It is your body and your life, yet other people sometimes seem to have a greater influence on it than you do. Some people may be very important in your life, but they are also very interested, for one reason or another, in keeping you just the way you are.
We need to examine the motives of these people around you – or, even, strangers – who are out to protect their own patches by stopping you from slimming.
People who feel guilty about their own size
If you come from an overweight family, this can be an acute problem. If everyone else around is overweight it is much easier to convince yourself that that is fine. But if suddenly you become the slimmer in the camp it points up all too clearly to them the fact that (a) being overweight isn’t such a good idea and (b) it is possible to do something about it. So be wary of overweight family members, friends or colleagues who urge you not to slim when you know you need to: they either feel guilty enough already, or they know they will when they see the fat coming off you.
People who will feel intimidated
Losing weight means a change to the perceived order of things. Some of die people closest to you may worry that because you will look different you will be different. Partners, husbands or wives are most prone to this attitude, especially if the overweight half of the couple has a big weight problem that’s been around a long time. Your partner may worry that (s)he won’t be good enough for you once you are slim; or that you will be so attractive that dozens of other people will be trying to lure you away; or that you will be so much more confident that you will look for someone else as proof of your new attractiveness. If your partner has these feelings, he or she is suffering low self-esteem just as you are. People often hate change that isn’t initiated by themselves, or at least they do until they realize the change isn’t going to be for the worse.
People who will feel jealous
There are three categories of people who may be jealous if you lose weight.
1. Unsuccessful slimmers – for obvious reasons. You did what they couldn’t do.
2. Unsuccessful slimmers who don’t know you personally but who are getting at you through the media. First there is the ‘right on’ bunch of feminists who, although a tiny minority, shout with a very loud voice to tell you (if you’re female) that although they reserve the right to be fat, unfit, unwashed, unshaven or whatever, it isn’t fine for you to reserve your right to do what you choose with your body. They make you feel positively old-fashioned, out of touch, and a victim of sizeism and a male-dominated society, for even considering losing weight.
Second there are the scaremongers – the ones who have failed to lose weight themselves and are thus scratching around for any excuse not to try again and, of course, to justify their failure. To the scaremongers ‘diet’ is one of those bad four-letter words. Dieting, they maintain, is dangerous … it doesn’t work … and, anyway, it’s healthier to be fat.
3. Girlfriends (if you’re female). We say girlfriends because it seems that men slimmers never have the same problem with their male friends. You may have an overweight girlfriend who doesn’t want you to slim because you will no longer be on equal terms. You may have a slim girlfriend who doesn’t want you to slim because suddenly you will be on equal terms. Slim, insecure girls often choose fat friends.
People who will worry that you’re going to spoil their fun
Slimmers are often seen as spoilsports and wet blankets. Your immediate family may worry that they will feel self-conscious or sorry for you if they gorge while you nibble your lettuce. They will be worried you are going to bore them (again) with diet talk and calorie-counting. They will be alarmed that you will make them eat what you eat. Furthermore, they will hate the idea of going out anywhere with you when all you will do is drink mineral water and sit looking martyred, surrounded by other people’s food, and refuse to eat a thing. You’re going to spoil the fun in a big way. No wonder they can’t stand the thought of you dieting. They’ve been there before.
People who don’t want to upset you
Lastly, we expect there are a few possibly kind, possibly timid, people who know you and who realize perfectly well that you should lose some weight but who will never, ever, tell you so. They will always, if asked, look astonished and say: ‘What, you? You don’t need to lose weight!’ These people are either terrified, for whatever reason, of upsetting you or else really think they are being kind and considerate and diplomatic in not worrying you.
When you are overweight, your self-esteem is likely to be low. Therefore you can be forgiven for wondering how on earth you can deal positively with all the people who seem intent on helping you to stay fat. In Step Three we will find out how to take control and lose weight without losing face, friends or family!