How To Get Your Family to Support Your New Lifestyle

Article posted in: Lifestyle

When you’re losing weight, your family can either be your best cheerleaders or your most crafty saboteurs. Here’s how to get them on your side:

Sit down as a family and make a plan.

No one is going to say, “Hey, I don’t want you to lose weight and get healthier,” but unless your family knows what you need from them, they may unwittingly sabotage your best efforts. Maybe you want your spouse and kids to have “pizza night” at the pizzeria instead of sitting temptingly in front of the TV at home. Maybe you need to keep your “trigger” foods out of the house—and those are their favorites. Maybe you want them to cheer you on for every pound you lose. Or maybe you don’t want them to comment on your diet and exercise efforts at all. A study published in 2014 in the journal, Obesity, found that having someone complaining or criticizing eating and exercise habits was the number one thing that undermined a dieter’s efforts. Unless you’re clear and upfront with them, they won’t know what to do. Have a family meeting and talk about what your weight loss journey is going to mean for you and for them. Put your wishes and desires in writing so no one forgets.

Reassure them that you’ll always be you.

One of the fallouts of weight loss is the unanticipated changes in your relationships, even with your family and closest friends. The Cleveland Clinic’s Cynthia Alexander PsyD., in her book for bariatric surgery patients, The Emotional First Aid Kit, writes that “there is a natural human tendency to try to put things back the way they were.” You weight loss may stir jealousy (a spouse may fear you’ll find someone else), fear (your children may think you won’t be the same person), and a sense of loss (of the familiar person who ate junk food with them who now looks different and doesn’t eat junk food). Knowing this going into your weight loss journey can help you reassure the people you love and you’re only interested in losing pounds, not them. They’ll be more supportive of your efforts and less likely to sabotage you.

Enlist a family member as a partner.

It could be your spouse or your child—study after finds that you all be more likely to lose weight if you do it together. Research by Rena Wing, PhD, of Brown University, found that people who participated in a weight-loss program with friends or family members lost more weight—and most important, were more likely to keep it off—than those who went solo. Bonus: You’ll also have a built-in exercise buddy.

Don’t try to force them to get healthy with you.

It’s easy to get carried away with zeal when you’re losing weight and feeling great. You want to share your joy—and your newfound habits. But you can’t guilt, coerce, cajole, or sweet-talk anyone into doing something they don’t want to do. You create an enemy that way. Remind yourself that your success at sticking to a weight loss plan and seeing results makes you a great role model, particularly for your kids. Don’t be surprised when they want to follow in your footsteps.