This sounds like a tough question, doesn’t it? Most of us would like to think that we have an amazing support system around us that nurture and encourage healthy behaviors. Truth is many of us lack this basic component. You want to eat chicken and vegetables for dinner. They want to order pizza. You want to go to a yoga class. They want to go to the movies. Your significant other complains that you spend “too much time” at the gym.
At some point in your health and fitness journey you will probably encounter this problem. And it’s not limited to our fitness. Throughout life we must deal with individuals who don’t support out goals in education, career, social life, etc. It’s easy to label these people as “haters” and disregard their negativity. But how should you handle it when it’s the people closest to you?
The first step: don’t argue or fight with them about it. This may seem counter intuitive, but it’s honestly not worth fighting over. If you decide to turn down junk food, favor a walk outside instead of watching TV, or pass on happy hour to go to the gym you are going to receive a great deal of judgment and confusion from the people around you.
When your friends and family argue with you or come off as confrontational, it is best not engage in the negativity. It’s understandable that you want them to see things form your point of view, but the truth is they can only understand what they are familiar with. You are breaking with your old habits and this is confusing to people. An outpouring of emotion from you will only make the situation worse.
Rather than pleading with your loved ones, try to articulate things from your point of view. Share your vision of your future and the behaviors you want to change. Explain that your health and fitness goals are important to you. Reassure them that you understand the time commitment and are aware that your other responsibilities in life cannot suffer. This last part is extremely important when the unsupportive person is their own spouse.
Choose your company wisely. The saying goes that we are the sum of the five people closest to us. This is true in regards to all aspects of our life including fitness and health. We inherit our eating habits from our parents and family. We pick significant others whose lifestyle is compatible or similar to our own. If the majority of people around you are not healthy and active chances are you won’t be either. You may not be able to distance yourself completely form the negative people in your life but you can cultivate new relationships that are more nurturing for your goals. Commit yourself to the idea that not everyone is going to be on board. It is not your job to win them over. Your job is to make progress and achieve the goals that you set.
Explain to your friends and family the way you will feel if you don’t pursue your own fitness journey. Letting them know that you will be filled with regret if you do not make changes to your health may help. This is something we can all relate to. Even if they don’t understand your current health kick, they will surely understand the emotions driving your need to change.
Be prepared to go the distance. If you are not immediately obtaining the results you were seeking, your family will expect you to give up after a certain amount of time. They will find obscure and indirect ways to question your commitment to see if you are still working on your goals. This process will frustrate and annoy you. It will test your ability to handle outside pressure as well as your own emotions. Listen to you inner voice. The same voice that spoke to you in the beginning will guide you through the tough times.
Avoid Comparisons. People who are not supportive will be quick to point out shortcomings or things they perceive as failures. The only person you have to answer to in this situation is yourself. Remember that their approval is not needed. You aren’t doing this for anyone but yourself. This is an opportunity for you to grow strong and focus on the vision of the healthy lifestyle that you created in the beginning. This could prove to be a pivotal moment in your journey. Devote your energy to your progress.