Dealing with Social Anxiety Around Your “Fit” Friends When You’ve Gained Weight

This article is based on a podcast episode I did on The Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Podcast. If you’d like to listen to the episode OR learn more about myself and my services, as well as The HA Society, a membership that I run for women with HA, click here.

Ok – Q&A time. I chose this question from my direct messages. If you want to submit questions or podcast topic requests, follow me at @hapodcast and shoot me a message!

Stacy asks:

How to deal with social anxiety following weight gain. I’m generally ok with accepting my new body but get very triggered around my skinnier friends.

I have super super fit friends. They work out really intensely and they actually diet a LOT. I can’t comment on their hormonal or general health, but nonetheless I’m surrounded by these people. Whether or not their lifestyle is working for them in every way I don’t know, but either way, being around them can be hard.

This is how I’ve dealt with it:

First of all, I have constant self dialogue about the fact that I have no idea what their personal health is like. Who knows? And who knows when the moment comes that they come to me asking for advice because they’re having their own health issues. I don’t have enough context about them to make judgments.

Secondly, if self comparison is causing me stress, it’s ok to take time away from those friends. I know it sounds dramatic, but it’s true. I don’t need that shit and I don’t have to deal with it. I can talk to my friends online, over the phone, etc and alleviate the unnecessary stress.

Personally, I’ve told my friends that their inability to relate to me is really hard, and I’ve had some interesting conversations about it with friends that also freed me a bit from how I felt. The added benefit was them becoming more aware of what I needed from them in terms of support and basically what kind of detrimental language I need to stay away from. Our girlfriends loooove talking shit about their own bodies or pointing out what they admire about other peoples’ bodies, and they need to know that it’s not ok to do that. That, however, is a different topic.

The reason for taking time away from people who may lead you to compare yourself to others isn’t just to put a bandaid over the problem. It’s giving you space to do the work you need to deal with this issue so you can rejoin them socially.

Take this analogy for what it’s worth. If you’re learning to do a backflip, but the only way you ever practice is straight up backflips on solid ground, you’ll never muster up the courage to even try. Your primal brain will keep your feet firmly grounded.

But if you practice backflips in a gymnasium with a trampoline and a foam pit first, you get some simple fundamentals down. Then you move on to the matted floor into the foam pit. Then from the foam pit into the mat, with a spotter to help you. One day with enough of the work and easing yourself into it, you’ll be able to walk into a public space and bust out a backflip and have everyone in awe.

Then people will come up to you and ask “wow, how did you have the confidence to do that?! Can you help me?!”.

So, by taking time away from those who are causing you social anxiety, but doing the progressive work like therapy, self talk, getting inside groups and communities of like minded women going through the same thing, you’re allowing yourself to grow that muscle. This is important because you don’t want to just ‘deal with social situations’, you want to thrive in them.

Now, say you have to enter into a situation because you can’t really just hide under a rock, although fortunately covid-19 has made that easier. Here’s what I want you to do…

Deck yourself out in your hottest gear.  Buy yourself something amazing and get your hair done. When people see you oozing sass, here is what they think: “damn…here I am eating my lettuce and chicken breast, and this girl over here is eating the cake with a big ass smile on her face and looking fly. as. fuck. What is my life?”

I’ve experienced this from both sides, as the one who lost the weight and the one who holds onto the weight. The confidence that you can gain from making your experience work for you instead of trying to just endure this experience is game changing.

It’s also important for me to say this: there is nothing inherently wrong with you or better about your friends for being smaller. Screw that. I totally could have gone down the rabbit hole of this as the answer, but I know that you can’t get to this belief system overnight and starting slow is the key.

The HA Society is open every new moon! Learn more and join the waitlist here!

Published by Dani Sheriff

I draw digital images and my passion is in drawing diverse women, promoting body acceptance, and improving our body image. Because we can't do our greatest work when we're so busy being focused on bodies.

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