Weight Loss: Are They Jealous of Your New Body? (cont.)

"If this does happen it usually means there were serious problems all along, and the weight loss just forced the issues to come out," says Huberman.

At the same time, don't be too surprised if weight loss also triggers the idea in you that certain relationships are no longer satisfying or healthy.

"Many times a person will remain in an ungratifying relationship because of their weight, because they have feelings of diminished self-esteem," says Huberman. Sometimes, he says, overeating may have even been triggered by problems in the relationship.

And once the weight is lost and you begin to feel better about yourself, it's not uncommon for you to want more from all your relationships, experts say. If that's not happening, it may be time to consider moving on.

"It can be a hard decision to leave friends and lovers behind, but sometimes it's just necessary to get on with your life in a positive and more healthy way," says Holle.

Dropping the Pounds, Keeping the Friends

The good news is that, most of the time, the really important relationships in your life will remain.

The first step in making sure that happens is to acknowledge that your weight loss has changed certain relationships. Be the first one to bring it up with those who are involved.

"You don't want to be accusatory because that only puts people on the defensive and drives a bigger wedge between you," Holle tells WebMD.

His suggestion: Open the conversation with your friends or family members by acknowledging that there seems to be something on their minds, and ask if they'd like to talk about it.

"Bring it up, bring up the changes in your appearance, and ask gently if there is something about the way you look now that is upsetting them," says Holle. "Don't accuse, ask."

The goal of the talk, he says, is to open the lines of communication in a very empathetic manner.

Huberman agrees: "It's perfectly fine to tell your friend that you notice a change in attitude towards you and ask if you can talk about it."

When you do, he says, tell them gently that you've noticed they don't include you as often, or don't seem as open to you as they did in the past -- and ask why.

Often, he says, you may discover your friends have been feeling they aren't "good enough" for the new you.

"When this is the case, some reassurance of your commitment to the friendship may be all that's necessary to put things back on track," says Huberman.

It's also important, the experts say, is to do some soul-searching about whether you may be putting a bit of distance between your new self and your old friends or spouse.

"You deserve to celebrate your achievements," Huberman says, "but it may also be worth asking yourself if your newfound joy might be perceived as a tiny bit arrogant."

If you think this might be true, don't downplay your accomplishments. Instead, share your joy about your new body, while explaining how, in the past, your weight may have kept you from being the assertive, active person you are now.

"In most instances, those who love you will not only get used to the new you, they will celebrate your newfound good health, good looks, and new attitude," says Holle.

If even after you try to include them in your joy, a partner or pal still resists supporting your achievements, it may be time to discuss the problem with a counselor. A professional can help you sort things out and determine whether the relationship is worth saving.

Published Mar. 10, 2006

SOURCES: John McGrail, clinical hynpotherapist and behavior exper Christian Holle, PhD, assistant professor of psychology, William Patterson University, Wayne, N.J. Warren Huberman, PhD, psychologist, New York.

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