This is unfortunately very common. Sometimes it’s intentional and other times it is not. If the client’s main circle of friends are overweight and lead unhealthy lifestyles and then the client decides to make a huge change and work his or her tail off to achieve that goal, resentment and attempts to torpedo the client’s progress does sometimes happen. The client’s success can cause jealousy, resentment to those that know they need to take action but do not. The client then needs to decide whether to cut them loose or deal with the drama. In my opinion real friends will support you and have your back no matter what and will cheer you on while you are working hard to achieve your goals. Those that do the opposite out of jealousy, etc. are not real friends and not worth your time. We are the average of the 5 people that we spend the most time with. If you look around at groups of friends you will notice that this is true.
Coach John Kane CPT
This is a big issue and a problem for those who are in these kind of situations. All I can do is try to educate the individual I work with and give him/her the best possible information needed to help him/her make the chance they are looking for. I cannot influence their families, relatives or friends because I don’t have much contact with them. I cannot control what they say or how they think, so I put all of my efforts and attention to the client I work with. My hope is that when my clients get the results they want then everyone else around them will see their transformation (both mentally and physically) and that would be enough to make them more supportive.
The previous answers are fairly spot on. The truth is, most people are intimidated by the success of others. I believe it has more to do with self insecurities and the understanding that these individuals need to themselves make life changes but have an unwillingness to do so. When someone is a smoker, drinker, heavy eater, non-exerciser, they want to be with others who share those same qualities as it often makes them feel better.
For the individual looking to change those bad habits, I believe it’s important to find similar people who will be advocates for their behavioral changes. This doesn’t mean they have to distance themselves from friends, but at least in the immediate future find a great support group who will be encouraging and help you along the way.
I had a client who talked his best friend into starting a work out program with him. They signed up for some training sessions to learn how to get started and had a few consults with the dietician. The friend put up a lot of resistance to coming in to workout. He wanted to leave after a short time when he did come in. And he didn’t want to change his behavior when it came to diet change. They had a Sunday ritual of going to a sports bar to watch football, basketball, baseball, whatever was in season. And they ate wings and fries, etc. Drank beer and watched sports all day most Sundays. The friend did not want to change anything about those Sundays. It turned out that they consumed around 50 wings each at these outings, that alone was about 3600 calories. They would go through two or three baskets of fries, 1000+ calories each. They often had 5 or 6 beers, a few appetizers, and finished the last hour drinking soda so as to be less impaired to drive home. Which I don’t think would be all that effective, but did add a lot of calories. All in all it was about 7000 calories each on one of their two days off with no exercise at all. The client attempted to cut back on his eating at the Sports Bar. But the friend let be obvious that he was not happy about it. When the initial instruction sessions ended, the client stayed on his schedule pretty well. The friend dropped off the radar. I don’t know if the friendship ended or if the client gave in a little on the Sundays. But the client did really well on his own.
I tread lightly in such cases. It isn’t my place to interfer in client personal lives. I do try to get clients to enlist their family and friends in supporting them. Usually the support is minimal. Occasional extremely supportive. Luckily, it has rarely been more undermining than neutral or supportive.