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How to Deal With Diet Saboteurs

When you're trying to lose weight, often your friends and loved ones become the greatest obstacle. Learn how to turn these diet saboteurs into diet supporters.

Why People Sabotage continued...

Katz says people who are themselves overweight (two-thirds of Americans) feel threatened. "Most people struggle with weight issues," Katz says. "If I am fat and you go on a diet, you put me in the uncomfortable position of feeling bad about my own weight; deciding to do something about it, which I may not be ready to do; or trying to talk you out of what you are doing.

"People who are threatened," Katz sums up, "fight back."

Sexual anxiety is also a part of it, he agrees. "If the person gets thin, they may find someone else. That is a factor. 'My wife is getting so sexy, she may dump me.'"

And, Katz says, being reassuring to the dieter may be a higher form of love. "A mother may think it's her job to make the child feel better about themselves. They may be on a mission to get a daughter to accept her size."

Co-workers, he says, tend to be competitive. If you are succeeding at something, even losing weight, it makes them look less successful. Plus, you might attract notice for a promotion.

What If You Are Sabotaging Yourself?

The first step in dealing with diet sabotage, Spangle says, is to recognize it. Your saboteur may want to guard the status quo, keep you under control, or prevent your leaving to find a new life with your new body.

The dieter, too, may be finding power in the status quo and talk him or herself out of dieting. The unknown is always scary. Women, especially, may have self-esteem issues and think they don't deserve to be thin. They need to become braver to shed the cloak of fat that keeps others from seeing them or wanting them.

"Sometimes," Spangle says, "working with a life coach can help the dieter discover how to build strength of this kind."

How to Deal With Diet Saboteurs

"Women tend to take things personally," says Trish Ryan, fitness coach and co-owner of the Bodyworks Group Exercise Studio in Hanover, Massachusetts. "It's harder for women to stick in their heels and say, 'No, I am not drinking wine every day anymore.'"

"Let's face it," Katz says, "we live in a society where we ostracize obesity, even though many people are obese. This makes us reluctant to talk about these issues openly.

"The first thing I tell people is being fat is not their fault," Katz continues. "It's like a polar bear trying to stay cool in the desert. We don't have the body mechanisms to deal with the society in which we find ourselves."

Katz emphasizes that it's OK to spit it out, so to speak. Say, "Mom, I know I am overweight. It doesn't make me a bad person. But I need your help. When I come over, you need to cook more veggies or lean meat."

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