The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club.
My first rule about losing weight is: I do not talk about losing weight.
I know, this coming from someone who has a blog devoted to talking about how to lose weight. Obviously, I mean aside from the blog or when someone directly elicits advice from me.
Why this rule? Because years of experience have taught me that I am much more likely to get a negative comment than a positive one. Even from close friends and family members. If this sounds overly cynical to you, I repeat: I know this because years of experience have told me so.
Which is pretty baffling. When you tell someone you’re trying to lose weight, you expect them to say something affirming or encouraging or, at the very least, politely disinterested. But you’re more likely to get a comment like:
- You look great! You don’t need to lose weight.
- Salad for lunch again, huh? That must suck.
- Counting calories isn’t good for you. Just focus on eating clean and exercising.
- You looked better when you were a little heavier.
- You’re too skinny!
- Should you be eating that on your diet?
- It’ll hurt my feelings if you don’t eat my cooking.
- You’re just going to gain it all back.
- A little bit won’t hurt you. You’re not going to get fat from eating one thing.
- You’re going to the gym again? Ugh, stop. You’re making the rest of us look bad!
So what’s up with the negative response?
Crabs. Yes, really.
What you’re seeing is the crabs in a bucket mentality. Imagine a bunch of crabs in a bucket. They all want to get out, and if they worked together, they could make a crab ladder and let everyone out one by one. But instead, when one of them makes it up to the lip of the bucket, the other crabs pull that crab down, and none of them end up escaping.
This is a pretty accurate description of what happens when a human being tries to better themselves. The knee-jerk reaction of the people around them is to yank that person back down where they belong — with everyone else. And when 70% of American adults aged over 20 are overweight or obese, that means keeping everyone overweight.
I know this sounds harsh, especially when some of us have said the exact things in the above list. I definitely have. So what’s behind the other person’s desire to pull us down?
Some of the time, it’s because of envy. The other person wants what you have or are trying to achieve. And honestly, this happens to us a lot. Have you ever felt a twinge of envy when your friend got a promotion? Or when you saw someone else’s glamorous vacation photos on Instagram? It’s the exact same thing. It’s just more culturally acceptable to put down someone else’s weight loss efforts, which is why you’ll hear it more often, and not people accusing you of having too good a time drinking piña coladas on the beach.
When people try to derail your effort to lose weight, they aren’t talking about you, precisely. They’re comparing themselves to you and projecting their own insecurities. They aren’t seeing your success; they are seeing what they have not achieved.
The thing is, these types of comments will wear you down over time. It’s hard enough battling your inner demons — you don’t need to defend yourself from your peers as well.
What To Do About It
Hence, my first rule: don’t talk about your weight loss. If someone offers you food that you don’t want to eat, don’t turn it down by saying you’re trying to lose weight. Instead, tell them you aren’t hungry. Be vague, be brief, and use a tone of finality. Accept compliments, but don’t let them devolve into drawn-out conversations about what you did to lose the weight.
There are going to be instances where someone around you is genuinely confused about what you’re doing or is concerned about your health. In those cases, feel free to offer an explanation.
Few people, if any, in your life are going to get what you’re trying to do. This can be really hard, especially when you want to talk to someone about the triumphs and struggles that come with trying to make lifestyle changes. I’ve found that the best people to talk to are the ones going through the same thing you are, and if there isn’t anyone in your life who’s doing that right now, I encourage you to look online. There are plenty of forums available. And you can always contact me. I’m happy to be in your corner.
What About You?
Are the people in your life supportive of your weight loss efforts?