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How Weight Gain Affects Your Relationships (and Why It's So Important to Stay Connected)

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You probably know that it's been a tough few years for Rob Kardashian. He's gained a considerable amount of weight, causing him to step far away from the spotlight that the rest of his family shines under. It's fair to say that he's become reclusive, and even now with his fiancée Blac Chyna by his side and a baby on the way, Rob doesn't show signs of changing his ways.

We learned on last night's episode of Rob and Chyna that Rob's friends truly miss him—Rob is embarrassed and ashamed that he hasn't been around, responded to their messages, or been a part of their lives for several years. In an effort to bridge the gap between new and old Rob, Scott Disick (long-time partner to sister Kourtney and father of their children) and Blac Chyna threw a surprise BBQ for Rob with all his friends. At first, Rob was really upset about the sneaky gathering, but he eventually comes around and realizes that he does need to be more proactive about seeing his friends. (Talking to someone about their weight can be a touchy subject, so here's exactly When It's Okay to Tell a Loved One They Might Need to Lose Weight.)

Unfortunately, Rob's decision to withdraw socially is not uncommon. Many people who have gained weight will shy away from public outings, even with close friends, as a way of coping with depression and stress caused by these new body insecurities. "The reason people retreat after a significant weight gain is because they'll try to get back on track to lose the weight before friends and family see it," says Lisa Avellino, fitness director for NY Health & Wellness. "People get embarrassed because they already feel sluggish and stressed so they don't want their loved ones to see them 'wearing' their stress or hear their comments."

But the isolation can make things worse for someone struggling with their weight. "Sitting around, eating excess salt and sugar, plus sleeplessness and stress, packs on the pounds and causes an imbalance in hormones—as does low levels of vitamin D from being inside," says Avellino.

For Rob or anyone struggling with weight gain and isolation, Avellino says there's one thing you can do that could make a huge difference: Get a dog. "Dogs will get you up when you feel down—literally and figuratively," she says. "They will make you feel happy when you walk in the room and cheer you up, which will help balance and lower your cortisol levels. In addition, they will help add structure and the need to walk every day," she says.

Avellino says a furry friend and all their escapades can make you laugh, and laughing releases endorphins which are "like nature's Prozac." "When you feel happier you feel like moving, and moving more turns your body into a fat-burning machine."

There are other ways to help a friend who is hurting and hiding because of weight gain without coming across as judgmental. "Just tell them you love them and ask them how you can support them in any way," says Avellino. "Another great idea is to just say, 'Hey can I come over for a walk to catch up?' The point is it's not about an obvious thin-tervention but rather support." (We've known since about forever that the buddy system can help get you and keep you motivated to work out and lose the weight.)

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