can't control whether or not I lose weight this week, but I CAN control whether or not I exercise and whether or not I come in under my "calorie budget". So my minimum exercise goal is 10 minutes per day. I have done that for 57 consecutive days. I've come in under my calorie budget for 26 consecutive days. THOSE are the goals that I share. If I were to share that I want to lose over 100 pounds, I think I would want to give up. But to share the daily successes keep me super motivated. Report
I disagree, although my "acknowledgement" will be my blood lab tests and waist line, not the people around me. Dieting is a lifestyle change, so you *never* quit dieting -- but you do start with a lifestyle change you can life with... for the rest of your life. (:

It also helps that I'm stubborn and found a meal plan with food I enjoy! Report
I really like the supportive atmosphere at SparkPeople. Somehow, it's easier for me to discuss this anonymously with strangers than it is to talk to people I know about it. So no, I haven't really told anyone, although some have noticed. And it's also true that some don't like it. I used to be an enthusiastic over-eater of unhealthy food, but lately, if we go somewhere that has unhealthy food I get a salad and only a little of the unhealthy food, or skip it entirely and get something healthier. The last time this happened, my best friend said to me, "This thing you're doing, I don't like it." So yes, I prefer to keep it to myself. Report
I've made it clear to my immediate family that I'm shifting into a healthier lifestyle, but I don't bring up weight loss goals, especially in front of my kids. I want the focus to be on all of us eating and moving well as a family.

I share my personal goals here, instead. It worked before my pregnancy and I'm hoping it'll work now, four years later. Report
I'm very private so I let my daughter and some Spark friends know but that's it. Report
I'm very private so I let my daughter and some Spark friends know but that's it. Report
I post on Facebook. My family doesn't live in Las Vegas so I let them, and strangers too, I guess, know about my WL journey. Here in Las Vegas, I don't talk about it much but my friends know and are, mostly, supportive of my efforts. For me it's about my health stats so I trumpet every new improvement in those numbers, Report
I find that I am challenged less about my weight objective when I share them. It took many failures before I was able to lose 90% of the weight I wanted to, so I don't want to feel like a failure if I fail and feel the pressures of that from those around me. To ensure that my diet doesn't isolate me from a group, I'll tell them I'll try whatever item a bit later, or that it's not in my plan for today but if there's more left, I'll try it tomorrow. I also bring in treats, so it feels like I'm involved, even if I don't eat it. Telling people your goals doesn't encourage them to support it, so it doesn't feel very valuable. It's easier to focus on myself and if others ask what's going on... what's with the eggplant salads, I'll share a bit. Report
In all previous diet attempts I never told anyone, and never got anywhere. This time I knew I was serious and told everyone. I am keeping a blog & vlog to track everything, and posting tons of progress pics. I easily refuse any foods I do not want, so can thwart any sabotage. Since I am committed to a lifestyle change - not a diet - I felt I had to let people know. I am glad I did. Almost everyone is very supportive. By sharing everything on social media it helps me stay focused and is like my accountability partner. Report
NO, no secrets here. I tell everyone, and if they don't like it or try to sabotage or are on some wacky, crazy regime and diet that is not healthy for them or me, they can just take a walk as my friend, because I don't need their negativity in my life. My small family tribe lives halfway across the country, whatever they think does not affect me. Report
I write a blog every week. So I tell everyone and strangers, too Report
I could not agree more!
Just from my own experience in the past I have never seen any advantage or benefit to confiding in a friend or family member whatsoever!.... In fact once a lady and I decided to do a "buddy system" type of thing and within two or three days I saw she was fiercely competing against me!! This is not a support system and in fact once it was dissolved the so-called friendship also dissolved....( Another thing is that I don't mean to be skeptical but that saying misery loves company"..... I have also found if the other person is overweight they're not interested in my success or well-being for that matter!..... better to keep it to myself and just follow along in Sparks. Report
There is someone I don't often tell things like that too. They need to lose weight, too, and if I fail, I believe they are secretly relieved...they like the idea that I am made aware that THEY got 'fat' , not because they were 'pigs' , but simply because losing weight is a hard thing to do. I don't think they WANT to feel like that towards people losing weight, but ... Report
I don't tell people I am dieting, but then I feel bad when people want to eat and refuse to because I am not eating the cookies, etc. So I tell them that I am dieting then it is worse and they began to push the food on me or become overly "nice" and try to please me too much. Report
I have never been a proponent of telling the world my private business, my goals are my business and nobody else needs to know, wether it is weight loss or enlarging my hen pen. I do not encourage people I barely know to make personal comments about my life, and that includes most of the people I worked with, I am really no more truly interested in their lives then they are in mine, most of the information gathering at such places are from busy bodies that like to gossip. I had lost 50 lbs before anyone noticed, but I was wearing baggy old scrubs and a lab coat, and it is hard to tell dressed like that. It is super annoying when people ask you if you are sick, or how you lost so much weight so quickly, it wasn't quick, it had been 7 months. Report
I haven't told many people about my weight loss. My family knows, my in-laws know, my husband knows.

Both my best friends know, but they also say things like "You're already healthy, don't lose any more weight or you'll be sick!" when I'm still over 200 lbs, and "Oh, you haven't lost weight, that article of clothing simply stretched out in the wash." I no longer update them on my progress.

Another friend said I simply wouldn't be "me" if I was thin. I guess she can't really see me past my weight and know that my weight doesn't define who I am!

So, yeah, no. Report
While I appreciate compliments and gladly share how I do things to manage my health and weight I don't tell people outside of spark my goals very often, unless they are doing the same thing. Report
I didn't really tell many people. However, I took a vacation for 2 weeks and while away bought new work clothes that fit the 60lb weight loss, got a really short haircut, started wearing contacts and makeup. It has been 6 weeks and people still don't recognize me. The "makeover" was so amazing it was as if all the weight loss was over night. Everyone wants to know my "secret". I have told many about sparkpeople but most won't even checkout the site. I now tell people "You know that crazy stuff about eating right and exercise? It is really not CRAZY!" Report
When I started with SP the first time in 2007, I didn't tell anyone, I just made the commitment to change and things fell into place. I lost 30 pounds. Life got in the way, and I gained it all back. I decided to return to SP because I was so successful the first time, hoping to be successful again. It doesn't hurt to share your goals with people you feel will be supportive; my personal experience has been to put up and shut up and everything goes well.

Good luck to my fellow Sparkers! Report
This time I didn't tell anyone. After I'd lost 20 pounds, people started asking if I was dieting. I'd say that I was just eating lighter. Then all the questions would start and next thing you know, everyone had a better way to do it. Especially my heavy friends. Instead of encouragement, they seemed to belittle my efforts questioning every thing I ate and how much I exercised. One of my friends said, "Well, if YOU can do it, then I guess it's not so hard". If they only knew.

So, bottom line, NO I won't tell anyone and if someone notices, I'll tell them I've been sick. Report
I tried to lose weight before without a lot of success, and now I'm committed to a lifestyle change. I've lost 40+ lbs and I'm building great habits. I quit smoking, added sugars, artificial sweeteners and I started to eat whole and natural. What was different this time? I shared my goals with people.
Other times I was embarrassed feeling I was going to fail (which of course I did) that I never told anyone, but as soon as I shared what I was doing, I felt a different kind of commitment and support I never had before. And of course the support here in SparkPeople! Report
People are so different. This is truly individualized by how a person is wired, but it should not be taken lightly the people you take on your journey. Because people can get in their own moods and not be ready for change, they may not be as motivating or supportive as someone who is ready to make the change themselves. My greatest success has come when I have someone tangible to get healthy with as well as having the sparkpeople resources and community to keep my focus, motivation and resolve up. Report
I have people in my life who actually go to the opposite extreme. Instead of sabotaging my efforts, they become overly involved and go out of their way to try to accommodate me. ("Can you eat this?" type of questions) While I appreciate their support, and I know it all comes from a place of love, it make me feel very self-conscious, as if my efforts to lose weight are the most important thing on the planet. So I just try not to say too much about what I'm doing. Report
I am afraid to tell people , I have had a weight problem my whole life funny thing is when i was in my teens and thought I was over weight I was actually a good weight. my mother watched "every bite" I put in my mouth . and gave me the guilt trip with comment's like: do you really need that? that is too many calories,... FOR YOU! " didn't you just eat?" " you can't possibly be hungry! now I have to tell you my mother could EAT a 300 pound person under the table and she was 80 pounds dripping wet.
she had a box of chocolates at her bed side even ... and ate several helpings of every thing. I weighed 109 pounds. so I became a secret eater.
I hate it . my husband is very supportive of me yet like other hubbys he occasionally tells me to not be so strict, I need to treat my self once in a while.
so I kind of go into things like watching what I eat quietly. he notices my portions are smaller or I am watching calories .
and is very supportive but the first thing people do when then know your dieting , is can't wait for you to put the weight back on. so I am back to panicking over this so if I don't say any thing I feel I have more control I bet a pyscyatrist would have a field day with me .... ha! and would I say to someone wow are you skinny! you better eat more. (NO) but people say to heavy people all the time , you'd be so pretty if only you'd lose weight.
why is that?

I have one person in my life who will hand some junk food saying, "You have to try this. One bite won't hurt," and in the SAME breath says, "Should you be eating that?" Are you kidding me?! I'm not sharing my goals with anyone but my soul sister (best friend), not even my husband. Report
I keep it to myself unless someone I know who's on the same track wants or needs a "buddy." Sometimes it's motivating to be in it along with another person or a group but I don't shout it out to everyone. Report
I prefer not to share my goals. This is something I am doing for me and I like keeping the effort as something for myself alone. It's my ME time. However, I think some people do well sharing the changes with others. It's a personal preference and everyone must do what works best for them! Report
Unfortunately this article is true. I used to share my goals with people, especially my family. But when my weight loss reached a plateau or I ate something that was not deemed healthy, I would get negative comments ie "I thought you were working out" or "Is that on your diet?" Instead of feeling supported, I felt like I was being scrutinized for every pound lost (or gained) and any slip-up. So I've learned to really only share it with one or two girlfriends and that's it. Report
I share my weightloss goals with my hubby and my mom and that's it. No one else seems very supportive and sometimes will make comments to sabotage even if it's unintentional. My Husband will bring home junk or ask me to skip a workout to hang out with him and my mom will let her jealousy of my success show when she isn't feeling as successful with her own goals. But I do rely heavily on Sparkpeople community for day to day support, to celebrate the wins and for honest advice! They are all reaching for a similar goal and now the struggles we face from less than supportive people around us. Report
I do both. I share with those I know will support me, but don't say anything to those who feel threatened by the changes I'm making. Ironically the one who wants me to lose weight and is one of my biggest supporters (my husband) is the one that tries to sabotages me the most. (One little bite won't hurt... Come on. You need to eat more... You know you want it...) I don't think he does this intentionally, but because change scares him. Report
I never tell anyone. Every time I have, I've either gotten a non-stop stream of questions, or a bunch of negativity. Just because I told you I was trying to be healthier does not mean I want to call you on a daily basis and report everything I ate, every step I took, and how many pounds I lost since last night so that you can analyze it and tell me what I did wrong. Nor do I need someone to tell me how I look so sick at this weight, here, have some cake, you can see all my ribs. I'll stick to posting on Sparkpeople, and leave the real life people to notice on their own - which they haven't yet, in spite of me having lost over 50 pounds! Report
I agree that it is better kept to one's self. I get tired of folks trying to be helpful and recommending fad diets and other well meaning advice. I've been at this a while and know that I am more informed than many of them. Rather than be rude, its best not mentioned in the first place. It is really no one's business but mine. Report
I want to try again.I have friends I can tell,but my family does not understand.I need to take care of myself.I have been eating myself sick for days now,and can't stop.I hope this will help.I have trouble sticking to a plan fro more than a few days.I end up eating stuff I am addicted to,and soon I am out of control again. Report
I try to keep my plans a secret, it makes it all the more sweeter when I reveal my slimmer and healthier me to all of the "haters". I do weight training and I've started noticing some definition but instead of good comments from my friends I get "Oh, you better stop because you'll end up looking manly". I even get it from my mum sometimes who tries to make me feel bad for passing on the cake, or asking for a smaller portion when she makes me dinner. It's just things like that, that make me think no... I'm not going to stop because you're insecure. I just like to think that I have goals and I'm making positive steps to reach them. Report
I think your body is a PRIVATE matter. I have been a serial dieter and yo-yo-er and each failure crushes you a little more. Having the negative judgement of others on top of my own just makes it harder. I have better success when I do this by and for myself. It is act of self-love. It also keeps the sabotagers at bay and there are plenty of them out there, especially those that supposedly love you. Advertising it to everyone makes you more accountable to others than to yourself. When you do it for and by yourself the success is much sweeter, the results last longer and the looks of envy and disbelief on your friends and family are priceless. Report
I'm a private person so I like to keep it to myself; why put more pressure on an already stressful time of making changes unless those people are affected by my changes? The others will know soon enough when I start losing weight at my own pace, not the pace that people think I should have lost the weight. I also hate being asked how much I've lost. It seems a little personal. I never tell, no matter how much I'm pressured. Except on Sparkpeople. :) Report
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