One of the most surprising twists can be when we find the very people who have either been nagging us or begging us to lose weight – sometimes for years (and years) – appear to do a complete “180”.
It can seem they’ve decided to switch teams and, rather than support us, are now rooting for the other side by throwing obstacles in our way – when we were counting on them to help keep our path clear.
Sabotage can either be very obvious – or extremely subtle. Let’s take a look at a couple scenarios that might seem familiar:
You’ve been making some great progress. It’s been a challenge to combine working and raising three small kids and sticking with the program – but you’ve managed to do so and both the scale and those loose waist bands are proof. At first your spouse was extremely supportive and helpful. But things are starting to change. Even get a little tense between you.
So far the plan was for them to give the kids their baths while you did your exercise video – which was working out great. But this week you haven’t been able to count on that happening. One night it was that their favorite television program was on at the same time. Another it was because they were just too tired after a long stressful day at work. Tonight they asked just how long this was going to take – did you expect them to take on this extra responsibility forever?
And another thing. At first your spouse seemed to enjoy all the new foods and that you were all eating at home as a family. But the other day when the kids started screaming for pizza your spouse was quick to jump up and volunteer to go pick one up – knowing that pizza is a problem for you.
Tonight your spouse brought you home a “surprise” which was your favorite ice cream and looked hurt when you didn’t jump up and down for joy. After all, “You need to give yourself a little treat every now and then.”
And things might not be much better with friends or co-workers. Just the other day your best friend – who’s been “ooing and awing” about your progress these past weeks accused you of “not being much fun” when you suggested going for coffee over getting a bite to eat at the local diner.
Whatever your story (or stories) might be – when the people we count on to support us don’t, it definitely makes things more difficult for us.
No one wants to think that anyone who cares about us would consciously want to hurt us. And, unless the relationship you have with those people is an unhealthy one – that’s usually not the reason for the sabotage.
Attaining and sustaining a healthy weight requires a change in lifestyle and this can disrupt patterns of behavior along with long-standing roles and responsibilities.
All of the relationships in the household are affected when we change our lifestyle – whether our spouse, our children, or even our roommates.
And it doesn’t stop there. All of our relationships outside of our households are affected as well, be they with our friends, our associates, or our co-workers.
Most often the sabotage is due to fear of change. Watching you “change” might cause them some anxiety because they can fear that this will change the way you feel about them. Or change the function of your relationship with that person in their lives. Your spouse might fear you will cease to love them. Your boss might fear you’ll want a raise. Your friend might fear they won’t any longer be “good enough” to be considered as a friend.
Many of us are tempted – or have – thrown in the towel when it seemed that “it just wasn’t worth it” to fight to get what we needed from those close to us. Or we started to feel guilty that the changes we were making appeared to be making life difficult for the “innocent”.
We have to patient with ourselves as we adjust and accommodate to the changes in what and how much we are eating as well as the activities we engage in to get and stay fit. And we need to have that same patience with those on the sidelines who are taking this journey with us.
There are some positive steps we can take to discourage sabotage and encourage support from those close to us:
Talk About It
If you notice sabotage taking place – obvious or subtle – don’t pretend like it isn’t happening.
When you talk about it be prepared to negotiate, or renegotiate, a solution. Maybe you only exercise to your video three times a week and the other three you ride a stationary bike while you watch television together. Make a standing once a month date with your best friend to go out to dinner.
Be willing to listen to their side of the story when you talk. It might be that your spouse or your friend is feeling insecure about your relationship with them. Reassure them and also be sure to thank them for their support.
Just as building in non-food rewards for ourselves that mark milestones or achievements keeps us motivated we can, and should, do the same with those who are close to us.
Maybe you haven’t been able to enjoy theme parks with your children because of your weight. Planning a special trip with them at a specific point in your journey is sure to encourage their support. Perhaps making a deal with your spouse that giving those baths will be rewarded with an afternoon to themselves on the weekend will make them more willing to do so. How about a round of golf or spa day with your best friend when you hit that mark?
Be willing to compromise
Compromise is necessary for the negotiation mentioned under “Talk About It”. Solutions to obstacles and challenges are very difficult to create when we are unwilling to compromise.
While pizza may be a temptation for you – your spouse has a point that the kids enjoying a pizza every now and then isn’t a matter of life and death. If you know that pizza is going to trigger a binge a compromise might be that taking the kids out for pizza is special one-on-one time for them with the children. On the other hand, if pizza is simply something you have a history of overindulging in, a small slice of plain cheese pizza with a side salad is a reasonable dinner.
As for those “surprises” that you don’t want to take the form of, say, ice cream – give your spouse a list of cheap non-food items that would brighten your day if they brought them home to you.
Above All – Don’t Use Sabotage as an “Excuse”
Sabotage by those close to us can make us feel many things with anger, guilt, and fear on the top of a list of feelings that can trigger binging – or even “giving up”. It is not the responsibility of those close to us to handle our feelings for us – or treat us with kid gloves to avoid having us learn how to deal with these feelings.
Outside of talking about it, negotiating, and compromising with those close to us in order to get their support – these are also things we need to do internally to ensure we have our own support.