It’s been my experience that four types of people may appear in our lives that can cause our weight to hang around. They all gain from us being overweight, by using our weight as a weakness to control or manipulate our behaviour to suit them. Some may do it deliberately and some do it subconsciously. You might not realise who they are and they might have you believing that they have your best interests at heart, but only through recognising them can you gain back your power.
The jealous and insecure
Even in our happiest relationships, jealousy and insecurity can be common. The idea of unconditional love is a wonderful thing but I’ve never met anyone that practises it all the time. We all complain about our partners/families/friends that if they did this or that then we would be happier or we would like them more. When weight is an issue in a relationship, either with one or both parties, a change in the weight of one can cause the other to question themselves. If you lose weight and your friend doesn’t, do they now see themselves as less than you, as weaker, and do you see them that way. If your partner loses weight or you gain weight, do you feel insecure? When a condition in a relationship changes, the mind loses its safety. Nasty comments can occur, criticism, feeding, and sabotage, all to make you question your new rules and bring back your old ones. These people know you well and know just what to say to re-awaken any pain that you may have already dealt with and changed.
These people pretend to have your best interest at heart. They watch you eat, they monitor your weight, and they comment on your health, constantly telling you what you should be doing to lose weight. They seem kind and concerned but really they are confirming their own rules. Anyone who is a regular commentator on your weight or is obsessed with getting you to the gym, is doing so because you are representative of all their insecurities about their own weight. They will especially dislike it if you are happy to be overweight. In you they see everything that they are terrified of. Their own weight and relationship with food is likely to be strained and constantly changing. They are in a constant fight between mind and body and cannot relax around food. You remind them of that knife’s edge that they live on, they need you to be slim so that they can relax and don’t have to be reminded about their own bodies. These people will also talk endlessly of diets, celebrity weight and exercise.
This group are a lot subtler in how they use your weight. They won’t ever mention it, they will be happy with their own weight and bodies yet they recognise their value to you. You may value their opinion more than your own, do what they ask no matter how inconvenient, sacrifice your time for them, and then be dropped until they need you again. Weight can make us see slim people, those who appear to be in control of their eating, as more valuable than us and worth doing anything to hang on to. We want to be with these people no matter what we have to do.
Misery loves company. The weight and food obsessed will often seek out others who are the same. You might have a circle of friends you diet with, exercise with, talk about food with and overeat with, but none of you ever get any slimmer. This is safety in packs. They love you because you are like them, you will fail with them, judge with them, be unhappy with them and validate all of their choices. You give them an excuse to eat and they give it to you. If you lose weight, they will feel a threat to their rules. They will feel hostile towards you no matter how much they praise you for the weight loss. They will talk endlessly about your weight loss, constantly drawing your attention back to your old weight. Subconsciously they want the overweight you back. The one that doesn’t remind them of their own weight.
Losing weight, losing people
First let me assure you that you don’t have to cut anyone out of your life to lose weight. It can make it easier, but if that person is to stay, it’s up to you to change your view of that relationship, not to change them. The other person never has to know that your view of them have changed, and all they will see will be you responding differently to them, that they no longer have the same control. You will change how that person affects you by changing how you react to them. Sometimes those threatened by your weight loss will fall away naturally, you will both realise that you no longer get the same from the relationship and so it stops. I promise that when these things happen they will feel right, there won’t be any hard decisions involved. Weight causes you to act like someone you are not by hiding who you are. The only people you should want in your life are those that love your true self, at any weight.
Extract from “Still Overweight? The 6-week course that changes your weight and relationship to food forever”