There are other, more subtle relationship pitfalls awaiting the newly svelte.
When you make any big change in yourself, your relationships will change too. Many people view change as a scary and threatening thing. Maybe this harkens back to our pre-civilization days on the tundra or whatever, when change could and frequently did mean death. Any evolutionary psychologists in the house tonight? However they got the notion, many people don’t handle change well.
We’ve probably all heard at least one story of the newly thin woman whose husband or boyfriend flipped his last wing-nut because now great marauding hordes of other men were checking out his woman. This can result in all manner of distasteful and sabotaging behavior. Heretofore unsuspected depths of insecurity may make themselves known by such things as objecting to her speaking to any male between the ages of 14 and 114 unless they are blood relatives. At parties, he may show a pronounced reluctance to spend even a nanosecond without some part of his body touching hers, preferably in an overt and visible from three city blocks away way.
Or he may take extreme measures to fatten her up again so he can relax and stop parading around in full alpha male regalia and trying to reign in the urge to pee on her to claim his territory. Face it, that shit is exhausting. Instead, he will reveal himself to be a far more clever and considerate man than anyone had previously expected. He will bring you coffee and donuts in bed and try to guilt you into eating the donuts using the popular and effective, I did this just for you and you will hurt my feelings if you don’t ploy. He will suddenly devote massive amounts of time and energy to his new hobby of bringing every fattening food you ever so much as glanced at into the house in huge quantities. You couldn’t get him to go to the store for toilet paper before but now he spends so much time in the candy aisle at the market that they know him there. The Snickers bars say hi.
If these are some of they ways the man in her life will attempt to put the relationship dynamic back where it was, the women in her life also have their methods. A freshly skinny women may here variations of this repeatedly, “Oh, come on, you look great! Surely you can have this frighteningly huge piece of cake I just cut specifically for you.” Another favorite is, “Oh, come on, it’s (fill in the holiday)! Relax and enjoy yourself. You can go back to your eating things that won’t eventually kill you trip tomorrow.” Or she may find herself invited to dinner at which the hostess serves seven courses completely comprised of things that are guaranteed to clog every artery in a five mile radius.
The unspoken Significant Dude message is, “You are now so hot that you will notice what a putz I am and leave me in the dust any second now.” Trust me guys, she has known what a putz you are for a very long time. We’re talking second date here. The unspoken Terrified and Envious Female Friend message is, “Please re-fat yourself so I can go back to being comfortable ignoring my (fill in the perceived fatal flaw) in your presence.”
Why do women succumb to these blatant manipulations and revert to previous self-defeating behaviors? Because logic, reason and intellect have nothing to do with it. Humans in general have a tendency to stay in their comfort zones, even when those zones aren’t really all that comfortable. The familiar is at least, well, familiar. That familiarity makes it less scary than the unknown. This is why we stay in jobs we hate, relationships that suck, etc.
When relationships change, it can be very uncomfortable for all involved. There is new territory with no map; old patterns have to be reevaluated. Change is hard and takes persistent effort, so it can be very easy to just go back to how it was before. It’s a relief.
There is also the lizard brain aspect. Your intellect tells you that the pleasurable taste and boost in serotonin you get from eating that cookie will be gone in a flash, but the joy you take in your body will be an ongoing thing. Ergo, skip the cookie. Your lizard brain speaks loudly, bluntly and in all caps. “WANT! COOKIE! NOW!” This is also why advertising works, even on people who know better. It goes straight to the lizard brain.
The lizard brain lives at the base of the skull, at the top of the spine. I controls instincts and impulses and has only one imperative: survival. Since most of us are not in life-threatening situations on a regular basis, the lizard brain has adapted. It has taken on the roll of monitoring social survival. Fear of public speaking is an example. The lizard brain hates and strongly resists change and taking risks.
Lizard brain has to do with all addictions. If you’ve tried to kick before, you’ve undoubtedly experienced both mental and physical withdrawal symptoms. Well, L.B. can’t have that! That feels like a threat to survival, so L.B. will go all out to fix what it perceives as the problem by getting you to take the drink, snort the line or eat the ice cream.
Overriding L.B. is not a matter of willpower. It’s a matter of knowing and using techniques to shut it up. I am not a psychologist, counselor, therapist or medical doctor, so please don’t take my advice without consulting someone trained in the ways of the mind. What I can tell you is that I’ve studied psychology, I’ve had years of therapy and I’ve experimented extensively with various methods to overcome my own issues, including what some are calling the “amygdala hijack.”
An amygdala hijack occurs when your lizard brain, the amygdala, freaks out, overrides your reasoning brain and convinces you to do something you’d probably rather not. Possible ways to derail Lizzie before he gets you into trouble include EMDR, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, EFT, emotional freedom technique or tapping, pausing to breathe deeply for six seconds before acting, and/or hypnosis.
Of course, the same people trying to get things back to the status quo are going to attempt to interfere with your efforts to derail L.B. That is their own lizard brains in action. Regrettably, you can’t hold them down and practice the techniques mentioned above on them forcibly.
The lizard brains of others aside, by far the biggest reason people who lose weight gain it back is that the underlying reason(s) they’ve been using food to self-medicate have not been addressed. Some find other ways to deal with those issues, sometimes even healthy alternatives such as exercise or meditation. Many return to the previous maladaptive behaviors, likely because they don’t realize what they’ve been doing and/or they don’t know how to do anything else. A good therapist can be of great help in uncovering those underlying reasons, helping you deal with them and helping you learn more adaptive ways of coping.
Failing that, you can always change your name, move to another state and cut off all contact with anyone who would recognize your “before” picture. Then, at least you’d only have your own L.B. to deal with.