How to Manage Weight Loss Sabotage

Find out what to do when friends and family make weight loss harder

diet sabotage
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In a perfect world, your loved ones would support you in your efforts to lose weight. But sometimes, those closest to you may actually try to cause you to fail at weight loss by undermining your success. But there are ways to manage weight loss sabotage from family and family.

What is Weight Loss Sabotage?

So, how do you when weight loss sabotage is happening to you? These are some typical clues that a diet saboteur has invaded your life.

 Weight loss saboteurs may...

  • Urge you to eat sweet or fattening foods.
  • Undermine your efforts by making negative comments, such as: "No one ever keeps the weight off!" or "You'll never make your goal weight. You always quit."
  • Continually offer you second helpings of food despite the fact that you say you are no longer hungry.
  • 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.
  • Be overly critical of your weight loss methods.
  • Discourage you from getting regular physical activity.
  • Belittle or make fun of you.

Why Friends and Family Sabotage Weight Loss

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 weight loss saboteur finds themselves threatened by your efforts to lose weight.

Here are some scenarios where someone may be reacting out of fear or insecurity:

  • 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 to Manage Weight Loss Sabotage

Facing the reality of weight loss sabotage is the first step in learning to manage the problem. It is likely you are dealing with someone who does not want your weight loss efforts to work. Their actions may be conscious or unconscious.  Then once you acknowledge the problem, you may have to change the way you relate to your loved ones.

The first step is clear and honest communication. By having a truthful  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 for ways that you can ask for help:

  • "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.

What If Weight Loss Sabotage Continues?

If you find that your weight loss saboteur doesn't change, you may have to simply come up with your own ways to either ignore or cope with the situations as they come 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.

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, it is your body and your health at stake and you have to take charge of it  because no one else can.

*Edited by Malia Frey, Weight Loss Expert

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