November 6, 2014

If you’re trying to lose weight, you probably fall into one of three categories: You tell everyone, you tell only your close friends and family, or you tell no one.

Those who tell everyone are quite open about their actions, willing to listen to advice (and criticism), and generally not fearful about the result. The opinions of others may or may not influence their behaviour and choices. Lose weight or not, these people are happy for others to know about their successes and failures.

Those who keep their plans amongst those closest to them can get the support and encouragement they need, which is great and helps them stick to their initial plans. Unfortunately, they can find that some of their nearest and dearest sabotage their efforts – whether it’s deliberate or subconscious. “Just a bite won’t hurt”, “You’re getting too thin”, or “You don’t need to lose weight; you look great as you are” are examples of subconscious sabotage. Deliberate sabotage can include comments which are much harsher and more judgemental.

Those who choose to tell no one are relying on willpower and internal motivation. If nobody else knows what you’re trying to achieve, they can’t help but equally they can’t sabotage. This group includes very private people, those scared of being seen to fail, and those unwilling to admit that they’re not happy with their current weight; the reasons could be varied but the bottom line is they may be missing out on valuable support.

Which is best for you?

There is plenty of research in this area, and one thing that is clear is that the actions and attitudes of people around you are two of the major influences in the choices you make.

At the very least, tell those you trust that have your best results at heart. The jealous friend won’t help, nor will the overweight sister who wants you bigger than herself. A partner worried that weight loss will change the relationship is probably not the best person to rely on for support.

Surround yourself with like-minded people. A social group who drink alcohol as part of their socialising, or who eat pizza every Friday night, or who can’t imagine coffee without cake, is likely to undermine your weight loss results. Conversely, a group that focuses on healthy food and regular exercise is likely to support your efforts and encourage you to make good choices.

Talk to those close to you about what you want to achieve and, perhaps more importantly, why you want those results. If family and friends understand your motivations, it becomes easier for them to offer constructive, helpful support. It also makes it easier for you to say No when needed, or to help them understand that some of the things they say and do are not helpful.

The help of professional support people can be really beneficial. These people have no history with you, and their focus can be completely on helping you reach your goals. Your success is their success.

If you’re already on your own weight loss journey, have a look at those around you and think about how they’re helping or hindering your progress. If there is hindrance, what can you do to lessen the effects so that losing weight becomes easier and more satisfying?