Friends are good for getting you out of blind dates, showing up at your house with movies and takeout, house-sitting your dog and maybe convincing you to compromise your moral conduct for the sake of a good time.
The best ones will love you until the end of time. They would lay their life down, or get forced in the back of a cruiser with you. But that doesn’t mean they will go on a diet with you.
There are exceptions to this rule, of course. But the truth is, even if you both decide you need to get fit, usually one person wants it more or is more dedicated than the other. And even if your desire is as equally shared as your hate of each other’s enemies, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to dieting. Hell, finding out what works for even yourself is an almost lifetime battle, and even then, factors in your body and life will change.
If you choose to go at it together, be aware that at some point your friend may flake. You must be strong enough to go at it alone – I cannot stress this enough. You are making this choice for YOUR body, so buck up.
Whichever is true for you, it can be tough to embark on an endeavor that will seriously test your willpower when you are surrounded by non-diet behavior. But, as they say, preparation is the key to success, so as someone who has gone on many diets since the age of 14, I will let you know what to watch out for.
THINGS THAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN YOU TELL YOUR FRIENDS YOU ARE ON A DIET:
1) They will shit on it:
Either out of love or selfishness, your friend will most likely tell you a) your diet is stupid or b) that you don’t need it. This could be due to a combination of a) losing their pizza/drinking buddy and b) worried that you are doing it for the wrong reasons.
ME: “No sugar, no grains, no booze starting Monday. Wish me luck lol”
BEST FRIEND: “Wtf (insert shock emojis here) … Dude you gotta live your life.”
COUNTER: Explain your reasoning, not because you need to explain yourself, but because your friends care about your general mental health and sanity and want to make sure your diet isn’t covering up some other unhappiness with your relationship (“If he called you fat I’ll kick his ass”), career, etc. Tell them you are just letting them know so when you come to visit, you’ll be bring a veggie side dish.
2) They will test your merit:
Either by accident, or purposefully for their own entertainment, at some point your friend will put you in touch with your favorite food/drink/guilty pleasure.
BEST FRIEND: “Duuuuuude let’s get sushi tonight!”
ME: “Dude I’m still not eating rice.”
BEST FRIEND: “C’mon, sushi is healthy!”
COUNTER: Don’t be a hermit. Trust me on this one: you will just be upset for avoiding the situation entirely, which could lead to binge-eating and binge-watching instead of ordering a meal that works in your meal plan. There are SO many options for eating out, so sack up, put on jeans, order a salad and offer to be the designated driver. Do your workout first or choose an active outing. You will have a better time out with your bestie than being on the couch.
3) They will not like hearing about it.
Ever hear that expression, “How do you know someone is a vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.” Obsessing about your diet is no good inside your head, never mind out loud to your friends.
SIGNIFICANT OTHER: “Ugh, I hate ‘Diet Kait.’”
ME: “What? Why!?”
S.O., mimicking me: “Ok I had a late breakfast so do you think it’s ok that I eat my breakfast and morning snack together? And then later I’ll just stick to veggies and no carbs. Or maybe I’ll just have a piece of fruit before work … No, I can’t have that, I’m on the diet remember?”
ME: “Ah, I see.”
COUNTER: Don’t be that friend who talks about their diet. Save it for your trainer, your shrink/life coach, food journal, blog (!), whatever, but your friends don’t want to hear about it. It sounds like whining, and at a certain point that negative energy gets old. Plus, your loving friend thinks of you as an individual, so when you start to sound like Super Crossfit Paleo Guy or Vegan Yoga Chick (not specific to gender) they will start to avoid you.
4) Beware of “frenemies.”
You know, the people who either don’t really care about you or subconsciously want to sabotage you because they can’t get their own butts in gear or want to appear better than you. Your real friends want you to succeed.
My roommate knows I’m always trying to eat healthy, so he often will eat beautiful, gloppy-looking cheese-and-pepperoni pizza in front of me while telling me my broccoli smells gross.
Choose who you give your time to and emotions to. No one can force you to do anything. DON’T SHOW WEAKNESS. YOUR BROCCOLI IS DELICIOUS.
Maybe in a perfect world, your friends would support your diet or even stick with it, too. BUT MOST LIKELY NO. And personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way, BECAUSE:
- Having my friends poke fun at my choices just makes me realize that I defend my choices and stick to them because I REALLY WANT IT, and that drives me to stick to my resolve.
- Having to stay strong in my own resolve have made me stronger as a person.
- Learning how to be flexible with my “diet” has allowed me to find what works best for me, which makes it more sustainable and more likely to work long-term and become a lifestyle
- Creating boundaries to care for yourself will make you that much better as a friend. If you’re emotionally falling apart, you will not be fun to hang with, and you won’t be able to be there for your friend when he/she needs it.
- You will cherish your own routine and results because you worked to create it, instead of relying on another.
Friends support friends and help them navigate the tough times, but you won’t always do everything exactly the same. Celebrate each other’s fitness choices, whether it be pizza or broccoli, kickboxing or naptime, so you can go back to judging more important decisions, like their taste in shoes or Tinder swipes.