Written by Angela Silva
Changing your lifestyle is not easy. Even just arriving at the decision to finally make some changes takes a painful process of self-reflection and humility. And once you’ve begun, you would assume that your loved ones would support and encourage you, making it even easier to reach your goals. But actually, many people report that it is the comments or behavior of their loved ones that discourage them from staying on track and reaching goals.
To make sure you don’t accidentally derail your loved one’s plan of self-improvement, avoid doing these five things that could undermine their efforts. And if you’re the bombarded traveler on the wellness journey, here are some suggestions for responding to the unintentional discouraging comments and acts of others.
A big part of adopting healthier habits is learning to control cravings and to listen to our bodies’ hunger and fullness cues. For many people, this means avoiding the tempting foods or learning to eat them mindfully. If you bring over a huge plate of brownies and insist your loved one eat and enjoy them all him/herself, they may find themselves feeling pressure and guilt to indulge simply to avoid disappointing you.
If you want to do something kind for a loved one whom you know is making efforts to be healthier, ask them in advance what kind of treat they like, or pay attention to something non-food related you could give them instead. If you are presented with the brownies in this situation, kindly thank them and explain that you’re trying to eat more intuitively, but don’t mind sharing or will have one later when you feel hungry.
Changing your lifestyle is about you. It’s not always about losing weight or looking good for summer. Your reasons are your own. So when someone starts in about your efforts with comments like…
- “What difference is a few pounds?”
- “You don’t have any weight to lose!”
- “You look better when you’re not super thin,” or
- “Don’t become anorexic!”
…it’s best to kindly explain that your efforts are not just aesthetic. If they go on, then it’s time to end the conversation. They may be jealous or just simply not understand. Either way, the conversation is not productive and is heading into offensive territory. Avoid making comments about someone’s healthy habits if you do not know the background.
Your body metabolizes food differently than others. It reacts to exercise differently. So when you make comments to a loved one, telling them “just don’t eat as much, it’s easy,” or “just skip dessert, it’s not that complicated,” you are failing to empathize and hurting your loved one.
If you are the recipient of these comments, kindly respond with “I’m glad if those suggestions worked for you, but they’re difficult for me, but thank you for your advice.” And then leave it alone.
Yes, we all know that yo-yo dieting doesn’t work. But neither does doubt. If your loved one is trying to get healthier, making comments such as, “not again. If it didn’t work last time it won’t work this time,” may be the reason it hasn’t worked. Do not plant a self-fulfilling prophecy in their minds. If they want to make strides toward being healthier, be supportive. If they have unhealthy expectations or are doing unhealthy things to try to lose weight, you may kindly try to encourage them to make healthier choices.
If someone around you begins doubting your efforts and putting you down, kindly ask them to stop. But you may just need to start surrounding yourself with more supportive people who will help you reach your goals.
So your husband doesn’t want to go out for ice cream on your date night, or your wife wants to eat in for your anniversary. Making him/her feel guilty for changing your traditions will not only dampen the evening, but diminish his/her efforts as well.
Get on board with your loved one, even if the changes aren’t for you. Be supportive, and don’t make them feel bad for skipping seconds or passing on dessert. If anything, try to understand their intentions and consider making changes to improve your own health. Chances are, your loved ones are doing it for you and their other loved ones – to be with you longer and with more energy.