Is peer pressure preventing you from losing weight?

Mind. Blown.
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Pursuing a happier, healthier lifestyle is worth it. Not surprisingly, achieving weightloss goals can be easier if the people around us are supportive, encouraging and aware of our goals.

It was Aristotle who first said “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” In other words, synergy exists when we work together which creates better outcomes than when we go it alone.

However, people around us can be subconsciously negative to our weight-loss success – appearing to almost sabotage our efforts.

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Here are some great tips from the LifeShape Clinic on how to handle some of the most common situations in which you’re likely to encounter sabotaging peer pressure.

Situation One: Partner

If you’ve decided you want to adopt healthier habits, your partner might miss some things you once did together. For example, your partner may feel lonely if you no longer eat chocolates in front of the TV together each night.

So, what to do? Replace negative habits with positive ones. If you once spent nights on the couch with chocolate or wine, invite them to go on a nightly walk with you after dinner. This will not only keep you both active, but also give you a chance to unwind, reconnect and talk after work.

If your partner has been good at supporting your weight loss efforts by encouraging you or making healthier meals for the family, it’s also important to acknowledge this. A little thank you goes a long way!

Situation Two: Family

Our family forms such a huge part of the way we think about food and eating. You might remember your mum or grandmother insisting you finish everything on your plate before you leave the table when you were a child. Firstly, it is always ok to leave food on your plate. You should instead finish eating a meal when you’re satisfied.

If you’re over at your mum’s place for dinner and she’s upset you do not eat all of her lasagne, what should you do? Firstly, try and serve yourself. Fill your plate with vegetables or salad first, and enjoy a smaller portion of the main dish. Communicate to your mum that the meal was delicious, but you’re satisfied with what you’ve had and don’t need seconds. If she really pushes the issue, ask for some leftovers in a container for lunch the next day, rather than consuming another helping you don’t really want.

Situation Three: Work Colleagues

Do you often feel like your office’s culture is working against your health and fitness goals? There’s days when you’re too busy to grab lunch, and it feels like there’s cake for someone’s birthday numerous times a week. In these circumstances, being mindful can be difficult. So what do you do when your work colleagues find out about your “diet” and insist you have a piece of cake?

Firstly, tell your work colleagues you aren’t on a “diet”, and instead explain you are simply making healthier choices. Secondly, decide if you actually want a piece of cake.

Do you even feel like it, and are you even hungry? There’s nothing wrong with the occasional slice of cake. If you do want a piece, cut your own smaller slice, sit down with your colleagues and enjoy every morsel and the company.

Simply eating more mindfully ensures you fully enjoy your food rather than eating a large piece of cake on the way back to your desk.

If you don’t want a piece but want to be involved in the celebration, make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and stay for a chat so you don’t feel left out.

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Situation Four: Friends

So your friends text you every weekend wanting to catch up for brunch, or drinks. The good news is, you don’t have to give up a social life when you’re trying to be healthier. Consider being the social coordinator for a while and schedule your catch ups somewhere active. Are there some local parks or activities you could do (think Zumba classes, free tennis courts, parks with gym equipment, or strolls along the waterfront)?

If you are going to a café, say no to the croissant and extra-large venti cappuccino with shots of syrup. Instead opt for a long black with wholemeal toast or a sandwich. If you really want some cake, split it with a friend or order a few options for the table to share.

Communication is key

It’s important to be confident in your knowledge of the kind of support that you want, other-wise well-meaning family and friends may inadvertently perpetuate problems. Communicate openly with your loved ones to help build your support network and help you on your journey to healthy living.

These are some steps you can take to see if you need support, and if you do, how to get started:

What kind of support do I need? (emotional, practical and/or inspiration)

Who is best in what role? (your partner maybe fantastic at practical support but they might be too tired at the end of the day for emotional support– so you might engage your best friend for this.)

Make the request as specific as possible and ensure they know how important losing weight to you is (focus on the behaviour you would like to see from the person rather than making vague requests eg. telling your partner to “cook healthier” is not as direct as asking them to weigh out 100g of meat and only serve ½ cup of rice with 2 cups of vegies)

The key thing is, whilst you are changing your lifestyle you are not changing how you feel about your family and friends. Be selective when choosing your support team and put your team mates in the positions where they are able to best help you reach your goals. Ultimately remember that only you can take ownership of your behaviours, but when done in the right way a support network can be a very positive thing.

Personal accountability

Long term weight management also requires taking personal ownership of your weight. Support can be beneficial but you cannot rely on someone else to make sure you go for a walk or to make sure you are eating healthy – only you can do that.

If you think you would benefit from professional support and accountability, consider seeking the help of a dietitian to help you on your journey to healthy living.

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