What to do when your friends & family don’t support your healthy lifestyle

Getting support from your family and friends when you’re trying to make healthy lifestyle changes is not always easy.

Whether it’s from your spouse, kids, friends, or even co-workers, receiving negative feedback can be extremely discouraging.

Change is hard for a lot of people. And as you begin to change your life, it may cause others to feel uncomfortable.

The issues of weight loss, fitness and food can be deeply personal. Just the thought of them can bring up feelings of inadequacy, guilt, shame and wounds from the past.

And while we can’t change the way our friends and family may respond to our new lifestyle, we can share our journey with them and do our best to understand where they may be coming from.

If you are feeling unsupported by your family and friends as you better yourself and your life in 2017, I encourage you to read these tips below and remember that we at The Balanced Life are ALWAYS cheering you on.

what to do when your friends & family don't support your healthy lifestyle

What To Do When Your Friends & Family Don’t Support Your Healthy Lifestyle

1. Share your why.

Instead of launching into a lecture about why exercise or healthy eating is important (which we know it is!), share about what led you to make this change. Did you find a workout routine that sparked enjoyment instead of your usual dread? Did you feel dissatisfied by all of the sweets you were eating? Were you just ready to feel better on a daily basis?

Letting people in on your journey will help them understand that you do actually need support and that this change is about you, not about them.

2. Be open about your struggles.

Sometimes friends and family get the impression that you’re now “better” than they are because you’re no longer eating the same foods and participating in the same activities (weekend drinking, dessert every night, etc.). Being open and honest about how hard it is to make changes and how you’re not perfect can help them feel less intimidated and may even inspire them to make a few changes too!

3. Ask for support and be specific. 

If you need support (and who doesn’t?!), ask for it. Whether it’s your significant other or close friends, let them know that this is challenging for you and you would like their support. If they don’t know that you are making these changes and that you are struggling, they may have no idea you actually need them and desire their support.

Additionally, it’s helpful to be as specific as possible in the kind of support you need. Maybe you just want your husband to try a new healthy recipe you made. Or maybe you want a friend to understand why you’re not ordering that second glass of wine. Whatever it is, speak up so those around you can be a part of your journey and understand where you’re coming from.

4. Remember that it’s probably not about you.

When we make healthy changes, it can make other people uncomfortable because they know they should be doing the same. Seeing others lose weight when their doctor has been telling them they need to do the same can bring feelings of guilt, insecurity, shame and jealousy. These feelings can get in the way of them being able to support and encourage you. Their negative comments or lack of support may be more about them and less about you. Keep this in mind and be gentle with them.

5. Remember that it’s not your job to change them.

Be mindful of how often you talk about your weight loss, workouts, food choices, and goals. While it’s good to share – you don’t want to talk about your workouts and weight loss all day every day. Find the friends that connect with you on that level (The Sisterhood is the perfect place for that!) and remember that sometimes the best way to inspire people is simply to lead by example in a way that is non-judgmental.

6. Turn negativity in to positivity. 

Hopefully you don’t have any close friends or family members telling you that you can’t make these changes, but if you do, I encourage you to use it to fuel your motivation and stick to your goals. Remember, YOU are the one that lives in your body each day. Not them. It’s YOUR life and trying to please others by selling yourself short  doesn’t help anyone.

7. Find a community that supports you. 

Whether in-person or online, find a community that understands and supports the changes you are making. So even if your co-workers don’t understand why you are passing on the office birthday cake, you can send  text or post a quick message in an online group to garner the support and encouragement you need.

It’s hard to make lifestyle changes and for those who struggle to find support, it can be even more difficult.

what to do when your friends & family don't support your healthy lifestyle

I hope these tips will help you recognize that while we can’t change others, we can (and should) seek out the support we need to better our lives and improve our health.

This is one of the reasons why I created The Balanced Life Sisterhood and if you are looking for support as you make health and fitness changes in 2017, I encourage you to join. Once you do you will have thousands of generous, positive, encouraging women cheering you on!

xo,

8 Comments
  1. Profile photo of Sara G
    Sara G 4 months ago

    These are great tips. I would also add: be mindful that other people may be in a really different place in their journey. I have a sibling who struggled with a serious eating disorder when she was younger and while she is a lot better these days, still has some struggles in this area. With that context I never talk about food choices or weight around her. The thing is — your coworker or friend could be in her same position, and you might never know it because obviously she doesn’t share this with every person she meets! While I endeavor to approach food choices, exercise, and weight loss from a healthy and balanced perspective, I also know that discussion around these topics could still trigger someone else in a not-so-great way, especially since our culture as a whole can tend toward really unhealthy approaches to them (especially for women!) So, I feel like it’s best to keep these topics to people I know are in a place to hear it and respond in a healthy way.

  2. Jamie 4 months ago

    Such good advice! It’s so sad that such a personal triumph like weight loss, healthy choices, or personal care can be shame-inducing simply because someone else is insecure about THEIR own choices/weight/life. On the flip side, though, when someone does offer a compliment on how I look or my healthy choices, it is often a struggle to respond without self-deprecating or brushing off the comment.

  3. Profile photo of Michelle Muller
    Michelle Muller 4 months ago

    Thank you for this great post, Robin.

  4. Profile photo of Laura Dedeker
    Laura Dedeker 4 months ago

    Thank you for this post, Robin. This is exactly what I needed to read this morning. I struggle with a lack of support from those closest to me who say “But I like how you look now” or “You don’t need to lose weight! Why are you worried about it?” People offer these comments without a second thought and many do not realize the impact that their discouraging words can have on us. I think that sharing my “Why” from now on will help people understand (without me having to SAY) that i am not doing this (Pilates, clean-eating, skipping alcohol now and then, etc.) for how I want to look, but for how I want to feel and live.

    Thank you again. Big hugs! xoxo

  5. Christan Perona 4 months ago

    This is one of the best blog posts I’ve ever read…

  6. Lori in NY 4 months ago

    This is really difficult when your spouse (who has health challenges but makes no effort to work on them), tries to sabotage your personal healthy changes (example – he put a gluten-filled topping on the dinner I started when he knows I’m trying to eat gluten-free as much as I can). It’s disheartening…. 🙁

    • Profile photo of K Ann Guinn
      K Ann Guinn 4 months ago

      So sorry for the lack of support, Lori! I know it’s not quite the same, but just remember that you have a BUNCH of “sisters” who are here for you! Have you ever tried to talk to him in some of the ways Robin mentioned above and asking for his support? And maybe “let” him have his topping of choice on his portion of the meal so he doesn’t feel you’re controlling him (most men don’t like that, I’ve found!). Either way, feel free to share with us when you need a listening ear and I’ll pray you find someone close to you who can also be a true friend in this area.

  7. Profile photo of K Ann Guinn
    K Ann Guinn 4 months ago

    Thanks, Robin. These are great points, and I hope they help many of our friends and “sisters” in the Balanced Life and the Sisterhood. This is truly a place where we can find (and give) support and encouragement!

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