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Dealing with Boundary Issues, One at a Time

Monday, March 02, 2015

I just read another Sparker's blog that resonated with what I'm experiencing right now. She shared how she felt violated by other people's comments and advice about her weight loss.

As a person who deals with boundary issues, I really gleaned a lot of insight from her post. I agreed 100% that it's OK not to accept everyone's "helpful advice" about MY plan. It's hard to say these words without feeling selfish, but the truth is weight loss and health are an individual's responsibility.

Since rejoining Spark People 3+ weeks ago, I have become extremely sensitive to other's input and feedback. EVERYONE has an opinion about what you should or shouldn't be doing. They want to tell you what works for THEM. Quite frankly, it's not about them at all. It about the individual. Each of us are on our own health journey, and it's a highly personal one. While other's can be supportive, they can't tell us what the next steps will be.

Unsolicited advice is intrusive and often counterproductive to a person trying to lose weight or improve their overall health.

Here's some feedback/input I've received.

" You should try x, y, z diet. It worked for me!" Or, "It's the latest miracle diet!"

Boundary Violated: Unsolicited Diet Advice
Right now I refuse to overlay my eating plan with ANY diet, no matter how "effective." I do my own research in finding foods to help with MY health issues and I know what foods to avoid.

"You shouldn't eat that. That's bad for you/will cause you to gain weight/not on approved food list."

Boundary Violated: Food Police Issuing Guilt
I don't need added guilt or shame as others try to police my food choices. As a rule, I also don't have any "off-limits" foods. I'm practicing moderation and allow room for treats, practicing an 80/20 rule. If I choose to remove certain foods from my diet, it will be MY choice.

"You SHOULD eat this. A little bit won't hurt. It's not too bad for you." OR "This is a miracle food. I swear by it."

Boundary Violated: High-Pressure "Force-feeding"
I'm developing a backbone that I don't have to eat certain foods, even if there is risk of offending someone. I also don't need to be told WHAT to eat. I use common sense and my own judgment. I also reserve the right to bring my own food to a social situation to stay on track. Peer-Pressure and Guilt Trips to eat foods that will derail my goals, or giving in to Slimey "Sales" strategies to convince me to eat a certain food are no longer acceptable!

"You should share your weight loss progress with the world."

Boundary Violated: Privacy. Period.
I choose whether or not I want to be transparent. In the past, I kept most of my weight loss efforts to myself. This time around, I'm being a little more open. But it's MY choice what I share and what I keep private.

I don't have to do weight loss selfies unless I want to. I don't have to discuss my achievement in depth. My weight loss does not have to be a topic of public conversation on social media, at work, etc. I also don't need comments about how I'm such a better person now that I've lost this weight. My goodness and worth isn't determined by the scale.

"You should meditate each day." OR "You should pray to this weight loss saint." OR "You should chant this mantra daily for 10 minutes."

Boundary Violated: Unwanted Spiritual Guru Invading my Headspace
I'm a spiritual person who does believe I can hear God's voice and direction. I ponder daily in my journal - prayers, feelings & frustrations, new things I've learned. Faith is an important component in my life, including my health.

However, I don't need others to tell me to add any other spiritual practices to my life, especially those that (1) I don't agree with and (2) seem to be a shortcut for the lessons God is teaching me.

I believe in prayer and miracles, but I won't cheapen God's supernatural power to quick fixes. I believe in the power of the tongue to bring either blessings or death, and I know my mind is a battlefield. But I can't speak a magic formula or positive affirmation and then expect to eat garbage the rest of my life. My health and weight are just one aspect of my life that God cares about. My journey towards healing - whether physically, emotionally or spiritually - is ultimately between me and Him. He cares about the layers of my soul just as much as the layers of body fat on my frame.

What about you? What are some boundary violations you deal with as you try to focus on health or weight loss goals? Comment below.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Interesting blog! I haven't found a whole lotta this here at Spark -- more in "real" life: but wherever it occurs, unsolicited advice is pretty much unwelcome.
    2091 days ago
  • no profile photo CD13342094
    Love it!

    Have you read my blog rant about unsolicited advice? Seriously, it annoys me sooooo much. Here's my list:

    1. "You should stop eating this one thing." Um, no. There is no such thing as food that is "bad" for me. If it's "bad," it's not food, it's poison. Sugar is not poison. Gluten is not poison. Dairy is not poison. And I do not care how much that thing that you did worked for you. That's anecdotal evidence, not empirical evidence. If it works for you, awesome. But that doesn't mean there's any scientific evidence it works, and it's certainly not grounds for me to think it will work for me.

    2. "You should do this thing which, if I'd bothered to read your blog or I knew anything about you, I would know you tried already and hated it." I don't like yoga. Took it in college, and it aggravated every old injury I had, including inflaming a bunion that hadn't bothered me in about eight years. And y'know what? That bunion still bothers me more than a dozen years after my yoga class. I tried to take it up again last year because I really need to work on flexibility. I modified the poses the best I could to avoid hurting myself. After a few months, I recognized it was hurting me. So, lesson learned, no more yoga. And I really wish people would stop suggesting it to me.

    3. "Don't eat anything after 7 p.m." or "You're eating again?" (Seriously - I once had a really fat co-worker say that to me.) I am an endurance athlete. An old, slow, fat one, but I am an athlete nonetheless. I frequently don't get home from the gym until 8 p.m.-ish, so I squeeze in dinner right before bedtime at 9-ish. No, it's not ideal. But I've learned that going to bed hungry when you're working out a lot is a bad idea. (Your body does most of its "repair work" while you're sleeping, and it needs fuel to do this.) And yeah, I eat a morning snack and an afternoon snack. Food = fuel.

    4. "You shouldn't eat more than 1500 calories a day." BA HA HA. My round-trip bike commute burns nearly 1000 calories. It takes about 100 calories to propel a human being about a mile on foot, regardless of whether you're running or walking. So my brick workout - ten mile bike ride, followed by a 3 mile run - burns about 700 calories. My basal metabolic rate is around 1,400 calories - that's what I'd burn if I did zero exercise. I'd lose weight quickly if I only consumed 1500 calories a day, but my athletic performance would suffer greatly. (I know a lot of women who gain weight while training for Ironman. You simply cannot fuel that much activity on a weight-loss diet.) I'm not doing triathlon to lose weight. My goal isn't to have a BMI of 15 or a body fat percentage of 12%. My goal is to cross the finish line at my "A" race feeling great.

    I firmly believe we are each experts in what works for us, and the most important thing we can do is to trust and respect our bodies. The best thing I can do is encourage people on their personal journey. I'll skip a planned workout to go for a walk with a seriously overweight friend, because I want to encourage people to be active regardless of their weight. If a friend asks for advice, I'll give it to them, but in terms that works for them. Yes, swimming has helped tone my core, but if the person cannot afford a club membership it's pointless to tell them to start swimming. And if you eat a lot of fast food, rather than suggest giving it up and making all your home-cooked meals from scratch, I'll suggest changing a few meals a week.

    But boy howdy, if you ever come across a prayer to Our Lady of Perpetually Perky Bosoms, let me know.
    2096 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/3/2015 4:12:11 PM
    Sounds like you've been giving this a lot of thought. You've spelled out really well the things that are a hindrance for you. I especially have trouble with "sharing" my journey with anyone other than my teammates. For me it seems like a safe place to do that, but to lay it all out there for the rest of the world just isn't going to happen. Diet recommendations, plans, suggestions, etc...the ones I've tried have pretty much all de-railed me. I am working hard at focusing on what is working for me, which I know to be a viable approach. Good luck to you!!! emoticon
    2097 days ago
    thanks for sharing. i learned about my boundaries along time ago... if the boundaries involve someone i need to deal with consistently (friend, family) then I try to tell them politely what I need and don't need. If t's a casual acquaintance or spark blogger (just passing through) I mostly just ignore the unwanted advice.

    Be blessed and be strong in keeping your boundaries in place =)
    2097 days ago
  • no profile photo CD14895051
    I like it! My least favorite boundary violation is "how much more weight do you need to lose?" which is both intrusive and presumptuous as it usually comes from someone who has no real relationship with me.
    2097 days ago
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