- Why do people keep weight-loss goals secret?
- Find out why secret weight-loss goals set you up to fail
- Learn how to break your silence
This post debunks the 2nd of five common weight-loss misconceptions:
Keep your weight-loss goals secret
All five misunderstandings were captured in a short diary entry written by a 13 year-old. Rebecca courageously shared her weight-loss struggle on the Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids Podcast. To get the most out of this post, read Common Weight-loss Misconceptions Intro to hear Rebecca’s Diary entry. The 1st Common Weight-loss Misconception can be read here.
Common weight-loss Misconception #2:
Keep your weight-loss goals secret
13 year-old Rebecca:
“I am too embarrassed to tell them [her parents] that I want to lose fat.”
The diet industry has led us to believe weight loss is about willpower. So when we can’t lose weight we feel ashamed. And shame leads to secrecy.
Furthermore, popular culture hails strong and silent as admirable.
For 10 years I kept my weight-loss goals secret. For those 10 years everything got worse instead of better. My first turning point was when I finally told someone I trusted what was going on.
I wanted to write this post to explain why you should see asking for help in a new light and to encourage you to take the first step. Additionally, opening up will bring about all sorts of unexpected surprises …
My experience keeping weight-loss goals secret
Why I kept my weight-loss goals secret:
i. When I couldn’t lose weight I was embarrassed
I thought I lacked determination; a character trait I’d built my identity around.
ii. I didn’t want anyone to interfere
I wanted to take extreme measures — such as over-exercising and under-eating — to prove I was determined and to lose weight fast (I didn’t understand how to lose weight). I felt anxious unless I was actively working toward my weight-loss goals.
But when I kept my weight-loss goals secret, something happened:
I isolated myself with misinformation.
The result? My preoccupation with weight spiraled out of control. I invested more and more time on (self-defeating) weight-loss methods and got caught in the starve, binge and purge cycle. Even when my disordered eating was interfering with the rest of my life I kept my weight-loss goals secret because:
iii. I was sure asking for help made me weak
I thought reaching my weight-loss goals on my own was a way to redeem myself.
iv. I didn’t want to upset anyone or for anyone to worry about me
I wanted to be an easy kid.
Maintaining a secret, second life was exhausting. To make sure no one got concerned, I spent any time I had left pretending everything was AWESOME!!!
… I had a lot to learn about how to lose weight, what strength really looks like, and the fact you have to get healthy before you’re any good to anyone else. As they say in airplanes: Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.
Solution: Stop keeping your weight-loss goals secret
My first turning point was when I stopped having secret weight-loss goals.
Understanding these 3 ideas will help you talk about your weight-loss goals
1. Weight loss is about educating yourself—not willpower
People who maintain a healthy weight don’t walk around denying themselves! They’ve simply built healthy habits. If you’re having trouble losing weight you’re not weak. You likely have the wrong information. Weight loss is about learning what healthy eating and exercise looks like, and having a strategy to reach those goals. Take initiative. Asking for help is about being resourceful so you can educate yourself.
2. When you ask for help it’s a strength
Recognize the power of communication
So many people have stood in your shoes and specialists have studied best practices for years. When you talk to others you can speed up the process by learning from their experiences. Explaining what’s going on in your life swings open the doors of opportunity. Connecting with others, including via reading this blog, will help you make informed decisions.
No problem gets smaller by not talking about it.
-Al Tompkins, author and journalist
Being honest is a sign of intelligence
It shows you understand how to problem solve and reach goals; you can’t get to the bottom of a problem unless you’re honest.
People who ask for help value themselves
Life is a collaboration
Two people can come up with twice the ideas and develop them together.
A fresh perspective is important no matter how well you’re doing
People on the outside can see things you can’t. Sharing your experience can help identify barriers. You may find you’re working with obstacles you didn’t know existed.
When I was diagnosed with OCD it was a relief. It was like someone handed me this big, missing piece of the puzzle. When I knew what I was up against, I could start looking for patterns that were counterproductive.
3. Being preoccupied by weight stops you from reaching your potential
Remind yourself that weight loss isn’t your overall objective. Most people who want to lose weight are just trying to be the best person they can be. But they get side-tracked with the wrong weight-loss information, become fixated on reaching their weight-loss goals and lose sight of the big picture.
Your whole world will burst open when you get rid of the weight of a secret and the self-defeating behaviours that come with it.
How these 3 ideas work together:
Don’t try to reach your weight-loss goals all on your own. Reinventing the wheel is a waste of time. Effective people don’t do everything by themselves. They (1) educate themselves by
(2) asking for help. They call in the experts. They ask for ideas and opinions. They read about other people who have reached their weight-loss goals. Armed with knowledge that is tried and true, they practice what they’ve learned while (3) figuring out their interests and using them to help others.
Don’t wait until you have a big problem before you ask for help. The idea is to prevent a small problem from becoming big. Be proactive.
a) Think of three people you trust
Consider asking a family member, coach, colleague, kids help line, teacher, guidance counselor, friend, friend’s parent, aunt, uncle or anyone else in your life. You could also speak to your family doctor or go to a walk-in medical center.
The person you speak to doesn’t need to have all the answers. Together you can figure out what to do next.
All I can tell you today is what I have learned. What I have discovered as a person in this world. And that is this: you can’t do it alone. As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own.
– Amy Poehler, comedienne
b) Make arrangements to meet at a quiet place this week
Each day that passes further ingrains bad habits. Is your health a priority?
c) Be prepared!
Being organized will help you relax and have a constructive meeting. Write down a few points ahead of time that help explain what’s going on. A good place to begin could be sharing what your regular day is like now.
– How much do you think about weight loss?
– What are your unhealthy habits and/or things you do that are a secret?
– Are you neglecting other goals? How?
d) Be frank
Make sure you’re clear about what’s going on. Get to the heart of it! You’re wasting everyone’s time if you sugarcoat the truth. It doesn’t matter if you cry. And there’s no such thing as getting the words out perfectly. Just focus on being honest.
Go to the heart of danger, for there you will find safety.
~ Chinese Proverb
e) Be proud of yourself!
Reaching out will be your first of many (exciting!) turning points that reveal surprising lessons you can relate to other parts of your life. Feel good about your desire to improve your daily routines. You’re taking control of your health.
Troubleshooting: Stop keeping your weight-loss goals secret
Troubleshooting with yourself: Personally, I don’t like asking for help even to carry something heavy. I like a challenge! I never want to bother anyone. And I prefer to help others. Being on the “receiving end” of things actually makes me uncomfortable. I suppose this is a fifth reason I kept my weight-loss goals secret. Being a self-contained person made calling on someone for help feel wrong; it went against my nature.
But you need to dismiss this feeling and use rational thought! It’s important to open up because:
- reaching weight-loss goals is about educating yourself
- asking for help is a strength
- being preoccupied by weight stops you from reaching your potential
In fact, learning to accept help from others is a wonderful lesson – and brings about unexpected surprises – you can apply to areas of your life beyond weight loss. You’ll find when you share a secret the person you confide in will feel more comfortable opening up to you. You can’t get close to people unless there’s some give and take. Lego blocks wouldn’t click together if they only had flat surfaces.
Troubleshooting with other people: When you share your weight-loss goals remember, the way people react is a reflection of them, not you. If you talk to someone who doesn’t treat your concerns with the same seriousness that you’ve presented them, reach out to someone else. Try again. This is your life we’re talking about!
Keep talking until someone will listen.
Overcoming obstacles is all about perseverance. The first Harry Potter book was rejected by eight publishers before it was picked up by Bloomsbury. J. K. Rowling believed in her book and kept knocking on doors until she got the answer she believed she deserved.
Summary: Why you shouldn’t keep your weight-loss goals secret
Think back to both Lena Dunham’s Food Diary and Rebecca’s Diary. Both state their innermost concerns and beliefs. In under five minutes 13 year-old Rebecca covers five common weight-loss misconceptions—misunderstandings I also had for 10 years. I’m living proof that secrets isolate you with misinformation and turn small problems into huge hurdles.
Rebecca went on to have an eating disorder in university. Imagine if she, along with the other 30 million Americans (alone), who suffer from eating disorders (20 million women and 10 million men) had been able to clear up those weight-loss misunderstandings early on? Being honest moves mountains quickly!
Anyone successful is part of a team. Life truly becomes awesome when you work with others.
On a final note: Let’s clear up that bit from the beginning. Opening up allows you to focus on life beyond weight loss (or any problem you’re trying to overcome) and figure out how you want to contribute to the world. This kind of ambition is much more admirable than being silent and allowing problems to fester. Don’t keep your weight-loss goals a secret! Ask for help.
Best said by Rebecca herself, “Don’t suffer in silence.” What a great person!
Focus on building healthy eating and exercise habits. A healthy weight will follow.
Make that first phone call. Don’t analyze. Act! Together you can determine how to move forward. Want some additional support? Sign up for my weekly blog post (below) and you’ll receive one of the best strategies I learned. It will help you reach your weight-loss goals or any dream you’re after.
Secret by OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark), 1985
“I got a secret and I can’t explain
All the time, I’ve waited for this day…”
Make plans to talk to someone today. Don’t keep your weight-loss goals secret.
Sharing what I learned makes those 10 years worth it
I listed four reasons I kept my weight-loss goals secret. Why do you keep your weight-loss goals to yourself?