My friend Emily blogged about me last week and it enlightened a few things for me. Emily and I were friends in college and both (pretty parallel journeys, actually) have been losing weight for about the same amout of time. Em is down 50lbs and I really suggest you follow her if you want an awesome read.
When I started to lose weight, I had to redefine the relationships in my life. Mostly my friendships. This was maybe trickier than ordering my salads with dressing on the side. I have a wide array of friends that I hang out with one-on-one. I don't usually do large groups and I prefer it that way. I'm never stuck hanging out with people I don't want to see that way.
However, I became the fun-food friend. Anytime someone wanted to try a new chocolate beer, or burger joint, or dessert shop, I'd be the one to call. While my individual friends were having a once-in-a-while splurge. I would be splurging many nights a week. I'd go out drinking, get the fruitiest cocktail I could find, and completely ignore the fact that there was a high chance I was consuming hundreds of calories of alcohol etc. I'd be the first to suggest we split an order of fries and be proud of myself for not eating it all by myself. I was living with someone whose favorite foods were mac and cheese, chicken fingers, grilled cheese and french fries and so we'd frequent joints that had those foods. Also known as restaurants that don't have the best healthy selections. And even if they DID have solid healthy choices, I just wouldn't make them.
Food was fun. Eating was fun. Drinking was fun. Partying was fun.
When I finally decided I was going to do this lose-weight thing for real, I was shocked at how much my friends were tempting me. Now, this is far from their fault. But we'd go to restaurants and a friend would be like "Hey, let's split an order of fries!" And I would feel terrible saying no. I set up this expectation for myself. I am supposed to be fun. And I wasn't anymore.
Bud lights instead of Long Island Ice Teas? Really? Salads instead of burgers? Really? Fruit instead of chocolate? Really??
Could I be fun without food?
I am not sure when it became easier. I think once I'd started losing visible amounts of poundage, people started piecing together what was going on. I'd start suggesting non-food related activities that were also fun, and non fat! Walks in the parks, Broadway shows, boardgame nights.
Eventually my friends started to realize that well... no. I would not split the fries anymore. Maybe I'd take one or two, but that was it. And so my relationships changed. People started respecting my journey and my choices. And when they could see the pay-off. They changed into either silent observers, or cheerleaders. Both totally respectable choices.
I was on the journey for me. And my friends rose to the occasion and changed with me. Allowed our friendship to change and for me to step down from my Fun Food Friend position. And instead just be a friend.
This is not to say I am completely perfect in my diet and that I don't indulge with friends. But my friensd no longer see me as the go-to person for gluttony and debauchery. In fact, the opposite. "Hey Anna, let's try this new vegan place!" "Hey Anna, walk in Central Park?" "Hey Anna, let's go get some new clothes!"
And I really appreciate my friends for changing with me. I didn't realize when I started this journey that it wouldn't be JUST ME my diet would effect. But every single interpersonal relationship I have. And that's a lot to ask of my frienships.
So thank you.
And thank you, Emily, for helping me think this through!!