What do I do with people who don’t like how I’m losing weight?

This may come as a shock to you, but large people often have excessive regard for what other people think about them.  Even to the extent where their view of us becomes an important part of our own view of ourselves.  We seek out the concerns other people have, and make them our own.  We feed on the concerns of other people in that way. It’s such a correlation between excessive regard for others, and being obese, that it’s considered to be a co-factor of obesity.

Then when we start losing weight, wow do the detractors come out of the woodwork.  You’re doing it wrong.  You’re starving. You’re not going to be able to keep up that amount of exercise.  You’re abandoning your family members.  You’re ignoring your children.  You’re abandoning me! You’re criticizing me because now you weigh less than I do … it goes on and on.  My personal favorite:  You’re on a diet again?  Wow, what news.  Just like the last eight times.  Let me know when it’s over.

Even though you carefully chose a plan that you know will work for you, there’s all that negativity from others to deal with.  But it does not have to affect your progress.  People who are highly successful are always, always, opposed, in weight loss as in any other area of life.  Trailblazers make everybody else a little uncomfortable.  But the trailblazers have learned to selectively hear other people’s concerns about them.  Go to a pro baseball game and listen to the amount of verbal abuse hurled down from the crowd.  It does not affect the game because they selectively ignore non-useful inputs.

A few tactical solutions for the nattering nabobs of nutritional negativism:

1. Sometimes that oppositional person is just expressing their very real love and concern for you, in a very unhelpful way.  See if you can extract what they’re trying to communicate, and separate it from the ineffective way they’re doing it.  You might even say, I feel you bro, I know you want me to not starve to death, and I’m not.  I know you don’t want me to be disappointed, and I’m not going to crash and burn.  Thanks for your concern.

2. Other times the person is just replaying your past failures, being your own personal little black rain cloud.  Some people enjoy trying to pop other people’s bubbles.  I really, truly believe these people are put into your life, intentionally, to be fuel.  Their negativity can become part of your positive self-talk.  I can’t tell you how many times, when working out, I’ve wanted to stop but then was able to recall the words of one of my detractors: this is just like all those other times!   You’re just going to quit!  You always lose a little weight and then give up and gain it all back! When you have that conversation playing inside your head, it is nearly impossible at that moment to give up and quit.  Their negativity fuels your positivity.  Use it as fuel.

3. If all else fails, practice productively not caring what other people think.  The biblical statement for this is to be wise as a snake but harmless as a dove.   You can let your detractors know you’ve understood their opinion and you value them but not their incorrect idea about you.  For some of us this may require setting a boundary.  We can talk about any of the things on list A, but if we want to remain friends we’re not going to continue discussions on list B.  If they continue to talk about those things, continually invite you to massively over-consumptive meals, continue to encourage you to overeat, whatever:  the ball is in your court, the choice is yours.

You will face some opposition, maybe a lot of opposition, and it’s OK.  No great project goes unopposed.

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