Lose Weight Without Losing Friends
Losing Weight is a Challenge
Losing weight is hard work, and a strong support system is extremely helpful in making the lifestyle changes to lose weight and keep it off.
However, successful weight loss may result in what researchers call a “lean stigma,” where people who have successfully lost weight are subject to snarky commentary from family, friends, or coworkers.
Maybe you’ve encountered these comments yourself, as inappropriate commentary about your healthy choices, or suggestions that you’ll fail in your goal to lose weight.
These comments are hurtful, frustrating, and isolating in a process that is already challenging.
However, research shows that how individuals handle these people in their lives can help them keep the weight off and maintain their relationships.
But whatever the cause you’ll need a way to handle these tricky situations without further isolating yourself and by, hopefully, keeping the relationships intact.
In a study of 40 participants who had lost an average of 79 pounds, there were two common themes for handling lean stigma: face-saving tactics and minimizing changes.
Face-saving tactics included developing scripted responses when inevitable questions about their weight management choices arose.
Understanding that most of the backlash about their weight loss was a result of jealousy or insecurity, participants developed phrases they could quickly and easily use in potentially uncomfortable situations.
Most participants blamed their new habits on personal choices or health excuses.
Having a quick one-liner about how your new habit is just something for you implies that you have no judgment about their lifestyle habits, but that the changes you’ve made are here to stay.
Minimizing changes around others can also be a helpful strategy to remove commentary about new lifestyle changes.
While many participants discussed their goals and reasons for change with family and close friends, others used minimization tactics to avoid discussions.
Planning to selectively indulge at gatherings and for holidays can minimize awkward social interactions, and mindful indulgences can fit into a healthy lifestyle.
Diversionary tactics may also work, by accepting indulgent foods with a caveat of “I’ll eat it later,” which avoids pressure to give in.
Some participants reported successfully trying smaller portions of indulgent food to appease friends or coworkers without drawing attention to their weight loss goals.
Weight loss cannot be achieved in isolation, so understanding and learning how to mitigate nay-sayers is an important part of the journey.
Meet Your Weight-Loss Goals
If you’re struggling to meet your goals for weight loss, or would like to discuss strategies for dealing with unsupportive people in your life, have a talk with Kay.
Romo LK (2017) An Examination of How People Who Have Lost Weight Communicatively Negotiate Interpersonal Challenges to Weight Management. Health Communication 0:1–9. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2016.1278497
(2017) To lose weight, and keep it off, be prepared to navigate interpersonal challenges. In: ScienceDaily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170202141843.htm. Accessed 20 Feb 2017
Nutrition Intern for Sweet Life Wellness