Why friends and family may not be thrilled with your weight loss — and what to do about it
You’ve given up most of those high-calorie foods you used to love. Exercised every day, even when you didn’t feel like it. And finally, it’s all paying off: You’re edging toward your weight loss goal — and looking pretty terrific!
At the same time, you’ve encountered what seems like a surprising lack of enthusiasm from some of your family and friends — maybe even your partner — about your new look.
As unusual as this may seem, experts say it’s actually quite common to receive some unexpected reactions when you dramatically change your appearance.
“Human beings are hard-wired to resist change, so it’s not uncommon to encounter some resistance whenever change occurs,” says John McGrail, a Los Angeles clinical hypnotherapist and behavior expert.
Complicating matters further: When we accomplish a goal — particularly something as difficult as losing weight — it may serve to remind friends and family of their own failed attempts. That, too, can spark a negative reaction.
“In some ways, your weight loss becomes a symbol of their inability to accomplish their goals, so they may begin to act resentful — or even mean — oftentimes without even realizing they are doing so,” says Christian Holle, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at William Patterson University in Wayne, N.J.
If their goals happened to also involve weight loss, the resentment (especially from friends) can be doubly strong.
“You may find that they are suddenly excluding you from activities, saying mean things, taunting you about your new body or even your new clothes — all born of resentment about not being able to achieve their own weight loss goals,” says Warren Huberman, PhD, a psychologist who often counsels patients in conjunction with the New York University Program for Surgical Weight Loss.
What’s more, Huberman says, when you experience that resentment, it’s not uncommon to have a “knee-jerk reaction” yourself and to pull away in anger and hurt. But this is the last thing you want to do.
“You have to think about how you would feel in a similar situation, or maybe how you felt when others lost weight and you couldn’t,” Huberman says. “Try to put yourself in the place of the person who didn’t win the lottery, so to speak, and you’ll see that the resentment is all about them and not about you.”