In a perfect world, our friends and family would support us in our efforts to lose weight and be healthier. But sometimes, those closest to you -- those you need the most help from -- may actually try to cause you to fail at weight loss by undermining your success.
Why does this happen to us?!?!
It can be the person you least expect who attempts to sabotage your weight loss -- your spouse, a sibling or your best friend. While this situation can happen for different reasons, it is quite likely that the "saboteur" finds themselves threatened by your efforts to lose weight.
Why would they be threatened?
•Friends may think you want to change your life in other ways -- maybe you'll be leaving them out of your "new and improved" circle of friends along with your new, healthy lifestyle.
•A friend may feel your weight loss makes her extra weight seem more noticeable to others.
•Your spouse may be jealous of or dislike the attention you are getting from other people.
•A family member may resent the time you spend exercising or preparing healthy foods (particularly if they themselves partake of neither) when you could be spending time with them.
•A friend may feel guilty about continuing to eat your formerly favorite foods while you eat lighter fare. Or she may miss her "partner in crime" if you frequently ate together or shared "bad" foods.
How will you know if you are being sabotaged?
•They may urge you to cheat or say "one bite won't hurt".
•They may try to undermine your efforts by saying things like "No one ever keeps the weight off!" or "You'll never make your goal weight. You always quit."
•They may continually offer you second helpings of food despite the fact that you say you are no longer hungry.
•They keep a watchful eye on everything you eat, make snide comments, or check the fridge or food packages to see if you have eaten "bad" foods in their absence.
•They are overly critical of your weight loss methods.
•They discourage you from getting regular physical activity.
•They belittle or make fun of you.
If this is happening to you...what do you do?
If you find that someone in your life fits these characteristics, it is likely you are dealing with someone who -- consciously or unconsciously -- does not want your weight loss efforts to work. It is important to recognize if someone is making your weight loss efforts harder rather than easier; not acknowledging this will only lead to failure and resentment in your relationship. After all, weight loss changes a lot more than just your dress size and you may have to change the way you relate to your loved ones if this becomes a problem.
What We've Got Here is a Failure to Communicate!
By having an honest talk about your weight loss efforts and your loved one's influence on them, you will be able to get to the heart of the matter. Explain to them that losing weight is very important to you and that the support of those around you means a lot. Don't be afraid to point out things that make it harder for you to lose weight or give examples of statements that have hurt your feelings.
Asking someone for their unconditional support isn't like asking someone to change a light bulb; it takes a little pride-swallowing. But admitting to this person that you need their help may be the first step in improving the situation for both of you.
Here are some ideas:
•"When you prepare a meal for us, I would prefer it if you didn't offer me seconds. Please don't take offense when I refuse."
•"When you bring snacks or fast food into the house, please try to eat them in another room or at least, don't offer me any of yours. These are problem foods for me and hard to resist them."
•"I feel more likely to stick to my walking routine if you will join me every now and again. It's something we can do together.
•"I am carefully watching what I do and don't eat. If I do slip now and again, believe me, I am aware of it. I don't need you to point it out.
In turn, ask your loved one to tell you about their feelings. You may be surprised at what comes to light. Ask them what you can do to help them adjust to your new lifestyle. (If your friend, for example, feels threatened you'll leave her behind for a "new crowd," a simple heart-to-heart may be all it takes for her to put those feelings of fear and resentment behind her.)
So how can you deal with it?
If you find that your relationship doesn't change, you may have to simply come up with your own ways to either ignore or cope with the situations as they crop up.
You may wish to keep a record in your journal of the occasions when someone says or does something that you feel undermines your efforts. At the end of each day, look over these instances and try to come up with ways you can handle the situation better. Often, dealing with these types of influences comes down to avoiding them, ignoring them, or giving yourself the positive self-talk that undoes the damage caused by your loved one's negative influence.
You may find that simply avoiding eating in social situations is a good way to keep these issues from cropping up. Try planning non-food activities with friends and family as often as possible. If you're used to drinks and appetizers with friends, get together for bowling instead; instead of going to your Mom's for dessert, ask her to play a game of cards with you.
The worst case scenario is that you'll have to distance yourself from the person who is causing your weight loss efforts to suffer. Sometimes a breather from a relationship is a good thing. Don't look at it as break up; remember that when you feel stronger or once you've met your weight loss goal, you can pick up where you left off.
The Bottom Line
Each situation is different and only you can decide what is best for both your relationship and your weight loss journey. Remember, no one is able to make you eat or do -- or not do -- anything you set you mind to. It is your body and your health at stake and you have to take charge of it ... no one else can!