In the previous installment of this series, we discussed exercise as a major weapon in the arsenal of weight loss and maintenance. The earlier installments discussed hitting rock bottom and the need to change your paradigm. Today in How I Lost Over 100 lbs. & Kept It Off For Over 25+ Years: Part 4, we will discuss support and sabotage.
How I Lost Over 100 lbs. & Kept It Off For Over 25+ Years: Part 4
The people in your life are crucial to weight loss and maintenance. Vis-à-vis the weight loss, it is best to develop a support group. Why? A support group of like-minded people will help you endure the ups-and-down of weight loss, resisting food temptations, pushing you to exercise, and overall be encouraging to your plight.
Who can be in your support group? Of course family members and friends, but this may sometimes be tricky given past history and co-dependent tendencies. The best members for your support group would be strangers who are going through what you are going through. No one can understand better your struggle than these people.
Where can you find these strangers? If you are using Weight Watchers, they have programs where they can group with you others desiring to lose weight. (We talked about in Part One, how you don’t need to use these programs to lose weight.) If you are doing it solo, browse the Internet to find weight loss support groups.
You can also find a nearby Overeaters Anonymous chapter. Now before you become defensive, let’s face the truth. If you are morbidly overweight, chances are pretty high that you have disordered eating patterns and/or an emotional eater. I had disordered eating…I still do to a certain extent. (That is why the Confessions of an Obese Child e-book and podcast detail.) In Part 1, we talked about needing to do the deep work to discern why you turn to food to soothe your anxiety and/or to fuel your self-loathing. You must be honest with yourself.
Strangers are better with whom to surround yourself. There is no history or baggage. Plus it is a great way to make new friends. Reach out…you can lose weight with no group support, but why if you don’t need to do that?
Also, I highly recommend you employ a therapist. Connected back to doing the “deep work,” having weekly or monthly therapy sessions will help you process your emotions, struggles, and possible familial strife. There are things you can share with a therapist and/or your new support group that you might not be able to share with people you have known your whole life.
Related to Part 3, when it comes to working out, exercising alone or with a group is your choice. You need to figure out which work out routine works best for you to maintain your weight loss. Some people are loners when working out and thrive doing it alone.
Others need the group environment to challenge and keep pushing them to work out. Figure out what is best for you. I have always been a loner when working out, but if I had to recommend one, I would suggest doing a group thing. Either in the form of a running group or a Crossfit gym environment.
Now let’s talk about the closest people in your life. As a whole many might be very support. Others might try to sabotage you or hope that you will not succeed. Why? Let’s talk about my personal story.
My Support Group
I’ve mentioned in my book and podcast series Confessions of an Obese Child that I turned to food at a very young age because I did not get the proper nurturance from my parents. My father was an alcoholic with a volatile temper who at times would wax kind and generous and on a dime would be demeaning and insulting. Listen to the Cancer Doctor episode.
My mother suffered from chronic depression her entire life, and as such, was very aloof and preoccupied with your own issues. As a young child, I turned to food because it was the easiest vice to access. I ate and ate and was noticeably obese by age 5. Once I entered school, the “Fat Albert” slurs began and that fueled the binging and emotional eating even more.
By the time I began my weight loss, my parents certainly wanted me to lose the weight. They didn’t necessarily make the connection that their actions led to my obesity. Nevertheless, they wanted me to lose the weight. They had hired nutritionists and put me into various programs.
At high school, I was a pariah on the farthest rung of popularity. I was friends with the proverbial other fat kids, the super-skinny kids, the acne-laden kids and other outcasts who were steep in Dungeons & Dragons, Star Trek, Monty Python, and other nerd-related interests. My friends never made fun of me, nor did they ever tell me to stop eating. My health wasn’t their interest, nor should it have. (For more info, listen to Dark Night of the Soul episode.)
Once I lost weight, the dynamics with the friends changed. I soon got a girlfriend and began to experience things that normal weight people did. A few of my closest friends became resentful. It even reached a point where they ostracized me. The popular kids didn’t welcome me into their folds so I was isolated.
Once I reached college, the dynamic changed because my new friends didn’t know me ever as “Fat Albert.” Later as I got older and even into my 30’s my old college friends and ex-wife knew of my former obese status, but they didn’t care about that past. My friends didn’t know about my lingering disordered eating or my hang-ups, but my ex-wife did. (That will be another post.)
My family dynamic was a little different. My two older brothers never brought up my weight loss or weight maintenance. They never spoke on the matter. Even now, 25 years later it is never brought up. Neither of them are or were overweight so the envy issue was never an issue at all.
(Listen to the Popular Brother episode to learn how my relationship with my siblings affected my adolescence.)
Now I’ve been fortunate in that regard not to have toxic saboteurs. I have been a loner vis-à-vis my weight loss, but at least they has protected me from these people. Let’s get back to you.
There’s an old saying that the closer you get to God, the more demon oppression & temptation you will endure. The same may be said about weight loss. As a whole your parents will be wholeheartedly happy with your weight loss. But others in your life might not feel the same way.
This boils down to co-dependence. For example, you might have friends who eat unhealthily like you for years. You were obese together. You numbed the pain with all-night binges together. You decried the opposite sex for being shallow for rejecting you all the time…together.
If you start to lose weight or you have lost it completely, but your obese friend HASN’T, this could be a problem. Many insecure people have the mindset that they only want their friends to succeed if they, themselves, are succeeding. They envy you. They start making excuses as to why you are able to lose it and they can’t.
These friends might have two-faces. They might encourage you to your face and laud you for your accomplishment. But deep down they are angry and jealous. They might even sabotage your successes by tempting you to eat out more or to “have some fun and splurge” on some junk food or even put yourself in situations which will trigger your emotional eating.
It is hard to believe that these people exist. But they do. And they might be torn that they feel this way. Your weight loss is a constant reminder of their failure. And they can’t handle that so they might become angry, passive-aggressive, or actively sabotage you.
Family may be the same. If your siblings are overweight, they might not be too happy that you have lost your weight. Statistically speaking, the chances of siblings being obese is high. (Partly because inter-generational obesity runs pretty high as well.) You could experience the same sort of resentment and potential sabotage with your siblings.
Parents even be problematic though this isn’t as common as siblings and friends. You might wonder why this is. Your parents have likely been pushing you to lose weight your entire life. They do care about your health and don’t want you to die young and suffer the ostracism that is common when obese.
However, if your parents are obese, which again is not that uncommon given that obesity may run from generation to generation, they may be subconsciously resentful that you are losing weight. This is more common likely with your mother since women tend to be more weight-obsessed than man.
All of the aforementioned could think in their mind that you have changed since your weight loss. They might opine “So you think you are better than us now?!” This could be true. Maybe you are now more confident (or perhaps arrogant) because you have a new body. Or maybe this person is projecting. They could be furious at you for doing what they couldn’t do so they lash out, either outwardly or passive aggressively.
What To Do?
Just alike those recovering from shopping addiction, alcoholism, or other addictions, it is best to cocoon yourself around people who will support you in this endeavor. People who genuinely want you to succeed and don’t feel in any way that your success takes away from them.
Use your weight loss journey as a reason to branch out to make new friends. Either in a weight support group, an exercise group, a MeetUp group, or a therapy. You need to find likeminded people. It will make your weight loss/maintenance endeavor easier.
Does that mean you need to shirk your old friends and family? Not necessarily. If you have friends who are this way, it might be better to let that friendship deteriorate. If they can’t be genuinely happy for you, then what kind of friend are they? They need to get over their hang-up.
Family can be tougher. You are with them your entire life so tread lightly. If they are slightly passive aggressive, then tolerate it and just know where it’s coming from. If they more opaque, bring it up to them and have an open discussion. Tell them that you can see why they would be resentful, but that you shouldn’t be punished for their issue. Also, encourage them to practice the same methods you are using to lose weight as well.
Gregory’s Helpful Hint
What is the biggest takeaway from How I Lost Over 100 lbs. & Kept It Off For Over 25+ Years: Part 4? Just be cognizant of these pitfalls. Recognize these tendencies in people, use discernment, broach the subject with them, and/or distance yourself from them. Make new friends, discard who you can, have good boundaries with the rest.
If you are in need of a guru, counselor, friend during your weight loss transformation, I may be of some service to you. I’m a dual-certified holistic Paleo-inspired wellness coach. Click HERE to see my prices. No trainer or wellness coach has the personal track record that I have. No one will be able to better relate to you than I. Contact me via FB “Albert Gregory” or Twitter/Inst @occulthealthnews.