Time and again, research has suggested that our social relationships can have big bearing on our eating habits, physical activity and weight. According to a study published in the journal Obesity (Silver Springs) in 2014, folks who had the support of loved ones lost weight whereas those with family members who undermined their healthy habits tended to gain weight. Other studies have suggested that even coworkers can have an impact on weight-related habits. These findings suggest that if you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll want to be able to identify those people most likely to sabotage your slim-down.
With that in mind, here are the four worst people you come across while you’re losing weight—and how to deal:
This is the person who just won’t take “no” for an answer—the aunt who baked those cookies “just for you,” the coworker who made your “favorite casserole,” or the friend who slaved over that pie all night just so you could split it. This person constantly threatens to sabotage your efforts by pushing fatty foods or bad habits on you. But fighting the dessert devil on your shoulder is hard enough! Why let someone else win that battle? The next time that pusher gets going, push back by explaining that you’re working really hard to reclaim your health and happiness, and while you appreciate the offer, you’re going to have to pass. Although the first few times you refuse the food may be uncomfortable, if you stay consistent, your refusal will become routine and the pushers are likely to stop pushing. Don’t think the straight shooter approach will do the trick? Ask for a doggy-bag then sneak the food to someone who else who would appreciate the leftovers.
The Negative Nancy
This one doesn’t need too much explanation. This is the person in your life who has nothing positive to say about your efforts to get healthier. She might tell you that your diet won’t work. She might claim that you’ll gain the weight back anyway, so there’s no point in trying. Or she might point to the fact that your whole family is overweight so you must be doomed to a lifetime of carrying extra pounds. You can choose to spend your time arguing with this person or trying to convince her of your future success. But we think there’s only one good way to deal with this doubter: Ignore her. You’ve got this; you don’t need her support. Besides, once you’re done losing weight, the results will speak for themselves.
The Jealous Judy
Sadly, not everyone will be jumping for joy with every pound you lose. There will always be that friend, relative or acquaintance who gets a little green with envy. It’s important to know that deep down, this person may actually be happy for you. But that happiness may be overshadowed by his or her desire to become healthy and happy, too. Being jealous may cause this person to make cruel statements like “I can’t really tell you lost weight.” Or, “You looked better with a few extra pounds on you.” You’re working too hard to have to be subjected to this kind of talk. So how do you deal? Easy! You help this person discover how good getting healthy can feel. Bring her in on your lunchtime walks or ask her to accompany you to that Zumba class you’ve been wanting to try. Propose a healthy recipe swap or ask her to join you for a trip to the local farmer’s market to grab some fresh fruit and veggies. Keep in mind that this person is likely just unhappy with her own lifestyle and by enlisting her to help you succeed, you’ll secretly help get her started on her own path to healthy. As soon as she starts feeling good and seeing results, she’ll probably start looking a lot less green!
The Bad-for-You Buddy
The bad-for-you buddy is hard to spot because she is always in your corner. The last thing this pal wants is to derail your progress. This person truly loves you and wants to support you. But unfortunately, she doesn’t always realize that she can be a bad influence. The bad-for-you buddy might use statements like, “But you’ve had such a rough day—you deserve dessert!” Or, “I haven’t seen you in so long, let’s skip the gym and catch up over drinks?” Since this person cares about you, and you clearly care about her, the best fix is to sit her down for a heart-to-heart. Explain to her what getting healthy means to you and why you’re doing it. Then discuss some fun things you can do together that won’t derail your progress. If she’s a friend, she will be open to new things, and supportive of your new lifestyle.