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Weight loss is possibly one of the hardest things any of us can do.

How often is it that the best intentions for weight loss get crushed right at the start?  Being the owner of a small personal training studio here in Denver means I get to see lots of people right at the start of their journey (and also get to be the one trying to keep the wheels on as soon as the rubber hits the road, so to speak).  It’s interesting to me how our best laid plans are so quickly dashed – and I think I know why.

I mean, there must be something most of us are overlooking – I mean, we all start off with the strongest of desires, only to have our dream of fitting into a new slinky black dress torn apart almost as quickly as it came together.  But what happened to send our baby bird dreams plummeting to terra firma? We know what we’re supposed to eat, we know what we’re supposed to do, but yet time and time again our best intentions fall short.

This Bonza member did it – but then again, she was getting married which can do wonders for one’s motivation (especially when you have me playing the role of wedding punisher.. I mean prepper!)

If we know what we should be eating, why is Weight Loss so hard for us?

Is it habit?  Fear of the unknown?  Addiction to food?  Eating our feelings?  I’m going to say that all these play roles in our own personal self-destruction, but more importantly, it’s our social lives that get in the way of our weight loss efforts.

Your average weight loss effort might start with seeing or hearing about someone elses weight loss results, but the picture truly tells a thousand words – most likely a blend of cursing, explaining, self-talk and ‘no thank you’.

Where weight loss efforts fail #1:  I can’t say no

To say ‘no’ to our friends can be a scary thing.  We risk losing them or being taken out of our social circle since we no longer want to eat compulsory social snackfoods such as ‘cheese and crackers’.

Where weight loss efforts fail #2:  But, I love you!

When we are offered food from friends it’s sometimes a showing of love or care.  And to reject that is to seem careless and inconsiderate.  When your co-worker says they made something for you (even if it doesn’t have your initials personalized on it and was really just left over from a batch they made for another group of friends) they are looking for you to accept that package of ‘care’.  And to reject that can bring upon you disdain and urging from your co-workers to ‘just have one – it’s not going to matter’.

Where weight loss efforts fail #3:  One of us, one of us.

Children of the Corn.  The ultimate “peer pressure gone wrong” movie.

You’d be amazed how many times my personal training clients tell me about their friends trying to dislodge their efforts with statements like ‘he doesn’t have to know – just don’t tell him’ or ‘come on – you can’t eat like this forever’.  We sometimes tell this to our friends because we want them to be like us – and if you don’t do what I do, then you’re not like me.  And your friend wants you to be like them for three reasons:

  • They want to surround themselves with people like them
  • If the people around them change, then they’ll have to change to be like them
  • If others don’t do the things they do, then they might start to feel guilty about not doing them themselves.
Cigarette behind the bike sheds, anyone?

So don’t say ‘no’.  In fact, don’t even let people think for a second that you’re not like them. Make it easy for them and just dodge their efforts, change the subject and never let them know you’re actually trying to lose weight.

No really.  Just tell them straight to your face that you’re doing the things they want you to do.  But secretly do the things that are important to you.

If you need help with this you’re welcome to come talk to my 4 year old daughter.  She’s a master at doing exactly what you want when you’re watching, but the second you look away she’s palm stuffing birthday treats into her mouth as if she’s training for the next cupcake eating competition.  Try to be the opposite.  Let people think you’re stuffing down the twinkies but be eating nary a crumb of the lifetime-shelf-life treats.

Need a drink?  Get a short glass of soda with a slice of lime and do your best tipsy impersonation.  Just not to the officer if you get pulled over going home.

Don’t want to eat what’s laid in front of you/handed to you?  Find an empty table to either lay it down on or scrape 2/3 of the plate off and walk around with a 1/3 of your meal on your plate.  If you’ve got food, then nobody will offer you any.

Friends ordering food?  If you know this is coming then make sure you tell everyone how stuffed you are from the fried food you ate just before you came over BEFORE they order the ‘triple cheese with chicken wings cooked into the dough’ special.

What’s the moral of the story?  Think about ways you can avoid saying no to your friends.  You’re not trying to be dishonest. You’re just saving their feelings (and making it easier for you to stick to your resolution to be a leaner, healthier, happier you).  Maybe it’s with a distraction, maybe it’s a story about what you’re going to be eating tonight that is soooo much more decadent than whatever is on the plate (a made up story, of course).

And when you start losing weight and your friends start to notice, just play it off – again, if you make your friends feel bad about themselves, they’ll try to pull you into line real quick.

And if you’re strong enough to tell people you don’t want to eat that… well, you’ve probably already started on the fast track to weight loss and don’t even need to be reading this post.  But for those of us that don’t have the steel will of ‘no’, this provides us with a stealthy way to get what we want without hurting the feelings of those around us.

Do you live in Denver?  Be sure to watch for us on local Denver news and tv stations (like FOX31 or the Denver Post) – we pop up all the time with advice like this.   Or if you’d like to come in and talk with one of our nutritionists or trainers about weight loss and a fast track to a leaner you that takes into consideration uncommon strategies such as social strategies, just get in touch –

Yours in health,

Jamie Atlas

  • Jody Luna Jul 2, 2012 Reply

    Great article, Jamie! The challenge for me at first was when people would say, “It’s just this once.” There’s a “one-time” reason every day. Now, I just say kindly explain that to them, and then change the subject. Even more challenging are those few people who were having trouble adapting to the new me, and pulled away at first. They were the same ones who thought I was being too rigid when I wouldn’t eat the birthday cake. They came around with time. Until you wrote this, though, I didn’t realize that the common denominator was that I had to change the subject or not talk about my food plan. I also have to say that my exercise and food plan have become central to my life, and I have to make an intentional effort not to talk only about that. Learning to balance it all is something that only comes with time.

  • Anurag Jul 2, 2012 Reply

    I fully agree…Its actually wrong or careless eating which robs us of our shapes and pours pounds on us!!!!

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