DEFEND YOURSELF AGAINST SABOTAGE! Are friends and family slowing your progress?

22 10 2015

Does this sound familiar? You mention you no longer want to keep junk foods in the house because they are too tempting and your spouse, family member, or roommate comes home with your favorite cookies…double stuffed! Or maybe ystop sabotageou mention wanting to head to the gym after work today since the morning has been crazy and your spouse, family member, or roommate tells you that they will be parked on the couch with a Redbox selection they know you have been waiting to see. Or how about your coworker brings in cookies or some other baked treat at least 2 days each week and offers you some each and every time, even though you have let her know you are making a concerted effort to make better choices and refuse.

Perhaps you cannot relate here, but if this hits close to home, then you are likely the victim of health behavior sabotage! They are your friends, family, coworkers…why would they want you to fail? Sometimes they mean well, other times there may be malicious intent, but the primary issue at hand is CHANGE. You are welcoming this change, but it does not mean those around you have bought in. It may be that they see your desire to change as some sort of message to them that they are required to change too. And while it may be best if everyone you interact with has a similar healthy behavior mindset, it is not essential for success; but respect IS essential.
According to the New York Times (1993), it is typically woman who get the short end of the stick, with only 30% getting the support they truly need from their male partner. The reasoning? Awareness! Human beings can be selfish creatures, so often times, the sabotage is done unintentionally.

They feel guilty, so make it clear that this is your journey. Your success is making them question their choices, since they may think they should be pursuing weight loss too. But for many, teasing you back to normal with “you’re doing so well; a little won’t hurt” sabotage is often easier. Making it clear that you have made this choice to improve your quality of life and you are not judging others by changing your habits. By giving in, you’ve proven once again that weight loss is impossible; now they can relax and not try.
They don’t understand, so help them. Other folks (often spouses!) who’ve never had a weight problem can’t understand why you don’t go back to eating normally now that you’ve lost that weight. And besides, they’ve suffered enough with all the changes around the house, and they want this to be over.
They miss the old you, or more specifically, the food experiences you once shared. Food is often how we express love. Baking cookies for your kids (and of course eating some together). Or going to happy hour with coworkers. It is up to you to show them that you are still you, and can still be fun and interesting…food aside.

Look for patterns. Be on the lookout for situations that trigger your diet downfalls, perhaps with a food journal. It may help you recognize people and events that do you in, allowing you to develop strategies to deal with them. If you know, for example, that there are likely to be donuts by the office coffeemaker, it’ll be much easier to resist them if you have your own healthy but satisfying snack.
Be specific about your needs. Whether you write it or say it, let those around you know what you need of…as well as what you do not need. This may be a bit uncomfortable, but even those closest to you can’t read your mind. For instance, if being constantly asked how much you’ve lost will drive you to cheat, let people know. For others, constant checking in may help keep them on track. If you need support when the late-night munchies hit, ask your friend if it’s okay to call.
Don’t assume the worst. Unless sabotage is blatantly deliberate, give saboteurs the benefit of the doubt when it comekeep calm and say nos to their motives. If your mother serves you lasagna—your favorite– perhaps it’s because she equates food with love, not that she wants you to fail. At any rate, it doesn’t pay to get defensive.

Just say no. You wouldn’t expect to have a drink forced on you if you were a recovering alcoholic, and you shouldn’t have to submit to having unhealthy food forced upon you. Tell the food pusher, “No, thanks,” and leave it at that. You don’t owe an explanation. Nor do you need to feel guilty if you choose to avoid someone who’s not helpful to your cause.

And as we like to say, “It’s not easy, but it’s worth it”…and a little self-confidence can go a long way.


By Stephanie R. McWilliams, Health Behavior Counselor




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