How to Best Handle a Weight Loss Saboteur in Your Life

Unfortunately, some people in your life may not support your efforts to lose weight. Weight loss success or a change in the family’s routine or in a spouse’s or friend’s appearance can make some people feel uneasy.

I help my patients navigate the perils of saboteurs (even yourself) every day.  So, let’s talk about identifying your saboteurs and then the best way to overcome sabotage behaviors!

Once you realize that a person you care about is hurting your weight loss efforts, you can try to convert that person into a supporter. Tell them how the unsupportive comments or behaviors make you feel. Be assertive, but not demanding, in your requests.  For example, instead of insisting that your spouse or mother cook differently for the whole family, you could try asking that salad be included with dinner.

If you are not able to speak with the saboteur, then you could ignore the comments, say “no, thank you,” or temporarily stay away from the person until you have a chance to work out a solution.

Family issues relating to your desire to lose weight and eat differently can be a challenge as well. To minimize resentment, or guilt about family members’ own eating habits or weight, try to introduce changes gradually. For example, start with one low calorie, low-fat meal per week and slowly increase the number. Explain the benefits of this healthier way of eating to your family and involve them in food-planning decisions as much as possible. Expect some resistance, but be patient. Family members may change their minds and tastes over time.

And always remember, if supportive people are not around when you need them, then YOU can be your own source of support. Think about the positive things you do daily to manage your weight. Take credit for achievements that bring you closer to your weight loss goals.

Some people who want to lose weight may prefer to go it alone or may only want support with certain aspects of weight loss. That’s fine. However, if you want support from people around you, the following guidelines can help you get the support you need:

  1. Decide what type of support you desire.

For example, do you want an empathetic listener? An occasional pep talk? A walking partner? Or someone to put away leftovers?

  • Choose individuals who can provide the support you’re seeking.

People who have been supportive in the past will likely help, but people who are struggling with their own weight issues or feeling threatened by your weight loss success may not be supportive.

  • Ask for what you want.

Tell your supporters that you’d like their help and why it is important to you. Then make your request specific, clear and realistic. For example, instead of saying, “Help me exercise more,” say, “Please walk with me after dinner tonight.” Instead of saying, “Don’t bring tempting foods into the house,” say, “Please keep the chocolate bars in the top kitchen cabinet instead of on the counter.

  • Ask your request in a polite and positive manner.

Highlight what is helpful rather than what is wrong. For example, rather than saying, “Must you eat that ice cream in front of me?” say, “I know how much you like to eat ice cream when we’re watching TV together, but it would really help me if you would eat it at another time. I’d appreciate it so much if you would do that for me.” If your request is not agreeable to the other person, try a compromise, like eating low-fat ice cream or sugar-free popsicles instead of premium ice cream.

5. Show your appreciation.

Say “thank you” and let them know how much their support means to you. Offer to return the favor in some other way.

And lastly, look to your weight loss center for support.

Your weight loss team can offer empathy and support when you need it. You’ll also learn how others have dealt with challenges you may be experiencing as you lose weight.

If you don’t have a weight loss center or program, we would be honored to help.  Check out our comprehensive programs on this site by clicking here or give my friendly team a call at 703-783-5673.

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