Losing weight does amazing things for your health, confidence, and appearance. But it also can damage your friendships. In a survey of 2,500-plus Britons who had lost weight, 81 percent said they lost friends during their weight loss journey (on average, 2 friends for every 14 pounds they shed). The No. 1 reason cited for the rifts was jealousy.
June 8 is National Best Friends Day, but working at maintaining good friendships should be an every-day-endeavor. Here, we offer up these 5 tips for keeping friends after you’ve lost weight:
- Realize that change is hard. Although weight loss is a positive thing, it can change your relationships – and change is scary for a lot of people. Perhaps you’re acting a little more confident, assertive, or happier – all traits that your BFFs may not be used to seeing in you. Remember that this emotional maelstrom is about them not you. Give them time to adjust to the change.
- Understand your friends may be feeling insecure. Your weight loss may have caused your friends to face some body image issues of their own. Perhaps they feel like a failure–or think you’ll see them as one–because of their own unsuccessful weight loss attempts. Maybe one of your besties feels self-conscious being the heaviest one in your social group now. To get a better grip on how they might be feeling, put yourself in their shoes. To help make them feel more valued, be generous (and sincere) with the compliments. A particular friend has an uncanny ability to make you laugh no matter what? Tell her! Another has the most impeccable sense of style? Let her know!
- Put a positive spin on things. Thank the friends who have been supportive during your journey. Let them know that now that you’re leaner and healthier there are so many more things you can do together–whitewater rafting this summer, apple picking this fall, shopping during the holidays, etc.
- Talk about it. If, after some time and reassurance, things are still uncomfortable with your friends, ask them if something is bothering them. Be neutral and empathetic not defensive or accusatory. You might even want to tell your friends you’ve seen a change in their attitude toward you recently. Ask if there is anything about your weight loss that is upsetting them.
- Know when to walk away. If a friend is constantly negative or trying to sabotage your weight loss, it may not have been a healthy relationship to start. Cut your losses and, although painful, let the relationship go.
This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be an exhaustive examination of the subject matter nor a substitute for medical advice. Always consult your primary care physician or healthcare provider before beginning any diet or exercise program.