Sometimes it can be hard to “come out” to your friends and family about your desire to live fitter and cleaner. It can be hard to explain and you might sound judgmental about their lifestyles.
Or… they might start judging you. Smirks, jokes, raised eyebrows, you know the drill.
When you embark on a period of change in your life, you will probably be moving away from the norms of your social circle and they will definitely notice you acting differently. This feels like it can cause a lot of problems.
See, most people stay the same and don’t really want to improve themselves. These people will reinforce your bad habits and bad behaviors. (It’s like being a drug addict and hanging around other drug addicts, they will reinforce your old behaviors and not encourage you to change)
Before this starts coming off like a low-rent self-help course, here are some easy ways to “come out” to your loved ones about your desire to be fitter and healthier:
1. Tell The Truth. Be honest about why you’re embracing a healthier lifestyle. Examples: You want to lose weight, take up a sport, live longer
2. Focus On The Positives. Too many people see a healthy lifestyle as a “give up/lose” proposition. Such as, you’re giving up on delicious treats, TV time, sleeping in. Instead, focus on the positives that you’re going to gain. Example: You’re not giving up your morning muffin, you’re gaining a body that doesn’t have a muffin top.
3. Give Example Of Why. Health and fitness as an abstract concept can be hard to grasp. Instead, give a concrete example like: I’m hitting the gym four days a week on my lunch break so I’ll have the energy to actually play with my kids on the weekend.
4. Make It About You. Telling your fat friends “because I don’t want to look like you” is not the way to tell them you are starting something new. Instead, focus on you. Your body, your health, your life.
5. Don’t Preach. Eliminate the words “you should” from your vocabulary. Don’t suggest that your way or your goals are in any way superior to someone else’s. If you make people feel attacked, they will be unlikely to try to understand or embrace your choices. (I’ve written about this before, check it out: Critical Fitness – Don’t Be A Jackass)
6. Show, Don’t Tell. “Be the change you want to see in the world” The sight of you being healthier, happier, leaner, and more energetic is a more powerful argument than all the words you could use. Live you example and when everyone sees how happy you are, they’ll start accepting your changes. (If they don’t, it’s probably because they’re jealous)
7. Ask For Company. Recruit someone to go for a walk with you or to cook a healthy meal together. It will give them a first-hand look at how you’re adding health into your life. Not only will it help them to better understand your choices, it may inspire them to do the same! (Note: Don’t have them overstep, it will have the opposite reaction. Taking your obese father-in-law to a hot yoga class will make him feel silly and excluded. Use your best judgement!)
8. Laugh! When someone says “that clapping sound you hear when you run is your thighs cheering you on” just smile and laugh. Appreciate the lighter side of things. (Besides, you’ll have the last laugh!)
9. Share. When you feel like you can’t explain well enough why you’re giving up grains and dairy, or why you’re swinging a kettlebell instead of jogging, just find a relevant article or video and pass it along.
10. Don’t Assume. You might think that everyone will be negative about your new lifestyle. But it might come as a nice surprise how many others will share in your decision to be healthier. You’ll probably hear something along the lines of “That’s great! I wish I could do that too!”
It’s not easy to make a big change in your life, the imagined added stress of having to deal with others’s reaction to it can stop you before you even start.
But with a little bit of tact you can help your friends and family understand the new joys you are finding in your healthier lifestyle – and maybe even inspire them to try something new, too!
So, don’t be afraid to “come out” and get the party started!