It seems as though there’s one in every crowd— at the workplace, in your church group, among your family and closest friends. Sometimes they mean well or may just seem a tad malicious and sometimes they have no idea how they’re sabotaging you. But every time you take a step forward to gain control over food and your goals, they’re offering you a brownie, some chips, an extra heaping helping of pasta.
So, what’s going on? Why does it seem that people close to you go out of their way to sabotage you? The reason can be summed up in one word— CHANGE. Getting fit through diet and exercise creates big changes in your life—changes you welcome. But if your friends and family aren’t in the same mode of change, they can be oblivious, jealous and uncomfortable with your changes. Maybe:
They feel guilty
You’re losing weight and getting in shape and they’re not. Tempting you to “fall off the fitness wagon” means you’re going to be “normal” again, and they can feel good about the situation.
They don’t understand
Perhaps they’ve never had a weight problem and just don’t realize how hard you’ve worked to get where you are. They think it’s “silly” for you to worry about what you eat.
They miss the old you
That is, the treats you brought to work, the after-work get-togethers with drinks and high-fat appetizers, and the luscious desserts you used to indulge in. Maybe you’re spending more time in the gym and have less free time for them. Maybe they’re afraid to lose you.
When dealing with diet saboteurs, don’t get angry or overreact, but don’t give up either! Try these strategies instead:
Don’t assume the worst
Unless sabotage is obvious and deliberate, give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their reason why. If your grandma serves you lasagna— your favorite— perhaps it’s because she equates food with love, not that she wants you fat. Regardless, it doesn’t pay to get defensive.
Just say no
You wouldn’t expect to have a drink forced on you if you were a recovering alcoholic, and you shouldn’t have to submit to having fattening food foisted on you. Tell the food pusher, “No, thanks,” and leave it at that. You don’t owe an explanation. You also should not feel guilty if you choose to avoid someone who does not take no for an answer.
Look for patterns
Be on the lookout for situations that trigger your diet downfalls. A great way to do this is to start a food journal. It may help you recognize certain events that continue occurring and allow you to develop strategies to deal with them. If you know, for example, that there are likely to be doughnuts by the office coffeemaker, it’ll be much easier to resist them if you have your own healthy snack.
Set up your own support system
If you can recruit friends and family, you may be able to create a valuable support system. When your social network supports you, you reap positive results. If that’s not possible, try taking a different approach: join a weight-loss group, or avoid people who are a negative influence, maybe even make new friends who share your goals. You’ll get stronger with time, and be able to handle the not-so-supportive folks.
Ask for help
Keep in mind that your weight-loss needs are unique. Don’t expect loved ones to exercise telepathy to know what your needs are. Tell them! Be fair and reasonable, especially with those who share your home. They may be willing to make compromises, at least for shorter periods of time, about what foods are kept and cooked in the house.
Be a grown-up
Remember that what you put in your mouth is your responsibility. While others may tempt you, ultimately you’re in charge of your own life. Remind yourself that you’re not adopting a healthier lifestyle for someone else, but for you.