How are your New Years resolutions going? Wrong? You’re not alone. According to a study in the US , only 9.2% of people who made New Year’s resolutions managed to fulfill them. Among the most common purposes: lose weight (the first) , improve personally, make better financial decisions or quit smoking.
Cleansing diets don’t work, here’s what you can do
Why is it so hard for us to change? In the first place, because as animals we tend to homeostasis, that is, to stay as we are. Second, because our environment largely determines what we do . Friends and parents determine whether or not a teenager ends up smoking . On the other hand, it has been found that adolescents with a tendency to obesity eat more in company than alone. We are social animals, and «copycat monkeys» who tend to follow the behavior of influential people in our environment.
Your friends, your worst enemies
When it comes to change, friendships become an obstacle, and in many cases they break down. Far from encouraging change, a Stanford study with women found that in 75% of cases, friends and family did not support them in losing weight.
Why? Unfortunately, out of envy . Especially for women, being thin can become a competition, as a study that compared food choices after performing other competitive tasks found .
The data indicates that for both men and women, thinness is considered more attractive and valued more , and for women, even when it is below healthy parameters. So if your friend loses weight, she becomes a threat. It makes you feel inferior, insecure, guilty for not doing it yourself. Then comes the sabotage.
The sabotage of the circle of friends is well known: “a dessert won’t hurt you”, “how boring you have become”, “you used to be cool”. A study was able to see how people who had lost weight had had to confront their inner circles that tried to «underestimate» or «undermine» their efforts . In a UK survey, 81% of dieters (and were successful) had lost a friend in the process .
It can be avoided? The same study examined the various tactics that subjects had to use to shake off pressure from their circle of friends. These are some of them:
- Inform people of your intention to lose weight, and why
- Make it clear to other people that they don’t have to eat like this
- Schedule unrestricted «cheat days» to coincide with social gatherings.
- Eating unhealthy food at social gatherings, but in very small amounts
- Eating less before the social gathering to compensate
- Accept food, but not eat it, for example, when someone puts the birthday cake in front of you without asking, and you end up leaving it on the plate or throwing it away
- Making excuses about health problems to justify not eating certain things
- Avoid social gatherings around food
- Inventing allergies or food intolerances
Some of these behaviors may seem too forced, but keep in mind that peer pressure can be intolerable for people who are already going to great lengths to control their own behavior. If in the end the people in your circle do not accept that you have changed, it may be time to change companies.
What is all this based on?
Teenage smoking behavior influenced by friends’ and parents’ smoking habits The results confirmed that, overall, cigarette smoking by friends and parents had significant effects on teens’ smoking during high school and high school.
Influence of Peers and Friends on Children’s and Adolescents’ Eating and Activity Behaviors The presence of peers and friends increases the energy intake of children and adolescents, except in situations in which socio-evaluative concerns are high and when peers exhibit a diet healthy.
Social learning in humans and other animals The decisions that individuals make can be influenced by what others think and do. Social learning includes a wide range of behaviors such as imitation, observational learning of new foraging techniques, the influence of peers or parents on individual preferences, as well as open teaching.
The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network over 32 Years If one spouse became obese, the probability that the other spouse would become obese increased by 37%.
Social support for healthy behaviors: scale psychometrics and prediction of weight loss among women in a behavioral program. Most women (> 75%) «never» or «rarely» received support from friends or family.
Competition affects food choice in women For dieters, competition through food choice can provide a means of restoring self-esteem when self-esteem has been threatened elsewhere.
The Body and the Beautiful: Health, Attractiveness and Body Composition in Men’s and Women’s Bodies The amount of fat mass chosen to optimize the healthy and attractive appearance of women’s bodies was slightly below the healthy range.
An Examination of How People Who Have Lost Weight Communicatively Negotiate Interpersonal Challenges to Weight Management. Some people face sabotage, criticism, and withdrawal of social support during and after weight loss.