Help! I Live/Work With a Diet Wrecker!

I’m back talking about excuses again.


"He knows I'll eat it when he brings it into the house!" or "It's his house too and he can buy what he wants. I'm not his victim.  I'm capable to make choices to support my weight-related goals!"

“He knows I’ll eat it when he brings it into the house!” or “It’s his house too and he can buy what he wants. I’m not his victim. I’m capable to make choices to support my weight-related goals!”

I don’t judge but I do have a habit of eavesdropping. I can’t help it. It’s as though my ears were programmed to pick up conversations about weight loss regardless of where I am, what I’m doing or how much noise and confusion is going on around me. As soon as people start talking about losing weight, everything else fades away.

The other day I was in a restaurant alone. I was traveling for work so this wasn’t about dining out with a companion. This was about being very hungry and needing to stop to eat. It’s easier to eavesdrop when I’m alone because I don’t have to be rude by shutting out whomever is dining with me.

At the very next booth two women were talking about their struggles with weight loss. I’ll call them “A” and “B.”

A: How’s your diet coming along?

B: Ugh! You had to mention it! If I were purposely trying to gain weight  I’d be thrilled!

A: Not so good, huh?

B: No, not good at all. It’s so hard to be good when my hubby keeps bringing home takeout food and ice cream! I want to eat a salad for supper and then he walks in the door with my favorite, orange sesame chicken!

A: Don’t feel bad. I’m not doing any better. Being divorced allows me to be in charge of the food that comes in my house since I live alone, but it’s the girls in the office. They are all skinny and they all bring in all their leftover goodies. Everytime they have a party or something they pack up all the leftovers to take to the office. I swear, the place is boobytrapped. Everywhere you look there’s candy, cookies, pies, and cakes. It’s ridiculous!

B: Hubby was talking about saving money this week. I’m hoping that means he won’t be coming home with any surprises. Maybe I’ll be able to lose a pound or two this week.

A: That would be nice for you. If you lose weight, though, I’m going to be jealous! I don’t have any hope that the office won’t be filled with goodies. I think I’d have to quit my job to get away from that stuff.

B: I hear you. It’s so hard with people bringing all that food around all the time. It’s not fair.

As I listened to them commiserate about their failed attempts at losing weight I thought these women are sharing excuses and giving each other sympathy when they could be giving each other support and motivation.

Sympathy gives temporary comfort but it wears off and the bad feelings return. The women wallowed in pity but got nowhere. If neither really wanted to lose weight and were looking for approval or at least understanding for staying at their current weights, they filled a need for each other.

It’s hard for me to just listen; I have so much to share because of all the insight I’ve gathered through my own efforts. I’d start by assuring the women that neither has to lose weight nor is it necessary for them to justify their apparent lack of progress. Weight loss is a decision that each woman should make because it would make her happier and if there are any health issues, then perhaps healthier too. Apologies for not losing weight are never needed.

Losing weight to please somebody else or because one feels ashamed or guilty are poor reasons to lose weight. I hate that other people can impose their values on people who are overweight and make them feel guilty, inferior, or any other negative emotion. I think it’s okay important to love yourself at any weight! If others don’t recognize what an awesome human being you are, that’s their loss, but certainly not your responsibility to change who you are to conform to their twisted standards.

Let’s say I discovered that A and B want to lose weight for personal reasons. They would enjoy wearing the cute clothes in their closets that currently are too small. B says her feet hurt too, and she knows they’d feel better if she dropped a few pounds. A says she’s uncomfortable at the movies because the armrests on the seats cut into her. Both women have personal reasons why they’d like to lose weight.

Knowing they both really want to lose weight, I would help them see how they could help each other find solutions instead of sympathy. All the time spent blaming other people and circumstances for their lack of progress could be used productively to find solutions to overcome their challenges.

A and B can help each other get what they want or try to console each other because they're not getting what they want.

A and B can try to console each other because they’re not getting what they want or they can help each other get what they want .

When B says, “It’s so hard to be good when my hubby keeps bringing home takeout food and ice cream! I want to eat a salad for supper and then he walks in the door with my favorite, orange chicken!,” A could say, “have you told him how that makes you feel?”

If B has told him multiple times, A could ask, “what needs to happen so that you can stay on track despite your husband’s lack of support and cooperation?”

Every problem has a solution, some are easy to identify and others take some concentration.

B might say, “well, if I could plan for those meals, then I could eat what he brings home and stick to my weight loss plan.”

Then their conversation might go like this…

A: Could you do that? What would it take for you to plan those meals?

B: Well I guess I don’t need to know exactly what he’s coming home with, but it’s usually something that’s pretty high in fat and calories. I could put a chunk of calories aside just for evenings. And I could eat lighter during the day.

A: Would you do that?

B: Ummmm, uhh, yes, YES! I would! I will!

Then they switch and B helps A with her challenge.

B: Do you enjoy the treats the girls bring into the office?

A: Most of the stuff is okay, not great.

B: Would you feel deprived if you didn’t eat it?

A: Not really. I just seem to eat it because it’s there. I don’t really even think about it, or crave it especially. It’s pretty mindless.

B: What would you like to do instead of eating that stuff?

A: Just leave it in the break room.

B: How would you do that?

A: Sip water might help. It would give me something else to do.

B: Could you do that?

A: Yes, oh! and if that doesn’t help I’ll take a brisk walk around the building for five minutes. I’ll actually increase my calorie burn instead of my calorie intake! Thanks!

I’d finish up with A and B by saying that if the two are you are good support for each other, imagine if you had a whole group of people with similar goals to support you? There’s strength in numbers. Losing weight isn’t easy and we all need all the help we can get. Check out a Weight Watchers® meeting. You can visit one for free to see if it’s something you think might help you. If not, there’s no obligation or pressure to join!

My meal is finished, I’ve paid the check, and it’s time to get back on the road. As I leave the restaurant, I turn around to say, “see you LIGHTER!” to my new friends, A and B!




Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.