For many people, it is next to impossible to get through life without the care and support of their loved ones. Unfortunately, it is pretty common to encounter friends and family members who, for whatever reason, are intent on sabotaging your progress. Nowhere is this truer than with diet and exercise. What can you do to keep from being bogged down by their negativity?
Understand What is Motivating Their Reaction
Those around you are most likely not being unsupportive because they actually want to see you, personally, fail. It is more probable that they do not like the guilt your life choices may be making them feel. When you opt to exercise during your lunch break, or begin eating cleaner for your health, they may see it as judgment on them for not doing the same things. In some marital relationships, a spouse may fear that (if their husband or wife loses weight and becomes healthier) they will find someone fitter and leave them. Knowing where the sabotage comes from can help you work through it and succeed, as well as identify friendships or relationships that may not be healthy for you.
Avoid Focusing on Food
Many social activities revolve around eating and drinking, and peer pressure can make choosing a salad over pizza difficult. If you have a hard time resisting temptation when you are around people who have not necessarily embraced healthy eating, consider skipping food-based social activities for a little while. Try things like shows, hikes, or other non-food activities to connect with others, and skip brunches or dinner dates until you are in a more secure place.
Hit the Gym
While you can’t force those in your life to join you on your fitness journey, exercise is still vital for improving or maintaining your health. Best of all, it triggers the release of endorphins that can improve your mood, and many gyms work hard to cultivate a supportive atmosphere. Both of these things can help you power through and keep saboteurs from affecting you.
It may not be easy, but sometimes outright asking for help and support can stop sabotage before it starts. Telling potential saboteurs that you are losing weight for yourself, pointing out that your weight has no bearing on your relationship with them, and asking them to help is sometimes all it takes to create the supportive environment you need to succeed.
Rely on Your Food Journal
Accountability and honesty are important for successful lifestyle changes. Unfortunately, relying on other people for this is not always a good idea — their reactions and judgments, whether praise or criticism, can have a negative impact. Instead, write down every bite and bit of exercise. In addition to allowing you to keep track of your fitness journey, it will help point out the people, places, and events that trigger you to go off track.
Learn to say “No”
Sometimes, being offered food is unavoidable. Become comfortable with politely declining or, if you can predict that you will be offered something unhealthy, try to prepare for it so you can have a small portion. Nobody would fault an alcoholic for turning down a shot of liquor, so there is no reason to feel guilty for saying, “No, thank you” or not eating a full portion of unhealthy food.
Many diet and fitness saboteurs do not really realize how their words and actions affect you, and most are not consciously setting out to hurt you. They may have never struggled with following a healthy lifestyle themselves, or may be acting on a subconscious fear that they will lose you or you will think less of them for not making the same choices. By taking the emphasis off of social eating, asking for help, politely declining, getting more physical activity, and being accountable to yourself for your diet and exercise, you can create a supportive environment and keep negativity from sabotaging your fitness goals.