Engaging Family and Friends in Your Weight Loss Journey

When you lose weight – whether it is by a surgical or non-surgical method– you may find that your friends and family will offer varying degrees of support and reactions. Given that you have lost weight, feel better, and probably look better, you would think that others would be happy about this and excited for you. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Your family and friends have been used to the way you were. People related to you and you did to them in a predictable way. Now…things have changed. You have changed - you may have more self-confidence; you may want to do more things and be more active; you may expect more from your partner and your friends. This can be surprising to those around you. They may feel threatened. They may be resistant to changing and growing themselves. They may try to sabotage your weight loss and healthy lifestyle.

Think of a mobile or wind chimes. When one piece moves, the other components of the structure are forced to move. Your family and friends may not want to move!

So what to do………Keep the lines of communication open. Talk about what is happening and try to understand what is making it difficult for others to support you and encourage you. Listen to what they have to say. Try to offer understanding and have patience. Not everyone can change, and some do this more slowly than others. Having said this, it may be time to move away from people who are bringing you down and not giving you the support you need. You may need to develop new friendships and keep your distance from certain family members. If your marriage is having difficulties because of your change and your spouse’s resistance, you may want to consider professional counseling. In the end, though, remember that the only person you can change is yourself. Believe in yourself and do not let others cause you to give up or to stop working on health and healthy weight loss.

Another thing that happens to some people when they lose weight is that they do not see their bodies as others see them. It can take time for your mind to catch up with what your body is doing. You look in the mirror and do not see the weight you have lost. Instead, you see yourself as you always have. This is not unlike the phantom limb phenomenon. This is where a person has lost an arm or a leg and that person still experiences pain or feeling from their missing body part- it still feels as if the arm or leg is there.

So…as you lose weight, you may be surprised when you see your reflection in a mirror. You may not feel as if this person is you! Realize that this is a normal process and be patient with yourself☺

Kathleen Baskett, MD is the Medical Director of Weight Management at St. Vincent Healthcare. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and the author of “Moving Forward: The Weigh to a Healthier Weight”.