You’ve just told your partner that you’re making your health a priority. They’ve vowed to be supportive, applauding your decision. And the next day they bring home a box of doughnuts.
You’re incensed and a little hurt! Are they trying to sabotage you?
Maybe, maybe not. Behavior change is challenging for the individual undergoing the process of change, but also those around them.
If you’re recently embarked on a journey of change and have encountered negative nancies, inadvertent saboteurs, and other puzzling or downright aggravating behavior from family, friends, or coworkers, boundaries may be in order.
What are Boundaries in Weight Loss?
A boundary refers to a set of rules or principles that govern your life and how you expect to be treated/how you allow others to treat you.
Oftentimes, we fail to set boundaries because we have learned that we should accept a certain behavior from another in an effort to people please or be polite or appropriate.
Setting boundaries takes time and work, and can often feel incredibly selfish and challenging.
However, setting boundaries is important because the expectations we set for others will ultimately determine how they treat us and how successful we are in a time of healthy physical and emotional change.
In weight loss, setting boundaries and communicating them to loved ones can happen in many ways.
Providing Alternative Behaviors
For example, asking a loved one to show care or appreciation with non-food items rather than the provision of baked goods. For example, “Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness! It was so kind of you to drop off cookies to thank me for mowing your lawn. In the future, we’re really trying to reduce sugar, so a simple thank you is more than sufficient!”
Asking for Home-Based Supports
For example, asking your partner to not bring home trigger foods. Use “I” language rather than “You” language. “I would really appreciate it and it would really help me a lot if…” vs “Why do you always bring home junk?”
Advocating for Your Needs
For example, redirecting plans from happy hour to a shopping trip, expressing your desire to spend time with the other person while providing a gentle reminder of the goals you’ve set for your health.
Remember that setting a boundary is not selfish, and it does not mean that you don’t care about the other person or want them in your life.
Instead, it means that you want them in your life and you’re giving them the opportunity to help you be successful.