Beverly Knauer lives in beautiful San Diego, California, and began low carb in the 1970's. She's taken
several detours from the LC path during the years only to come back to it, realizing it's the only way
she wants to live. Beverly is Chief of Rehabilitation Services for a California Children Services, and is currently
writing a book for children.
"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions.
Small people always do that, but the really great
make you feel that you, too, can become great."
— Mark Twain
Gina knew I was on a low carb plan; I had told my co-worker all about
my commitment to my weight loss plan. My birthday was approaching, and
I was concerned because the staff normally celebrates with a birthday
cake for the whole office. Determined to stay on plan, I informed a few
key people that I was not going to celebrate with high-carb foods, and
I even suggested some alternatives.
To my surprise, on the morning of my birthday, my office was decorated with
balloons and streamers. I was pleased that they had chosen a non-food way
to celebrate; however, at 10:00, Gina appeared at my door. I couldn't believe
she was holding a platter that held a huge 3-tiered chocolate praline cake,
with thick fudge icing and gooey caramel dripping out between the layers.
I hallucinated for a minute and saw her standing there with a gleam in her
eye that complemented her red suit, horns, and tail. "Happy birthday", she
said, with her evil smile. "I made this from scratch just for you 'cause I
KNEW it was the cake your mom used to make you." The glint in her eyes gleamed
more brightly. "Now blow out the candles and make a wish."
I wished she would evaporate, but she didn't. I could see all of her cohorts
waving their pitchforks behind her singing Happy Birthday. I blew out the
candles, but felt a lump in my throat. "Cut the cake" they all said. What I
heard was, "Sabotage on a plate!"
Like a robot, I wielded the knife and cut
pieces for everyone but myself. The smell was decadent. Gina, with her big
sheep dog eyes, looked forlorn and sad. "You are going to have a piece aren't
you? I slaved over this cake for hours just for you," she said pouting.
The others, still wearing their devil suits, said, "It's your birthday, go on.
Don't hurt her feelings — she's been planning this for weeks."
When we were kids, we worried about monsters hiding under the bed, boogey men
lurking in the dark, or creatures with claws and fangs hiding in our closet.
As adults on weight-loss plans, we need to worry about "bad people" lurking in
the dark, too. The childhood monsters aren't real, but the weight-loss ones
are — and they are called saboteurs.
Saboteurs can come in many forms: spouse, parent, best friend, co-worker…
They can derail you from your path very quickly, and you need to be aware
of them and their tactics. Saboteurs strike in a variety of ways. Beware
the mom who tells you to lose a few pounds, but then makes homemade chocolate
chip cookies for you. Be wary of the spouse who brings home your favorite
flavor of ice cream, and offers you a bowl. Guard against the co-workers
who insist that you join them in the monthly doughnut and coffee get-together.
They are "diet saboteurs".
Saboteurs make it hard for us to meet our goals by obstructing our weight-loss
Usually, these people are unconscious of what they are doing, but it is hard to
understand why people who care about us would demonstrate such behaviors. Why
does this sabotage occur?
First, sabotage might occur because of how people react to change. Although there
is nothing in life that doesn't change, for some reason we do our best to resist
it. Change breeds fear and uncertainty. We have a tendency to avoid change both
in ourselves and in others. When we are on a weight-loss plan, we are changing who
we are, and that can make others around us feel uncomfortable. Sticking with our
plan will bring about a change in our appearance, level of confidence, health
status, self-esteem, sexuality, and even personality. Sometimes our friends and
family will unconsciously or consciously put obstacles in our path to avoid the
unknown that change represents.
For example, your husband has nagged at you about your weight for the past few years,
but when you finally have committed to a plan, he starts bringing home surprises like
Godiva chocolates, "just because." It may seem like he has a dual personality, but
in reality, there are unconscious things going on, and he is probably acting out of
fear or insecurity. He might be worried that you will leave him for someone else.
Your weight loss forces him to deal with his own fear of rejection. Sometimes troubled
couples blame one partner's weight, when in reality, larger, more deep-seated issues
are present. Once the weight is gone, those previously hidden issues need to be dealt
Second, sabotage can revolve around the notion that "food is love." One thing that
all mankind has in common is that we all eat. Sharing of food is important in
celebrations, holidays, and most festivities. Food nurtures us and we nurture others
with food. When you are on a diet, you threaten the means with which people have
nurtured you, and they are left without that means of expressing their love and caring.
When you don't join your co-workers for doughnuts and coffee, they may feel like you
don't want to connect with them any more.
Third, jealousy and guilt may cause the subterfuge from people around you. Your new
way of living may be challenging the validity of their way of life. When you are
eating well, losing weight, and exercising, it might threaten others who KNOW they
should be living differently, but aren't ready to change. They may unconsciously
want you to backslide because your failure validates their way of living. Your
success can make others feel miserable. Many people are uncomfortable when others
around them actually strive to attain a goal or dream instead of just lamenting
about it — their forward movement may underline someone else's stagnation.
What can you do about sabotage?
To be successful at losing weight and maintaining the loss, we have to recognize the
influence that important people in our lives are going to have on the outcome, and
understand that their actions could potentially sabotage our success. Remember that
we are the ones in control of our own actions and behaviors. Relinquishing that
control could have adverse consequences.
- Understand that the sabotage may show in the form of rejection, criticism, withdrawal,
depreciation, or any other barrier to what you need. Recognize the underlying issues.
Look for unspoken words and behaviors.
- Tell people your specific needs and how they can help. Don't assume they will know
how you want them to behave toward your new way of eating.
- Avoid trying to convert people to your new lifestyle. If you are continually trying
to improve or correct the people in your life, they may rebel. No one wants change
forced on them. Instead, seek support from other low carb friends.
- Try to replace the eating events you previously experienced with loved ones with
non-eating events. Maybe "movie Friday" could replace "hot fudge Monday."
- Don't avoid friends because they are eating-join them "Low-carb-style." When
co-workers are eating high-carb treats, join them, but eat your own low carb foods.
That way, people won't feel like you are rejecting them, only their doughnuts!
- Be armed with knowledge about your eating plan when people try to convince you it
is a fad or bad for your health.
- Professional counseling may be necessary if your weight loss exposes previously
hidden issues between you and your spouse.
…So back to my birthday. How did I choose to deal with Gina's cake? I didn't want
to hurt Gina's feelings, but I didn't want to get off track from my own goals, so
I graciously accepted a piece of cake and thanked the group profusely. With cake
in hand, I said I would have to get back to work and would eat it later. She
never knew I dumped it in the trash.
The devil made me do it.
Copyright © January 2004 Beverly Knauer and Low Carb Luxury
Title photo Copyright © 2004 Neil Beaty and Low Carb Luxury
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