Matt McLeod | How to deal with friends, family, and co-workers while dieting
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How to deal with friends, family, and co-workers while dieting

Let’s play a game where we see how many of these quotes sound familiar to you:

“Oh, come on. One bite won’t hurt!”

“You need to live a little!”

“Oh, you’re getting that? Well, you’re gonna hate what I’m eating!”

“Don’t you ever get tired of eating that?”

“You don’t need to diet! You’re skinny enough.” 

“You look just fine the way you are!

“Pfft, a salad? I’m gonna eat this burger because I love myself..”

“You on some health kick again? We’ll see how long this lasts..”

Since you’re reading this, chances are you care about your health and fitness, at least a little bit. And since you care, chances are VERY HIGH that you’ve heard at least one of the aforementioned quotes.

Hell, you might’ve even said one of those quotes at some point in your life. Which is forgivable if you’ve stopped, and if you haven’t⏤well, today is a great day to stop.

Nonetheless, dieting and making positive changes to your body is extremely difficult no matter what. But compound that with peer pressure from people around you and it makes a long-term transformation nearly impossible.

UNLESS… you’re prepared. And that’s what I want to discuss today, especially because there’s no shortage of office parties, dinners out, and family gatherings during this time of year.

Let’s dive in.

Here’s 4 ways to shield yourself from shitty things people say to you while dieting

*Quick disclaimer: The following is written assuming that you’re participating in healthy behavior. If you are over-exercising, or being far too restrictive with your diet, there is a good chance that people are worried about you and have valid concerns about your health, and that is a completely different topic.*

1. Remember this quote: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” ⏤ Viktor Frankl

I think this quote is so powerful because it’s a reminder that you are always in control.

In a real world example, that “stimulus” he’s referring to is coming from your coworker, Janet, who’s just used one of the insulting quotes from above. In that moment, right after she finishes saying it, there’s going to be an internal response from you⏤anger, embarrassment, insecurity, anxiety, etc.⏤and your cheeks will flush and you’ll feel that swift gut punch.

But there’s also a pause. THIS is that space between Janet’s stimulus and your response to what she just said.

In this space, you have two choices: 1) say something snarky back and retaliate with anger, which will show your neck to Janet and prove you’re weak. OR, 2) laugh it off, ignore Janet, and continue doing whatever the hell you want, strutting off in sweet victory as Janet contemplates her sad, unfulfilling life.

To me, number two sounds like a winner. Commit to being stronger than Janet’s piss poor attempts at puncturing your shield of confidence.

2. If they intentionally say something rude, know that it’s only a projection of their own insecurities.

Once you understand this, you should honestly feel bad for them.

Think of it as a child throwing a temper-tantrum. The child will say hurtful things in attempts to make themselves feel better. Because, well, that’s basically what’s going on in these instances.

Also remember that they can only hurt you if you let them. This overlaps with the first point, but YOU have the power when you own up to your own insecurities. The remarks that Janet made wouldn’t hurt you if you didn’t believe in them, at least just a little bit. It hurts because it “exposes” our self-proclaimed weaknesses.

But here’s the thing: we all have insecurities. I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but if you truly believe it, then it’s foolish to take these comments so personally.

Let them roll off you like a drop of water on a rain jacket.

“If anyone tells you that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you but answer, “He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would not have mentioned these alone.” 

⏤ Epictetus (dead philosopher guy who knew some things)

3. Recognize it’s often just genuine ignorance and cut the other person some slack ⏤ sometimes they actually do just care/worry about you. 

Look, a lot of these comments are made by people who love us. Dearly. They just don’t always know how to express it appropriately when it comes to making positive comments about our bodies/food/fitness.

For example, let me go on record stating that it’s almost never a good idea to tell a guy he’s looking “skinny” or “thin” or “smaller.” Moms, aunts, and grandmas often think this is a compliment to someone who works out because thin/skinny = healthy (in their mind).

In reality, it’s basically like telling a girl she looks fat.

Guys want to hear “lean” or “fit” or “strong.” Because skinny or thin can be misconstrued as weak or frail looking. This isn’t all guys, but I know I’ve heard this from plenty of other dudes, too, so I know I’m not the only one who’s insecure about this topic.

Nonetheless, give most people the benefit of the doubt. Again, just laugh/brush it off, smile, and say “There’s always room for improvement!” Or, you know, something generic like that to get them off your back.

4. Turn it into a game. Literally make something up.

This one is gonna be a curve ball, but here’s an example of what I mean:

Janet: “Pfft, a salad? I’m gonna eat this burger because I love myself..”

You: “Yeah, it sucks. I would LOVE to eat a burger right now, but I’ve been having some digestive issues lately with red meat. Salad is the only thing I’ve been able to eat for weeks.”

Now, Janet feels bad, immediately backtracks, and then apologizes for what she said.

Do you actually have digestive issues? NOPE. But does that matter? NOPE.

Obviously this may not work as well on people who know you better than a co-worker, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still just make something up.

 

  • “I’ve been having diarrhea lately when I eat that.”

 

  • “I’ve got a bet with my sister on who can go the longest without eating sweets. Winner gets $100.”

 

  • “I’m having a colonoscopy tomorrow so I can’t eat that right now.”

 

Literally, make up any excuse you want. Have fun with it.

And lastly, you wanna know why it’s okay to make up something or tell a lie when someone makes a rude, backhanded remark to you about your diet?

Because fuck you, Janet, that’s why.

 

***

PS: If you need someone to help you fight off the Janet’s of the world⏤and one day make Janet ask you what your “secret” is⏤let’s work 1-on-1 and dominate your fitness goals together. You can apply here.

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