When there’s something new in your life, you want to tell everyone about it. So it may seem natural to gush about starting your weight-loss journey and tell all your friends, family and coworkers every detail about your eating plan and workouts. There’s even good reason to do this.
“To have success with weight loss — and permanent weight loss — we need a team of support around us,” explains Mike Siemens, Canyon Ranch corporate director of exercise physiology.
But that support team doesn’t need to be every person in your life. And if your weight loss is all you talk about to everyone, you may find you start losing some people’s attention.
Don’t stress — here’s a quick guide on who to tell and what to say.
It’s particularly important to have everyone you live with on board with your weight-loss plan. “If you cook or do the shopping, any dietary changes you make will impact your family or spouse,” says Dr. Benjamin O’Donnell, an endocrinologist at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “You may also need to rearrange schedules so you have time for exercise and other activities.”
Telling close friends can be helpful, too, especially for social situations. But friends don’t necessarily need to know everything — or even anything. Use your best judgment since you know your pals and who will listen patiently to anything you tell them and who may zone out.
For some, the ‘right’ people to tell are actually anyone but their besties. “Telling supportive, nonjudgmental people can be helpful and oftentimes those people aren’t our closest friends and partners, as well-meaning as they are, because people we are closest to can be too invested,” explains Amy Hawthorne, director of life management at Canyon Ranch in Tucson.
Once you decide who to tell, keep one foot on the brake. “During the early stages of change, we tend to be very enthusiastic, and we can get overly excited and overshare,” Hawthorne says. “You need to be self-protective over the information you disclose that you may or may not want feedback on.”
Otherwise you could set yourself up for failure, as you may fear telling anyone if you veer off your meal plan or skip a workout, thinking they’ll judge you or be disappointed.
And at anytime, from their point of view, friends and family may feel like you’re lecturing them if you go off on how you stopped drinking beer or eating some food that they love.
“It’s a potentially defensive, emotionally trigger subject,” Siemens says, so be thoughtful of how your friends may perceive what — to you — is everyday conversation.
We also live in a world where we’re inundated with diets and fitness advice everywhere we turn. A lot of us want to talk about anything but those things when we’re with our friends and loved ones. Although they support and care about you, many of your closest may find the topic of weight loss boring and want to talk about you. What else matters to you? They’re your friend because they like you, so there definitely are other things you can chat about.
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“When family members and loved ones express feeling inundated by obsessive dieting and weight-loss talk, it is important thank them for their feedback and to use that as important information,” Hawthorne says. First reflect on whether your motivations are more for external or internal rewards. “If you’re more extrinsically motivated than intrinsically, that’s a problem,” Hawthorne adds. And oversharing about your diet only for attention may not help you reach your long-term goals.
Lastly, if you find you need new people to talk weight loss with, try making new friends at the gym, sign up for a walking club or join a Facebook group. There’s no reason to keep your weight-loss journey to yourself — but, like anything, you have to find the right people to tell it all to.