From following your blogs and your website, I know you’re quite knowledgeable about fitness, so I thought of you when I realized I needed some advice on this topic. I’ve been overweight for most of my adult life, and relatively recently, something changed inside my mind. I don’t know what, but I suddenly knew I wasn’t going to be this way anymore. I got into a weight loss program (Weight Watchers Online) and have really stuck with it. For six months now, I’ve been losing slowly but steadily—thirty pounds so far, and I have about that many to go.
But suddenly, the happy support I got at the beginning from many of my friends and some of my family members, has changed into anything but. My husband, who was thrilled at first, now rolls his eyes when I weigh and measure my food before a meal, and he complains about the healthy meals I cook for us, and he brings things into the house that he knows will tempt me cruelly. He’s free to eat all the junk food he wants while he’s out, which is all day every week day. But it’s hard for me to have it in the house, especially when I’m home alone.
My mother used to compliment me on my progress. Now she says I look sickly and am getting “too thin.” (I don’t think size sixteen is too thin by anyone’s standards, do you?)
My best friend seems to be acting oddly too. Three times in the past month, she’s shown up at my house with goodies to share. I keep telling her how hard it is for me to resist temptation when it’s shoved in my face like that, and that she’s not doing me any favors. She says I deserve a reward after all my hard work, and it won’t kill me to splurge with her once in a while.
What in the world is going on? And how do I deal with it?
First of all CONGRATULATIONS! You are doing something that so many want to do, but few ever manage. And Weight Watchers is my personal favorite of any program out there. You are kicking butt, and you should be proud.
What you’re experiencing happens to a lot of people, particularly those who’ve been overweight for a while. Your family was used to you the way you were. The idea of you losing a few pounds wasn’t threatening to them, mostly (perhaps) because you’ve probably decided to lose weight a hundred times before, and it never amounted to much in the past. Then you started succeeding, and it still wasn’t much of a threat, because the weight came off slowly and they really didn’t expect there to be much of a difference over the long haul.
But now, you’ve lost more than half your excess weight. You look like a whole new person, and seeing that, they realize suddenly, that you ARE going to do it this time, and that it IS going to be a drastic change, and that in a few more months time, you’re going to be utterly transformed.
I don’t want to be too hard on your loved ones, so let me say that their efforts to sabotage you (and that’s precisely what they are doing) might very well be subconscious. Deep down, the new you is vaguely threatening to them, and they may not even be sure why. A heavy woman friend, may feel that she’s been left behind on this journey of yours, or that you’ll hang out with “thin” people and not need her as a friend anymore. A slender one may begin to see you as competition for attention. A mother may feel that your loss of fat is in some convoluted fashion, a judgment of the way she lived her life, maybe never having done what you’re doing. Or she may feel that if you get too gorgeous, you’ll abandon your family to live the glam life. (People get weird ideas.) Husbands tend to feel a subtle sense of, “What would a gorgeous woman want with me, anyway?” They get threatened, certain that your loss of weight means you could suddenly do a whole lot better, and that you’ll have no reason to stick around. They notice other men looking and instead of beaming with pride, the way a more confident man might do, they feel as if they’re about to lose you to someone else. Someone “better.”
You would be surprised how often this happens. It’s almost universally true that someone in your life will try to undermine your efforts to lose weight once it really starts coming off. It’s a constant. Honest.
You need to be loving and kind and reassuring, but very firm with all of them. When the friend brings goodies, take them from her hand, toss them into the trash, (or be more gentle and tell her she can’t bring them inside, to leave them in the car or else go home.) Tell her not to come over if she can’t respect your efforts to break your addiction. Ask her if she would bring a bottle of vodka by, if you were an alcoholic, and then point out that’s exactly what she’s doing. Tell your husband the same thing about his junk food, and assure him that if you ever did leave, it would more likely be due to his lack of support in this effort that means so much to you, not because you suddenly got fit. As for your mother, I think the best tactic is to just end the visit every time she does this, and tell her why. “I really need support from you, Mom, not criticism, so from now on when you start tearing me down, I’m just going to leave.”
Be strong. If you want mutual support from a network of people just like you, and a lot of fitness challenges, prizes, tips, recipes, and advice, send a blank email to Maggiesfirstname.lastname@example.org and join in the ongoing discussions.
And remember, you’re doing the best thing you could ever do for yourself, and you will never regret it. You will regret it if you give up, though.