You may have noticed that for the most part, my articles focus on the positive aspects of getting fit. (I have found the upside so incredible that I wonder why it took me so long to make positive changes.) At the same time, I recognize the downside: when we decide to make changes and get fit, some of us will find ourselves dealing with individuals who seek to undermine our efforts.
Undermining can take many forms. Someone may tell you that your efforts are hopeless or that you are going to fail. You may be told that you are too old to “learn new tricks” or that losing weight is unhealthy. You may be encouraged to have a second helping even after you’ve declined. (The person will insist that “just a little more won’t hurt.”) Someone may try to discourage you by telling you that even if you do lose weight, you’ll only gain it back and then some.
To deal with these comments, I’ve developed an acronym: I AM. The simple statement “I am” reminds me that I am entitled to make my own choices. Here are three ways to deal with underminers:
I: Ignore their comments. Later, you may be surprised to learn that these people were secretly admiring you, and once you succeed, former saboteurs will follow your example and also get fit.
A: Accept their comments and acknowledge their opinions. A wonderful response is “That’s certainly one point of view.” This response shows respect for others’ opinions (you haven’t made them wrong), it shows that alternative views exist and it also makes it clear you don’t share their viewpoints.
M: Move on. You can change the topic of conversation or even, in extreme cases, distance yourself and end the relationship. If evolving into a fit and healthy person disrupts your relationship, then you may need to find a new and healthier one. Just as you replace your oversized wardrobe once as you move down in size, you may need to replace an undermining friend with a supportive one.
Whatever strategy you employ, you can use the experience to steel your resolve. Anytime you hear that you might fail, move your determination up a notch. Use the naysayers of negativity to strengthen your commitment to fitness.