Emotions Friends Obesity

What Should I Do?

What do you do when you become friends with someone who doesn’t understand your weight-loss efforts?

I met a girl several months ago, and lately we have spent time hanging together with mutual friends. She’s a very nice person (to everyone except herself.) Though she has vowed not to step on a scale, it’s obvious to me that she’s larger than I was when I began losing weight a year ago.

We both like to sing. We both enjoy scrapbooking. And we are friends with other girls that we both totally respect and admire. So why am I bothered?

The truth is I’m bothered for several reasons. I’m going to list them in an attempt to figure out where to go from here.

  • She talks badly about herself on a regular basis. I don’t like this, and I simply cannot be around someone who thinks it’s okay to do this.
  • She has absolutely no desire to change. I mean, I don’t believe that for a moment, but that’s what she says. She accepts that fact that she’s overweight and admits she is lazy and loves food too much to try again.
  • Though I purposely try to avoid the subject of weight-loss with her (so I don’t seem as if I’m trying to convince her because, frankly, it’s none of my business) she speaks about it frequently with me. She says she wishes that things were different, but she’s tried “all of the diets out there” like Optifast and other crazy diets that would set anyone up to fail.
  • She often speaks of wanting to meet someone as though she’s given up on that too. She says she only meets “idiots and men who wish to use her.” I certainly believe that. No one who is happy and self-sufficient wants to be around someone who doesn’t believe they’re worth the effort to be the best they can be for themselves.

Now for the good…she’s a talented and lovely person. I heard her sing over the weekend, and she blew me away. I knew she was good, but to hear her in her element just made me say “wow!” And as I said, she’s a wonderful person..very complimentary of her friends and others. But she’s hard on herself.

I can’t be friends with someone who thinks it’s okay to put herself down because I don’t believe it’s okay. And because I don’t want to become desensitized to that kind of behavior. So last week when we were hanging out, she kept putting herself down. And I told her to stop. I told her that I do not like it and that I refuse to listen to her talk that way about herself. And I reminded her that she doesn’t need to beat me to the punch because I’ll never insult her.

She apologized and said that she didn’t mean to. She didn’t even realize she was doing it. She’s just so used to “beating them to the punch.” I feel for her because I get it. I understand that because I used to do it, but I’ve changed. And while those changes didn’t come overnight, they’re ingrained in me now. And I have no intention of letting anyone drag me backwards.

I don’t want to give up on her. I think I’m lucky to have her in my circle of friends now. But I’m not sure how to proceed. I’ve told her countless times that I’m not interested in changing her (though I do wish she’d see how much fun we’re having as we lose weight and join us.) But she talks about it anyway. She insults herself anyway.

In friendships and relationships, I’m attracted to people who are confident and have big dreams. And I leave no room for people who don’t have life goals and aspirations. Those people, in my opinion, are a drain on my joy.

On the flip side, I’ve always fought for the underdog. I’ve always tried to see the best in myself and in others – and with this friend that’s not hard to do. She has some great qualities, but I’m not sure if that’s enough to maintain a close friendship with her. I need to be surrounded by uplifting people, but I’d like to be an uplifting person for her if I can. Any thoughts?

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25 Comments

  • Reply
    Barb
    April 7, 2010 at 5:21 am

    Hi Kenz!

    I've been peeking in, but haven't put in my two cents worth lately!

    You are such a good friend and a good example for your friend. It's very obvious that she is hurting terribly inside, and desperately needs help. It sounds like you have done everything you can possibly do for her ~ I would bet that her problems are very deep and stem from something from her childhood or early adolescent years? It sounds like she could use some counseling.

    Don't give up on her ~ you are doing exactly what you should be doing by stopping her when she is so self-abusive, don't dwell on it, but let her know that you won't listen to it.

    By setting a good example ~ like you are doing ~ you are helping her more than you can imagine!

    Hang in there, she's worth it!

    Hugs,
    Barb

  • Reply
    Sneaker Teacher
    April 7, 2010 at 7:49 am

    That's a tough one Kenz. I noticed something similar with my mom when she lost 50 pounds a few years ago. She looked great and people would tell her and compliment her and she would always respond with ugh I'm so fat. She was 135 pounds! I talked to her about accepting compliments and I really think she was so used to feeling bad that it was just her nature to put herself down.

    If you see good qualities in this person, I think it's worth trying to pursue a friendship but the important part is making sure that you stay true to who you are. Don't let her influence you just hope that you are an influence on her instead. I think you have such a positive regard for life that I can't imagine it not being contagious!!

  • Reply
    Tammy
    April 7, 2010 at 11:02 am

    I have friends who do that, too. I always tell them to stop making such comments about themselves. I told them that I don't do it about myself because I don't want to bring attention to something that perhaps the other person hasn't noticed. I'm not real fond of my knees, but if someone compliments my dress, I certainly don't say "thanks, but you can see my chubby knees". If I'm lucky, they haven't noticed my knees, or if they did, they think they look fine. Stick with her a while longer — it sounds like you could be a good influence on her without specifically talking about weight loss.

  • Reply
    Beth P.
    April 7, 2010 at 11:08 am

    It is so hard to accept when a relationship is going to be toxic for you! I think just acknowledging that this could be a problem friendship for you gives a little insight into how you feel deep down about remaining friends with her. And you are not giving up on her. You are doing whats best for you.

    It sounds to me like you've tried to let her know how you feel about things, and maybe that is the most you can do for her right now. Until she accepts herself and is truly happy with herself (whether it be actually accepting the way she is or jumping on the weight loss bandwagon…), just being the positive influence may be all you can do at this point in time.

  • Reply
    Southerner Out Of Water
    April 7, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    "See the light in others and treat them as if that is all you see."
    β€” Wayne Dyer
    We have all been there at a point in our lives or will be. Sometimes we make multiple trips to that place. Who stuck around for you? Who unselfishly loved on you?
    Some issues are from very deep and sensitive places inside us. Some behaviors are so automatic and defensive, it can take much effort, conscious thought, and time to break it.
    It sounds like your friend needs some unselfish love and some handy tools. Good friends are one thing. Therapy/counseling is a great choice as well.
    great book – http://www.amazon.com/Ourselves-Experience-Emotional-Relationships-Fulfillment/dp/0785273433

  • Reply
    Heather B.
    April 7, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    I have had many friends like this. And I do get it just like you but HATE it! It is alot easier to be horrible to yourself they to be HAPPY for yourself! They all know that I don't want to hear their negatives!

    Don't give up on her! She will one day see that what you are doing is working for you and could work for her. Only she can change for herself but you could tug on her heartstrings a little. Invite her to a meeting with you. She may say no but it is worth a shot!
    Good luck with this. I know it is hard!

  • Reply
    Sheila
    April 7, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    I think the advice from everyone above is great! You are truly a great person….

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    April 7, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Wow, what a great friend you are. Your friend reminds me of myself (but without the singing talent…). Not everyone can lose weight fast enough to believe it's worth the extreme effort…so I can relate to your friend. And I have a best girl friend who has stuck with me for 25 years. We walk for three miles together first thing every morning (50 min). She pumps 5 lb. weights the whole walk, to keep her heart rate up. I treasure her friendship!!! I've learned not to belittle myself, she loves me.

  • Reply
    hillary
    April 7, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    If you give up on her because she talks badly about herself you are only going to solidify in her mind that she is infact bad. Be the positive example in her life. People don't have to have the same goals in life as you. You can just show her by example and hope she changes her mind. But it isn't your job to make her think the way you do.

  • Reply
    Sarah @ Keep On Keepin' On
    April 7, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Sometimes I am bad about the self depricating talk. My mom freaks out anytime she hears me use the word fat to describe myself.

    This is what I have learned: no one can change your behavior but yourself. No matter how many times you talk with her about it, no matter how motivating you try to be, or many times you invite her to workout, attend meetings, etc., there is nothing you can do to change the way she lives her life, until she decides she wants to and is ready to do it.

    I have been in your shoes many times before, with many different friends, dealing with many different topics besides weight loss. The only thing you can do is be there for her when she needs to talk and try to encourage her when she needs it. She's lucky to have a friend like you, which I'm sure she realizes. Hopefully, one day she will realize how worthy she is of making a change.

  • Reply
    Deb Willbefree
    April 7, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Kenz, The best I can give you is to tell you to reread your post. πŸ™‚ You will find your answers within it.

    I do have some questions, tho. You often asserted that you don't want to change this person…you're not trying to change her…

    Well, if that is true, then you are accepting her as she is and loving her as she is. Are you?

    She will sense if you are not, and will react to that disapproval–unspoken tho it may be. She has extremely sensitive radar that is tuned into the "I'm not measuring up" vibes.

    She will likely read another's desire for her to be better as their desire to improve her–which will tell her that she is not good enough as she is. Is that in the air for her to find?

    If it is, it will help explain why she feels the need "to beat you to the punch." Realize that her perception and reactions will be a little off for she has been punched many times before.

    At one point you said, "I understand that, because I used to do it, but I've changed." My guess is that this is the area in which you need to look to discover why you are so troubled by her. It is where you will find the source of your reactions.

    I could be completely off-base, you know. πŸ™‚ Reading a post can leave inaccurate impressions that would be quickly corrected if there were a back and forth conversation.

    The bottom line would be the same, however. And that is: the truth of this situation is in you. Sit quietly with it…reread your post…feel your feelings & ask them questions. πŸ™‚

    Remember: A feeling is a secondary response–it comes after a thought; it is based on a belief. Sometimes the thought is unnoticed at first–just the feeling is felt. The thought/belief is in there, tho. you just need to find it.

    This thing I do know–you have an excellent heart. You see the worth of your friend and you want the best for her. Of that, I have no doubt.

    Deb

  • Reply
    Maranda
    April 7, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    That is a tough one. Just remember you can be a good example for her, maybe when she says something negative you should say something positive to help her realize that not everything is awful about her.

  • Reply
    Heather B.
    April 7, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    My hubby just read your post and says this: that you are "[she is] such a great friend! Believe in her or she won't believe in herself. Invite her to a meeting every week. Eventually she will say yes and that is when her journey will start!!!"

  • Reply
    Em
    April 7, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    I don't think she means any of what she says. She may truly believe those negative things about herself, but I don't think she is truly comfortable being overweight.

    Continue hanging out with her but stand your ground against her being negative. Continue letting her know that's not okay to be like that. Just continue loving on her for who she is and what she has the potential to be. She'll see that and want to become the person you see in her.
    (Having been there (and still there sometimes) I know that for her you may be her greatest cheerleader!)

    **HUGS**

  • Reply
    Chrissy MacCEO
    April 8, 2010 at 2:03 am

    Hey there – this is a tough one. You have come so far yourself and you are right, you can't have someone elses issues get in the way of your progress in any way, shape or form. But, she is so lucky to have you in her life and I, too, would want to show her how she can do the right things to change the things about herself that she probably is really NOT happy with. I think that you have a great head on your sholders and will foigure out how to handle this. Sorry I can't be more of a help. But I do think that you are so motivational and that if pursued the right way, you can likely help her out a great deal.

  • Reply
    jenjen
    April 8, 2010 at 4:57 am

    I just deleted my own comment – that wasn't very smart!

    I'll try it again. It sounds like your friend needs some therapy or something to help her feel better about herself. But I am sure being around you is really helping her. Maybe you can ignore her low self esteem for awhile she will gradually change.

    XOOX
    Jen

  • Reply
    β™₯ Kenz β™₯
    April 8, 2010 at 5:06 am

    I can definitely accept her as she is, but she has to do it too. I have not invited her to join me in losing weight, and I don't hint about it. I try to avoid the topic with her, but she brings it up – all the time. I think she tries to show me that she knows what I'm thinking only it's not what I'm thinking.

    I don't need her to get thin or to workout with me or to eat the right foods. I honestly don't care what she looks like (and I would expect that same from anyone I chose to have as a friend too.)

    But the negative self talk bothers me a lot. And Deb, I think one of the reasons it bothers me so much is that I don't want to turn into that kind of person. I know I'm not, and I have no intentions of changing that. But negativity breeds negativity.

    She can afford therapy, but chooses not to go. I'll try to be a good friend to her, but it's already taxing. And I won't be fake.

    The negative self talk is a product of her obesity (and probably other things too.) And yes, that does have to change, or I'll have to let go of the friendship.

    I suppose it's harsh, but I don't want to let anyone bring me down..

  • Reply
    Diz
    April 8, 2010 at 5:33 am

    Kenz- sounds to me like she's just in a really bad and unhappy place. Of course, that does affect you when you're around her, and of course that makes it super hard. I would tell her the truth- say look, I love you as a friend, but this has got to change or I can't really be around you anymore. I think you're fabulous, but I love my life and I love so many things, and when we're together, I feel like you focus on negative things and it brings me down. Of course I want to play with you, but if you continue to say such negative things, I'm not going to want to hang out much more because it affects me when you talk like that- even if it's "only about you". The truth is, it's not only about you, it's about me and your family and everyone else. So stop." Ha. I'm on an honesty kick lately. You've worked too hard to get away from that, and you've got to put your foot down because it's already bringing you down- look at your post. You don't need this, no matter how much you love her as a friend. πŸ™

  • Reply
    Sharon O'Leary
    April 8, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Hi!
    This is my first time weighing in because your topic hit so close to home! Unfortunately, throughout my weight loss journey, I've lost some friends along the way – simply because I couldn't have them in my life anymore. When people grow and change, the folks who don't want to get left behind, and their negativity and sadness become so large, so overwhelming, that it threatens to engulf the people who do.
    Even the most wonderful, friendly, nice people can be toxic!

    I used to be that girl – always putting myself down, eating junk, being lazy. I could blame as many things as I wanted, but at the end of the day, only I was to blame. I was the reason I was fat. Only I could help myself. As only your friend can help herself. She needs to make the decision to change and be healthy. No amount of success on your part will make her successful.

    For me, it is VERY hard to keep toxic people in my life. I am simply worth too much, have worked too hard, am too proud of myself to surround myself with people who sabotage (whether deliberate or not) my success.

    Good luck!!
    Sharon

  • Reply
    kaitlin
    April 8, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    You say that you avoid the topic of losing weight with her, but that she brings it up anyway. Do you think maybe she is trying to get YOU to bring it up? Maybe she doesn't know how to ask for help in any other way. She can obviously see that you are succeeding, and maybe she really does want help, but is too scared to ask directly. Just a thought.

    I know this is a tough issue, and I have had friends in the past who put themselves down all the time, too. Actually, I am friends with one now. And when she says stuff like that, I do one of two things:

    1. Ignore the comments and change the subject.
    or
    2. Ask her what she is going to do about it.

    That's really all I can do. We are still friends, and I will not abandon the friendship, but I do limit my time spent with her. There are different levels of friendship… you don't have to be best friends with everyone.

    So I guess that is my input. I hope things work out for you and this girl, because she does sounds like a fun person, when she isn't putting herself down!

  • Reply
    β™₯ Kenz β™₯
    April 8, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    You know, Kaitlin, I never even considered that she might be trying to reach out. But you might be right. She came for a walk with me at the park earlier this week, and she was a little surprised that I went at her pace. I told her I would. I offered to take breaks, but she didn't want to. Instead, she'd find something to be interested in (like a sign) to stop and read. I knew what she was doing because it's something I've done in the past too. πŸ™‚ So she was definitely trying..I'll walk with her again.

    But as I said, I really don't care if she loses weight or not. It's not an issue for me. The issue I have is with the negativity she conveys when she's talking.

  • Reply
    Sarah
    April 8, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Ah negativity. This grates on me quick. I have someone in my life currently who, while totally fabulous, is constantly beating herself up. I am growing weary of one uping her negative comments with something positive but it's the only thing I know how to do at this point.

    imho, this woman lacks belief in herself. I am not sure that is something that you can help someone with though. It's so personal… I think your success comes from believing that you can. At some point a switch flipped, you hit an ah-ha moment or whatever, but you went from I can't to I can. This woman does not sound like she believes she can… But everyone can. You do however have to set yourself up for success and the negative self talk… doesn't help.

    I'd give her a bit more time. But as I am fond of saying, you have to be best version of yourself that you can be without sacrificing your own happiness. There will always be people like this in the world. Some, with a nudge, can turn it around. But throwing our your back for it, imho, not worth it.

  • Reply
    Sarah
    April 8, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    That should say, throwing out your back for it.

  • Reply
    Seth
    April 8, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    I don't really have anything else to say that has not been said. I am a firm believer in staying true to who you are and surrounding yourself with people that will make you better.

    You have to be honest with yourself whether she is making you a better person. I'm not saying being mean to her or to even tell her what you think, but to surround yourself with people that can encourage you to be better and you encourage them to be better.

    She's got to do it for herself.

  • Reply
    KellyNY
    April 9, 2010 at 12:37 am

    Hi Kenz. Everyone has pretty much said what i'm thinking, which is that no one wants to really be around such negativity. It's up to you whether or not you drop her as a friend, and just remember that a great support system of positivity is sooo important on this journey.

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