Create a Support System
You’ve found the right diet and exercise program. Now it is time to create a system of support, accountability, and encouragement. Ignore these steps and you will negate your efforts AND put friends and family in a position to sabotage you instead of support you. Those closest to you can be your biggest support, or they can do the most damage. They can sabotage your efforts without even knowing it.
Define Your Reason Why
The first step to making any healthy lifestyle stick is to know why you are making changes toward better health. This will help you stay focused. Perhaps you
- want to feel good in your body.
- have someone (partner, parent, child, four-legged friend) counting on you or depending on you.
- had a health scare and you’re partnering with your medical support team to avoid medication, surgery, etc.
- want to look and feel your best for your wedding, reunion, vacation or another upcoming event.
- haven’t been feeling well so you are eliminating sugar/dairy/wheat/caffeine to see if it makes a difference.
Having a clear vision of why you want to live a healthy lifestyle will help you Choose Between What You Want Now and What You Want Most.
Tell People Your Reason Why
You may be tempted to keep your lifestyle changes to yourself. There could be many reasons such as you are
- independent and want to do this on your own.
- afraid it might not work or you won’t stick to it.
- concerned that your relationships will suffer.
A key aspect of your success will lie in the accountability that comes from sharing your decision with close family, friends, and co-workers. It is human nature to want things to stay the same. Sometimes those closest to us feel threatened by change. They may lash out with criticism or even bullying. This comes from a place of fear. Your friends and family fear you or your relationship is going to change (which is actually the goal). Reassure them that while you are changing you still care for them and want to spend time with them.
When to Tell People Your Why
Cookouts, vacations, reunions or other social occasions where you will be eating as a group are all events where you will want to tell family and friends your why. Call people ahead of time and let them know some of the changes they can expect such as you will
- skip cocktails
- pass on dessert
- seek out extra vegetables and lean meats (and skip the pasta or heavy casseroles)
- take walks after meals
One tool that guarantees support is to use the phrase “I don’t eat that.” If someone offers you pasta salad or ice cream simply respond politely with “I don’t eat gluten” or “I don’t eat dairy.” Statements like these provide built-in accountability because if your friend catches you eating it later, I guarantee they will call you on it.
Nurture relationships another way
If a relationship has always been about a meal or wine or dessert, let the other person know that you will be taking a break temporarily until you hit your goals. Ask if there is another way you can support the relationship without food. Perhaps a walk, exercise, hobby, or learn something new together.
People don’t know. Educate them.
People will admire your finished results but they may not have any idea of the time and hard work that is required with exercise as well as the discipline to cook and eat clean. They don’t know the process. We can make things easier by educating them and bringing it to their awareness.
You have goals and dreams. It’s great if the important people in your life join you. Your healthy lifestyle is important too. YOU are important. You are changing your life. You love yourself and your body and you want to feel and be as healthy as you can be for as long as you can be.
You are making sacrifices to build your new, healthiest self. I can’t tell you every step will be easy. I can tell you, it’s worth it. YOU are worth it!