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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DIANE2WIN 5/9/2021
This is so true! A recent employer sponsored weight loss program demanded that I choose and share with a support person. I am a private person and sharing my plans often feels like I am seeking that person's approval. I am doing this for myself and I don't want comparisons or expectations other than those I choose. Report
BLOND1E 3/26/2021
Good thoughts Report
KARRENLYNN 2/11/2021
I love this article and the sparklers who gave their views in the article. I also keep my weight loss plans private, because I have failed a number of times and I don't want the spotlight or judgement (real or imagined) on my choices. Thanks for posting, I found it very supportive! ;) Report
CECELW 1/14/2021
it is a lot to think about Report
XREPHA 9/30/2020
I don't share. I "won" a weight loss competition 5 years at work. I loss the weight I had gained thru menopause and have kept it off. I used SP on a recommendation of a coworker and haven't looked back since. It was definitely the lifestyle change I needed. I've actually become a pretty good cook! I'm in maintenance but still track and log in daily. Thx you SP! Report
KOALA_BEAR 6/27/2020
I share when asked altho in the past, I do think hearing compliments caused me to give in a little too often to temptations. Now tho my head us in a different space & I am living a healthier, permanent lifestyle. My life depends on it. I'm prediabetic & want to not only prevent full blown diabetes but eliminate the need for a Rx. Just like daily exercise, eating right is a smart decision. I am a very logical person so my friends, family & associates would never expect anything else from me. Report
LISAMARIE2015 6/27/2020
😁 Report
Well said, SparkPeople. You have all expressed so well what I feel and what I've experienced. Thank you. Report
Thank you for a great article. It's interesting being married. I didn't want to tell anyone or trumpet about what I was doing, but hubby wanted to tell anyone who's ear he could capture. I I guess I got to experience the best of these 2 worlds! Report
Good article indeed. Seems like some start off helpful then their old habits clash with your new behaviors and in no time at all you're back on the junk food wagon with them. NIce to have permission to keep it to yourself. When you're heavy it seems like you have to tell others you're really trying to change even if it's only in the planning stages. Report
good article Report
thanks Report
Thanks Report
Thank you for some great info. Report
In an era where there is so much exposure, one can certainly wonder about sharing or not. Sometimes, in order to stay accountable, sharing may be important. When I am about to go public about something personal, I ask myself what my intention is and if I have expectations about the outcome. Once those questions are out of the way, I act accordingly. If I really want to share, I will connect with someone safe and supportive. Report
Just my mother and hubby, other people I couldn't care less what they think as it's always negative! I'll do my own thing as telling others just invites their judgment. The only judgment I want is my own, I'm harsh enough there's no room for more of that. Report
Just my mother and hubby, other people I couldn't care less what they think as it's always negative! I'll do my own thing as telling others just invites their judgment. The only judgment I want is my own, I'm harsh enough there's no room for more of that. Report
Absolutely! I am in this camp now. I first joined SP back in 2007 and have used it off and on since then. I have found on of the biggest setbacks for me is to actually share with people. I rarely talk about it with my husband anymore. He's a great support but it's still the added pressure, even if it's just in my head, that I have to meet arbitrary goals. Those goals and deadlines often cause me to dapple with my eating disorder behaviors again and dieting or even just restricting calories slightly... changing my daily food intakes to include less sugar and my mind goes nuts. This will have to be a slow and honestly- a bloody process. I have to learn how to eat for my body again, not to overeat, and to learn to trust my cues which is hard to do with calorie restrictions. When I've told people in the past comments range from snarky to just mean. Those same people said cruel things before I lost weight then would talk about how I lost too much weight. I guess it boils down to this- as a people-pleaser personality type, I have to learn to be good with ME. Not the *me* others want me to be ok with. Report
I succeed better when I travel alone and just share on this site. Report
This is thought provoking. Thanks Report
I'm better when I keep things to myself. Family doesn't support me and actually will bring in more food. So I stick with my spark family. Report
I've stopped talking about dieting, about losing weight, and about my health-related goals unless someone specifically asks me. I focus on taking care of myself, I make sure healthy things are on our grocery list, and the meals we regularly cook happen to be healthy ones. I don't want my kids to be talking about "dieting" or falling prey to the kooks and snake oil salesmen, I want them to learn to take care of their health sensibly. Report
I don't share my plans with the people I work with as they tend to be overly critical. I have found great support with SparkFriends and will keep my goal sharing limited to them. Report
After yoyo dieting for years and people seeing my ups and downs, i decided not to tell any, except in one case a need-to-know friend. I let people notice the difference for themselves. It was an encouragement when, one by one they noticed. Even casual acquaintances noticed. Even strangers told me what an inspiration I was. Who would have expected to be noticed that much! Report
After having lost 69 lbs last year, it’s really not possible to keep it a secret but I have stopped volunteering the word “KETO”. Instead I might say “I’ve eliminated wheat, or I’ve given up Sugar and feel great.” If they press for more details then I’ll share more. Report
After having lost 69 lbs last year, it’s really not possible to keep it a secret but I have stopped volunteering the word “KETO”. Instead I might say “I’ve eliminated wheat, or I’ve given up Sugar and feel great.” If they press for more details then I’ll share more. Report
When I decide it is time to adjust my healthy eating because I got off track I do not tell others because they are not very helpful or encouraging but more judgemental. Report
Best thing I have read for a while.. I have always tried to keep my weight loss attempts to myself.. Its good to know that others have done the same.. thankyou Report
I share only when someone knows me from my (fatter) past and then only when that person brings it up. My support and encouragement comes from the like-minded individuals in the Spark community. We are all working on our individual goals but we do it together. Report
I always told myself, "Keep you mouth shut." It worked (in more than one way!) Report
At this time I don't share with anyone. I would like a support system not negative words from someone. Report
I don't share because I ride to the gym with a friend. She knows already. Report
Thank you Report
Excellent points! When the downside outweighs the good side, do not do it! Report
I use to announce my plan to loss weight, but have found (like you said) that it hurts my progress more than helps it. Only those living under my roof know I am on my journey at this time. I am comfortable keeping it private up to and until I have met my goal. Who knows even when that time comes other than say "thank you" if someone mentions I look good I may not comment more. After all I'm not doing this for others, I am doing this for myself. Thank you for writing this.
peace, moonlit Report
Thanks Report
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
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
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
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
Great article! Report
Thank you Report
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
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
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
Interesting perspective. Report
Thanks! Report
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
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