There are many potential hurdles to losing weight: hunger, laziness, emotional eating, procrastination, etc. However, an unexpected challenge often comes in the form of unsupportive peers: family, friends, and even coworkers. Even though these are ordinarily the people you’d expect to support you in your weight loss efforts, the opposite is often the case.
So, why would those who are supposed to be closest to us try to sabotage our diets and keep us heavy? Here are several possible reasons:
1) If you successfully lose weight, that might remind them of their own unsuccessful weight loss efforts. In other words, if you succeed and get thinner, it reminds them that they’ve failed and have continued to fail. However, if they can somehow sabotage your efforts to succeed, they won’t have to feel so bad. When it comes to weight loss, “misery loves miserable company”. If everyone feels unsuccessful together, the shared pain doesn’t feel so bad. Sad, but very common.
2) If you lose weight, your peers might suddenly feel like they need to lose weight as well—which they might not feel ready to try (again). Therefore, if they can somehow persuade you off of your diet, it buys them more time before they have to change their own habits.
3) If you became thinner, this would attract more attention, compliments, and acceptance towards you. This, of course, would mean less attention, compliments, and acceptance for them. Hence, some selfishly might try to limit your success because your gain would mean their loss.
4) You changing your diet and exercise habits might interrupt some of your old peer-bonding activities together that your friends don’t want to lose/cut back on. Often, this involves eating out at high calorie restaurants, having parties with fatty snacks, and spending time in more sedentary activities like hanging out and watching TV and movies.
Does all of this mean that your friends and family don’t want the best for you? Well, that depends. The more selfish, jealous, insecure, and superficial they are, the more of they’ll try to sabotage your healthy eating and exercise habits. Conversely, the more service-oriented, gracious, secure, and principles/values-oriented they are, the more that they will support, celebrate, and emulate your efforts.
If you find that your peers are of the more selfish/insecure variety, you may wish to limit your time around them and/or tactfully encourage them to make the same changes you’re making. If they choose to reject you and isolate you because of your weight loss success, you might be better off spending less time around them anyway. Staying overweight should not be a requirement to maintain a relationship. Think about it! You’re not doing either of you any favors. The price of health is sometimes high, but is always worth it. As the saying goes, if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.