How to Get Support from Your Family and Friends

A strong support network will only enhance your weight-loss efforts. Here's how to get your loved ones on your side.
Published January 15, 2017

You're losing weight, on the right track with your healthy eating and exercise plan, and feeling great. You can't wait to show off a shapely new you at the family camping weekend. When you get there, though, you're surprised to find out that a few members of the family keep pushing you to eat ice cream and lounge on the beach instead of racing in the lake. Why aren't they cheering on your weight loss?

Unfortunately, when your family and friends behave this way, it can undermine your success. But there's a good reason why your family isn't championing you: They may not know what you need. "You need to be proactive in building a team," says Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "Don't wait around to see if family and friends are going to help you or not. Tell them what you need."

For example, you may crave praise ("Great job getting up early for that hike!"), encouragement ("Sit with me and I'll help you avoid the strawberry shortcake!") or empathy ("I know it must be hard to watch your portions when everyone else is pulling out all the stops."). People need different kinds of advocacy, and it's your job to tell family members what works for you.

Try to be reasonable, though. It isn't fair, for instance, to expect everyone at a barbecue to eat veggie burgers instead of hotdogs just because that's what you're trying to do.

If family members don't sign on to be your team, accept it and move on. "We can't make people do something they don't want to do," Klapow says. So look elsewhere. Invite an encouraging friend to accompany you on your trip, line up a friend for a long-distance phone check-in, or seek out a new family member, such as an in-law, who might help. Be proud of what you've accomplished, and determine to continue succeeding no matter what your family says and does.

"Ultimately, if someone is giving you a hard time, it's not your problem," Klapow says. "It's their problem."