Stop the Sabotage!

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

In a perfect world, our friends and family would support us in our efforts to lose weight and be healthier. But sometimes, those closest to you -- those you need the most help from -- may actually try to cause you to fail at weight loss by undermining your success.

Why does this happen to us?!?!

It can be the person you least expect who attempts to sabotage your weight loss -- your spouse, a sibling or your best friend. While this situation can happen for different reasons, it is quite likely that the "saboteur" finds themselves threatened by your efforts to lose weight.

Why would they be threatened?

•Friends may think you want to change your life in other ways -- maybe you'll be leaving them out of your "new and improved" circle of friends along with your new, healthy lifestyle.
•A friend may feel your weight loss makes her extra weight seem more noticeable to others.
•Your spouse may be jealous of or dislike the attention you are getting from other people.
•A family member may resent the time you spend exercising or preparing healthy foods (particularly if they themselves partake of neither) when you could be spending time with them.
•A friend may feel guilty about continuing to eat your formerly favorite foods while you eat lighter fare. Or she may miss her "partner in crime" if you frequently ate together or shared "bad" foods.

How will you know if you are being sabotaged?

•They may urge you to cheat or say "one bite won't hurt".
•They may try to undermine your efforts by saying things like "No one ever keeps the weight off!" or "You'll never make your goal weight. You always quit."
•They may continually offer you second helpings of food despite the fact that you say you are no longer hungry.
•They keep a watchful eye on everything you eat, make snide comments, or check the fridge or food packages to see if you have eaten "bad" foods in their absence.
•They are overly critical of your weight loss methods.
•They discourage you from getting regular physical activity.
•They belittle or make fun of you.

If this is happening to you...what do you do?

If you find that someone in your life fits these characteristics, it is likely you are dealing with someone who -- consciously or unconsciously -- does not want your weight loss efforts to work. It is important to recognize if someone is making your weight loss efforts harder rather than easier; not acknowledging this will only lead to failure and resentment in your relationship. After all, weight loss changes a lot more than just your dress size and you may have to change the way you relate to your loved ones if this becomes a problem.

What We've Got Here is a Failure to Communicate!

By having an honest talk about your weight loss efforts and your loved one's influence on them, you will be able to get to the heart of the matter. Explain to them that losing weight is very important to you and that the support of those around you means a lot. Don't be afraid to point out things that make it harder for you to lose weight or give examples of statements that have hurt your feelings.
Asking someone for their unconditional support isn't like asking someone to change a light bulb; it takes a little pride-swallowing. But admitting to this person that you need their help may be the first step in improving the situation for both of you.

Here are some ideas:

•"When you prepare a meal for us, I would prefer it if you didn't offer me seconds. Please don't take offense when I refuse."
•"When you bring snacks or fast food into the house, please try to eat them in another room or at least, don't offer me any of yours. These are problem foods for me and hard to resist them."
•"I feel more likely to stick to my walking routine if you will join me every now and again. It's something we can do together.
•"I am carefully watching what I do and don't eat. If I do slip now and again, believe me, I am aware of it. I don't need you to point it out.

In turn, ask your loved one to tell you about their feelings. You may be surprised at what comes to light. Ask them what you can do to help them adjust to your new lifestyle. (If your friend, for example, feels threatened you'll leave her behind for a "new crowd," a simple heart-to-heart may be all it takes for her to put those feelings of fear and resentment behind her.)

So how can you deal with it?

If you find that your relationship doesn't change, you may have to simply come up with your own ways to either ignore or cope with the situations as they crop up.
You may wish to keep a record in your journal of the occasions when someone says or does something that you feel undermines your efforts. At the end of each day, look over these instances and try to come up with ways you can handle the situation better. Often, dealing with these types of influences comes down to avoiding them, ignoring them, or giving yourself the positive self-talk that undoes the damage caused by your loved one's negative influence.

You may find that simply avoiding eating in social situations is a good way to keep these issues from cropping up. Try planning non-food activities with friends and family as often as possible. If you're used to drinks and appetizers with friends, get together for bowling instead; instead of going to your Mom's for dessert, ask her to play a game of cards with you.

The worst case scenario is that you'll have to distance yourself from the person who is causing your weight loss efforts to suffer. Sometimes a breather from a relationship is a good thing. Don't look at it as break up; remember that when you feel stronger or once you've met your weight loss goal, you can pick up where you left off.

The Bottom Line

Each situation is different and only you can decide what is best for both your relationship and your weight loss journey. Remember, no one is able to make you eat or do -- or not do -- anything you set you mind to. It is your body and your health at stake and you have to take charge of it ... no one else can!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    emoticon can so relate

    I want to share one other type of saboteur and the solution.

    The hater - this individual is unhappy with themselves and is determined to make every one around them feel like crud too if they are having a bad day. The hater does not like it when people around them find inner strength to make positive and happy changes in their lives, so the hater will use words and any other means to bring people down.

    The solution - spend as little time around these types as possible, and remember their words are stemming from their unhappiness with themselves. Sadly offering to help them find positive outlooks, inner happiness or strength, is usually met with extreme nastiness, they have to find it for themselves.

    Thank you for putting such a hard to explain topic into a wonderful blog.

    I talked over the course of a year with my DH about the unintentional sabotage he was doing. He is fully supportive, he was then, just didn't realize he was hindering, and is joining our teen daughter and myself on our trek to healthier us's.

    3650 days ago
    Thanks for the wonderful blog! I have experienced this in all different ways. It's once reason I have been comfortable to put half my weight back on!
    3804 days ago
  • JOY1918
    Good article as it address many aspects of sabotage, including solutions. emoticon
    4139 days ago
    Excellent article!

    4140 days ago
    The whole article is very good. I especially like the part in which you ask a friend or relative to go on your walk with you. Some will want to be supportive-so giving them a hint like that is good. I, too, believe the large family gatherings are difficult-so it is good to go prepared.

    4159 days ago
    So true! My hubby is having difficulties with my fitness routine, this might just help:) Thanks!
    4203 days ago
    One more idea - If you are dealing with a saboteur and not sure what to say or how to approach the problem, have him or her read this blog.

    Perhaps that will get the much needed conversation started...

    4206 days ago
  • SHELLY1416
    Great to read...very true all I can do is try my best no to be the Sabotagerrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!! Had a great workout tonight GO ZUMBA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! emoticon
    4209 days ago
  • no profile photo K10BFIT
    What a great post and it's so true! I've noticed most of my friends are supportive, but I'm also just starting out. Besides, they may be supportive but at parties or other social events they may not be. It's hard, but resisting/avoiding instead of entertaining the "I'll just have one bite" mentality is much better! Thanks for the awesome post.
    4212 days ago
    So true. When this happens it's good to remember that's it's not unusual. We all resist change, even when it's good change. We are comfortable with the familiar. We often sabotage ourselves just as things are really going well, because we're simply not used to our new situation. It will take time for us to feel at home with our new selves, so of course our friends and family will find it a bit of a challenge too. Thanks for all the good tips in handling this.
    4213 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5940757
    Good job!
    4214 days ago
    It helps me so much to read what others have taken the time to think through! I realize I can be more prepared to handle 'situations' than I have been. Thanks!
    4214 days ago
    Thanks for the information. I am very good at setting boundaries except when it comes to food so your tips are a great help.

    Thanks a bunch

    - Ralph
    4214 days ago
    My husband does this to me every Christmas. Buys sugary stocking stuffers even though I have asked him not to. This year I threw (most) them away. Maybe next year he will not waste our $$$ on them. Great blog. Thanks for the tips. emoticon
    4214 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/20/2010 2:34:11 PM
  • SUGIRL06
    Great blog! Thanks for the advice! I noticed a lot of comments at first but once everyone around me realized this was a permanent thing, they kind of gave up. Now they seem more intrigued by my healthy lifestyle. Instead of getting comments like "You're going to the gym?? AGAIN??" I get "What class are you doing to tonight? Its is that cool dance class you like?" Eventually, those who really care about you will be supportive! It just takes time! And if they can't be supportive? Then maybe you should reevaluate the relationship... Thanks again for a great blog!!
    4214 days ago
    Thanks for the great blog!
    4214 days ago
    Great blog. Can't tell you how many times friends urge me "one hot fudge sundae isn't going to hurt". That only makes me stronger in my own will power.
    4214 days ago
    great blog!
    4214 days ago
    So glad I came upon this blog today!! This past weekend my mother had us all over to her house for supper. Here was the menu: pork burgers, hot dogs with cheese, sausage, baked beans, cole slaw, mac and cheese. When I got there I look at her and asked where the veggies were. Her response was oh you can have small portions you will be fine. Sabotage?? Well it felt like.
    4214 days ago
    LISANANCY said it best!
    4215 days ago
  • no profile photo GRAMPIAN
    Inspirational. emoticon
    4215 days ago
    Thanks a lot, actually I am striving to have the people around me accept what I'm doing, sometimes it's just so hard.
    Love, emoticon
    4215 days ago
    Great blog. emoticon
    4215 days ago
    Wonderful post!
    4215 days ago
    Great blog! My SO isn't an intentional sabatoger, but in some ways he enables me to have that extra cookie, or too many carbs, etc. I'll have to sit and chat with him this evening. :) Thanks! I'm adding you as a friend! Great motivator. :)
    4215 days ago
    Awesome blog, thanks.
    4215 days ago
    Thank you!
    4215 days ago
    Most that would sabotage you are themselves under the pressure to do something in their own lives. Your success just shows them that they need to work on themselves. No one wants that, we would rather see everything remain the same so we don't have to work. It's THEIR problem. And they probably don't even know it. What comes to mind is "letting it go in one ear and out the other!" You are a fantastic success. You are out of line, now the line has to straighten out behind you. Sort of like follow the leader. Maybe they should not smoke, not drink, or work to get healthy. That all takes hard work. Too bad that's life. emoticon
    4216 days ago
    The worst for me is family parties where people often don't know you're trying to lose weight. And they INSIST that you eat their food, because they've lovingly prepared it etc etc. This is a REAL issue for me around the holidays, as I'm sure it is for others.
    4219 days ago
    Great blog, great tool. Matter of fact so good makes me want to go work out.. Thank you....
    4219 days ago
    What a great Blog, We all need to remember those words,
    4219 days ago
    Great blog--many truths, good strategy! Pretty darned good writing, too (which, as an editor, I appreciate).
    4219 days ago
    Thanks for this crisp and structured overview. I live in it these days - and it is comforting that others have similar struggles.
    4220 days ago
    Well said. Been there, done that.
    4220 days ago
    Thank you for this blog, I feel that I have a couple people doing this to me and right now I am probably my own worse enemy. I think this blog puts me in my place and I needed that.
    4220 days ago
    good info already putting some of those to work.
    4221 days ago
    oo, you are speaking the truth.
    4221 days ago
    Great blog!

    4221 days ago
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