I'm really enjoying life with a 22 month old, she's endlessly entertaining, communicates well enough for me to understand that she only wants to wear kitty-cat shirts, and she's really into making friends.
The last part, about making friends, is most surprising as I would've thought this came later. But it makes me realize that we learn at a very young age that friendships, and support networks in general, are very important.
Which makes me wonder, if we learn to develop relationships at such a young age, why is it that as we venture into adulthood it's not always easy to find the support we need, especially when we're making lifestyle changes?
In the many conversations I have about food, developing healthy habits, and making lifestyle changes, one thing is true - the more support you have the more likely you are to succeed and the happier you'll be along the way. But sometimes those closest to us prove to be the biggest roadblocks. Here are a few examples:
- It's a coworker's birthday (basically every day) so there is always cake in the office. When you turn down a piece you hear, "Oh come on, you don't need to lose weight," or, "Now you're making me feel bad."
- It's dinnertime at home and you've decided to try a new recipe. Your partner says, "What's in thaaaat?" or, "Hi, I'd like to order a pizza...," or my favorite, "Is this another one of your crazy diets?"
There are a lot of reasons why people in our lives are sometimes not as supportive as we'd like or need them to be so it helps to understand why this may be the case. For one, it's possible that the new choices you're making are causing them to question their own decisions and they may not be interested in making a change at this time. Second, they may be afraid that you’ll change and your relationship with them won’t be the same if you do. Lastly, you may bond over a type of food and that bond is related to an emotion rather than just the food itself (this is often true with social foods like ice cream, alcohol, pizza, and coffee).
So what should you do?
- Try not to take it personally (this is hard, I know). Think about the reasons above, empathize with the other person's point of view, and understand that their lack of support is most likely about them and not you.
- Hold a clear vision in your mind of how you'll feel when you succeed (running around the park with your kids, feeling confident in anything you wear, knowing that you're caring for yourself inside and out) and communicate this vision as much as possible. If your loved ones understand the reason for your journey they're more likely to support you along the way.
- Reiterate that they are an important part of your life and you need their support. If they still give you a hard time, politely ask why.
- Find supplemental support networks. Reach out to different friends or family members or join a group of like-minded individuals (for example, a fitness studio or a healthy cooking class).
- Remember that it's not your job to make other people feel okay about their choices, it's only your job to feel okay about your own choices.
Lifestyle changes are not easy but the more you can stick to your plan and keep doing what you know is right for you, the better you'll feel in the end. I know you can do it.
Cheers to you,