They Hate My Diet!

Posted by on Jan 13, 2014 in Fitness & Adventure | 2 comments

What to do when your quest to lose weight is sabotaged by friends, co-workers, and spouses.


woman_diet_choiceYou’re two weeks into your New Year’s Resolution to lose weight. You’ve chosen a diet plan, you’re getting a taste of healthy eating, and you’re sticking to it. Maybe you haven’t been perfect, but hey—a few weeks ago, you were scarfing down a holiday bonanza of processed, carb-heavy, sugary foods. Compared to that, you’re now eating squeaky clean, and you’ve already begun losing weight. When summer rolls around, you’ll be ready to flaunt that skinnier, sexier body you were born to have.

But hold on—something is weird. You’re noticing a strange phenomenon that you’ve never experienced. It begins subtly, barely registering as you delve into your new lifestyle. As the days pass, however, you have no choice but to acknowledge an uncomfortable, echoing truth.

No one wants you to succeed.

It’s a startling revelation. They claim to support you—friends, co-workers, spouses—and perhaps they do, at times. But mostly, they say things like this:

“Oh come on, one little piece won’t hurt you.”

“What, I’m a terrible cook now? You can’t eat what I made?”

“You don’t need to lose weight—that’s silly.”

“Cake has eggs in it—it’s good for you!”

“Fine, don’t come to the Burger Shack with me. I just thought we were friends, that’s all.”

“You’re boring now.”

Wow. So much for a supportive cast of allies in your noble pursuit. Mustering the willpower to consistently eat a healthy diet is hard enough. Now you’re learning that the battle of the bulge is not just between you and your resolve. It’s between you and everybody’s resolve. And if you persist in your quest, you may soon find yourself routinely ostracized from your old social circles.

“Well, you can’t eat Italian food because of your diet, so we didn’t invite you.”

“Sorry, we didn’t tell you about Susan’s birthday because we know you won’t eat cake and ice cream.”

“You won’t drink alcohol, so we didn’t bother to tell you we were going to happy hour.”

Why is this happening? Why are these people—who occupy great chunks of your personal and professional life—taking such offense to your diet? It’s not their diet. They don’t have to fret about caloric intake or processed foods. So why are they making you feel like some kind of outsider engaging in an unworthy cause?


Why People Sabotage Diets


People poo-poo your diet for many reasons. The most prevalent motive stems from that deep, dark emotion that we’ve all wrestled with in some form or fashion—insecurity.

The unfortunate truth is that your quest to lose weight is perceived as an unspoken challenge to folks harboring bodily self-esteem issues. Your office mates John and Jane, who’ve been overweight for years, are not ready to make a lifestyle change. Perhaps they think it’s impossible. Perhaps they’ve tried a diet or two and failed. Perhaps they’re simply lazy. Whatever their reasons, they now live in a state of acceptance, and they’ve justified their unhealthy routines via any number of mental constructs.

jealousAnd now here you are, waltzing in with your chicken basil salad and your “crazy” tale about getting up at 5:00 AM to work out. You’ve got your gym bag in hand and you’re feeling lighter and optimistic. You’re showing them that they’ve been wallowing in lame excuses for years. You may as well be prancing into their office while they’re chowing on a McGreasy combo meal and shouting, “I’m better than you, you gluttonous oinkers!”

Of course, you harbor no such sentiment. If anything, you’d love for them to join you in your rewarding endeavor. But their deep-seeded insecurities have a terrible influence upon them, driving home their underlying feelings of inadequacy with pinpoint swiftness. As such, your quest for health is felt (not rationally perceived) as an attack. And when people are attacked, they defend themselves. Sabotage.

And let’s not forget about the spouses. Husbands and wives, who should be our greatest supporters, can instead be our most powerful detractors. We love them, so we weigh their words more heavily than anyone else, and that influence has the capability to ruin a steadfast resolve. They could view your diet as a sign that you’re tired of them. They may feel that you’re trying to improve yourself for someone else, or that you’ll gain more attention from the opposite sex if you become more physically attractive. I know a woman whose husband tries to control her in this manner, discouraging her from going to the gym and purposefully ignoring her dietary restrictions. Instead of helping her become the best her she can be, he wants to keep her chubby and undesirable so that he doesn’t have to deal with his own insecurities.


How to Overcome Sabotage


We can’t just chuck all these disobliging people to the wayside and find a new network of healthy-minded friends and co-workers. That is simply not feasible or desirable. And we don’t want a simple thing like a good diet wreaking havoc in our marriages. So how can we deal with the dietary sabotage while keeping our personal and professional relationships unharmed? Here’s a few Do’s and Don’ts that will help turn things around.

DO recognize the real issue. When people say catty, unsupportive things about your diet, don’t take it personally. Instead, recognize the truth—their negativity has nothing to do with you. These people have been confronted with their own uncomfortable issues, and their natural reaction is to defend themselves. Sabotage is their handiest weapon.

DON’T call them out on their insecurities. This is unhelpful and will only drive a further wedge into the relationship.

DO respond positively. Your goal is to get these folks to support you or at least behave neutrally, and there is no better way to realize that goal than through genuine kindness and sympathy. Laugh off the sabotage attempts and be lighthearted with your detractors. “I know, this diet is pretty crazy! I don’t get to eat things I used to love.” A statement like this is agreeing with the saboteur—you’re telling them that they’re right, but that you’re going to keep dieting. This feels much less confrontational for them.

DON’T brag. It’s natural—and right!—to feel proud of your fitness related accomplishments. But if you go around flaunting your progress, the negative nellies will take offense, and then hurtful, unproductive exchanges could follow. Your progress will be noted and complimented by the right kind of people without you saying a single word.

DO join a support group. There are people just like you everywhere—probably even in your immediate community. Find a weight-loss support group and join it, whether online or somewhere in your town. Members of these groups want to hear your stories and are all too happy to praise your success and sympathize with your difficulties. This can be a true godsend.

DON’T complain. “Oh my god, I’m so sore. I ran three miles yesterday for the first time ever and my feet are killing me.” Walking into the office and saying something like this is the same as bragging. It only fuels the saboteurs. Only tell it to your massage therapist!

DO be direct with your spouse and include him/her in your weight-loss goal. “Honey, I love you more than anything, and I’d like for us to have a healthy, happy, active lifestyle long into our old age. Will you consider doing the diet with me as a team? And if you won’t, I really need you to support me attaining good health. I can’t do it without you.”

DON’T preach. You will absorb a ton of wonderful knowledge about living a healthy lifestyle during your diet, and you will want to share that exciting information. But don’t push it on anyone who doesn’t ask you directly. Again, this is easily misconstrued as bragging, and will not be received well by your saboteurs.

DO share your knowledge with any and all who ask. DO share great, healthy recipes with like-minded friends. DO bring in extra helpings of a tasty, healthy meal and offer to share. DO be the change you’d like to see in the world around you.

And if you want to read about how one obese man handled his dietary aggressors and turned his life around, read my book, The Big Wig. You can read the first six chapters free by signing up for my mailing list.

Looking for some great, healthy recipes? You may know by now I support the Paleo Diet, and of all the cookbooks I’ve tried, this is my personal favorite:

Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle


2 Responses to “They Hate My Diet!”

  1. Finally someone who understands the hardships I’ve been facing since my health lifestyle change. Thank you for the support and advice. I will continue on my healthy path and remember the negative comes from insecurities.

  2. Bill Perry says:

    I’ve encountered this many times. It’s very hard to resist sometimes, some people try to make you feel so guilty. Thanks for the good tips.

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