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Here’s what to do about it.
I had this client once who came in with a goal to lose 60 pounds.
With the new plan we put together for her, she lost 10 pounds in the first week, then 2 pounds the next.
But in the third week, she gained 4 pounds back. She hadn’t stuck to the plan. I could tell something was off, so I asked her again why she wanted to lose the weight. Her “bigger why” was that she wanted to meet Mr. Right and have a large family like the one she’d grown up in.
After that, I asked her whether there was anything more important than that to her right now that might be keeping her from sticking to the plan. She started crying and told me she did great on her own but caved whenever she was with her friends.
So I said, “I wonder why?”
And then she shared that she had been friends with these women since college. They were inseparable. They had faced a lot of life’s obstacles together—and gained weight together. She told me their favorite thing to do together was eat! They would go to buffets and even hit up multiple restaurants in one night (one for appetizers and drinks, another for dinner and one more for an amazing dessert!).
The entire time, they would make fun of the “skinny girls” who were picking at the food on their plate or barely touching their salad. You know, the ones who dressed in tight clothes and seemed to be effortlessly confident.
Eating for social acceptance
For this client, losing weight for her wasn’t just about losing excess pounds. It was about losing her friends, her social life and her connections. In most cases like this, we don’t eat right—not because we can’t resist that second slice of cheesecake but because of our emotions and social obligations.
Think about it: Humans used to live in villages and communities because social interaction is vital for well-being. We have an innate desire to fit in and be part of a tribe. It has nothing to do with food and everything to do with our desire to be seen, heard and feel like we matter. We all want to be accepted by the people we choose to surround ourselves with.
We don’t want to be that person ordering gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, peanut-free, sugar-free, nightshade-free, grass-fed, pasture-raised, hold the dressing, on the side, “YES! I know the guac is extra!”—at Every. Single. Meal.
So we eat food that’s comfortable and convenient for the masses instead.
Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” So let me ask you, Who are you spending your time with? Many people will have an opinion about your choice to prioritize your health, and they may even try to get you to eat unhealthy foods to bring you back to their level.
This is because when we make a change for the better in our lives, we often draw attention to the ways other people are NOT making these changes. This can cause other people to feel uncomfortable and to try to get you back into the pack of unhealthy eaters.
It’s not always with malicious intent. In fact, they may not even realize they’re doing it. But now, YOU do. So it’s up to you to be mindful about the choices you make for yourself knowing that your loved ones may not understand or even agree with your decisions.
And here comes the advice we’re not always ready to hear: Adopt the philosophy that if people refuse to support your new healthy lifestyle, they aren’t welcome around you.
Find the people who support you
If the people in your life are not doing anything to lift you higher or get you to where you want to be, find new people. Surrounding yourself with people who have your back and support you as you are is crucial to your personal success. Besides, life is infinitely better when you have a circle of loving, supportive friends, family, mentors and teachers in your corner!
You never have to do things alone. I used to think so, but it’s simply not true.
So get a positive, like-minded friend or family member on board to lose the weight with you or to simply be your cheerleader to help you stay on track. You can find a TON of amazing support groups online to help you, too! This support system is going to be there for you when you need answers, when you’re about to make a decision you might regret or when you need a little kick in the pants.
And that client of mine?
She decided to be happy and live her dreams right away instead of waiting until she lost the weight.
She started distancing herself from her friends slowly but surely. She even realized just how different she was from them and how much they had all changed. In fact, getting together and making fun of the “skinny girls” was all they had in common anymore.
By getting rid of the people who held her back, she started to meet new people who lifted her up. She made friends at health food stores, yoga classes and the gym. And she met the man she would later marry and have that “dream” family with in the produce section of Whole Foods.
Photography: monkeybusinessimages, Thinkstock; Monkey Business, Adobe Stock; Martinan, Thinkstock