Why Are My Family and Friends Sabotaging My Weight Loss?

One of the first questions on our new client intake questionnaire is “Will your loved ones be supportive of the dietary and lifestyle changes you are making?” and 9 times out of 10, the answer is a resounding “Yes, absolutely!” So why is it then that within just a few weeks (sometimes days!) of starting the program, over 75% of clients say they are experiencing some degree of “sabotage” by even their closest friends or family. Sadly, this is not a coincidence. Research shows that “diet saboteurs” rank 9th on the list of “Top 15 Reasons for Diet Failure”, although in reality friends and loved ones may actually be the greatest obstacle to long-term success. But why?

The reasons are layered, but for the most part it often comes down to their own insecurities—feeling threatened, jealous or intimidated by your accomplishments and positive changes. For instance, some people may feel as If your new healthy habits are “rude” or “anti-social” (ie/ spending more time exercising and less time watching TV and hanging at the bar), while others may worry that you’ll start attracting thinner, more attractive or more health-conscious friends and partners. This is amplified by the fact that most Americans are struggling with their own weight issues (two-thirds are overweight), so they may also feel guilty for not personally taking initiative or fearful that your new lifestyle will somehow infringe on their lives or livelihoods. On the flip side, if your siblings or peers have never been overweight or recently lost a lot of weight themselves, they may suddenly become jealous because you’re now “competition”. In other words, you’re threatening to “steal the spotlight” and they aren’t happy about it!

 Okay, so now that we’ve dissected some of the reasons why this happens, what can we do to ameliorate it? Here are a few ways to help keep the saboteurs and negative behavior at bay, while still sharing and enjoying your accomplishments with family and friends.

1. Explain why you’ve decided to make these healthy changes before you even begin. For instance:

  • I always feel…exhausted, groggy, bloated, gassy etc.
  • I want to feel more confident…about my body, in my clothes, around my partner, etc.
  • I am constantly “eating my feelings” or self-sabotaging, and need to get out of this unhealthy cycle
  • I want to set a good example and live a long life for my children
  • My doctor says…I need to lose weight, I am at an unhealthy BMI, I am at high risk for inflammatory disease etc.

Whatever the reason may be, make sure to share with your inner circle ahead           of time. Also, let your loved ones know that this will be a positive change in your life and that their support means a lot to you

2. In many situations, you can simply acknowledge the effort, and then politely decline. A favorite line of ours when a host offers a decadent dessert is “Oooh that looks beautiful, I may have a piece in a moment”. They usually just forget about it! Same with cocktails! We just say “I’m having water to start, but I may take you up on that shortly”. The truth is, what you’re eating or drinking doesn’t always have to be a big deal and oftentimes people are just trying to be polite or gracious hosts.

3. Surround yourself with people who will motivate and cheer you on even when (especially when!) you’re not getting the support you need at home. We suggest teaming up with friends and family who are on their midst of their own weight-loss journeys as they can easily relate to what you’re going through and help keep you accountable. Additionally, make sure to distance yourself from naysayers and saboteurs – it’s easier to avoid the dragon than slay it!

4. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, invest in a health, weight-loss and/or accountability coach. Coaches help you to strategize even the toughest situations, will encourage you every step of the way, and provide you with not just the knowledge, but the “know-how”, to make a healthy, sustainable and enjoyable lifestyle transformation. In fact, studies show that by being held accountable by someone else, you increase your odds of success in reaching your goal by up to 95%!

At the end of the day, everyone is on some sort of personal journey and going through their own unique set of challenges in life. The best thing we all can do is give our loved ones a little grace and recognize that any negativity usually stems from their own insecurities. Just keep your eye on the goal and don’t let the saboteurs stand in your way!  You’ve got this!