That's me and my husband at a backyard party in the Hamptons. He loves that I take care of myself, but you can bet that other people at the party were bothered that I didn't partake in all of the junk food they were serving. It happens all the time.
Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others.
Avoiding the temptation of junk food can be hard enough without pressure from your friends, family and co-workers to ditch your goals and "loosen up." So often, people who aren't focusing on their health can find themselves feeling uncomfortable around someone who is, causing them to project their own insecurities onto others. Does this sound familiar?
You look fine, just have a burger with me!
Stop worrying about the calories, let's have fun!
Do you really need to track everything you eat? You're obsessing!
While it might sound innocuous enough, this type of behavior is a classic case of projection.
The person eating the cheeseburger is made to feel insecure by the person who is eating the salad, so he or she encourages the salad eater to join them in this unhealthy behavior.
The person who never counts their calories fears being judged by the person tracking their food, so he or she makes them feel silly for doing so.
The person who doesn't pay attention to what they eat feels uncomfortable around the person who does, so he or she makes them feel like they might be behaving abnormally.
Now, I am in no way suggesting that your friends and family are intentionally sabotaging you. In fact, I have no doubt that they don't even know they're doing it! However, their intention has absolutely no affect on how it makes you feel and subsequently behave, so it's time that you learn how to handle the pressure without having to stay in on Saturday night!
1. Decide what you're having before you get there.
Maybe you're going to a chain restaurant and you can review the menu online beforehand. Maybe you're going to a bar and you know they only serve greasy bar food, so you're going to eat a big meal before you go. No matter what you do to prepare, spending as little time as possible fussing over the menu is your best bet. It's hard to change the mind of someone who already knew they wanted the Kale and Sweet Potato Grain Bowl before they got there, especially if she is pumped about it because it's tasty as hell!
2. Know what you're going to say.
It might sound silly, but if you're going out with friends who truly don't understand why you're having a vodka soda instead of a frozen margarita, practice what you're going to tell them when they start asking questions. Maybe you're going to tell them that you worked way too hard in the gym this morning to ruin it with a drink, or maybe you're going to tell them that you're not in the mood for tequila. Whatever the reason is, you don't want to have to come up with it on the spot.
3. Don't make them feel bad for indulging.
At the end of the day, you're only responsible for yourself. You know how bad it feels to be scrutinized, so don't make your friends feel insecure for not being as strict as you. I'm all about normalizing healthy eating, but you can't fight fire with fire.
4. Bring something with you (and offer to share.)
If you're heading to a house party and you're certain there'll be nothing but chips, burgers and pizza, bring a veggie tray along! Make sure there's enough for everyone and you might just make a new #FitFriend around the hummus.
5. Be happy with your choices.
Instead of being the girl who's dying to lose 10 pounds ASAP, be the girl who's in love with feeling better every day. Your friends don't want to see you suffer, so of course they're going to try to get you to indulge if you're miserable.
6. Go and have fun.
The process of ordering and eating is only a tiny part of the social event, so be prepared and get through it so you can enjoy time with your friends. A healthy lifestyle does not require staying inside all weekend, so get out there and have a blast!