Preventing Loved Ones From Sabotaging Your Health Goals
When you have specific health goals and someone you are closest to isn’t on the same page, it can be a challenge to stay on track. You’ve committed to reducing your cholesterol intake, and over an after-work drink your best friend suggests ordering a plate of nachos. “It’s okay to make exceptions once in a while. Don’t be so strict on yourself!” Well, what constitutes ‘strict’ to someone else may be simply a choice for you. A choice that in the overall scheme of things supports your vision for a healthy, vibrant way of being, not to mention reducing your chances of illness and disease
It’s important to recognize a couple of things about how your lifestyle changes affect your nearest and dearest. When you establish a relationship, you inevitably fall into patterns of activity and behavior that become comfortable ways of being with one another and pretty soon an unofficial ‘routine’ establishes itself. When one person decides to make changes, their choices will inevitably affect the system of the relationship they are in.
Consider what it’s like when you get used to someone being a certain way, such as your partner always being game for a big Sunday Brunch, or a good friend always being available to chat on the phone when you need support. And then they go changing. Your partner joins a rowing club on Sundays; your best friend starts a new relationship and basically disappears. You have to change too, by re-adjusting how you interact with that person, and respecting their new choices. When something we are used to in our world gets uprooted, we experience a transition, and occasionally it can be uncomfortable.
So how do you protect healthy lifestyle commitments in the face of a protesting partner or friend who is threatened by your changes?
- Include them in your vision for a healthy future. Invite their input on how they would like to see you functioning at your best, and ask them if they could support you to move toward this vision.
- Spell it out for them. Show them how your choices to exercise or make different food choices equals a happier you, and take it even further by explaining how you will have more to bring to the relationship as a result of taking better care of yourself, or any other benefits that they will be able to agree with
- Acknowledge to them that things may be different for a while, and a bit weird for them. Communicating about the obvious realities is a lot more constructive that abruptly embarking on being a ‘new you’ without any heads-up.
If you do decide to make an exception and lay off your health routine once in a while, the decision should come from checking in with yourself, rather than someone else’s goading: “Am I wanting a treat right now, or am I conforming to avoid discomfort in my dynamics with this person?”
All too often we forget that when we make changes the people in our lives are affected by our transformations, and they could benefit from an adjustment period. Preparing yourself to navigate these ‘growing pains’ will ensure a smoother transition for all.