You may think I’m referencing my students when I say the words “peer pressure”, but believe it or not, peer pressure is not limited to kids these days. We learn about peer pressure early on in our educational careers (mostly through Meology classes- remember those?), but it’s something that we experience throughout our entire lives. Now while I know adult peer pressure comes in many forms, I’m going to focus on the peer pressure that comes to one who is going through the weight loss journey, as it’s the closest to my own experiences.
There will be some who start to read my post and immediately brush it off as “overreacting” or “silly”, but weight loss peer pressure is a real thing, and is often the demise of people going through this lifestyle change. Those who deliver peer pressure originally see it as being supportive; motivating a person to make healthy choices. However, the receiver may see it as negative, passive aggressive, guilt-laden or demeaning. Peer pressure can also be in the form of sabotage. I know that’s a pretty strong word, but sometimes those on the sidelines may not want you to change, therefore say things that may make you feel like caving in. These pressures can stem from those who are close to us, those who have been in our shoes or society in general. We live in a world where everyone believes they have the right answer, and many try to pressure others into thinking, doing or feeling the way they do. This is especially true with weight loss.
“You should try this diet.” “But you have such a pretty face.” “One bite won’t hurt”. “You’ll just give up after a couple of weeks just like you’ve done before”.
Weight loss peer pressure is a real thing. Here are some ways I deal with it, in order to keep my journey a positive experience.
When someone says You should try this diet… I listen, as it very well may be something that could work for me. I will typically ask for some of their favorite recipes, then thank them for sharing their suggestions. Sometimes people truly are just trying to help by sharing what has worked for them.
When someone says But you have such a pretty face… I thank them, then walk away before anything else can be said. If I’m in a situation where I cannot escape, I usually change the subject, diverting them to a more positive conversation topic or returning the gesture with a real compliment towards them. As a child, and overweight teen, I was told this phrase more times than I’d like to remember. I always felt like I was sub par because my face was “pretty”, which apparently meant that the rest of me was completely repulsive and shouldn’t be attached to such a “pretty face”. Thankfully I never let that type of peer pressure get to me, and have learned to love myself, no matter what my body may look like at the moment.
When someone says One bite won’t hurt… I politely decline. If I don’t need that second glass of wine, piece of cake or slice of pizza because I know it’s not going to fit into what I need at that moment, I just say no. Coming from a very demanding Spanish family, often times “no” means “yes”. Although “no thank you” should be enough, feel free to make excuses like “I’m full” or “I don’t like it”. If all else fails, once again I remove myself from the situation. Whoever is pressuring you to consume will most likely find another victim.
When someone says You’ll just give up after a couple of weeks like you’ve done before… I respond with something that makes them really think about why they said that to me. Usually something along the lines of “I really need my friends and family to believe in me right now” does the trick.
Have you ever experienced adult peer pressure? How did you handle it?