Friends and family undermine weight-loss goals

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shorthaxDEAR CAROLYN: About a year and a half ago, I made some significant lifestyle changes toward becoming healthier and losing weight.

In addition to taking up hot yoga, I cut out soda and made some pretty major dietary changes. While I will still occasionally indulge in a dessert or satisfy a craving for pizza, I typically decline such foods and even invitations to meals out at restaurants where I can’t find anything within my calorie allotment. Instead I suggest somewhere I know I can eat or will meet up with them after for a drink instead.

At the beginning of my weight-loss journey, my friends and family were very receptive to my declining certain foods and invitations and would even make comments that they wish they were doing the same, but now that I’ve lost 50 pounds (woo!) I’ve noticed people are becoming less understanding.

I may not be as obviously overweight as I once was, but I still have about 20 pounds to go. I haven’t been able to make any progress in months because I keep getting guilt-tripped that I can “afford the calories” and “one meal won’t set me back” — which is true, but when you have three to four splurges in a week, it does!

While I appreciate they might think I look great with all of the progress I’ve made so far, I still have a way to go, and declining a slice of birthday cake isn’t as accepted as it was 50 pounds ago.

Any tips for how to convey that although I’m not as “visibly unhealthy” as I once was, I’m still working toward goals I would like to achieve, and their support and understanding would be appreciated?

Dieter

DEAR DIETER: Ahhh, the underminers. Predictable as sunset, but not as pretty.

Just a little scrutiny makes it hard to define people who do this as friends: They’re not taking no for an answer on something that’s entirely your business (ignoring boundaries), and they’re pushing food they know you struggle with (consciously putting obstacles in your path). How is that kind?

Plus, the best way to avoid rubbing your choices in others’ faces — which I don’t accuse you of, I just know some commenters will, because 2018 — is to deflect attention away from your choices, and guilt-tripping makes that nearly impossible.

I’m sorry you’re on this spot.

Your best spot-removers are a few quick pre-formed phrases. “No, thank you,” is an ace, especially on a loop:

They: Cake?

You: “No, thank you.”

They: Oh c’mon, a little won’t hurt.”

You: “No, thank you.”

They: “You’re no fun!!”

You: “No, thank you.”

You could also use some basic truth: “You’re not helping,” or, “‘No’ is not code for ‘Yes.’”

Or you could leave. It’s big, but definitive.

Or you could explain, once, to people you care about enough to answer fully, that this isn’t some quest with a beginning or an end; you’ve changed your life. So, you like your new life better than you like [food you now limit]. “So, stop.”

Once stated, do not entertain conversation about your food choices, because that’s your prerogative and doing otherwise is not good for you.

Congratulations on making the changes you wanted to make. It’s not easy, even when everyone helps.

Adapted from a recent online discussion. Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.



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