In a perfect world, we’d all announce our intentions to lose weight and then wind up surrounded by a caring, supportive group of people who rush to bring us apple slices and look forward to walks around the park together.
Of course, we don’t live in this perfect world – which is why it’s all too common for dieters to report facing sabotage attempts by their partners, family members and other close friends. But why does this happen? And, furthermore, how can you prevent your loved ones from throwing you off the weight loss wagon for good?
First of all, it’s important to recognize that a loved one’s attempts to sabotage your weight loss are hardly ever malicious in nature. Very rarely do people force unhealthy food on us or discourage us from exercising because they genuinely want to see us fail.
Instead, it’s fear that’s driving many of these unsupportive behaviors. Imagine that, every night for the duration of your relationship, your partner has worn a red shirt. Then – one morning – he or she wakes up and puts on a red shirt. Suddenly, you’re jolted from your routine and left wondering what’s going on and what else might be changing in your life.
The same thing goes for weight loss. We tend to fall into routines with our loved ones – whether those daily rhythms revolve around going for a healthy after-dinner walk together or stuffing our faces full of junk food while sitting on the couch at night. Even though many of the behaviors you’re trying to change are inherently negative in nature, it can still be threatening for the people in your life to see your habits change.
This departure can be especially jarring if the loved ones you confide in have faced their own weight loss struggles unsuccessfully. Once we’ve failed at something, it’s natural to want to bring others who are striving towards the same things down to our level – even if we do so under the guise of “trying to promote realistic expectations.”
But however they occur in your case, sabotage attempts by friends and family members don’t have to derail your weight loss efforts. Instead, consider the following tips on how to stick to your guns throughout these frustrating situations:
Keep your weight loss plans to yourself
Certainly, if you have a live-in partner or kids, you’re going to have to tell at least a few people that you’re trying to lose weight!
But in other cases – especially in situations where sabotage has occurred in the past – there’s no need to fill anyone else in on the details of your weight loss plans. Your mom doesn’t need to know why you’re sipping water instead of soda, and your coworker doesn’t need to know why you’ve switched to salad instead of takeout at lunch. Avoiding harmful contact in the first place is one of the best ways to prevent weight loss sabotage!
Explore the root of the sabotage
If you’d rather be able to share your successes and failures with those closest to you, you’ll need to do some emotional digging by asking the people who are sabotaging you why they’re so bent on derailing your efforts.
Be sure to handle these conversations sensitively, as one person’s desire to change can bring up deep-seated feelings of resentment, inadequacy and fear in others. Be patient with the people in your life – they’re dealing with the discomfort in change just as you are. Providing love and support – instead of negative criticism – is a great way to put a stop to these harmful behaviors.
Just say “No”
Finally, if you aren’t able to prevent family and friends from attempting to sabotage your weight loss journey, become the broken record that says “No” over and over again.
It can be difficult to maintain the resolve needed to say “No” – especially when delicious desserts or fun plans that would cut into your gym time are on the line. Do your best to keep all of the different reasons you have for wanting to lose weight at the front of your mind and find the strength within yourself to say “No” to the people and activities that would prevent you from reaching your ultimate goal.