Why No One Needs to Know About Your Weight-Loss Plans

By , SparkPeople Blogger
After years of unsuccessful weight-loss attempts, you've decided that this it. No more fad diets or extreme amounts of exercise—now you're focusing only on slow and steady, healthy choices. You've learned from past mistakes and vowed that they won't be repeated this time. Surprisingly, one of those mistakes wasn't related to your food or fitness plan. No, it was the decision to tell others you were about to embark on a weight-loss journey.

Most weight-loss programs stress the need for support, whether that comes from friends, family or others in your community. When you're surrounded by people who want you to succeed, you're much more likely to follow through, right? When you tell everyone you're trying to lose weight, it helps you stay accountable, correct?

That's not always the case. Is it possible that making a Facebook announcement about your goals hasn't led to success in the past, and this time, it's better to go-it alone? It might seem counter-intuitive, but for some, keeping their weight-loss goals to themselves has helped them be more successful.

According to a study by Dr. Peter Gollwitzer and colleagues, "When other people take notice of one's identity-relevant behavioral intentions, one's performance of the intended behaviors is compromised." Examples of identity-relevant intentions include becoming a faster runner, a more productive employee or a successful dieter. Dr. Gollwitzer goes on to explain that when people take notice of your efforts to improve, it can become an unintentional cue that your goal has been accomplished. For example, if someone comments that you've lost weight and look great, it could make you feel good enough to quit prematurely and not continue toward your ultimate goal.

As the study explains, "[…] any striving for goals—and not just identity goals—that can be attained by various behavioral routes is vulnerable to the negative effects of social reality on the enactment of behavioral intentions." Simply put, whether the feedback is good or bad, when someone comments on your intention to lose weight, it can inadvertently influence your progress.  

To Share or Not To Share?

"I only mentioned my weight-loss plans in the course of a normal conversation," explains SparkPeople member SLIMMERKIWI. "A lot of people have directly and indirectly been negative about how I achieve my goals, such as weighing my food and using the nutrition tracker. Some of the negative comments have even been insulting [in regards to] using the weigh-and-record method and 'micromanaging' my nutrition. Ironically, some of those people were also complaining about their own weight-loss struggles [at the same time]."

WALLAHALLA keeps her weight-loss journey private for a variety of reasons. "Most of the people I know tend to be more negative than supportive, which is why I rely on SparkPeople. I don't want to be told what I'm doing wrong—it is discouraging. I don't want to hear how hard it will be to maintain or be reminded of past failures. I don't want to listen to snide remarks when I fit a favorite dessert or treat into my plan for the day. I want people to notice the differences in me without my saying anything. If I mention my weight loss, I feel like I'm fishing for compliments and then they don't feel sincere. If I feel like my failures are made public, I am more likely to throw in the towel. When failures are private, I just get back up, dust myself off and keep trying," she explains. 

CINDILP would prefer that people notice her healthy lifestyle, not just her weight loss. "When I tell others about SparkPeople, I don't call it a weight-loss site, I call it a wellness site," she describes. "I lost weight [using] SparkPeople, but now I am mainly wellness-oriented. When weight loss comes up in conversation, people are either very passionate about their diet or they are judgmental. It's almost like talking about politics. I don't engage in those conversations; I focus on health and wellness in my life and conversations."

"I have found that I am more successful on my weight-loss journey when I don't share my plans with others," says GOOZLEBEAR. "I feel like they are watching to see how successful or unsuccessful I am and I don't need that extra pressure. Friends and family can either be a big encouragement or a detriment to my plan."

For GARDENCHRIS, losing weight is a private thing. "I am a slow and steady person. In the past I felt like people were judging me because I wasn't losing weight as quickly as they expected, but my clothes are looser and the scale is telling me I'm doing okay. Of course I wish it was faster, but this is a journey and not a destination. Don't let other people define who and what you are," she recommends.

4 Questions to Ask When Deciding Whether to Share

If you're debating whether or not to share your weight-loss intentions with others, ask yourself the following questions:
  1. Is this person (or people) typically a positive source of support for me?
  2. When I've told them my plans in the past, what kind of response have I received?
  3. Do I feel like I need their support?
  4. Is telling them worth the risk of the negative impact it could have on my progress?
If the answer to any of these questions is "no" (or negative), you might want to think twice before you share. However, that doesn't mean your journey has to be a complete secret. When asked to share their experiences, many SparkPeople members expressed that they rely on support from the SparkPeople Community, a place where they can be anonymous and feel more comfortable sharing the ups and downs of their journey.

Even if you choose to keep things private, eventually those in your life might ask about the changes they see in you. If you're not comfortable answering their questions, consider responses that don't feel quite as personal.
"I'm working on making healthier choices."

"I'm exercising to improve my energy level." 

"I'm having fun experimenting with new foods."

There isn't a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to deciding how much or how little outside support you need to lose weight successfully. For some, shouting it from the social media rooftops is the way to go; for others, keeping quiet and letting choices speak for themselves is a better strategy. In the end, do what works best to increase your comfort level and, therefore, increase your chances of success.

Do you share your weight loss goals with others? Why or why not?

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LOSER05 12/13/2018
Thanks Report
MOOMSHINE 12/7/2018
It's about time someone brought this out in the open---trying to lose weight is a very personal journey, and it only takes one tiny negative comment to bring all progress to a halt. What happened to me was one person noticed and praised my 70-pound weight loss, and another person said, "you haven't lost any weight, have you?" It took a thirty pound gain to get over that, and it's taking me too long to lose the final 10. Report
SLASALLE 12/5/2018
I think that like every other facet of a weight loss journey, one size does not fit all (pun intended). It's different for everybody, so really a personal preference. Report
KHALIA2 12/4/2018
I share because I feel that it helps to hold you accountable. Report
I haven't felt supported in the past. When I told before, more times than not I get I'm not moving fast enough, they aren't seeing results, what am I really doing and so on. Report
SJO66A 12/3/2018
I work in a school facility; we are notorious for "celebrating" everything!! A lot of times, it is quick-n-easy foods, which includes a lot of goodies and snack-type foods. I ALWAYS try to help set-up, arrange and bring something--I want to be involved, too! But I try to bring a veggie/fruit tray, unless of course, it happens to be "Malt-Shop Friday." But most of my friends know I'm attempting to lose weight, so they have no problem with me just sitting in and having a sugar-free drink. On the other hand, when it comes to going out to eat, the comments can be, "But just this once won't hurt. Just have a bite or two and re-start tomorrow." The circumstances and time usually dictate who knows. My husband is a great cook--but the BEST diet buddy, as he prepares much of my food on the BBQ pit or grill, which I always enjoy. Tell those who will be your support, albeit maybe not on all occasions. That's where your faith and belief in yourself is a "I think I'll pass on that chocolate pie. Perhaps another time! But thanks--it looks scrumptious!" Report
NANCYPAT1 12/1/2018
Great article! Report
ANHELIC 12/1/2018
Thank you Report
PEGJW111 11/30/2018
Since being overweight started affecting several health issues, I shared that fact with my family and no one else. Those issues have diminished and losing weight came along with, after eating "right" at Spark. Report
GGRSPARK 11/30/2018
For some reason only part of the comment field is showing up on my screen. Usually I can correct typos, this time I could not. What a horror of errors. I apologize. My comment is do not share... full stop. Share here, and even then there are negatives . A buddy is good - sometimes. Report
GGRSPARK 11/30/2018
Even supportive people can do things that undermine your resolve It is never easy to make big changes and impartial comments are fee and far between. Sharing on Spark is much easier thansharing with a friend. Oh, don’t wirry about a bit of cake ! Or just one time can’t hurt... it can, it does, and we must take the comments and grin snd bear it. Just say thanjs, but I made thus choice weejs ago and am enjoying the self control. Otherwise and, everyone has a tgeiry Report
RHOOK20047 11/29/2018
Interesting perspective. Report
_CYNDY55_ 11/29/2018
Thanks! Report
CHRIS3874 11/29/2018
Most of the time I have gotten unwanted and often wrong "advice" .Generally its really none of their business anyway. I do it for ME not anyone else. Report
CHRIS3874 11/29/2018
Most of the time I have gotten unwanted and often wrong "advice" .Generally its really none of their business anyway. I do it for ME not anyone else. Report
GINNABOOTS 11/29/2018
It seems like when I share my plans for healthy eating and I choose not to eat some unhealthy food, they will say "Oh you can't have that" and I tell them " I can have anything I want, I am choosing to eat healthy." Report
SARAJANE1982 11/29/2018
Great article! Every time I shared my efforts I end up losing traction and going back to old ways. The pressures from others isn't something I can handle. My journey is MY business and it is going to stay that way from now on. SP will be the only place I share.
I love this part here from one of the members "Don't let other people define who and what you are," YES!! Report
TRUDIP1 11/29/2018
Thanks for a great article. There will always be judges, critics, sympathizers but few with empathy. To the ? of how much more, after noticing, I always say 5 lbs...they seem happy with that and forget about it. Who can argue with 5 lbs LOL, though I can see their thinking of maybe 10 would be a better goal..LOL It's their problem their thinking, , not mine. Thanks for SP and members who really care and truly want to help others in gaining a healthy life with enough energy to really live it. Blessings to you all for a wonderful Merry Christmas. Report
MCASKEY6 11/29/2018
I didn't really start out sharing but I also wasn't hiding what I was doing either. People started to notice and started asking me about my plan. I naively responded, sharing what I was doing; which often lead to them cutting me off by launching into a long rant about how they can't do this, or can't eat that, or don't want to do this, as if I were instructing them on what they should do. The rant was usually followed up by another person, usually one of the naturally slender people in my life who never struggled with their weight, pointing their nose to the sky and dictating how I should go about losing weight, (like skipping meals or taking diet pills). One of these naturally slender people even said, "Well, if some people would just exercise a little self control, they wouldn't have a weight problem." So I have absolutely learned my lesson! There are a handful of people I am willing to talk to about this, the rest I smile, thank them for noticing and I give vague uninteresting answers that usually makes them lose interest in me. Report
GABY1948 11/29/2018
GREAT comments Report
CACUJIN 11/29/2018
While their comments may be interesting, I would rather hear what professionals think on the subject rather than SP Members.

PICKIE98 11/29/2018
Some people do it for accountability. Others do not disclose because it is their way of doing it only for themselves. Report
LIS193 11/29/2018
Most of my friends know I take care about what I eat, not necessarily for weight loss but mostly for health reasons, like tummy troubles or arthritis flare ups. People tend to be a lot more understanding and supportive when you eat better for health rather than "perceived vanity" Report
TINYWOMAN56 11/29/2018
I have had someone say " I hope you are not sick"
and my reply was no this is by choice.... Report
7STIGGYMT 11/29/2018
I yoyo dieted so many times that when I really got serious about losing weight and having a healthy lifestyle, that I didn't want people to think "She's doing it again, how long will this last" I kept it secret until people started noticing. Report
YBBHAPPY 11/29/2018
It's good to see that I'm not alone in believing it's best in keep this to myself when it seems there is a constant barrage from literature saying, "Share your goals!" Too much pressure and feeling like I'm under the microscope & adds to my stress Report
CECTARR 11/29/2018
Thanks Report
I tend not to share unless asked, but it's mostly because of my own psychology! For some reason, it seems as soon as I say "I'm going to get back to healthier habits!" it makes it easier to fall back into old, not so healthy ones. This site helps me so much. But even here, I need to take a break occasionally. Routine of any sort becomes boring to me. This whole thing is hard and takes constant vigilance. That's difficult for me. Would like to think that I could be "cured" of my need to eat even when not hungry. But, alas, don't think that's going to happen. Report
I-AM-TITANIUM 11/29/2018
I have been on this site for about a year and a half. I have learned SO MUCH about food as a fuel as well as food as a health restorative. I have also learned not to share too much. It has the propensity to boomerang on me by "less than kind" individuals. We know there are "those folks" on every site!

After reading this blog (and comments), it has changed my mind about "public disclosure" and my typical weekly 'before/after' pix. NO.. I am not letting the 'negative' people affect my decisions! I have seen many before/after pix posted, when I go to their page.. there in no mention of their goals nor 'progress photos' .. just the jaw-dropping 'proof' of their 'quiet' journey!

I just read this quote yesterday,

"Psychological fact: You are more likely to achieve your goals if you keep them to yourself"
This is a game changer for me.. It leaves me with a lot of thinking and soul-searching! Thank you for this timely article! Report
KHALIA2 11/29/2018
Lots of good thoughts, some I haven't thought of before. Report
FOURLIONS 11/29/2018
Thanks for this article it was very encouraging. I especially appreciated what other Spark members shared. Report
CKSMITH385 11/29/2018
If people make a comment about how I'm eating, how my clothes are fitting better, etc. I tell them I'm trying to learn and maintain a healthy lifestyle through good nutrition and fitness. Most people will say, "Are you on a diet?" I simply say, "No, this is a long-term permanent change, not a temporary fix and I'm still learning." I also have lots of folks who aren't "approving" of my changes. I simply ask them for respect for my personal decisions and never lecture them about their lifestyle which may be very different. If asked for more info, I answer the question but don't offer more than what is asked. Some people no longer want to associate with me because I won't eat as they do and it makes them uncomfortable, even though I don't say anything, just make a different choice. And yes, I do have lapses that I'll freely admit but so far they're temporary (a few days) rather than completely undoing everything I'm striving for. Report
I started a new W.O.E back in the Spring that no one seems to approve of. I follow the advice of some highly educated people, but not the S.A.D. I have lost 70 pounds since I started. How I am regaining my health using whole natural unprocessed food is my business. I could not be happier right now! Report
MARTHA324 11/29/2018
In previous times when I'd diet I'd share that with lots of people and BTW, when the diet ended I started gaining back the weight. This time I just started making healthier changes and told no one except my partner. Didn't get many questions from work colleagues. It wasn't til early January and about 20 lbs down that people started to notice I was losing weight. Didn't make a big deal out of it. For me it was more important to get my inside (brain and soul) in the game than getting others engaged. Report
AZMOMXTWO 11/29/2018
thank you Report
NEWNANCY2012 11/29/2018
It helped me so much when I could share my weight loss plans with friends at TOPS, OA, Diet Workshop, WW, Curves and Spark People. Now I can only share my progress with my sister who has lost 70 pounds herself this year. I learned 35 years ago I shouldn't share my weight loss plans with my husband who has been able to keep his weight in the 180's for the 53 years we have been married. . Report
NEPTUNE1939 11/29/2018
TY Report
RAPUNZEL53 11/29/2018
Interesting. Report
JANIEWWJD 11/29/2018
Good article! Report
AMYRCMK 11/29/2018
Thank you Report
GRUMPY72 11/29/2018
I want people to see the changes, if they ask I might share. But as some have stated, I'd rather not have people critiquing everything I put in my mouth or on my plate - it's simply not up for discussion - I eat what I eat, my kids and hubby know, but they are my cheerleaders. Report
PWILLOW1 11/28/2018
I never told anyone because I was afraid I would fail. Report
Wallahalla is so right on with the responses I have gotten. No more. SP are my support. Report
EVIE4NOW 11/28/2018
Great article and good comments. Report
KATHYJO56 11/28/2018
This is great. I didn't tell anybody about mine until people noticed and started asking and even then I was cautious for a very long time. Report
PROVERBS31JULIA 11/27/2018
I've never had good results announcing my plans to my family - and so when I lost weight "the first time" (I was 16-17), I never said a word. A senior girl in my high school was the first person to notice and ask me (I was a sophomore). My mom has her own weight issues which she has never resolved, and has refused my suggestions to use this site. So... we'll just go it alone.
1SUZIQ11 11/27/2018
I just dont feel the need to share at all. OK..if someone comments on my weightloss then I will share what I did. If they have something negative to say about it, I just wave them off because obviously its working! Most usually they want to know what I'm doing so that they can try it too! Report
SASHASMOM1122 11/27/2018
I like this blog it's something to think about. I feel at times when I say I lost and then I had problems and it change my life a bit so I gained & in my head I would feel someone would judge me too even if it doesn't happen it's in the back of my mind. Thanks for sharing! :) Report
BUBBLYARIES01 11/27/2018
This article is so affirming to me! I do not want to share my weight loss journey and struggle to know what to say. There are some really great tips from other Sparkers. Report
SPARKLINGME176 11/27/2018
Great blog & so true!!!! Report