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Inspiration ·

Who’s in Your Support Network?

By Jenny Craig

“A friend is someone who knows your song in your heart and can sing it to you when you have forgotten the words.” -Author Unknown



Ongoing support is critical to helping weight loss success. Researchers in one study compared people who decided to lose weight with the support of family and friends to those who decide to go it alone. Ninety-five percent of those who joined with support completed the program, while only 76% of those who joined alone followed through*.


Thinking back on your weight loss journey, did you have a friend and/or family member who supported your weight loss efforts, volunteered to be your walking buddy, encouraged you to stick with your program, etc.? How did having their support make a difference in your success? 


During your weight loss, it will be important for you to identify friends and family who will continue to positively reinforce your goals and actions.


To maximize the benefits of these relationships focus on two skills:

Communication Skills

When juggling a variety of roles as spouse, partner, parent, friend and/or working professional, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of telling, informing or instructing versus connecting, where both parties are truly heard and understood.


Remember the real intent of communication: to make a connection. That means expressing yourself in a way that you are heard and understood, and actively listening so that your partner is heard and understood also.


To Be Heard + To Hear = To Connect

It’s not what you say…it’s how you say it!


Often, unintentional meaning creates miscommunication. Determine which words match your current style. Which ones would best express your intention to connect?


“You make me so angry I could scream!”


“I am so angry I could scream!”

“You” statements generate defensiveness.

They minimize your ownership of your feelings.

“I” statements generate concern.

They reinforce you own your feelings.

“You should get your weight back in control.”


“I’m worried that your weight is affecting your health.”

“Should” statements generate resentment. They put you in an authoritarian position.

“Feeling” statements generate concern.

They show you genuinely care.

“I think you’re rude to tease me about my weight.”


“I feel hurt by what you said about my weight.”

Thoughts are debatable.

A common response:

“No, I’m not rude…I was just kidding

Feelings aren’t arguable.

A common response:

“I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean for you to feel that way.


Support Skills



What does it mean to be supported through change? It means being accepted, cared about, listened to, understood and believed in – even when you are challenged to believe in yourself. During your weight loss, your Consultant supports you, empathizes with you and helps fuel your motivation to reach your goals. However, it is key to have a supportive environment outside as well.


Expand Your Network

If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to build a wider network of family, friends and others who can support you in strong, positive, nurturing ways. Start by assessing your current relationships.


Do You Have a Supporter or a Saboteur?

This is an important question. Sometimes the most logical person - your spouse, partner, friend or family member – isn’t necessarily your best bet. Changes in your looks and lifestyle can upset the previous balance of your relationships. For some, your changes are exciting; for others, they may be a bit threatening. Give everyone time to adjust. In the meantime, ask for support from those who can easily give it.


Here are some questions to help separate potential supporters from saboteurs:



Does this person understand what I am going through?




Will this person be there for me when I need them?




Is this the right person to talk to if I was struggling?




Does this person know when to be “tough” and when to be “tender”?




Can this person and I openly communicate?




Good to Know…


In a study comparing weight maintainers to weight re-gainers, researchers found that weight maintainers received more compliments on their healthy eating habits and higher levels of dietary support**. Weight re-gainers, though, received more verbal reminders, encouragements and offers but few compliments or shared participation with their eating and activity behaviors. The takeaway: positive versus instructive support may be more helpful to supporting successful weight maintenance – and if that’s the case for you, it’s important you ask for it!




Make Your Own Personal Support Checklist

Affirms me when I do well.

Eats healthy meals with me.

Participates in physical activity with me.

Compliments me on my physical activity habits.

Shares healthy self-care activities with me.

Listens to wins and challenges.


Assert Yourself Graciously

To be assertive means to express yourself in a way that is neither passive or aggressive, but balanced. It requires you to be clear and direct about your wants and needs while considering the wants and need of others. It takes practice to find the middle ground, but when you do, you are more likely to stay on top of your weight goals and gain the support you need.


Assertiveness Tips:

1.     Recognize the other person’s point of view.

2.     Take responsibility for your thoughts, feelings and actions.

3.     Be direct and specific when stating your wants and needs or refusing a request.

4.     Invite the other person to support your decision. 


When Others Try to Change Your Mind


Passive Response

Aggressive Response

Assertive Response

Husband eats ice cream in front of you

Walk away hurt.

“You’re just trying to tempt me to fail.”

“I know how much you love your ice cream.Still, it’s easier if I am not exposed to it.It would mean a lot to me if you ate it when I wasn’t around.”

Friends at work want to go and eat fast food for lunch.

Say nothing and eat high-calorie food.

“The only place we ever go is where I can’t find a healthy choice. I guess I’ll just skip eating out with you.”

“I love going out to eat every week. My challenge is that I have trouble finding food I like to eat. Why don’t we try a new place this week? That would help me find some new healthy options.”

Wife wants you to skip your walk for a TV show.

“Okay…just tonight.”

“You’re trying to make me feel guilty for walking instead of spending time with you.”

“I understand how much you want some time together, but I know I’ll be much better company if I go on my walk first.”

Partner urges you to have seconds at a dinner party.

“Alright, if you insist.”

“Just because you want to go crazy with the appetizers doesn’t mean I have to!”

“It’s delicious, isn’t it? I’ve had enough though, thanks anyway.”

Forgive and Move On

Ultimately letting go of those who can’t support your efforts and be focusing on those who can and will serve your weight maintenance efforts best. Hanging on to frustration, anger and resentment drains your emotional energy, can take a toll on your physical health and may set you up for weight regain. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting; it just means freeing yourself up from the influence others have over your success so that you can move on to maintain your goals. That means expressing yourself in a way that you are heard and understood, and actively listening so that your partner is heard and understood also.


* J Consult Clin Psychol. 1999;67: 132-138.

** J Behav Med. 2016 Jun;39(3):511-8

Edited by Kari - Jenny Craig

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