Why No One Needs to Know About Your Weight-Loss Plans

By , SparkPeople Blogger
After years of unsuccessful weight-loss attempts, you've decided that this it. No more fad diets or extreme amounts of exercise—now you're focusing only on slow and steady, healthy choices. You've learned from past mistakes and vowed that they won't be repeated this time. Surprisingly, one of those mistakes wasn't related to your food or fitness plan. No, it was the decision to tell others you were about to embark on a weight-loss journey.

Most weight-loss programs stress the need for support, whether that comes from friends, family or others in your community. When you're surrounded by people who want you to succeed, you're much more likely to follow through, right? When you tell everyone you're trying to lose weight, it helps you stay accountable, correct?

That's not always the case. Is it possible that making a Facebook announcement about your goals hasn't led to success in the past, and this time, it's better to go-it alone? It might seem counter-intuitive, but for some, keeping their weight-loss goals to themselves has helped them be more successful.

According to a study by Dr. Peter Gollwitzer and colleagues, "When other people take notice of one's identity-relevant behavioral intentions, one's performance of the intended behaviors is compromised." Examples of identity-relevant intentions include becoming a faster runner, a more productive employee or a successful dieter. Dr. Gollwitzer goes on to explain that when people take notice of your efforts to improve, it can become an unintentional cue that your goal has been accomplished. For example, if someone comments that you've lost weight and look great, it could make you feel good enough to quit prematurely and not continue toward your ultimate goal.

As the study explains, "[…] any striving for goals—and not just identity goals—that can be attained by various behavioral routes is vulnerable to the negative effects of social reality on the enactment of behavioral intentions." Simply put, whether the feedback is good or bad, when someone comments on your intention to lose weight, it can inadvertently influence your progress.  

To Share or Not To Share?

"I only mentioned my weight-loss plans in the course of a normal conversation," explains SparkPeople member SLIMMERKIWI. "A lot of people have directly and indirectly been negative about how I achieve my goals, such as weighing my food and using the nutrition tracker. Some of the negative comments have even been insulting [in regards to] using the weigh-and-record method and 'micromanaging' my nutrition. Ironically, some of those people were also complaining about their own weight-loss struggles [at the same time]."

WALLAHALLA keeps her weight-loss journey private for a variety of reasons. "Most of the people I know tend to be more negative than supportive, which is why I rely on SparkPeople. I don't want to be told what I'm doing wrong—it is discouraging. I don't want to hear how hard it will be to maintain or be reminded of past failures. I don't want to listen to snide remarks when I fit a favorite dessert or treat into my plan for the day. I want people to notice the differences in me without my saying anything. If I mention my weight loss, I feel like I'm fishing for compliments and then they don't feel sincere. If I feel like my failures are made public, I am more likely to throw in the towel. When failures are private, I just get back up, dust myself off and keep trying," she explains. 

CINDILP would prefer that people notice her healthy lifestyle, not just her weight loss. "When I tell others about SparkPeople, I don't call it a weight-loss site, I call it a wellness site," she describes. "I lost weight [using] SparkPeople, but now I am mainly wellness-oriented. When weight loss comes up in conversation, people are either very passionate about their diet or they are judgmental. It's almost like talking about politics. I don't engage in those conversations; I focus on health and wellness in my life and conversations."

"I have found that I am more successful on my weight-loss journey when I don't share my plans with others," says GOOZLEBEAR. "I feel like they are watching to see how successful or unsuccessful I am and I don't need that extra pressure. Friends and family can either be a big encouragement or a detriment to my plan."

For GARDENCHRIS, losing weight is a private thing. "I am a slow and steady person. In the past I felt like people were judging me because I wasn't losing weight as quickly as they expected, but my clothes are looser and the scale is telling me I'm doing okay. Of course I wish it was faster, but this is a journey and not a destination. Don't let other people define who and what you are," she recommends.

4 Questions to Ask When Deciding Whether to Share

If you're debating whether or not to share your weight-loss intentions with others, ask yourself the following questions:
  1. Is this person (or people) typically a positive source of support for me?
  2. When I've told them my plans in the past, what kind of response have I received?
  3. Do I feel like I need their support?
  4. Is telling them worth the risk of the negative impact it could have on my progress?
If the answer to any of these questions is "no" (or negative), you might want to think twice before you share. However, that doesn't mean your journey has to be a complete secret. When asked to share their experiences, many SparkPeople members expressed that they rely on support from the SparkPeople Community, a place where they can be anonymous and feel more comfortable sharing the ups and downs of their journey.

Even if you choose to keep things private, eventually those in your life might ask about the changes they see in you. If you're not comfortable answering their questions, consider responses that don't feel quite as personal.
"I'm working on making healthier choices."

"I'm exercising to improve my energy level." 

"I'm having fun experimenting with new foods."

There isn't a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to deciding how much or how little outside support you need to lose weight successfully. For some, shouting it from the social media rooftops is the way to go; for others, keeping quiet and letting choices speak for themselves is a better strategy. In the end, do what works best to increase your comfort level and, therefore, increase your chances of success.

Do you share your weight loss goals with others? Why or why not?

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I have had someone say " I hope you are not sick"
and my reply was no this is by choice.... Report
I yoyo dieted so many times that when I really got serious about losing weight and having a healthy lifestyle, that I didn't want people to think "She's doing it again, how long will this last" I kept it secret until people started noticing. Report
It's good to see that I'm not alone in believing it's best in keep this to myself when it seems there is a constant barrage from literature saying, "Share your goals!" Too much pressure and feeling like I'm under the microscope & adds to my stress Report
Thanks Report
I tend not to share unless asked, but it's mostly because of my own psychology! For some reason, it seems as soon as I say "I'm going to get back to healthier habits!" it makes it easier to fall back into old, not so healthy ones. This site helps me so much. But even here, I need to take a break occasionally. Routine of any sort becomes boring to me. This whole thing is hard and takes constant vigilance. That's difficult for me. Would like to think that I could be "cured" of my need to eat even when not hungry. But, alas, don't think that's going to happen. Report
I have been on this site for about a year and a half. I have learned SO MUCH about food as a fuel as well as food as a health restorative. I have also learned not to share too much. It has the propensity to boomerang on me by "less than kind" individuals. We know there are "those folks" on every site!

After reading this blog (and comments), it has changed my mind about "public disclosure" and my typical weekly 'before/after' pix. NO.. I am not letting the 'negative' people affect my decisions! I have seen many before/after pix posted, when I go to their page.. there in no mention of their goals nor 'progress photos' .. just the jaw-dropping 'proof' of their 'quiet' journey!

I just read this quote yesterday,

"Psychological fact: You are more likely to achieve your goals if you keep them to yourself"
This is a game changer for me.. It leaves me with a lot of thinking and soul-searching! Thank you for this timely article! Report
Lots of good thoughts, some I haven't thought of before. Report
Thanks for this article it was very encouraging. I especially appreciated what other Spark members shared. Report
If people make a comment about how I'm eating, how my clothes are fitting better, etc. I tell them I'm trying to learn and maintain a healthy lifestyle through good nutrition and fitness. Most people will say, "Are you on a diet?" I simply say, "No, this is a long-term permanent change, not a temporary fix and I'm still learning." I also have lots of folks who aren't "approving" of my changes. I simply ask them for respect for my personal decisions and never lecture them about their lifestyle which may be very different. If asked for more info, I answer the question but don't offer more than what is asked. Some people no longer want to associate with me because I won't eat as they do and it makes them uncomfortable, even though I don't say anything, just make a different choice. And yes, I do have lapses that I'll freely admit but so far they're temporary (a few days) rather than completely undoing everything I'm striving for. Report
I started a new W.O.E back in the Spring that no one seems to approve of. I follow the advice of some highly educated people, but not the S.A.D. I have lost 70 pounds since I started. How I am regaining my health using whole natural unprocessed food is my business. I could not be happier right now! Report
In previous times when I'd diet I'd share that with lots of people and BTW, when the diet ended I started gaining back the weight. This time I just started making healthier changes and told no one except my partner. Didn't get many questions from work colleagues. It wasn't til early January and about 20 lbs down that people started to notice I was losing weight. Didn't make a big deal out of it. For me it was more important to get my inside (brain and soul) in the game than getting others engaged. Report
thank you Report
It helped me so much when I could share my weight loss plans with friends at TOPS, OA, Diet Workshop, WW, Curves and Spark People. Now I can only share my progress with my sister who has lost 70 pounds herself this year. I learned 35 years ago I shouldn't share my weight loss plans with my husband who has been able to keep his weight in the 180's for the 53 years we have been married. . Report
Interesting. Report
Good article! Report
Thank you Report
I want people to see the changes, if they ask I might share. But as some have stated, I'd rather not have people critiquing everything I put in my mouth or on my plate - it's simply not up for discussion - I eat what I eat, my kids and hubby know, but they are my cheerleaders. Report
I never told anyone because I was afraid I would fail. Report
Wallahalla is so right on with the responses I have gotten. No more. SP are my support. Report
Great article and good comments. Report
This is great. I didn't tell anybody about mine until people noticed and started asking and even then I was cautious for a very long time. Report
I've never had good results announcing my plans to my family - and so when I lost weight "the first time" (I was 16-17), I never said a word. A senior girl in my high school was the first person to notice and ask me (I was a sophomore). My mom has her own weight issues which she has never resolved, and has refused my suggestions to use this site. So... we'll just go it alone.
I just dont feel the need to share at all. OK..if someone comments on my weightloss then I will share what I did. If they have something negative to say about it, I just wave them off because obviously its working! Most usually they want to know what I'm doing so that they can try it too! Report
I like this blog it's something to think about. I feel at times when I say I lost and then I had problems and it change my life a bit so I gained & in my head I would feel someone would judge me too even if it doesn't happen it's in the back of my mind. Thanks for sharing! :) Report
This article is so affirming to me! I do not want to share my weight loss journey and struggle to know what to say. There are some really great tips from other Sparkers. Report
Great blog & so true!!!! Report
Sometimes I feel like other people think trying to eat healthy and lose weight is like buy a lottery ticket. Let me know when you win. Report
I haven’t always shared what my goals were especially in the beginning but as I progressed I shared my progress including my struggles with others so that not only could people help support me but also so I could help encourage others. If I could do it then so can you. Report
I rarely share. Report
I can only whole-heartedly agree that the results speak for themselves. Eventually our efforts will be noticed.

I tend to keep it private to avoid negativity and sabotage. Report
I feel the same as STEMON. Report
Just with my husband and daughter and mother. They are supportive and are the only ones affected if we don't go out to eat as often. Report
I don't share. I feel as if I have been on this journey so many times before and not kept the weight off that people are apt to think, "There she goes again. Let's see how long it lasts this time." I prefer to just keep at it, and let them notice the change. Report
A good other viewpoint... Report
I talk about my weight loss because it's kinda obvious I'm slimming down and most know that prior to the weight loss I've achieved I had pulmonary embolism that kicked me into taking weight loss more serious than I had in the past. I have not received negative feedback but then I also only openly share this journey with my sisters and husband. Both my sisters & husband are happy that I'm doing what's needed to improve my health. I realize that I am damned lucky to have this as not many do.

However, in the past I have made comments to a friend who like me has a family history of diabetes. Being prediabetic I recognized she was making poor health choices and tried to tell her that what she was doing was putting her health in jeopardy. Of course this didn't go over very well and I doubt she has ever forgiven me for it. No matter how well intentioned or that you may be speaking from genuine concern, speaking up will never go over well no matter how old the friendship. What's even worse is that almost a decade later she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes & was in tears when she told me. At the time I hope I was able to support her in a way that mattered. I did tell her that now that she knew the diagnosis she had the first tool to take care of herself. That she should learn as much as she could, work with a nutritionist and, understand what's needed to stay healthy. She has gone on to make much better choices and put herself first. I am very happy for her and now we no longer talk to one another about health issues. Everything else but not that.
I tend to share with my Spark friends more so than IRL. For one thing, we are all working towards similar goals and I get more support and encouragement here than I do for my friends, IRL. Since I have lost so much, I now get the more negative feedback, like “don’t get too skinny you’ll look unhealthy,” or, “how much more are you planning to lose,” things of that nature. For that reason, I only discuss my lifestyle when I am asked directly what I am doing. Then, I praise SparkPeople as an overall program for creating a healthier lifestyle, not a weight loss site. Report
I don't really talk about weight loss goals, but I'm not hesitant to fill people in about my condition. I have diabetes, and I'm on a low carb diet. If they keep offering me high carb foods, alcohol, or anything else that would interfere, and they don't take a simple "No, thank you," I do explain what's going on. People hide their illnesses, and that's wrong. There's no stigma to diabetes or having a restricted diet. Most understand and actually help me find healthy foods. Report
I have a hard time sharing my weight loss journey because I have started and restarted so many times unsuccessfully. Now I want to keep it to myself and just let my results speak for themselves. So I only share with my DH for his support since he is the closet to me and is affected by my actions and choices the most. This has been working for me so far. Report
I do with my hubby and son but that is all Report
One of the great things about a weight loss group like WW or TOPS or OA, is that you CAN share with them. Report