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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Comments

SXB990 3/18/2019
Yes Report
XREPHA 1/20/2019
I basically keep it to myself. I'm not on a diet; we changed our life style. We changed the way we eat in our home to support my husband who is diabetic. He doesn't necessarily follow everything when he's away from home but at least we both know the choices at home are good and making a difference. His A1C is consistent, hovering around 6 or 6.1. Daily glucose levels are consistent as well. I've lost 50 lbs. he's lost around 40. It's all good! Report
BETHLYN84 1/9/2019
I have told a few people, all who I k is will be supportive and keep me accountable table. My husband is my workout partner and we keep each other motivated and on track. My co-teacher, so he would quit bringing in goodies to share and some friends in a fitness group. Other than that, keeping it to myself. Report
BETHLYN84 1/9/2019
I have told a few people, all who I k is will be supportive and keep me accountable table. My husband is my workout partner and we keep each other motivated and on track. My co-teacher, so he would quit bringing in goodies to share and some friends in a fitness group. Other than that, keeping it to myself. Report
BBDELTA 1/9/2019
I made a major change to Keto diet after Thanksgiving, and had to tell my family, but dreaded it. When I told my sister she immediately made an unsupportive remark. I reminded her that when she chose to do weight loss surgery, I supported her though I did not agree with her decision. That was what she needed to do. After hearing that, she was supportive. After attending a client's Christmas party where I did not eat much, he made a remark that I would just return to my old eating habits. As a client, I did not feel the need to explain to him that I was in a different place. I just reminded myself that some people mean well and will try to be supportive. Others are intentionally negative, but at the end of the day, I have to answer to me, and do what is best for me. Report
G33K10V3 1/9/2019
I'm certain that a couple wicked witches at the office I work in are weight loss saboteurs and that it is definitely better to never tell them when I want to lose weight.
Sadly, sometimes it's true that misery loves company. Report
REBECCA329 1/7/2019
I'm keeping it to myself except for SparkPeople because I dont want to be dependent on others' opinion of me. It will be enough praise when I can get back into a size 14. If people notice and comment I will acknowledge but that's it. Report
NOVEMBERNANCY 10/20/2018
I have learned through the years,"Don't tell anyone except my daughter."
I know my husband means well, but when I do tell him of my plans, he becomes my personal coach/trainer!!
It gets to the point that I when I get a hug, I feel he's become a human caliper and is checking how much my waist and butt have gone down in size. It could just be me.....:0)
I go to water aerobics and do all my favorite Wii exercises(games), which works well for me. I prefer my workouts be in the form of fun and playing.
I have a daily calorie range of 1200-1550.
Thirty years ago, I wore a size 4 and weighed 126 lbs.
Today, I am a size 8 and 160 lbs.
I'm going to be 61 in November and I think I've done fairly well with the weight considering menopause was thrown in the mix in my early 40s! :0)
Oh,yeah a hip replacement this past July has definitely helped with the movement thing!! Ha-Ha!!
Love my husband,but instead of looking at me look in the mirror,he might want to take a look his direction--the sand has shifted a bit with he,also. :0P
Power on Sparkers!!! Report
JESURMI 8/30/2018
Yeah I'm careful of who I tell. Because if I tell too many people I'll lose focus and won't be successful. Interesting yeswhen they say you look good I wonder what looks have to do with it. So i was ugly before? What kind of friend are you. I like Spark people because we are in the same lane on the highway of life. We choose this and we know we are generally safe here to speak out. Report
SARAROMANA 8/30/2018
I tried doing it all by myself... I even told a person or two. But I really like spark people because this is the first time I find myself being able to measure how I did... And it isn't a dispute whether people ought to healthy or careless here. It is everyone encouraging each other toward the same goal. I love it. Report
ALLIJ33 8/30/2018
I prefer to keep it to myself as I seem to do better. If you tell people then they feel the need to become your personal advisor on what you should and should not be doing. This becomes very frustrating for me. Report
PWILLOW1 8/24/2018
I would prefer to just keep it to myself. I guess I don't have a lot of faith in myself. Report
JACKSPETMOM58 8/4/2018
I'm a very private person. Very few people know that I am on this journey. I've been ridiculed in the past when I 'fall off the wagon", so to speak. It's for my mental health, peace of mind that only a couple of people know. I don't need or want the negativity that I have experienced. Report
IZY888 7/8/2018
Hmmm, I joined spark people to be held accountable by others! I guess I knew I would have support here. Report
NANAW12001 7/8/2018
Thanks. Just my husband knows as I have failed so many times. Report
JEWELZEE- 7/8/2018
I definitely tell my family so they can be prepared for changes in the kitchen. Report
I_GLAS 7/7/2018
I actually just didn’t tell people; I am incredibly private to begin with and I hate failing so it was easier for me not to tell. Report
CZECHRN 7/7/2018
#JANEWATKINS, @JANEWATKINS Sounds like you have hit upon your perfect solution ! Keep up the good work! I do think it's a good idea to be careful who you tell. Some will question why, others keep saying "have another piece", some say they don't see any difference & THEN SOME will actually encourage, say "good for you", "how can I help", and wow! you're looking good ! Have a great day !!! Report
CZECHRN 7/7/2018
#JANEWATKINS, @JANEWATKINS Sounds like you have hit upon your perfect solution ! Keep up the good work! I do think it's a good idea to be careful who you tell. Some will question why, others keep saying "have another piece", some say they don't see any difference & THEN SOME will actually encourage, say "good for you", "how can I help", and wow! you're looking good ! Have a great day !!! Report
JANEWATKINS 7/7/2018
I have done it both ways . . . and gone so far as to announce it on Facebook where at least 600+ people could see it and I've tried to do so secretly. Neither seems to work for me LOL. I am trying yet again and I'm not telling hardly anyone. My daughter and spouse know. That's it. So far 17 pounds. Think I'll just remain mum. My central tought around this is that at some point people will say, "Hey Jane! Are you getting skinnier?" THAT will be the day that I know what I'm doing is worth it. Report
THRUTHESTORM 7/7/2018
I don't keep a secret, but I don't make it a big deal either. I can say "no thank you" without adding in a bunch of info about why I'm saying no. Report
RONNIER3 7/7/2018
I am keeping it a secret going forward, less pressure! Report
DAWN1830 7/7/2018
Some might be supportive, some may try and sabatoge your efforts and others may become the "food police"! I say keep it to yourself and let them be surprised by the new lifestyle choice. Report
BONNIE1552 7/7/2018
Love SP. Report
PIKA1319 7/7/2018
what i'm doing with my life, my health, etc. is no one's business, so no, I will not share any of that stuff with anyone. (except my husband because he is supportive and I share everything with him) Report
CHRISTINARUSNAK 7/7/2018
My husband knows because he's very supportive but won't mention it if I don't. Also my mom knows because she's doing it too but also won't bug me about it. I've chosen not to tell anyone else because there are people that while trying to be supportive will harp on it every time I speak to them and it will just become too much pressure. That always throws me into rebellion mode and then i cut off my nose to spite my face by bindging. Report
COLLARANDCUFFS 7/7/2018
i think it depends on your goal .. if your goal is to lose x number of pounds then you are working towards that goal and although support is nice it is not necessary
however if your goal is to be healthy and look better and feel better and live a healthier life then support of those around you makes it easier so telling everyone so they can help and not hinder
it is always nice when you get complements for family and friends saying how good you look
Report
AMYRCMK 7/7/2018
Thank you Report
STR458II 7/7/2018
I always did better at the things I kept to myself. I never told my family & friends I planned to lose weight... I just did it and because I was so slow most didn't realize I was 50 pounds lighter (212 lbs down to 162lbs/ five foot seven) because they saw me every week along the way. Report
CHERIRIDDELL 7/7/2018
interesting Report
SWALLIS7 6/24/2018
January 2018 I shared my goals with family. I created a family FB page for those of us wanting to lose weight and have a healthier 2018. I've had 6 family members join the group. Every week we post a pic with our weekly weight. We post healthy recipes, when we workout, encouraging posts, and share our daily struggles. Every family member has lost weight and continues to lose. It was the first time I ever admitted to family that I weighted 275 when starting...(I'm sure they could have guessed by looking at me but it was my way of being accountable). Anyways I'm now at 249 and on my way down. Our monthly goal is to lose 4%...some months some of us have hit the goal and others have not. But every month we do lose. Its been a great support and when we are together we eat healthier and do more active things. I'm all for it but to each its own! Report
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
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
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
reat info! Report
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
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
I know some people that either get jealous and/or try to help (who) by sabotaging my progress. Report
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
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
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
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
NAYANAY
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