Your Health Goals: To Tell Or Not To Tell?

In the past I’ve been of the opinion that if you want to make a lifestyle change, it’s better to tell anyone who will listen about these changes, as a way of helping you to be accountable.

I still think that for most people this is probably the best way to approach big changes.

However, for every person who will tell you one way that works, you will be able to find someone else who is equally in favor of the opposite approach.

So, Should You Confess Your Health Goals?

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I came across the story of Anita Mills on CNN recently, and thought her story was worth sharing with you.

Anita was 382 pounds when her doctor gave her four simple rules for losing weight. They were:

  1. Eat 8 ounces of food every 3 hours
  2. No sugary drinks
  3. Do not skip meals
  4. Do not tell anyone what you’re doing

Anita lost an amazing 242 pounds, and credits the last tip for helping her through the most difficult months of her weight loss journey.

How?

Well, she felt that by not having someone questioning every bite, or trying to persuade her to relax on weekends, it helped her focus on her goal. She says,

It’s so much better to walk into a room and have someone say, ‘Hey, did you do something different?’ than to announce, ‘I’m on a diet,’ and have people pointing fingers at you.

Anita’s doctors uses this tactic with all his patients who need to lose weight. He says that as human beings we have a difficult time with change, so when someone we love tries to alters their lifestyle, even when it’s a positive change, we may have a problem dealing with it.

It is this resistance to change which makes not telling anyone about your weight loss efforts a helpful strategy.

There is even some research to say that once you’ve told a friend you are planning to lose some weight, and they notice your good intention, you no longer feel the need to follow through with exercise or healthy eating.

It’s an interesting concept, and shows just how complex we are as humans.

So, how can you avoid this?

I think it depends on each individual. But, the obvious one is not to tell anyone about your intentions — although personally I don’t think this is the best option.

Multitudes of people have found that having a strong support network is a major reason for their weight loss success. But, I suppose the key phrase here is “strong support network.”

If your friends and family aren’t supportive, it could work to your benefit not to tell them of your intentions, as least not immediately.

Another option is to tell only a few people, who you are sure will be helpful and supportive. The idea with this is that they will hold you responsible, but not respond to you in a negative way, if things don’t go to plan.

What about you — do you find having someone to be accountable to helpful? Or, do you keep it a secret until people start noticing?

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About Melanie
Melanie is a Registered Dietitian who started Dietriffic in March 2007. Her aim is to make good health attainable and sustainable, without guilt and torture, making her approach popular with those who desire a level-headed approach to good health. Have you got your copy of her free book yet?


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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Janice- The Fitness Cheerleader November 18, 2011 at 3:13 am

For weight loss goals I’ve found it better not to tell anyone, but for running/fitness goals (ie: training for a half marathon) I’ve found it better to tell everyone.

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Melanie November 18, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Hi Janice, It’s interesting that you have found different methods work for different situations. That’s good for others to know, too. Thanks so much for sharing :-)

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Tom Parker November 19, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Personally I prefer not to tell people I know personally my fitness goals because none of my circle of friends are that in to fitness but also I am quite good at motivating myself.

However, I do sometimes share my fitness goals on my blog and that does make you a lot more accountable. No going back on it when you’ve published your fitness goals to the world wide web.

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Melanie December 2, 2011 at 10:10 am

lol yes, absolutely!!

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cathy in NZ November 21, 2011 at 2:45 am

Well, I don’t necessarily want anyone know what my goals are in fitness or health related issues…

Mainly, the same as Tom. I’m well aware of what I need to do – most of the time.

Although, back a few year, which you remember Melanie I had goals out there in the limelight because I needed to have people understand why I was doing them…

Right now the goal is to show the new doctor, that I can overcome a couple of problems that have surfaced, mostly through age related stuff. But the goal isn’t public, it’s just “is” – I know what I need to do, and I shall do it [as much as i can!]

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