Trying to lose weight and get healthy is no easy task. Telling others about your good intentions could make it even more difficult. Though you're sure to find friends and family members who are supportive of your goals, you may also encounter pushback, questioning, or comments that set you off course. Here, experts describe the most common ways those around you may sabotage your efforts, and ways to stay on track.
The insecure spouse
Sometimes an insecure person seeks out an overweight partner to alleviate his or her own insecurity, said Dr. Peter LaPort, medical director of MemorialCare Center for Obesity at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Calif. "It's usually very subtle, but a normal-weight husband may, for example, order something he knows his overweight wife wants but shouldn't eat," LaPort said. Your spouse may fear you'll leave him behind or you are no longer the person he married.
Stay on track: It's best to confront your spouse, LaPort said. "The best approach for each person varies, but try, 'Do you realize you're undermining my success? Is that what you really want to do? Let's talk about it, because I need your help to succeed.'"
The food critic
"You have to try the Alfredo sauce—it's the restaurant's signature dish!" "Don't order salad. Let's just have a good time!" Your foodie friend's opinions on your restaurant order can easily undermine your efforts.
Stay on track: People who succeed are up front, LaPort said. "Say something like, 'I'm on a diet and would like you to help me.'" A good friend will stop making comments about your food choices if you ask them to directly.
The sports fan
Pizza, chicken wings, hot dogs, beer: Whether you're heading to a Super Bowl party, the ballpark, or a sports bar, you're going to be tempted by high-fat fare—and the friends who indulge in front of you. The excitement makes it easy to get caught up in the festivities and forget all about your weight loss or healthy eating goals.
Stay on track: Focus on having just a small portion. Better yet, bring your own snacks.
The workout partner
Having a gym buddy can help you maintain your motivation to exercise, but if she always heads straight to the juice bar for a protein shake post-sweat, watch out. Many of these shakes contain 200 to 300 calories that you probably don't need. Same goes for protein bars, energy bars, and other recovery products.
Stay on track: "Plan what you're going to eat before you are with your friend," says Elizabeth R. Lombardo, psychologist and author of Better Than Perfect: 7 Strategies to Crushing your Inner Critic and Creating the Life you Love. Skip the protein smoothie and try one of these all-natural post-workout snacks instead.
The easily insulted family member
Family gatherings are the perfect occasion for Aunt Sue to whip up her four-cheese, double-meat lasagna and then take offense if you don't go for seconds.
Stay on track: Take a taste and savor the dish, Lombardo said. "Give her lots of 'oohs' and 'ahs,' and tell her the food is amazing. She just wants to know you liked what she cooked, and you can convey that without eating five helpings."
The barhopping single friend
Your friend's search for Mr. Right often takes her to the local bar to go drinking. Three cocktails could set you back 500 calories or more, not to mention the fattening pub food. "She may plead with you,'I can't go alone. I need you to come with me,'" Lombardo said.
Stay on track: Help her find other ways to meet someone that are not based around drinking at bars, Lombardo said. Volunteer at a fundraiser, try a coed sport, or take a cooking class together.
We all need friends we can count on when we've had a rough time. But when your best friend consoles you with a plate of her heavenly brownies—and you can't resist eating your feelings away—it's time to make some changes.
Stay on track: Thank your friend for her thoughtfulness, Lombardo said. "Once she leaves, get rid of the food." If you don't want to waste, offer it to your neighbors, your spouse, or someone else who isn't on a diet.
The business client
A job that requires a lot of business lunches could add up to hundreds of extra calories. "If your work commitments require that you eat out a lot, and everyone else orders a steak, eating a salad with dressing on the side each time can be uncomfortable," Lombardo said. Plus, restaurant portion sizes are notoriously huge.
Stay on track: Don't go to the restaurant starving. Showing up hungry reduces your ability to think and eat rationally, Lombardo said. "Order high-protein foods such as the shrimp cocktail, eat steamed veggies, and have an appetizer portion of your desired entrée," she suggests.
The cake-baking coworker
Your coworker bakes cakes and cookies for everyone's birthday, and doesn't understand why you won't have a slice with the rest of the office. She means well, really!
Stay on track: Be polite and don't get defensive, said JJ Virgin, nutrition expert and author of The Virgin Diet Cookbook. Stick to your guns and eventually she'll get the message.
The overweight friend
Who you hang out with can have an effect on your weight-loss goals. In a New England Journal of Medicine study, people who had a friend who became obese gained an average of 17 pounds; their chances of gaining enough weight to be considered obese increased 59%.
Stay on track: Some people struggling with their weight decide subconsciously that everyone around them must struggle with it too, Virgin said. That could mean trying to coax you into dessert and resenting you when you turn her down. "Don't take it personally," Virgin said. "This isn't about you. Ultimately it's about her and her own issues." If you can somehow find levity in the situation you can defuse what could otherwise escalate into a really uncomfortable situation.
You're starting to dread social gatherings because of this forever-dieting know-it-all. She never seems to lose weight and has been counting calories for years. Yet she feels she knows more than you about the "right way" to eat and constantly offers unsolicited advice.
Stay on track: Tell her you appreciate her input but you have your own plan, thank you. "Your real friends and family will understand and will eventually come around to see your perspective," Virgin said.