With friends like these…

You may be ready to embrace and make the change, but your friends and family may not be.

Healthy living is easier with the support of friends and family.

Earlier this week during one of our Small Group Personal Training sessions, a client described how her friends were critiquing her healthier choices when dining out.  She is brand new to exercise, and for the first time, is taking steps to change her habits.  Her workout partner then described her experience at a hockey game when she went to order water and a stranger tried to convince her to have a beer.

If you are trying to lose weight, or have tried to lose weight in the past, you’re probably already familiar with diet sabotageurs: people, possibly a friend, co-worker, spouse or even a stranger, who try to sabotage your efforts. Sometimes they are well meaning- such your mother whose natural tendency is to feed you. Sometimes they are a bit guilty or jealous – such as the friend who would really like to lose a few pounds herself and would rather you carry a bit of extra weight as well.  Sometimes they are unprepared for the change – such as the friend who knows you as (and thinks he needs you to be) his beer drinking, pizza eating buddy.  And sometimes, they have absolutely no idea why they are trying to sabotage your weight loss efforts.

Changing your lifestyle habits it just that – change.  You may be ready to embrace and make the change, but your friends and family may not be.

The key to turning your friends and family from satabogeurs to supporters is communication. The type of communication will depend on the depth of your relationship.  A simple ‘no thank you’ to a stranger or ‘I just ate’ to an acquaintance will suffice.

Close friends, family members and your spouse will likely need a ‘heart to heart’ conversation.

Schedule a time to talk with your friend or loved one.  Mention that you have something important you’d like to discuss so they are prepared to listen with minimal distractions.   During the conversation, do not accuse them of being unsupportive or a bad friend.  It’s important to understand their feelings, as they are likely not trying to be malicious.  Explain how you feel, why you are making the changes to your lifestyle.  Finally, and most importantly, show your loved ones how they can help you.  Perhaps you can ask for them to be your workout partner, or help you come up with healthy meal options.

When you’re making significant lifestyle changes, be prepared that some people, even your closest loved ones, may not be completely supportive of the change.  Be open with them, and ask for help.  Communication is the best way to enlist support from your family and friends.

Tanja Shaw is the owner of Ascend Fitness Coaching, a private training studio.  Tanja and her team of expert fitness professionals works to inspire and educate Chilliwack residents to make positive and power changes in their lives through physical fitness and sound nutrition.  For more fitness tips go to www.ascendfitnesscoaching.com.

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