One of the more challenging situations after deciding to change your personal habits around health is actually not even a situation that has to do with you specifically. It has to do with those around you. Your partner. Your kid(s). Your family. Your friends and how your new habits are involved in that relationship or joint setting.
I want to start this off with the disclaimer that this is a two-way street. The people around you may be overjoyed for you to make these changes in your life but they may not necessarily want or desire to make these changes themselves. They may also be upset that you are making these changes because of the uncertainty of what that means for your relationship and connection with them. The you that they have known is changing. They may love that version of you and feel a little nervous or possibly lost and confused with what this means. This may be a situation that causes resistance or tension in your relationship with them. Think about other situations in which this awkwardness could take place.
For example, you are the first of your friends to get married or begin a family. It doesn’t change things but it does change things. Or maybe you were the first to have children and now your children are grown and your friends all have toddlers. Or maybe you just started working for the first time and you’re no longer a stay-at-home parent that can go to play dates and other things. All of these different situations can lead to tension or a sense of loss by one of the people involved. And that’s okay. This is all part of life and we have ways that we can definitely continue to include those around us.
In my personal journey of beginning to switch over my habits and try to strive for weight loss, some of my relationships did change. I was not as big of a drinker because I decided that the host calories were better used on food since I was in a calorie deficit. I was going from the type of person who would say “If you see me running, you should also run because there’s something chasing me that’s really bad” to a person who was waking at 5:00 a.m. on a weekend to go out and run 22 miles. Luckily, I had a lot of friends who were very accepting and encouraging of the changes that I was making in my life. They would ask me questions and wanted to be involved. I did lose some connections along the way for a variety of reasons. But that’s also the nature of life. Some people stay for only a season and others stay for a lifetime.
The key in all of these situations that I have gone through and I have seen through my clients over the course of the years is leading, connection, and communication. These three things can really change the balance and help keep those around you for as long as they are willing to be.
Lead By Example
Rather than imposing your goals and habits on others, simply lead by example. Try to be a role model for these new habits.
When you share your enthusiasm for your choices, routines, and meals, you may inspire those around you. They are going to see the positive impact these changes have on your well-being. And this may change how they feel about them in regard to their personal life.
But also try to keep a bigger perspective in mind here – these are your goals and habits. I imagine that it is your desire to just support and love the people that are in your life. And I also imagine that you just want them to feel their best just like you are feeling with the changes that you’ve made, but that has to be their choice.
In the meantime, your goal should be to support those around you like you would like to have in return. Your desire to feel amazing, healthier, and happier is something that you want to share, but not everyone is ready for that. Be sure to approach this with patience, support, communication, adventure, and love.
Get Them Involved
There are so many ways to get other people involved without making it a pressure situation.
Make meal planning or grocery shopping a joint experience with partners, kids, or other family members. Include others in the decision-making process, they are more likely to be excited about trying new options. If this does sound like something that would be interesting, please check out my other blog on family meal planning for more possibilities for this.
If you are having a get-together with friends, offer to bring food or come up with a list of what different people can bring to help balance things out with a variety of foods and nutrients. This may even open up a conversation about things that you have been learning about balancing your meals to help provide energy, joy, and weight management help. Another great option would be to suggest something like a taco bar or other deconstructed setups that allow each individual to portion what would be best for themselves.
You can try cooking together. It can even be a mindful moment that you also try to practice exploration of the senses and savoring the moments of tasting things along the way. The options here are definitely limitless! Some of the fun things that I have done over the years are having a pizza-making night instead of ordering out and talking about the food in ways that help benefit the body.
Open communication is key. When you are changing, a lot more is changing around you. And the goal here is to create a supportive environment for developing healthy eating habits but also not imposing if somebody is simply not ready. Try to have patience with the process. It may take others longer to enjoy it all. This is your journey and there is a chance that they are in it for you and not for themselves fully.
When you continue to include somebody in your new ways and they want to be included, it may create a beautiful new type of relationship for you guys to continue to grow together. You can share your motivation and reasons for wanting to make healthy changes and because of how they feel about you, they may ask how they can support you in reaching these.
One last thing that I want to be sure to include is you communicating with others what you want and need. You may feel awkward and not want to impose or take up space with your new ways. But this is for you. And the people that surround you are for you. Have the conversation. Let them in on what excites you and what you are striving for. There’s a lot of uncertainty and fear when we don’t have the conversation that can easily be allieved when we do. And in the chance that they are not okay with this, it’s going to be really a hard pill to swallow but you and your goals are for you and no one else. You have to make decisions and choices that align with you. You are the only person that you will have to spend your entire life with.
I hope this helped! It has been a long road for me as I changed my entire life through my weight loss, fitness journey, military spouse journey, stay at home mom journey, homeschooling journey, going back to work journey… Every phase of life changes things and changes who you are. Some people around you will be there for only a season because that is all that they were meant to help you with. And some will be there for a lifetime.