Under The Influence of Saboteurs…or Not!

Dec 19, 2011

Under The Influence of Saboteurs…or Not!

I spent years creating an extraordinarily undermining food history with most of my long time friends.  They still enjoy regaling their friends with stories of  my gluttony and the extremes I would go to to balance off the damage.  For me, the fun was the food.  If we happened to do something else while eating, like talk to each other, well that was a bonus, but definitely  secondary.

Thank God I have been able to reprogram my friend’s and family’s expectations of me over the years.  In fact, so reprogrammed are they that when I broke my back in a car accident in the summer of 2013,  disappointingly all anybody brought me were healthy options (my own cauliflower soup recipe, for example) and I actually had to beg someone to bring me coffee ice cream!

Many of my clients though, are not surrounded by that kind of support.  I have heard story after story of sabotage by friends and family who know how diligently, and sometimes desperately my client is trying to change their life and weight.  Yet nonetheless loved ones seem to deliberately (?) set them up for a fall.   Or maybe, understandably they think my client isn’t really serious.  Or, maybe others are just unable to override their own desire to overeat and want company.  Eating indulgently alone seems doubly guilt inducing.  And telling anyone you are on a diet is the kiss of death!

The good new is:  when I make it a point to anticipate sabotage in advance, I can choose not to be a victim of myself or anyone else.  I can make a pre-emptive strike to protect myself.  I can change how I react to the stimulus.  That’s my side of the street.

Their side of the street:  Sometimes people who love me don’t know how they can support me.  My side of the street:  now I tell them, usually out of context while I am still willing to make healthy choices myself.  “Can we just not eat Mexican?”, I might ask.  Or, “Would you mind if I brought hard boiled eggs”?  Here are some of the creative ways I have heard that couples have found to support each other.  One husband buys this wife the expensive, organic fruit that she can’t justify for herself.  Another watches the kids so his wife can get to the gym.  One wife gets rid of leftover desserts when they entertain, and another only bakes for company now and packages it up and leaves it in the downstairs freezer.  Newsflash:  asking me “if I should be eating this”,  isn’t helpful!

Their side of the street:  Sometimes I get sabotaged emotionally by an unintentional (?) back handed compliment.  I can see the blood, but not the knife.  “Oh, you’ve lost weight…again!,” they say.  “Thank you?,” I respond, suddenly seized with a desire to eat the whole tray of cookies on the spot.  My side of the street:  I try to understand that a lot of us have an agenda about weight and remind myself that  when I take a shot at someone (under the guise of humor perhaps), it says more about me in that moment than it does about them.  Eating over their perceived judgment is only going to add to the burden of my own judgment, further disempowering me.  Everyone is doing the best they can.

Their side of the street:  Sometimes people sabotage me unwittingly because they are under the impression I want whatever it is.  Either they truly don’t get it that for me a five pound block of expensive chocolate is not a gift.  It is a curse, or…  My side of the street:  Calling it what it is.  Somewhere along the way they got the impression that I want them to bring it to me.  No one brings a vegetarian a burger.  How did I give them this impression?

Just as often though…my worst overt saboteur is me, myself and I You are only giving me what I taught you I wanted.  You learned.  I volunteered to bring my worst trigger foods.  I went out of my way to let you know how much I appreciated all the tempting treats you had provided asking you where you got that chocolate cheesecake or fabulous Key Lime Pie and then wrote it down.  I picked the most indulgent restaurants to introduce you to.  I endlessly discussed food.  My option:  create a different impression.

Sometimes being “bad” together is how I have bonded with friends.  I assume that you are going to feel betrayed and sort of judged by my lack of participation in this tradition.  If I tell you I don’t want to go for ribs or to “our” cupcake place, you are going to think I am telling you you are fat.  I just changed the rules of the game midstream.  No fair.  My options:  I can explain, forewarn them, and ask for support before we commit to a plan.  I can find a non-food activity to do with these friends.  I can bring something along to try to influence the food environment to be a little less disastrous.  I can pick the restaurant.  I can sit near someone who usually eats healthy rather than with the eating buddy who is likely to ask me to split fries.  And, I can still just not rock the boat by banking my calories in advance.

Sometimes I feel like I can’t ask for help because I am clearly not supporting myself.  I have a number of clients who feel that they are not entitled to enlist the support of friends and family precisely for this reason.  They have gained weight back several times and they feel stupid asking for support from others when they clearly pull the rug out from under themselves over and over.  How can I ask you not to keep potato chips in the house when you see my candy wrappers in the trash?  My options:  I have found support by simply letting them know that I know that they know, ya know?  I can acknowledge my vulnerability and ask them to help me not make it any harder than I am clearly already making it for myself.  There, now I’ve said it.  It’s out on the table.

Sometimes I look for compliments to keep me motivated and they don’t keep coming.  Maybe, just maybe people don’t want me to think they are watching…and maybe judging.  Once they have acknowledged to me that they are noticing, they are stuck.  What will they say if I gain it back?  Do they become oddly silent and act like they didn’t notice?  Or maybe people don’t comment because they struggle with their weight too and don’t want to draw attention to it.  Point is, I can’t depend on your continued enthusiasm about my weight loss to buoy me up.  My option:  I can find sure fire ways to do that for myself.

Sometimes I am well aware of a pending eating disaster and I do nothing to save myself.  I let the idea get a hold of me.  I fantasize about the indulgence (romance the scone, so to speak), and then I can’t get myself to give it up.  If I don’t nip this fantasizing in the bud, chances are I am not going to nip it at all.  Oh darn, they chose a pizza place.  There’s a surprise.  What’s a girl to do now?  My option:  preempt this predictable scenario before my evil twin seizes the reigns with an acceptable alternative – frozen yogurt instead of cupcakes, Greek instead of Italian.

You can’t save me.  It’s not your responsibility and you probably don’t even know that I need to be saved.  Painful (but empowering) as it is to admit, I know.

Begin your final weight loss journey now…

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