Six kinds of weight loss haters and how to deal with them

Today I was driving myself and Wes back home after some errands when I got cut off by an SUV. Since that really got me to notice the details of the car, I couldn’t help but see a bright pink bumper sticker that said in big block letters “THROW CUPCAKES AT SKINNY PEOPLE!”.

My first thought was, “YES PLEASE!! I’ll take a free cupcake!!! Make mine chocolate!” But then my smile quickly disappeared as I realized, “Heyyyyy…I don’t think they were offering something nice.” And then I wondered just how well-received it would be if I had a bumper sticker that said “THROW CARROTS AT FAT PEOPLE”. Nooo, this was NOT a nice bumper sticker. It was a mean one! And I felt it to be a personal attack on everything I’ve been passionate about professionally, as well as against everything I try to instill in my clients.

I’m constantly seeing in the media the stigma that surrounds people that are obese or overweight. I have seen first-hand how they are treated prejudiciously and differently than their “average weight” counterparts. There has been a movement to embrace all body types and to stop body-shaming people, women in particular, that are overweight. I agree with this on all fronts. While I think that being obese is not optimal for good health and physical well-being, I do think that mental health is equally as important and that girls need to be taught from a very early age to have positive associations with body image and self esteem. To attack people for their obesity is neither effective in promoting good health, nor does it do anything to teach corrective behaviors. It only does things like make overweight people feel like they want to throw cupcakes at skinny people, right?

During your journey towards better health, fat loss, increased fitness, and in just achieving your personal healthy habits and goals, you’re probably going to encounter haters. Here are the six kinds that my clients usually come across:

One. The "overly-opinionated hater"

Imagine this, you’ve got your new nutrition program from your coach, you’ve planned out how you’re going to adhere to the new program, you’re excited about working out, and you’re super amped about the progress you’ve already made. Then some hater comes along and says something like “You know you’ll never be as skinny as you were five years ago, right? You just can’t because you [don’t have enough time/have children/don’t have the genes for it/are too old/insert other lame reasoning here].”

Or they’ll say that if you’re not bikini model skinny or stage competitor lean, then you haven’t accomplished anything. Well, what they imagine as your goals doesn’t have to be your reality. You don’t have to want to look like a Victoria’s Secret model or like you did in college, nor do you need to be that mom that was winning trophies on a stage for her ripped body right after having had a baby. Lawd knows I’m none of these things; nor was it my goal. Could they have been? Most definitely! I know without a doubt that I could manipulate my body to look like any of these. However, at that time, it was not my goal, as I wanted to maintain a milk supply to exclusively breastfeed for a year and maintain fertility to get pregnant right away. If it’s not your goal to look like this, then do not put that kind of pressure on yourself thinking that you need to!

And if you hear this from someone whose opinion matters to you, then wow, talk about getting a hard slap in the face. Few things will derail you than someone making it very clear that they have zero confidence in you or your goals. But I can almost guarantee that this opinion is coming from someone who hasn’t been successful in accomplishing this themselves. So, don’t let someone else’s own lack of success or absence of willpower direct your own actions and abilities. Your success is NOT dependent on someone else’s - or their lack thereof. And your success is not defined by anyone else’s goals but your own.

How to deal with these types of haters:

Use them as motivators and prove them wrong. And if this is something you deal with constantly from someone on the regular, cut them out of your life! You really don’t need people around you who want nothing but to discourage you and tear you down.

Two. The “won’t-give-you-credit-you-deserve hater”

One of my hubby’s biggest pet peeves is when people tell him that he’s “so lucky to have the genes to eat whatever you want”. I can guarantee you that, even though he has never been overweight, he has always worked really hard at his diet and prioritizes fitness somewhere within the ranks of family, career, and Lakers’ basketball.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not one to bash genetic disadvantages. I have hypothyroidism, so I have one of the ultimate genetic limiters against weight control. My body is working very hard against me to stay metabolically slow and wants to hold on to every bit of my fat reserves - and store extra for later because it’s just that good to me. So, yes, I totally get what it’s like to not have the “skinny gene”. And there are other genetic issues that will affect your ability to lose or gain weight, like PCOS, Crohn’s Disease, hyperthyroidism, and diabetes.

And yes, I agree there are different body somatotypes like mesomorph, endomorph, and ectomorphs, which can influence your physical appearance. But that doesn’t take away the fact that credit should be given where credit is due! If someone has lost weight by prioritizing their health and fitness, by not making excuses and blaming extrinsic factors, by taking a slow and steady approach to healthy weight loss, by maintaining an active lifestyle, and by making decisions that support their goals, then they shouldn’t be patronized for having a healthy metabolism that responds to these behaviors.

How to deal with these types of hater:

It’s easier to accept failures if these haters can displace the blame on something and/or try to convince themselves that their weight gain is out of their hands. In this case, the best way to deal with these haters is to either (1) ignore them and keep kicking ass, (2) ask them to describe what they do that’s so similar to you that still doesn’t allow for them to have success, and/or (3) ask if they’d like to know the details of exactly how hard you are working to achieve your goals!

Three. The “jealous hater”

As you start to lose fat, gain confidence, improve your goals, attract more attention, get compliments, and continue to progress and succeed, you may encounter the jealous hater. This hater doesn’t like the new attention you’re getting, nor do they like that you may have proven them wrong (if they started out as the outspoken hater). So, as a reflection of their jealousy, they set out to hate on you by tearing you down as a person (“she’s so conceited now”), down-playing your hard work and attributing your success to surgery, starvation, diet pills, or even an eating disorder (“she’s anorexic!” or “she probably had lipo”), not talking to you at all (“she thinks she’s better than me”), and talking to others negatively behind your back when others compliment you or ask how you’re doing (“oh, she’s busy doing this stupid diet thing and never wants to go out drinking with us anymore”).

How to deal with these types of haters:

This is a touchy one because it’s really hard not to take this kind of behavior personally - because it IS personal! But it’s important to remind yourself that this hater is jealous and it not portraying anything that is a real reflection of who you truly are. The best thing to do is to shake it off and continue to be the person you are trying to become. True friends won’t believe gossip and will support you and cheer you on no matter who is trying to change their mind! Rumors are invented by haters, spread by fools, and accepted by idiots. Continue to be a positive influence and set a good example for the values that you hold. It’s not your fault that someone else doesn’t have the discipline nor the motivation to achieve what you have.

Four. The “inadvertent-saboteur hater”

Before I had my first baby, I spent late nights leading up to my due date making macro-friendly meals that I put in containers and froze so that I would have plenty of food options for when I’d be too exhausted and busy to cook our usual meals. Fortunately, we were very unexpectedly blessed with super thoughtful and generous people in our lives. Our friends and neighbors began bringing over food several times a week and a few in particular continued to do this on a regular basis for the next several months, which helped us so much, and we ate everything up with a gusto! In addition, my mom took several weeks off from work and came down every other weekend with bags of groceries and ingredients to make traditional postpartum meals for me (in the Korean culture, it’s strongly felt that cold anything - temperature, water, ice, food, etc. is debilitating to a mother’s recovery, so there is a lot of emphasis on soups, layers of clothing, staying off your feet, and staying indoors). Even today I am still so incredibly grateful for her generosity and for everything that she did to cook and clean for us, by the 2nd week into my mother’s 30-day prescription of seaweed soup and rice, and after seeing her mince up our premium grass fed ribeye into what became a garnish on a noodle dish, I had to gently tell her “thank you, but no thank you”.

She had all of the best intentions and she was doing so much for us, so the last thing I ever wanted to do was hurt her feelings or make her think we weren’t appreciative and receptive of all that she was doing, but both the hubby and I were feeling the impacts of the decrease in protein and we were ready to get back to our usual eating habits. My mom is an emotionally fragile person, so I was concerned about how she would take me asking her to change what she was cooking for us, but after I explained to her what we were trying to accomplish and how important it was to us that we get in more protein and well-rounded meals, she was very supportive and did what she could to help provide this for us!

You may also have that person in your life that is really good about making sure you’re fed and never hungry. And without knowing about your specific goals, they may inadvertently sabotage them by supplying you with everything you’re trying hard to avoid.

How to deal with these types of haters:

Whether you’re afraid to hurt their feelings, or you’re using this as an excuse to indulge and deviate off your nutrition plan, or you are looking for someone else to blame if you’re fearful of failure, the best thing to do is just express how grateful you are for the help and for the generosity, but at the same time express how you have been instructed to adhere to a specific set of rules when it comes to what you eat. Hopefully if you express that it’s out of your hands, they won’t take it personally and will want to support you and will ask what alternatives they could bring instead. If you had a food allergy, they would hopefully treat it very seriously and avoid bringing any foods over that you were unable to eat. The same respect should be given to your nutrition goals. If they can’t accept having to make adjustments to their way of helping, then just politely smile, say thank you, and throw it all out as soon as you can and replace it with what you know is in line with your goals.

Five. The “deliberate-saboteur hater”

Had you ever been out with a friend that was like, “Oh, you should totally get the triple calorie double decadence cake! It’s like the best thing I’ve ever eaten! You’ll love it!” And then after you’ve put in your order and it’s their turn, they say in a particular tone, “Oh, I won’t eat that. Too much fat and carbs!” while shaking their head and silently judging you? Then there are the friends that insist that “Oh, you can have just one - live a little, what’s ONE going to do??” when you respectfully decline that double stuffed donut. Or the ones that make comments under their breath but loud enough for all to hear: “Oh, Kristina won’t eat THAT. She’s on a diet.” As if daring you to not be the odd one out and eat something you weren’t planning to. Finally, how about the friend that gets you the subscription to the fried butter of the month club right when you’ve told everyone about your intentions to change your nutritional habits?

As if giving up guilty pleasures weren’t hard enough, there always will be the someone that just straight wants to see you fail! Just like you wouldn’t take a recovering alcoholic a bottle of wine, why would someone want to wave temptation in your face or deliberately try to steer you off course when you’ve been working so hard?

Why? Because there are just people out there who RELISH in seeing people squirm or just get mere satisfaction in seeing people fail. I see it all the time in the industry that I’m in. There are people everywhere trying to succeed as fitness professionals, nutrition coaches, bloggers, or as influential moms, and they forget that there is room for everyone at the top. I’ve seen and experienced first-hand the two-facedness, the behind-the-back ish talking, and the deliberate withholding of support. Instead of trying to climb on top of each other - or worse, tear each other down, women should help empower one another and carry each other to the finish line. It’s hard not to take these things personally, but I just remind myself to keep lifting up others and success will follow!

Just accept that you will encounter or may even currently have people in your life who will be afraid of your success and accomplishments because of whatever light it will shine on you, thinking that it automatically means they will be cast into the shadow.

How to deal with these types of haters:

Keep your own focus shifted away from criticizing others and towards helping them instead. That can even mean helping those that hurt you! Help them by setting an example of success and determination by focusing on your goals and exceeding them by being a good person.

Six. The “scared-of-change hater”

People fear change. As much as we are intrigued by novelty and surprise, most of us feel more secure with predictability, dependability, stability, and complacency. This goes for the people around us, too. If someone sees you going through too many positive changes too fast, it can make them feel subconsciously uneasy and like their losing the sense of security they had with you. A significant other may feel threatened by your new look, a friend my feel threatened by your success and new confidence, family members may feel they’re losing the person they’ve always known, and any combination of these may cause people to feel that all the things they love about you may be lost along with all the weight. So these people may cut you down by saying your goals are unrealistic, by discouraging you saying that you “don’t have the genes” to not be fat, by demoralizing your character (I’ve seen boyfriends or husbands slut-shame their significant others), and/or by supporting you to your face, but sabotaging your efforts by constantly shoving temptation in your face.

You may even end up sabotaging yourself because of your unexpected success and because accomplishing something you didn’t know you could (or you didn’t think you deserved) scares you. I see this all the time with clients who have never not been overweight. As soon as they start to lose weight, excuses start to surface, the wheels start coming off, and their motivation totally starts to derail. They will deliberately create situations or states of “busyness” that will then become excuses for why they couldn’t eat on plan or make it to a workout. A fear of change can influence and affect your behavior way more than you’d ever realize. Tom Hardy shared, “I ran in a school race and I suddenly realized I was in the lead. I looked at the finish line and just freaked, then ran to the side as if I’d hurt myself. It was everything to do with fear of success.”

How to deal with these types of haters:

Whether the sabotage is coming from you or from someone else, it’s very important that you remind yourself of how much you deserve to get what you want - which is hopefully a healthier lifestyle and healthier habits that allow you to feel more comfortable in your own skin and with how you feel overall and day-to-day.

Somehow, being healthy and the journey to get healthy have become synonymous with punishment or something that is very hard and painful. It’s not! And it shouldn’t be! — As long as you’re given the right strategies that will teach you how to balance your life and the foods that you enjoy. Don’t be afraid of what you are capable of! And don’t be afraid of failure. You may think you’ve never been able to lose weight successfully, but you need to change that line of thinking to “never been able to lose weight successfully…until NOW.”

These are just some examples of haters that my clients frequently encounter. At the end of the day, you can’t please everyone, and it should never be your obligation to try to. Take care of yourself and be kind to others, and your true friends and true support will shine along beside you!

Who are some of the haters that you’ve encountered in your nutrition and fitness journey?

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Newport Beach, California