Living a healthy lifestyle helps reduce stress levels and prevent diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes etc. It helps us stay fit by reducing our fat deposits on our body which has been linked with obesity or weight gain. If you want a healthylifestyle to improve your life quality but you don’t get enough support from people around you, this article is for you. I am sharing my 3 crucial strategies for getting friends and family to support for a healthy lifestyle.
How to Get Support for Healthy A Lifestyle: 3 Crucial Strategies
Get Support for A Healthy Lifestyle Strategy 1: Step back and embrace some hard truth
How much of the friction you feel from others… is actually created by you? Even if you mean well, and even if you are absolutely 100% correct (yes, smoking is bad; yes, vegetables are good)… How often have you been judgemental? Insistent? Preachy? Self-righteous? Dismissive? Over-enthusiastic? Maybe even a bit… culty? (That t-shirt that says “Kale University”? We see it.) Conversely, how often have you been curious? Interested in others’ perspectives? Able to deal with diversity and tolerate various viewpoints? Open-minded? Empathetic and compassionate? A good listener? Consider this: Maybe “right” isn’t so obvious.
All behaviors and choices have a reason to be there. You might not know the reasons; you might not quite understand the reasons or even agree with the reasons. But whatever habits your loved ones are practicing, they are doing them for a reason. In some way, their habits are “right” for them. They may have only a limited toolbox of options or coping skills.
• Understanding that your brother feels panicked and crushed under work stress, and sees drinking as the best way to cope
• Having compassion for your best friend, who is terrified to confront her body, and therefore gets defensive and critical every time you bring up your new health regimen
•Understanding that your parents were raised to respect traditional authority figures, so they still believe margarine is better for you than butter, because that’s what their doctor drilled into them 30 years ago
When we focus on defending our “right-ness” and proving our loved ones’ “wrongness”, our perspective becomes very narrow and our relationships become oppositional. However, when we let go of judgement and choose compassion and empathy, we make room for understanding. Understanding dissolves conflict, because it usually shows us that, at our cores, we are all dealing with the same themes — we’re more alike than different. Understanding helps us collaborate instead of clash; connect instead of criticize.
We start to ask questions that, instead of inducing blame and shame, invite connection and support:
- “Why are they so different from me?” becomes “When have I dealt with something similar?”
- “How do I get them to stop the bad habit?” becomes “What problem is the bad habit trying to solve?”
- “What is wrong with them?” becomes “What might they really need?”
As your loved ones begin to feel more understood, and less judged, they may begin topractice more flexibility and less judgement toward your new habits and beliefs too.(And by the way, it’ll serve you immensely to practice non-judgement, compassion, andunderstanding on yourself too.)
Strategy 2: Be persistent, not pushy
Resistance more often comes from fear than from true philosophical opposition. Change can feel scary. It can bring up issues of control, security, and identity, and it can also bring up painful emotions like anxiety, panic, shame, or loss. When our loved ones resist change (in all the creative ways they can come up with — consciously and unconsciously, kindly and unkindly), what they might actually be feeling underneath it all… is fear.
Their fear can be the result of thoughts like:
• What if you become a different person?
• What if this new food tastes gross?
• What if your healthy habits make me confront my unhealthy habits?
• What if people don’t accept us?
• What if you judge me or don’t love me anymore?
• What if I can’t keep up with you?
• What if life gets uncomfortable?
• What if I lose you?
Just like a scared child, resistance and fear in their adult forms don’t respond well to rational arguments and pushing. So while you must press forward with the changes you’re trying to make for your own wellbeing, you’ll more likely get support if you practice persistence rather than pushiness. Pushiness means attempting to force friends and family to join/agree with you, and accepting only a rigid set of compliant responses. Persistence means continuously offering opportunities for your friends and family to join you on your quest for a healthier life, and yet remains open to a wide range of responses to any given invitation.
So be persistent:
• Keep offering healthy dishes at the dinner table.
• Keep inviting your friends and family to join you on runs, hikes, and exercise classes.
• Keep having conversations about nutrition, healthy body image, and what it means to have a truly good, capable life.
Prioritize positivity and connection when you present these options, and expect resistance, sometimes over and over and over again. As much as you can, take the drama and emotional charge out of these conversations. Validate your loved ones’ reasons for staying the way they are, and don’t push back. Perhaps, when their fear subsides and they realize it’s safe to dip their toe in the land of green smoothies and box jumps, your loved ones will join you, and you’ll ride off into the sunset (on your recumbent bikes, drinking coconut water) together.
Strategy 3: Just “do you”
Change is difficult. In order to overcome the many bumps, blocks, and blusters inherent to significant lifestyle change, we need to be anchored to a deep, internal, personalized “why” that will pull us through. You can’t manufacture this type of motivation for someone else. No matter how hard you try to coerce your kids, spouse, parents, and friends to change, they may have none of it. And in fact, that may be a good sign. Because that means they know that in order to make the kinds of changes you’re making, they have to want it too. We call this “intrinsic motivation” — a connection to one’s own, internal reasons for doing something.
Research shows that intrinsic motivation leads to change that’s longer-lasting and more self-sustaining than extrinsic motivation, which is based on the desire to obtain external outcomes such as good grades or the approval of others (ahem). Intrinsic motivation requires deep thought and reflection, and may take longer to develop. So respect that your loved ones may take time to connect to their own reasons for eating and moving better. Meanwhile, just “do you”. Focus on your own intrinsic motivations. Stay connected to what’s driving you, deep inside, to make these personal changes. Without ignoring your natural love and concern for loved ones, let your attention turn inward. Spend more energy on your own growth and development. Which could lead to something else amazing…
Think about how you feel when you watch someone you love work toward a BIG goal with heartfelt determination, grit, and bravery. Think about how you feel when you watch that person persist despite setbacks, failures, and fears. How you feel when you watch that person triumph, however messily and imperfectly, over adversity. You feel inspired and you feel like anything is possible. You feel like maybe you could do something great too. And that is the beautiful irony in “doing you”:
By working toward and achieving a healthier, happier, more confident and capable version of yourself, you become the inspiration, the positive influence to your family and friends. And it all comes full circle when that little healthy-lifestyle wave you started attracts other riders, builds, and then becomes a huge tidal of momentum to carry you to your final objective — a fit, healthy you — and keep you there.
Influence happens in both directions, remember?
Lead the way. What to do next. We’ve learned that change is hard, and changing others is harder. It can be challenging to know where to start. Take one of these concrete steps today to start reducing conflict and maximizing your own efforts toward healthy living.
If you need any help, please contact me: E-mail