Why caring what others think leads to weight gain, and how you can stop caring

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Do you ever find yourself modifying your behaviour, your social media posts, or even your conversations because you worry about what others will think of you?

Caring what others think causes you to second-guess yourself, compromises your relationships, erodes your confidence, prevents you from having the life you really want, stops you from living authentically, and even leads to weight gain.

Before we explain why caring what others think impacts your weight, let’s look at why you worry what they think, in the first place.

Why do you worry about what others think of you?

Worrying about other people’s opinions of you is based on your fear of being judged and your need to be loved and accepted.

One of the deepest needs we have is to be loved and accepted. No one wants to be judged or ridiculed, or be told they’re wrong or stupid. That’s why people-pleasing is so prominent. In your quest to be loved and accepted, you try to keep everyone happy and forgo what you really want, in case that upsets other people. You believe that in order to be liked, you must be all things to all people.

So of course, this means that you’re going to worry about what others think of you — what you do, what you say, what you believe, where you go, who you spend time with, etc.

The need to please people and make sure you don’t do anything to ‘upset’ them is because you need other people to validate you. And the reason you need others to validate you, is because you don’t like who you are, and don’t believe you’re good enough.

Signs you care about what others think

You probably already know that you care what others think, but you may not realise how much this impacts your life. Signs that you worry about what others think of you include:

  • not setting boundaries around the way people treat you
  • continuing to drink with your friends, even though you’re trying to lose weight
  • wanting to know what other people say and think about you
  • engaging in attention-seeking behaviours
  • being unable to make decisions
  • not telling people you’re doing a body transformation, in case someone judges you
  • not posting anything on social media about your weight loss journey because ‘you’re a private person’, but posting about drinking or politics
  • being afraid to voice a different opinion to someone else
  • believing that other people’s behaviour is about you
  • overthinking what you post on social media
  • being afraid to speak the truth in case it hurts someone’s feeling
  • boasting or bragging about your achievements
  • overthinking what you look like and what you wear
  • waiting to see what the popular opinion is, before you voice yours
  • putting your needs behind the needs of other people, even people who don’t show true loyalty to you
  • worrying that you have to say and do ‘the right thing’ all the time
  • being afraid of conflict
  • taking constructive criticism personally and being defensive about it
  • worrying and thinking that other people are talking about you
  • saying ‘yes’ to people even though you want to say ‘no’
  • being embarrassed about the things that you truly love
  • having difficulty asking for help
  • playing both sides (e.g. being friends with people who gossip behind other people’s backs, while trying to be friends with the people they gossip about)
  • not doing anything ‘out of the norm’ in case you’re seen as strange
  • wondering what others will think of you if you do or say a particular thing.

Of course, the above list isn’t exhaustive, but hopefully it will give you an idea of just how much this habit affects you.

How caring what others think affects you

The truth is, no matter what you do, there will always be someone who won’t like you, who will judge you, or talk badly about you behind your back. Living a life trying not to upset anyone is simply not possible.

Constantly worrying about what others think of you means that you don’t have power over your choices, and you end up doing things that you don’t necessarily want to do. This leads to you being unhappy, depressed, anxious and hesitant. You will be paralysed to make choices and instead will end up following the crowd. Your relationships are also likely to be toxic because you’ll be associating with people who don’t necessarily have your best interests at heart, or because the relationship is not based on honesty.

All of this means that there’s a very high chance that you’ll end up overweight, or struggle to lose weight. Let’s look at an example to help explain this.

Belinda has decided that she’s sick of being overweight. She’s sick of feeling uncomfortable in her body and not living the life she wants to. She believes that if she can just lose some weight, she’ll feel so much better about herself and will finally have the confidence to do the things she’s always wanted to do. She signs up with a coach and is excited to start her new lifestyle.

A few days later, she’s out with her friends for Friday dinner and drinks and she excitedly tells them that she’s signed up with a coach to lose some weight, so she won’t be eating dessert and will be limiting her alcohol consumption. She sticks to her plan, but during the evening, her friends make jabs at her accusing her of being ‘boring’ and ‘no fun’. This makes Belinda feel uncomfortable and self-conscious.

That week at training, her coaches take a photo of her and post it on their social media feed, welcoming her to their team. They tag her in the photo as well. Belinda worries about what her friends and family will think, especially seeing she’s wearing her leggings in the photo, so she untags herself so it won’t appear on her FB page. She then changes her settings so no one is able to tag her into anything again. The last thing she wants is people watching what she’s doing and making judgements about how she looks.

The following Friday night, Belinda has dinner with her friends again. This time, she mentions nothing about her weight loss program, and instead drinks as much as she normally would, plus orders dessert just so she can fit in with the rest of her friends. She definitely doesn’t want to be called boring again.

Belinda had originally made plans to do her grocery shopping and meal prep on Saturday, but when her sister asked if she could babysit her kids for the weekend, she said ‘yes’. Her sister had never had a weight problem and believed all you had to do to lose weight was to cut back calories and exercise a lot, so never understood why Belinda struggled with her weight. Belinda didn’t want to get into an argument with her sister about her latest attempt at losing weight, nor did she want a lecture or to feel judged by her sister, so she pretended she didn’t have any plans and instead, looked after her niece and nephew for two days, while her sister and brother-in-law went away for the weekend.

By the time Monday morning came around, Belinda felt tired, grumpy and frustrated. She skipped her workout because she had no energy after running around after two kids for the weekend. Because she didn’t grocery shop or food prep, she had no food in the house either, so had to buy breakfast on the way into work. She also ended up buying fast food for lunch, morning and afternoon tea, and dinner on the way home. By the time she got home her stress levels were high, so she ended up drinking half a bottle of wine and eating one litre of ice-cream that she grabbed while getting her takeaway dinner.

As she headed to bed, Belinda felt extremely guilty about her binge and believed her coach wouldn’t be happy with her. So she decided not to tell them what she had done. Instead, she set her alarm early for the next day, to make sure she got to her workout on time where she planned to pretend that everything was okay.

In the above example, you can see how Belinda’s habit of caring what other people think about her impacts her life. Firstly, she’s afraid to say ‘no’ to dessert and alcohol, because she doesn’t want her friends to call her boring. She can’t say ‘no’ to her sister either, because she feels her sister will judge her about her weight, and for following a weight loss program. Belinda’s inability to choose what she wants to do means she doesn’t get the rest she needs, so ends up skipping her workout. Because she didn’t make time for grocery shopping or food prep, she has no food in the house, which leads her to eat takeaway food for the entire day. As a result of the stress, Belinda ends up bingeing on ice-cream and wine. And then, because she fears judgement from her coach, she decides not to tell them what happened and pretends everything is okay, instead of admitting what she did and asking for help.

Belinda’s keystone habit of worrying about what other people think of her is directly causing her weight problems.

You can’t live a double life

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you can’t live a double life. You can’t follow your plan to please one set of people, and then do things that will sabotage your results to keep another group of people happy. That’s being interested in weight loss, not committed to it.

The ones who don’t succeed in getting the results they want are the ones who worry about what other people think of them. They’re so afraid of being judged and rejected, that they hide what they’re doing, or continue to engage in their old habits which led them to be overweight in the first place, while telling their coach that they’re doing what they’re supposed to.

They say things like “I’m training and eating well”, but they’re not getting the results they want because they’re not fully committed to the program. They’re too busy worrying about what others think of them to commit and do what they need to do. And then they claim that the program doesn’t work.

What happens if you keep worrying

If you keep caring what others think about you embarking on a Body & Lifestyle Transformation program, you’ll keep going around in circles, never losing the weight you want to lose, because you’ll continually be trying to keep everyone happy. And while you try to keep everyone happy, you won’t have the time, or the commitment required to do the things you need to, in order to lose weight.

You’ll also continue to feel stressed, won’t feel comfortable with who you are, won’t live authentically, will always be looking over your shoulder and checking your behaviour, and will never have the life you really want to have.

How to stop worrying

Work out what you really want and WHY

Having a clear goal and a reason to reach that goal — a WHY — will help you stop caring about what others think. When you know what you want and why it’s important to you, it will be easier to find a way to do it, even if it means upsetting other people.

Let go of perfection

Feeling that you have to be perfect and get everything right in order for people to like you will hold you back. Instead, aim to be the best version of yourself and to please you first and foremost.

Develop boundaries

While there’s nothing wrong with doing things for other people, if you worry about what others think of you, you’re likely to do too much for others. However, putting boundaries around the time you give to others, or what you’ll do for them can help. For example, agreeing that you’ll only help other people when you’ve done the things you need to do, to lose weight (e.g. gone for your walk, done your food prep, etc.). If you’re not sure how this boundary strategy works, be sure to read our blog on it.

Seek out those who will support you

Having the right people around you will also help you focus on your weight loss journey. Your support network should be made up of people who support your goals (even if they don’t understand them), encourage and support you in the actions you need to take, and then celebrate your success without feeling threatened or jealous. When you find the right tribe — like the one we have built at Imani Tribe Transformations — you’ll worry less about other people’s opinions of you, and more about your transformation journey.

Ask for help

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength and courage. Too many people are afraid to ask for help because they believe they’ll be judged for not knowing everything, or being seen as weak or inadequate. Seek out a coach who can help you tackle your habit of caring what others think, so you can drop it once and for all. Because true weight loss solutions are not found in diet or exercise. They’re found in habit change and dropping your emotional baggage.

Real transformation is lonely but it’s worth it

The hard truth is, transformation is a lonely journey. Not everyone will follow you, and not everyone will support you. Some people will be threatened by your desire for change, because they’re afraid that it may change the dynamic between you. Some people will be envious and angry with you. Others won’t want to go on the same path that you want to go down.

There may even be some who want to go down the same path, who aren’t quite ready. But you can’t wait for them to be ready, thinking that’s how you help them. The best way to help other people, is to do the work yourself. Work on you, change your life, and then you’ll be able to help them when they’re ready.

If you really want to lose weight, you need to be willing to let go of what other people think of you, and do what you want to do. Because, in the words of Dr Seuss, “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter, don’t mind.”

Be the man or woman in the arena

At the end of the day criticism from other people about your transformation journey says more about the person criticising, than it does about you. In order to attain long-term weight loss, you need to be able to rise above the critics, snide comments, or chit-chat behind your back. Because if you’re doing the work, then the credit belongs to you.

As Theodore Roosevelt famously said:

It is not the critic who counts;

not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,

or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,

whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;

who strives valiantly;

who errs, who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;

but who does actually strive to do the deeds;

who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions;

who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,

and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,

so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat.”

If you’re ready to get into the arena and finally stop caring what others think of you, we can help.


Through our personalised program, we can provide you with a structured action plan to help you get over your fear of what others think of you, and help you finally take control and create the life you really want. Our program provides you with the necessary accountability in order to succeed. Along with habit and mindset change, our program also includes nutrition and exercise guidance, so you can build a healthy body and mind, that will support long-term weight loss.

Imagine not worrying about what other people think of you. Imagine being free to do and say and act as you please, unconcerned about other people’s judgements. Imagine having the confidence to let other people’s opinions of you slide off your back. We’ve helped others get over their fear of what other people think of them, so we know we can help you.

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