I’ve been involved in the health field in weight loss or fitness for five years now. In that time, I’ve noticed one strange pattern that comes up with almost everyone I’ve worked with on creating lifestyle change. See, humans are prone to this thing called homeostasis. In simple terms, it’s like our internal thermostat: we will instinctively do what we can to maintain the temperature of our current lives. Therefore, it’s already pretty hard to create those new lifestyle patterns that lead to weight loss without dealing with others getting in our way.
Well, I hate to break it to you, but there’s probably someone else who’s sabotaging your weight loss efforts that are already hard enough. That person is probably already inside the house.
Your Loved Ones Are Out to Stop You (Kinda)
Just like we have our own internal thermostat for our lives (homeostasis), so do our loved ones around us. When you start making those lifestyle changes, it’s like you’re fiddling with their thermostat. They’re going to do whatever they can to keep things as they’ve been. It’s their comfort point!
I’m not saying that your partner/friend/sibling/parent is sabotaging your lifestyle changes on purpose. In fact, they’re probably doing things that made the “old you” very happy:
- You love cake? Here’s a fat slice of red velvet from your favorite bakery!
- Starting a new morning gym routine? Stay in bed and snuggle with me today!
- You quit drinking beer? Look, you can tell me all about it over this 6-pack and pizza.
I’ve heard all of these; hell, you’ve probably said some of them in the past! Your loved ones don’t do it out of spite; we do it because we resist changes. They’re subconsciously telling you, “I love you just the way you are. Don’t ever change,even if it’s good for you.”
If You Can’t Beat Them, Include Them
Here’s the great news: now that you can see the pattern, you can help your loved ones change it. Here’s three steps to retraining your friends to support the new you instead of bribing you with fried chicken after spin class:
1) Thank them for supporting you thus far.
People love to be acknowledged for their contributions. “Say ‘Thank you, Nana,'” is my grandmother’s constant reminder whenever she does me a solid in life (Thank you, Nana). Even if they’ve been setting you back with their “contributions” so far, thank your loved ones for caring about you in the first place.
2) Describe your new lifestyle plan and need for accountability.
Here’s where you’ve got to put on the show. You’re finally dropping the baby weight from your first child–get excited about it! Show your enthusiasm for toning that belly fat before hitting the beach. Jump for joy when you brag about that 5k you’re going to run in 3 months. Tell your loved ones that their support in holding you accountable to these goals would mean the world to you. My old business taught me that a person is three times as likely to achieve their personal goals when at least three other people hold them accountable. Who’s in your 3?
3) Explain that this is about you, not them.
One more thing about homeostasis: people can see your change as a mirror that reflects their own inactivity. My ex-wife sabotaged several of my weight loss attempts because, in her mind, any progress I made was just making her look bad for doing nothing. Reinforce the fact that your lifestyle change is about making you feeling good, not making someone else feel bad. If any of your loved ones continues to resist your changes, find others in your community who will cheer you on. The haters will either come around eventually or make themselves scarce. Stay strong.
I believe in you. I know that you can make the changes, that you can lose the weight and keep it off with your new lifestyle. It’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to be quick. People will doubt you just like they doubted me. Embrace the struggle. Be bold in taking those new steps towards a healthier you. From this side of the weight loss journey, I can tell you this: It’s not an easy road, but it’s damn sure worth it.