Unconditional support and encouragement. That’s what you might expect when embarking on a quest for fat loss. And you would often be wrong. Badly. In fact, so far wrong would you be that outright sabotage is what’s possible, not only from colleagues, but family and close friends too. Why? Do those closest to you want you dead?
A Stanford University study showed that over 75% of women ”never” or “rarely” experienced support from friends or family when it came to losing weight.
Making it known to your friends, family or colleagues of your intention to lose weight is often seen as a threat, thereby manifesting various forms of sabotage techniques, ranging from the subtle or unconscious to the aggressive and overt.
It is a form of jealousy based on the idea of “thin privilege” or “lean stigma”: the notion that those who are in good shape are afforded disproportionate benefits – better career prospects, love life, economic outlook. Understandably, this results in feelings of inferiority which is a big blow to the ego. And wounded egos tend to react with hostility.
Their attempt to sabotage your efforts to improve yourself, in essence, when refracted through the prism of their insecurities, amounts to this: ‘Don’t shine a light on the fact that you are successfully doing what I desperately want and need to do, but are not’. Perhaps they’ll only be aware of this on a subconscious level; a case of willful ignorance even? Understandable because it is hard to admit to yourself that you could be so insecure and nasty.
At the risk of succumbing to complete cynicism, I recommend to my fat loss clients to keep their goal to themselves, at least initially. Even in the absence of sabotage attempts it can become tiresome to have to justify your food choices or reticence to indulge in alcohol.
Dealing with snide remarks shouldn’t be taken too seriously though. It will just blow the situation up into something bigger. Brush it off with a quick explanation and move on. If the remarks continue, pull the perpetrator aside privately and gently point out how important this journey is for you. This usually does the trick.
If not, don’t be afraid to “çhop off the dead wood”. At a certain point, it helps to understand that “fairweather friends” are a hindrance to fostering true relationships. A genuine, caring, nurturing and supporting network of real friends is a reality that’s possible for anyone. Don’t settle for less. Stick to your guns and keep a laser-like focus on your health goals. Don’t say a thing about it, but be the walking personification of your highest aspirations. And, as your body changes, your ‘threat of a good example’ might just influence those closest to you towards imitation – the sincerest form of flattery.
The Carousel would like to thank J. A Gleeson for this article. He is a Personal Trainer at Tribe Social Fitness, Sutherland Shire, Sydney.