Donít Fall Victim to Diet and Exercise Sabotage

The 'New' You
In an ideal world, family and friends would all be jumping for joy the day you finally get in shape. After all, who wouldnít be happy to see you get fit and lose excess pounds? Unfortunately, not everyone is always delighted to see your new figure. Even people close to you may not realize that the new you is making them uncomfortable. Thatís why you can fall victim to diet and exercise sabotage more often than you think from people that you least expect it from. Sabotage comes in two main forms: Unintentional and unconscious or intentional and well planned.

The unintentional type occurs when you stir up feelings of insecurity in the other person. The intentional type is from someone you should probably stop calling a friend.

Spouses and Significant Others
Married or steady couples eventually develop similar lifestyles. This includes similar eating and exercise habits. So if both partners have turned into couch potatoes over the years and one partner suddenly becomes active and gets in shape, the lazy partner may feel resentful because he or she does not want to change the lifestyle they are used to and yet feels the pressure to do so.

Sometimes the out-of-shape partner becomes insecure and thinks that the fit partner will now be more attractive to the opposite sex.

The affected partner may or may not be aware of these feelings but they will sabotage you by complaining about the time spent exercising, by tempting you with "fattening" food, and by scheduling other activities during your exercise time.

I have a female client who is showered with gifts or chocolate (her weakness) by her husband every time she loses a little weight. I think her husband feels threatened when he sees her starting to look good.

I have had male clients who have had to stop exercising in the gym even though they are doing it for health reasons like normalizing their high blood pressure because their wives complain about the time they spend working out.

If this is happening to you, you need to gently but firmly tell your partner how much exercising means to you because it gives you more energy and makes you feel good. Invite them to exercise with you so you can spend time "bonding" with each other. Tell them how concerned you are for their health. However, donít accuse them of trying to sabotage your fitness efforts. They are probably not even aware that they are doing it and this will only start an unnecessary argument.

Human nature being what it is, we tend to collect friends who have similar interests and backgrounds. So if you are sedentary, out of shape and overweight, your friends probably are, too. As long as everyone looks and acts the same, things go on smoothly. But when someone in the barkada decides to change their lifestyle and jump on the fitness bandwagon, a few things start to happen. The best scenario is that your friends will be inspired by your desire to get fit and want to get in shape themselves. Unfortunately, the opposite may happen and the sabotaging attempts will start.

"What? You arenít going to have any dessert? Come on, try even a small piece." "Letís go to the movies. You can always exercise another time." "Your exercise is not working because you still look fat." Acknowledge, without being judgmental, the feelings that your friends are experiencing. Donít take it personally. They are just feeling insecure about their own bodies. They have probably made many excuses to themselves about why they canít get fit (no discipline, no time, no one to accompany them, etc). You are forcing them to realize that it is possible to shape up and they can no longer use those old excuses on themselves.

Dealing with diet and exercise sabotage from friends is similar to dealing with a spouse or significant other. Encourage them to join you by mentioning how much fun it will be to get fit all together. Point out that you can be each otherís support system and you will all have an easier time staying in shape. Make sure, however, that you donít turn into an overzealous fitness advocate because no one likes to be preached to.

Parents can sabotage their children even while the kids are still young. Allowing your kids free rein with sweets and snacks means that they will develop a taste for these kinds of food that will haunt them in their adulthood.

I know of several parents who purposely keep their young daughters overweight so they wonít be attractive to boys. One parent told me that he will stop doing this if his daughter is already in her early 20s and she would be "mature" enough to make the right choices for a boyfriend. Heís totally convinced that his daughter would be able to shed all that excess weight in a jiffy. I hope he is right for the sake of his daughter but I know it is not likely to happen and she would probably struggle with a weight problem for most of her adult life.

Mothers who cook well can be unknowing saboteurs because they are offended when you donít eat their fattening culinary creations. I have a client who has no problem controlling her eating habits during the week but quickly crumbles in the face of maternal pressure during her familyís Sunday get-togethers. She says it is doubly hard to say no to all the yummy goodies her mom cooks because they are comfort foods that remind her of her childhood plus her mother is really an excellent cook. If she even tries to suggest a less fattening way to cook them or less fattening alternatives, her mother is deeply hurt because she feels her skills as a cook are being challenged.

This is what I told this client to do: Use the "health" approach. Keep mentioning that you are just dying to eat more of her cooking but your doctor has said that you have to watch your cholesterol, sugar, blood pressure, etc. Tell your mom that because she is such a great cook, she is the only one who can alter a recipe to make it healthier without changing the taste.

The other type of saboteur parent is the one who is constantly nagging you to lose weight. This is reverse psychology at its worst. On the surface, your father or mother has your best interests at heart and really wants to see you get fitter and slimmer. However, their nagging can have the exact opposite effect because it can bring out the rebel in you. Many overweight teenagers only lose weight when they leave home to go to college because they are no longer tempted to do the opposite (overeat) by the nagging comments of their parents.

The important thing to remember about diet and exercise sabotage from parents is that it comes from a loving heart that only wants the best for you (the motives of a friend or significant other can sometimes be doubtful) but doesnít know that itís doing any damage. Recognize that the nagging is their way of showing their concern for you.

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