Sticking to a weight-loss plan is challenging enough without the barrage of party and happy hour invites. Not to mention all the treats in the workplace from coworkers. Intentionally or not, your friends and loved ones have the power to seriously set you off course when it comes to dropping pounds; which is why it’s so important to get them on your side. “Weight loss is often interpreted as change, so it’s typically feared that relationships will change as well, and that’s frightening and intimidating for many, especially when they perhaps have a weight concern of their own,” says Brigitte Weil, food coach. “I always suggest sharing weight-loss intentions with friends and family ahead of time, so they know what to expect and have their own time to process their feelings.” We definitely agree that there is a lot of times an emotional reaction from others as well as weight loss stigma that can happen. According to Psychology Today, ‘fat stigma is when people are judged negatively for being overweight or obese. Lean stigma is when people are judged negatively for their attempts to lose weight or even for successful weight loss. According to a study by North Carolina State University, lean stigma might be more common and more problematic than most of us realize. In the small study, 40 people (21 women, 19 men) who lost significant amounts of weight (76.9 pounds on average) reported that some people in their lives tried to “belittle or undermine” their weight loss efforts and results.’ We are interested in the subject of sabotage in relation to our weight loss efforts; and wanted to share with you some of the study results. Study participants found some effective tactics to maintain their weight loss efforts without alienating friends, family, and colleagues. At the end of the day, we alone control what we eat, however, if you face similar challenges, we hope you find the tools in this blog helpful.
The following are some of the strategies that contributed to the participants weight loss success. 1. Communicate with important people beforehand about your intention to lose weight. Depending on the relationship, maybe even include some specific reasons for it. For instance, who wouldn’t want to support you for taking your heart health seriously? 2. Tell people in your social circle that you do not expect them to adopt similar eating habits. Maybe say something like, I am going to eat a salad but feel free to eat a hamburger or whatever you want. I honestly don’t mind. 3. Join your friends, from time to time, at social gatherings by eating small portions of unhealthy food, if you plan a small cheat meal. 4. Eat a lot less before and after a family gathering in order to “fit in” by overeating at the event itself. It will appear that you are eating more, but in reality, it will be your main meal for the day. 5. Accept food (if you feel strong enough), but don’t eat it. For instance, accept a piece of cake or donut at work, indicating you will eat it “later,” then throw it out. 6. Make it crystal clear that you are not judging others for their eating habits. 7. Describe your weight loss motivation as health-related, to have more energy, or being in training for a race. 8. In the beginning, until you feel committed and strong enough, avoid social situations that involve food. 9. Suggest friends go on walks to socialize rather than meeting over meals. I had a personal trainer who said she invited fit minded, healthy friends to do other things, like hike, ride bikes or even make arts/crafts. I personally remember enjoying a really fun evening where her and I cooked a healthy meal together. 10. Decline invitations to go out to eat because “I’m not hungry.” 11. State that a food “doesn’t agree with me” to explain turning down unhealthy foods.
These strategies did help the participants maintain both their weight loss and their relationships. You may have to become assertive and set firm boundaries with family and friends. What you put in your mouth is ultimately your decision. It is sad to say, but in extreme situations, you may have to choose more supportive friends. Your self care, health and weight loss goals are number one priority. If you are struggling with peer pressure, why not find a weight loss support group? AZ Medical Weight Control will give you the support and tools you need to be successful. Why not give us a try, and set yourself free!