Can a loving and well-meaning family kill your weight loss goals?
Picture this scenario.
You are attending a family BBQ. Yay! Loads of people will be there and are all bringing a side dish to accompany the FEAST of grilled meats. There will be hamburgers, hot dogs, BBQ chicken, ribs, and pork. Potato salad, slaw salad, pasta salad, corn salad, and bean salad … none of which actually contain any lettuce. Grilled veggies and pineapple, jalapeno poppers, and the DESSERTS … let’s not even go there.
Accompanying all this mouth-watering temptation will be your very well-meaning mother and aunt, both of which have been … less than accepting of your recent decision to eat healthier and lose weight. While not openly hostile, by any means, they seem to purposely push food on you at events and then get hurt when you refuse to eat as much as you used to. Which, in turn, makes you feel like garbage for turning down food they spent hours making especially for the event. So … you cave to the pressure, overeat, feel horrible about it, and the downward spiral begins.
Having peers and loved ones that are un-supportive, passive aggressive, and negative about your healthy lifestyle and weight loss journey can rattle even the toughest and most goal oriented individual out there.
Having a strong support system has been proven time and again to radically increase your chances of not only meeting your healthy weight loss goals but in keeping it off for a lifetime. Because if you want to keep it off for a lifetime that makes it necessary to make lifestyle changes. And you know who are part of your lifestyle? Family, friends, and loved ones. If these key members back you up and keep you accountable your odds of success go straight up.
But what happens if those around you DON’T support your healthy lifestyle overhaul? While incredibly unfortunate this is not an impossible scenario. No one is perfect, including ourselves and those around us.
Maybe they don’t understand your desire to become the best version of you that you can. Or they consider your taking time to exercise and meal prep selfish. Possibly they harbor a little jealousy over your motivation and lash out with unkind words. There are a million reasons that all result in an un-supportive atmosphere.
Can you still succeed in this kind of atmosphere? Yes you can, and below you will find some strategies on how.
1. Keep going for the right reasons.
No doubt, when you began your journey you had some concrete reasons you wanted to overhaul your lifestyle and become healthier. It’s easy to lose sight of this in a storm of negativity. So take the time to reevaluate the positive and biblical reasons why you are doing this.
Some of these might be (but are not limited to) treating and stewarding your body as a temple of the Holy Spirit that needs constant care, improving your physical ability to care for your family, avoiding physical diseases that I have some control to prevent, serving the Lord in whatever capacity he calls me, to travel, the list goes on.
For more details on this subject read: Is Losing Weight Biblical? Why Christians Should Care About Getting In Shape
These are a few good reasons for a healthy weight loss journey, but know that there are bad ones as well. If your focus is weight loss to please someone else, look like someone else, or meet society’s standard of beauty than as soon as the other person is negative or you hit a bump in the road you will fall off the wagon and revert to old habits. So do a serious self-examination to make sure your motives are good and God honoring.
2. Overcome the negativity.
If people in your life are saying negative things to you don’t allow it to sink in. A wise woman once told me, “You can’t keep a bird from flying over your head but you can keep it from building a nest in your hair.” Basically, you can’t control other people saying bad things but you can keep those bad things from festering and growing in your thought life.
Keep a few scriptures handy to meditate on the positive reasons you are losing weight and focus on your end goals. Those good reasons we talked about earlier. A few appropriate ones are:
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Romans 12: 1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
1 Corinthians 9:27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
If possible, kindly and gently ask the person directly why they are being negative. Talk it out, again kindly and gently, to discover the root cause. They might have genuine concern for your decisions or methods of lifestyle change. If that’s the case then a friendly resolution is possible.
3. Pray through the hurt.
When coming from people we love, negative words hurt. Plain and simple. But we have a Father who loves to take that hurt away. Give it all to Him. The anger, hurt, frustration, resentment, doubt, and disappointment. He is more than big enough to handle it.
Some may say they don’t want to worry God with the small stuff like this, but let’s get real for a second. He is the creator of the universe, master of the elements, sees and controls all of past, present, and future at the same time. Everything we will do in this life is small stuff to Him. And He absolutely LOVES taking care of it for us. So just let Him. ***
4. Don’t be a people pleaser.
You can’t please everyone, it is simply impossible. During your journey you WILL be faced with social situations where people offer you unhealthy foods. Wither it’s a work function, holiday, eating out, pot luck, a family gathering, or whatever … the temptation will arise to set aside your goals.
Now, it’s ok to occasionally eat something “unhealthy”. This is a lifestyle we are talking about and that includes the occasional treat. But the key is to not over indulge and begin accepting EVERY OR EVEN MOST of these offers. Believe me, you will likely get more of them than are healthy to indulge in!
So don’t be afraid to politely decline these offers. Simply explain your situation and know that you are doing it for the right reasons. If it’s family, call ahead of a gathering to explain. Let your mom, aunt, cousin, etc know ahead of time that you will be turning down certain items or larger portions. Something along the lines of a casual, “You are a wonderful cook and you know I love to eat your meals but for XYZ reasons I am living a healthier lifestyle now. I’ll still enjoy the gathering and eating with you, just not to the extent I used to.”
Doing this could ease the change and make them less likely to push food on you at the gathering. Be open and casual about the situation. Clearing the air BEFORE all that wonderful food is sitting on the table will make you more likely to overcome temptation.
5. Ask for support.
As obvious as it sounds, you will probably have to ask those close to you to support you. They might be feeling left out, and negatively inclined, if they feel like your on your own boat leaving them in the wake. You should be excited about this journey you’re on and excitement is contagious. Let them in on your goals, methods, and plans and invite them to support and even join you!
Even if they don’t want to make the same changes you are doing, knowing why you are doing so will make them far more likely to support your decisions.
Make sure they understand that YOU are not changing, just your body and habits. You will still be there for them and won’t suddenly become a different person just because you’re losing a few pants sizes. Explain how the healthier version of you will be better able to enjoy activities and a longer life with them.
And at the end of the day and no matter how they respond, keep loving these Negative Nelly’s the way Christ loves you. In the beginning it will be tough. But over time, as they see the positive changes in you and with your continued love for them they will be more and more likely to stop the negativity and support your endeavor.
Have peers, loved ones, or friends been so negative you thought they would kill your weight loss goals? Were you able to push through the situation? Comment below!