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Are Your Friends Making You Fat?

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  • In 2005 I went on my first ever diet, the Atkins diet. At the time I weighed around 210lbs. I lost over 70lbs.

    I worked out 6-7 days a week, I was feeling really good about myself, and very adventurous. That summer I met a girl and we became friends. She was morbidly obese, but I never pressured her to lose weight. I then, and now, feel that, that is a decision for the individual to make.

    But she asked me to give her tips on how to lose weight, so I told her what worked for me. She asked me to workout with her, so I did.

    But very soon after (I'm talking one workout session later) she had a huge fight with her mom and didn't feel up to workout out and could I just hang out and chat with her? The next day it was, I'm not feeling well, could we just hang out? The next it was, I'm going out to eat with friends, why don't you come along? Etc.

    Anytime I'd go workout alone she'd get mad at me for "ditching" her. But if I tried to get her to come along, she would have some kind of crisis or injury/illness.

    She would insist that we go out to eat regularly, insisting on greasy, unhealthy places. If I didn't agree she'd get mad at me and cry or yell at me.

    She started sending me emails calling off our friendship because I was so "mean to her". When I'd ask her what I'd done, she would say that I was, "just so mean all the time", but wouldn't give me an example.

    At one point she decided she wanted to introduce me to some of her other friends. So she invited me to a friend's birthday party. As we walked up to the door, she turned to me and said, "Oh by the way, I've kinda already told everyone about you, and they really don't like you. So try to be nice."

    I had to spend the entire evening around strangers I felt hated me.

    That's when I started realizing this was a toxic friendship. I started trying to pull away from her, and she just became more clingy; inviting one of her closest friends to help gang up on me and manipulate me. If I tried to pull away they would berate me for being so mean and selfish.

    By the time I was able to end the friendship and get away from her, my routine was wrecked, I'd started gaining weight again, I hated myself again, and I gave up one working out.

    That was the worst case I had to deal with. But I do deal with "Food Bullies" regularly. The co-worker who brings in home made cookies/cakes/breads and, "Come one try one! Here I saved you a big piece!"

    The family who celebrate by taking me out to a restaurant that's delicious, but not healthy.

    The roommate who brings home a jumbo bag of my favorite candy and pours it into a bowl on the coffee table.

    It is possible to resist, but it's very, very difficult. So I agree with the article. Friends and family (even those that aren't overweight) can derail your fitness plans if you aren't very, very strong and very, very careful.
  • One of my work pals told me I motivated her to eat well, as I eat well. That was nice to hear. She motivated me to exercise!
  • I agree with the article. I have dear family members who enjoy eating burgers, fries, etc., with no thought of health consequences; and yes, they do have health issues.
    I love them, and have in the past joined in on the "fun."
    So the more time I spend with them ...... let's just say, there will be no conversion.
    I just have to remain committed to my goals! Still love them to pieces! Ultimately, we all get to lead the life we chose.
  • I have friends who are thin, friends who are overweight and friends between the two. I have family in the same fashion. While I understand the premise that social norms influence a person's perception on health, weight and fitness, stating that "your friends make you fat" is an over-generalization. It reminds of the bait and click titles that many news blogs and such have taken to using, to pull people into their articles. The other piece, it involves just over 12,000 people - what were the demographics, the ages, the general health of the participants (etc). What part of the world did they pull from? What is the overall society norm for weight, health and fitness in that area where they studied? Was it rural or urban, affluent or poor? All this does play into the research too. Personally my social and family group are supportive and understanding, as the majority of my weight is from health issues.
  • YOU make you fat. Until you accept that, you'll stay fat.
  • When I saw the title, I had to read the article because it alone had me riled up! As I was reading, I instantly began considering the role social obesity has played in my life...or has it? Speaking from my experience alone, I know I never actually chose to be morbidly obese, unfit, unhealthy, exhausted...yet I lived all of that when 50+ additional pounds were packed on my 5'2" body. There is a reason that each of my sisters struggles with obesity right along with me. My parents love all of us unconditionally...yet we are of an era when nutrition, health, lifestyle were not in the equation or even considered. They were lucky to put food on the table, and food was love and part of all happy times and celebrations. Still, as I left home I was fit and healthy...until I packed on pounds with each of my three pregnancies and NEVER lost them. No one ever shoved a fork in my mouth and told me to eat, so I chose to live what I knew and helped me feel happy and find comfort, F-O-O-D! Fast forward to today, I try to lead by example and help my family understand basic nutrition and ways to tweak lifestyle to improve their fitness. My hope is that my beautiful granddaughters will at least understand and feel empowered with their knowledge, for as a Mom I too failed in this regard. Family dinners and celebrations are vastly different these days, there is still as much love and fun, yet dang...broccoli can become a YuM without a cheese sauce, and we all are trying new fruits and veggies. Let me end in saying, I point my finger at No One. (When we point, three point right back at us, ask my Mom!) Each and every day I try and make the best choices for ME, and I hope a long the way I send out a few Sparks that help others in their quest for wellness.
  • I found that eating OUT can be a problem if it is done too often. I cook healthy at home and know what ingredients and seasonings I am using. Restaurants can have hidden sodium and be a real eye opener. I am eating all Whole Grain now and it is wonderful. I cannot blame my friends for testing me when we are out, I just need to make the Right Choices when I look at the menu. It is all Up to me and CHOICES!! Same way at parties or visiting people, I just eat what I am allowed on my plan. I cannot blame them. My family all eat healthy and we know what is good for us. Some of my friends just eat the fattening meals and drink the fattening drinks . They are good friends, and that is their choice. I am on a healthy plan for Life and Wellness and will not let them tempt me. I can do it and it is up to me. Thanks for sharing Spark people. We can do this and BE Strong in our decisions. (-:
  • In my opinion, there are pros and cons in this article. Yes, sometimes we can stray and have a food fest with friends, but let us not blame our others for our own behavior. We are all on Sp pretty much for the same reasons. There are to many out there who blame obese, chunky , fat or what ever you choose to call it. for oh so many wrong things. Like I would choose to give myself cancer twice? Sadly there are many people who do not stop and think before pointing fingers, If one makes up their mind to do the right thing for themselves they will do it. Even with the "Peer Pressure". Journal any slip ups, write the food you eat on SP even if it is a 1/4 or even 1/8 keep yourself in check that is what I do and so far I am doing well and also seeing where I make my mistakes. I have a long way to go. One Step, Moment & one day at a time. FYI I am also sober for 20 years because I made up my mind to do it. It was not easy but Everyday is a plus. Please be proud of all you and Be Blessed because you are Unique. There is only one you.
    Please, this should be a safe zone without rude comments. As mom used to say, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything." Snarky comments can discourage others, and I'm sure none of us really wants to do that. Think before you think.
  • I used to think this was complete bunk. The word being "used to". The last time I really took weight lose serious I lost 70lbs, I was within 5lbs of my goal weight. When I made friends with a couple of girls who were morbidly obese. I thought they were really nice and I liked them. They seemed interested in what I'd done to lose weight and I was happy to encourage them and share what I'd learned. But rather quickly they started sabotaging me. They would pressure me to skip workouts to hang out with them. They would ask me to hold off on going to the gym until they could come along, which never happened. Then they would be mad at me if I went without them. They'd force me to have desserts with them. If I refused they'd pick on me and put me down. They made me feel bad for my weight lose. When I tried to start a hiking club with some other friends, they made it so difficult and unpleasant that it never go off the ground. Finally, I just had enough and I cut them out of my life. But by then the damage was done. I'd gained 30lbs and had lost confidence in myself. I'm now much more careful about the friends I make.
  • This article is the absolute truth. While some might be immune to unhealthy habits of others, I'm certainly not. I'm sure many others aren't either. It takes a village to raise a child and it certainly takes a village to lose weight! I posted my long response in support of this article here:
  • I understand and agree! I have always struggled to stay on the disciplined side of food and exercise in the social network of my world, because no-one else saw the need (or needed to see it) to eat healthy.
    Currently, due to a foot issue, I HAD to lose excess pounds, and now my husband has become motivated. We are both doing SparkPeople and the pounds are falling off. I never thought I would ever see my husband counting calories, reading food labels, saying no to the fatening foods, and nibbling (not chomping) on raw vegetables.
    We are supporting each other, and I couldn't be happier. Together I believe we will influence the others in our circle of influence.
  • Very thought provoking article. It reminded me of living in the US and seeing shelves of baby foods in the grocery stores. Then going to England and seeing none because babies in England go from breastfeeding to shared table food (appropriately mashed, cut etc for a baby).

    We really don't have the right to judge other people's weight motivations. When we criticize other people's health choices, it gives us a sense of moral superiority and boosts our self-esteem but it comes at the expense of compassion and understanding. We are all responsible for the choices we truly have control over. I don't choose my friends because of their bodies and my body is frankly my business. The people I care about come in all shapes and sizes. They don't control the size of my behind. It is true however, that I have experienced shunning at work because of my weight and age. There are lots of people out there who really fear that fat is a communicable disease. I choose not to be one of them.

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