In all honesty, when you’re losing weight it may become a time where you not only lose weight, but then trim fat in the sense of unsupportive saboteurs.
Well, we are mid-January. This is about the time where people have made their resolutions habitual- and are starting to see results.
You start to see maybe new lines of muscle, running a mile might seem easier or maybe you can do it faster. Maybe those work pants button a little easier.
This is a time of great excitement. That feeds into motivation to keep going.
This can also be a really stressful time. A time that requires some uncomfortable conversations and reflections.
I have seen this a fair amount in practice- my patient is doing well, meeting their goals. They come to their follow up, and they are so proud (as they should be), then as we talk- they get a little sad. Or they are really self deprecating, or sometimes they even come in already tearful (unless they are happy tears this a big red flag).
To me, this is always something that makes me ask more questions, and dig deeper.
Many times what I find is:
- An unsupportive spouse or significant other
- Unsupportive friends and/or coworkers
- Lack of support system in general
- Lack of support from family
The American Psychological Association even says “it’s easier to stick to a weight loss plan when you have a support system”. There are even several recent studies that indicate that a lack of support from key people is a huge factor for not meeting health goals- especially in women.
As I’ve discussed before on this blog weight loss is not as cut and dry as calories in should equal calories out and increase activity.
This lack of support can make changes you’re making even HARDER! More times than not I see women be impacted most by these (men too).
There are many strategies and resources I have used as a dietitian to help individuals face these challenges. One resource in particular has been utilizing Health Psychologists. A Health Psychologist is an individual who works with the psychological and behavioral processes involved in health and disease.
However, in my career I have not always had the good fortune to be able to send patients right to a health psychologist.
- Encouraging my clients to bring their family members and significant others to their visits with me
- Empowering clients to make decisions for themselves and not others
- Empowering clients to make nutritious choices if dining out in either a work or family setting, and giving them ideas of restaurants that offer more of these options
- Working with clients to directly address barriers (I.e is it a wife and mom who has picky eaters at home and is finding herself making two sets of meals- so providing recipes and meal prep ideas)
- Providing education to unsupportive spouse and even going as far to assess their risks for disease and explaining why weight loss will be good for health- if not necessary.
- Going as far to provide “scripts” along the lines of “I know my lifestyle is a a lot to handle, because (insert reason here: I.e. We like to share dishes, or we like to go every week, etc). I’m concerned about my health, but my commitment to our (relationship/friendship) hasn’t changed, but what has is my commitment to myself. Would you consider (trying to cook more at home, looking at recipes, trying new restaurants that offer more nutritious fare)”
This is obviously not me downplaying personal accountability!
We live in a society where everyone has a voice. Which is a good thing- until people start voicing everything that crosses their mind. Comments like “just order your food already”, “this can be your cheat meal”, “just one cupcake won’t hurt” can really just throw a wrench into things. Because- it’s not someone else’s choice to make. It’s yours.
Being an educator many times the first hurdle to overcome with patients is education to lay the foundation for behavior change. Then the second hurdle is implement that change consistently. When I see people doing this, and understand why they are making changes, and feel happy with these changes. I start to get excited! So to me it gets so frustrating when I see someone stall their progress because of lack of support.
This post has two messages:
- If you have been making changes and you have someone or multiple people constantly commenting on what/why you are doing, and you don’t perceive it in a positive way- give em hell. Remember all the reasons you started on this path.
- If you find yourself being the person to comment on what people are eating you better ask yourself: “am I a dietitian, or any sort of health professional”. If the answer is no then bite your tongue. And maybe ask- “how can I be supportive?”
So ultimately if the conversations, and compromises workout then yes you may end up cutting more than just weight.
I will say it’s been my experience that addressing these unsupportive people head on tends to provide a resolution.