Dealing with friends and family who are not on the journey: Q&A


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Although we are on this journey towards health, we have to come out of our little cocoon sometimes.  Friends and family invite us over or invite us out for a fun evening.  What do we do?  How do we live out our journey when we are with those who are not on the journey themselves.  That is the question I received during this last Q&A session.  Here is the question:

“How do you tell your friends or family when they think they are doing the right thing, but they aren’t really?  Let me explain…. How do you (and other people) make your friends and family understand the new way you eat?  I can’t get it through to them, and I find myself turning down invitations.”

This is an awesome question and I am sure that every person that is on the weight loss and health journey has to answer it at some  point.  Here is my answer and the answer of another wonderful blogger.

Here is the answer from Mommymeepa.  ” As far as the friend thing goes (This part refers to a part of the question that I removed because I wasn’t sure if it was to personal.  Basically, a friend invited the questionee over for a fattening dinner),you could ask her if you can bring a salad. Load your plate up with mostly salad, have a little pasta, and your both happy. One thing you will learn if you attend weight watchers is that it is ok for you to be assertive, not rude, but assertive. You are always going to have those people in life ……..a lot of people will have a hard time that you are doing well and it is guilting them, so even if they don’t mean to they will offer you bad stuff. I have a friend where when I go to her house she always has the bad stuff, so now I know that I just bring my own snack. She has gotten the hint and doesn’t offer anymore. She used to bring the plate of horribleness and put it right under my nose. We used to be work out buddies, now she doesn’t workout anymore. It’s really sad.

Mommymeepa continues with, I think that another aspect is that a lot of people have heard us all say we are going to lose weight, we do, then we gain it back and more. I think my friends don’t realize that I’m for real this time. It’s like they are waiting for me to mess up and gain it all back. I’ve just hit the 20 pounds lost mark and I think my family and friends are finally getting it. Hang in there and just offer to bring stuff to dinners, bring snacks, and be assertive. Also, once you are done eating make sure that you and your friend go out to the living room to talk. Do not continue your conversation around the kitchen table or standing in the kitchen. Those are all traps for eating unconsciously. These are all things I have learned on my journey. I hope these hints help……

Now was that not community support.  I hope even more of this type of support will happen here at run4change.  Here is my two cents on the question.

I have talked about my favorite teacher, Willard Tate, many times.  He was my teach in college for a couple of courses.  He always said that repetition is the mother of mastery.  I used this saying to succeed with this readers question.  I just kept saying no to my friends and families request for more food or bad food.  I repeatedly said, “No thanks.”  I would say things like, “I would love some but I need to stay on my program so I can get healthy, but it sure looks good.  Thank you for the offer.”  Over and over and over again I said it.  Soon everyone knew where I stood.

Another thing I did was say no to the general invitation, SOMETIMES.  If I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle it, I just didn’t go.  It wasn’t worth it to me.  I did this more in the beginning until I felt strong enough to make good choices and after I learned that good choices can be made in almost all situations.

Lastly, I simply asked for my friends and family to help me lose the weight.  I asked them not to offer the food to me.  I let them know that I understand that I have an open invitation to eat their food and that when I needed some I would help myself.  You would be surprised at how people will work on your behalf when you just simply ask.

Lets recap the tips on how to deal with friends and familiy’s invitations to go off program with a bullet outline:

  • Bring you own healthy food
  • Be assertive about your need to eat healthy
  • Realize that your healthy life changes might make them uncomfortable
  • Stick with you program so that they see that you mean business
  • Don’t hang out for discussion in the kitchen
  • Be repetitious with your denial of food that you don’t want or need.
  • Say no to the invitation if you KNOW you can’t handle the poisonous environment
  • Ask your friends and family to help you along in your journey towards health.

Keep up the good work everyone and I hope that this helps you all.  It is so funny, the moment (and I mean the exact moment) that I finished writing this post an employee came to my office, sat down, and offered me some cookies.  At least I was prepared right 🙂

26 Responses to “Dealing with friends and family who are not on the journey: Q&A”

  1. 1 robfitness
    January 16, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    What a great question! I know to be honest my family is really not that supportive. Every since I have been on this journey and losing a ton of weight my family barely speaks to me. Maybe they are jealous or dealing with their own personal demons; I don’t know. They are not healthy either and I don’t mean to be judgmental towards them or anyone else, but my mother, brother and sister are morbidly obese and as much as I have tried to help them on a new journey, they either ignore what I say or just shut me out. It is very sad indeed but it is there life and a person can only do so much to help them out.
    Do I regret what I did, NO! I am so happy that I didn’t let there attitude towards fitness and bad eating get in my way of what I know I needed to do.
    Sorry to rant and rave it’s just that when it comes to family and healthy lifestyle choices, they just don’t mix well.

    • 2 run4change
      January 16, 2009 at 1:30 pm

      Totally agree. I was on their end for a long time. My dad is really healthy. He always asked me to lose weight. He did it in a nice way but it usually hurt my feelings. I am not saying that he told me wrong or shouldn’t have told me, I just knew it was true. Here is how I see it. Fat people (I am talking about myself here too) know full well that they are fat. They don’t need anyone telling them that they are fat. They need to be told the truth about health and obesity (like you do for your family) but they know they are fat. Sorry to use the word fat, I hate that word. I never called people fat and still don’t, but it is the truth. I was very fat, and I knew it. And like your fam. I didn’t want to listen. I guess I was scared that I couldn’t do it even though inside I knew I needed to.

  2. January 16, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Great post! I’ve struggled with this a lot through my Weight Loss Journey. Everyone in my life has good intentions. Sometimes their actions are still toxic. My mom has a very unhealthy relationship with food, but has been very supportive throughout my weight loss. However, she bought a big fancy cheesecake from a famous bakery for Christmas Eve dinner. I turned it down, but she kept insisting that I had to have a piece because it was “divine.” I said ‘no’ over and over. Eventually it got to the point that I had to be very firm, almost yelling. I was proud for standing up to myself, but sad because I hurt her feelings.

    To my mother-in-law, food = love. She puts on amazing spreads for every holiday celebration and takes it as a personal insult if you don’t eat a lot. The problem is that she cooks like Paula Dean and healthy options are unlikely to appear. I always offer to bring something I know will be Weight Watchers friendly, like a veggie tray. I also try very hard to maintain portion control. I’ll take a tiny taste of everything and then rave about how great it is. This keeps the pressure off to eat more and satisfies her need for approval.

    Wow. That was a long comment. Sorry!

    • 4 run4change
      January 16, 2009 at 1:32 pm

      No problem with the comment length you guys. YOu talk as long as you want. It is good for us all to hear what you have to say. It will at times hurt peoples feelings, but we have to say no if we have too. You know how many points/calories you have left for the day and if you need to stay within that you have to do it right.

  3. January 16, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Great post, because that is what I find myself doing. When I had dinners over at friends, I often am quick to ask if I can bring anything. And they are happy that I am bringing a simple salad. Of course, I load up on that, along with some of the eats there too! Best of both worlds.

  4. 7 whisfam4
    January 16, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Very timely post. I’m invited to go to a game night tonight and was asked to bring a treat or snack. I’m definitely going to bring something healthy so I have an option. I think all of the advice on this post is spot on. My husband who’s very good at refusing peoples offers of fattening foods (and then enduring their jeers and snide comments, usually in jest) just always says, “no thanks” or “I’m good” Sometimes he also, say at Christmas gathering, holds a plate with about 4 things on it (usually the healthiest of the choices available) and will slowly snack on it and people will leave him alone because he has food in his hand. And usually after awhile he’ll throw it away. Then he stays away from the food table and gets involved with what’s going on around him. One last thing he does is chew gum. So them he’ll say, “I have some gum in but maybe later…”. Thanks for all the great tips.

    • 8 run4change
      January 16, 2009 at 1:34 pm

      The gum trick works just about every time because everyone knows that you don’t waster your gum. Good comment.

  5. January 16, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Hmmm… I just commented and it lost it. At least it’s not showing up. I apologize if for some reason this comes up twice. What I wrote was first of all this is a timely post for me. I will be heading to a game night tonight and asked to bring a snack or treat. So I’m definitely going to be bringing a healthy option. Secondly my husband has some good tricks up his sleeve. He does the repetitive “no thanks”. Sometimes having to say it over and over. He also holds a plate of food, say at a gathering or something, usually filled with some of the healthier option on the table. As long as he’s holding it he’s left alone. He slowly eats at it and then eventually after the eating part dies down he throws it away and then gets involved in the party — staying away from the food table. And then lastly he chews gum. That way he can say, “I have gum in but maybe later, thanks” or something to that effect. Being a guy he gets a lot of flack from others because he doesn’t “eat like a guy”. But he’s done it so long that it gets easier over time. Thanks for all the tips. I’m going to try and put them to work for me tonight. I may need to go buy a pack of gum. =) (ok let’s see if this posts this time.) =)

  6. January 16, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Ugh it did… so sorry. Now I know and next time to wait a bit. Ha ha! So sorry!

  7. January 16, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    This is a perfect read for me as I prepare to move out of my totally supportive environment, where i have workout buddies and people soo want to see me win….to back home with family who have no idea how to support me and I have no idea how to express it to them. (i.e. mom buys me a mega box of slim jim’s for CHristmas)

    • 12 run4change
      January 16, 2009 at 2:06 pm

      Slim jim’s must be popular with our group. A couple people mentioned them already today. I love pepperoni. You will do fine. Just follow some of those tips and you should do fine. It won’t be easy, but you will do great.

  8. January 16, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Some of my friends were hurt initially when I stopped showing up to game night….but when they finally checked in with me as to why….they discovered I was turnig them down for the gym, not for new friends…and they totally understand!

    • 14 run4change
      January 16, 2009 at 2:07 pm

      A little explanation is all it takes sometimes. Like I said. People will so often support us when we let them in on our plans.

  9. 15 charleshbaker
    January 16, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    @run4change how do you overcome night time snacking and cravings?

    • 16 run4change
      January 16, 2009 at 2:30 pm

      Well, not sure if I am the best person to ask about this. I seem to snack all the way to the moment I hit the hay and then sometimes even when I am laying there. I just have the points/calories left over to do it. I did not do it as much while I was losing the weight though. One thing I do, and I am not sure if it is a good thing or not, is to load up on the veggies and a carb that is filling for my dinner. My mainstay dinner while losing weight and still to this day a lot is this: 3 oz protien of somesort, 1 lb of potatos baked, sliced thin, and then fried with non-fat/cal cooking spray, and 1/2 to 1 whole bag of frozen veggies steamed. That my friend is a LARGE amound of food and it kept/keeps me pretty darn full for a long time. I do weight watchers, so that meal would be 7 points for the amount of food that a normal (none food problem person) would eat at a buffet. The snack that I do eat at night time are sugar free/fat free pudding and 94% fat free popcorn. both 1 point each for me. I get 31 points a day to lose weight and 34 for maintenance.

  10. 17 myweightylossjourney
    January 16, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    Thank’s soooo much for the answer to this question. I’m going to my friend’s place tonight, and I’m taking a salad with me. And some dried fruit for dessert. I’m going to eat healthily if it kills me!
    Off to the pool now!
    Good luck everyone!

  11. January 16, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    That’s a great list of actions to take. Thanks for sharing it.

  12. 21 Angela
    February 6, 2009 at 7:03 am

    I no longer turn down an invitation to spend time with people I love. This weekend my best friend is having a birthday party at a nice restaurant. I looked up their menu online, and chose a responsible entree. I have already planned my day in WW online tracker to set myself up for success. Salmon, roasted potatoes and a salad, one piece of bread, with a 4 oz glass of wine (boo), and coffee. The whole meal is 20 points. I will not miss out on anymore of my life because of food issues!

    • 22 run4change
      February 6, 2009 at 7:08 am

      Great job. Proud of you. Just remember, I am not sure that a 4 oz glass of wine exists. HAHAHa 🙂 Most are at least 8.

  13. 23 Angela
    February 6, 2009 at 7:35 am

    For years, a “glass” of wine to me was an entire bottle! tee hee…

    • 24 run4change
      February 6, 2009 at 7:37 am

      I used to say I drank 1 beer when I would actually drink a 40oz of Ol’ English. HAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA 🙂

  14. 25 Angela
    February 6, 2009 at 7:41 am

    Um,… were you so drunk that you were drinking cologne instead of beer? Ol’ English sounds like a scent my grandfather used to wear.

    • 26 run4change
      February 6, 2009 at 7:44 am

      O’ Enlgish premium malt liquor. It tasted horrible absolutely horrible but it had more than 6% alcohol. Shoot, two of those is like twelve beers and then I got to say I only had two beers. HAHA 🙂 None of that now though. HAve drank for 4 years and my little B-day of 4 years was last Saturday. On a more serious note. HAHAHAHA

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