Making the decision to change your life for the better is huge! It is categorically a good thing to do for yourself, but it may also bring out some seriously weird emotions in the people around you. You were probably expecting some congratulations or at least a high five, and instead what you’re getting are nitpicky questions, eye rolls, and the occasional 20-minute diatribe.
What’s going on here?
Support is important, and if you’re not getting it from your social circle, you wind up struggling more than you need to. The best defense is to see these people for exactly what they are, and to start setting some boundaries. Here are the five different types of people who can sabotage your best intentions.
Example: “Oh. You’re eating how many calories? No, no, no. Throw out your diet plan. I’ll tell you how to REALLY lose weight.”
Nobody likes a know-it-all, ever, in any situation, but they become especially aggravating when the topic of discussion is your health. When you talk about dropping a few pounds, they immediately declare themselves to be your personal diet Sherpa.
This is a problem.
While they’re enjoying playing some kind of fitness Yoda to your Luke Skywalker, you’re losing that clear view of your intentions. You’re veering off course even as they speak, because they’re flooding you with contradictory information.
Whether or not this self-appointed diet guru actually has your best interests in mind is anyone’s guess.
Your Best Approach: Thank them. Tell them you learned something new thanks to your conversation. (They’re DYING to hear this, seriously). But firmly state that you’ve chosen your path for a reason, and that you’ll be sticking to it. Either that, or perfect your poker face and flat-out lie.
A Partner Who Isn’t on the Same Plan
Example: “You can go ahead and do your diet plan, but can’t we still keep doing pasta night and weekend cookouts? Besides, I love you the way you are!”
It’s hard to push back against a request that’s so simple, or a plea so sweet; but really, if you step back and examine what they just said without any emotion attached, it’s a total cheap shot.
Your partner may be feeling insecure also, but hasn’t quite reached that all-important point where they’re willing to do something about it.
You showing up with a fitness plan is a bit like a boss calling in a late deadline. It’s stressful for them, and they might try to entice you back to the comfort of the way life is right now. They know it’s easier to avoid change, and so they try to steer you back onto the path of least resistance.
Your Best Approach: You have to take the reins here. Offer to do the cooking. Find killer recipes that taste great, and don’t make anyone feel like they’re on a diet. Make more of your dates centered around physical activity: hikes, bike rides, bowling, whatever! Yes, you’re kind of tricking them into a diet, but they were fully prepared to trick you out of one.
That One Coworker Who Always Shows Up With Baked Goods
Example: “It’s Suzanne’s birthday, so there’s a whole triple layer death-by-chocolate cake waiting in the break room! Just FYI!”
It doesn’t matter if it’s the boss’s birthday, a federal holiday, or perhaps some obscure religious figure’s feast day, this coworker is ready to carpet-bomb your diet with sugar and carbs without any hesitation.
Listen, working in an office environment can get a little draining. One of the easiest ways to add some excitement to an otherwise drab day is with food. While the occasional team luncheon will have a minimal impact on your health, four midday dessert sessions a week is the kind of eating schedule that would make even a hedonist say “ugh!”
Your Best Approach: Fight fire with fire. Buy a bag of apples, or some other healthy snack, and put them out in the break room right next to the mile-high meringue. Now you have an alternative to snack on that won’t blow your diet, and maybe some like-minded co-workers will join in too!
The Person Who Thinks Your Exercise Routine is Silly
Example: “Are you for real with this square dancing thing? I figured that went the way of the covered wagon…”
One of the ways exercise programs hook new recruits is by promising to be “cooler” than other exercise routines, and for some people – like, say, the person giving you such a hard time – looking cool is everything.
But that’s not you. You already know the hidden truth that nobody looks good while working out, so why not just lean into it and find something you actually enjoy doing?
If you’re miserable jogging, hate getting screamed at in CrossFit, sink like a rock in the pool, but LOVE your unicycle, then dang it, that’s what you’re doing for exercise!
Your Best Approach: There are like-minded people all over the place. Look online for meet-up groups or classes featuring your unconventional fitness passion. Maybe invite the naysayer along for a trial class so they can see for themselves how much fun it really is. If they decline, tell them they just revoked their right to an opinion.
Overly Sensitive Family Members
Example: “I’ve been making chicken parmigiana for you since you were three years old. Now you tell me I’ve spent all day in the kitchen for nothing?”
Some family members show their love through food. In fact, if your family is big on that concept, it may be what gave you a weight issue in the first place. They mean well, they love you, but they absolutely don’t know how to take it when you refuse a favorite dish.
They look at the refusal of food as a personal rejection, and there’s only one way for them to fight back against those feelings: by guilting you into eating a full portion of the unhealthy food you’re trying to avoid.
Your Best Approach: There is a time and a place to bring up your health plans with sensitive family members, and it’s NOT at the table during a meal. Speak to them ahead of time and explain that you will either be skipping an old favorite, or eating a tightly controlled portion, and that it has nothing to do with how you feel about them as a loved one.
Good luck on your journey to better health, and remember to watch out for these diet destroyers along the way!