We all know where we need to be with our health. And most of us have a good idea of the steps we need to take to get there.
So what stops us from making changes?
At New Image, we’re in the business of excuse busting. We’ve heard them all! If I ask you why you had takeaway three times last week, and you say you didn’t have time to prepare healthy meals, I’m going to call BS on that. Especially if you’re not reaching your goals. Then we’ll strategise a game plan to make consistent prep of good food happen.
There’s a brand of excuses that’s a little more delicate. And that’s the resistance that people receive from their family and loved ones when they try to make a healthy change in their life.
It’s guaranteed: if you eat better, exercise more and see results, you will come across fitness party poopers. Fielding negative feedback from those that should be encouraging you can be a real bummer.
The purpose of this post is not to tell you to ignore your loved ones, or arm you with cutting responses to any objections to your new lifestyle.
Instead I want to PREPARE you for the pushback you can expect to receive. And prevent you from making those excuses your own.
Take criticism for what it is, then move on
Everyone has an opinion on diet and exercise. Most people you speak to, including those who are overweight or suffer lifestyle related conditions, will tell you they eat a mostly healthy diet and are adequately active.
So if you change your diet to up the veggies and reduce the carbs, you can expect the people around you to have a strong opinion about this.
Let me make this very clear: THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU.
When you make a change to your lifestyle, it can make people very uncomfortable. If they suspect that they should be making dietary changes or exercising, they may feel extremely challenged by the changes you are making.
This doesn’t make you wrong for wanting to improve your health, and you don’t need to take their judgments on.
Don’t take criticism personally. I know when you make a change and feel a little uncertain or self-conscious, anything less than full support can really hurt. If your spouse, child, friend or colleague has a go at your new lifestyle, they’re not necessarily trying to sabotage you.
Dealing with the most common pushbacks from family and friends
To set yourself up for success you must lay the groundwork. My best piece of advice for preparing the people close to you for change is to be super honest and upfront from the beginning to get them onboard.
This doesn’t mean trying to change them. It means sharing why you need to make changes, expressing your fears for your health if you don’t make those changes and getting them excited about what life will be like when you reach your goals.
“We eat healthy. We don’t need to change the way we eat”.
If you want to get your family on board with a new way of eating, especially if you don’t normally prepare the food, PLEASE do not swoop into the kitchen on day 1 and make demands for new meals.
I promise, this will offend.
Getting food on the table day in day out, let alone coming up with healthier ways to do that, is a big job, especially when there are kids in the household. It’s important to be respectful of that.
A good starting point is to share some of the info you’ve learnt – either by directing your spouse to our blog or showing them our nutrition guidelines. Then suggest that you’d like to eat more veggies and lean protein. Help out in the kitchen so you can learn together how to cook healthy, yummy meals. Don’t criticise the chef, ever.
“You’re spending too much time or money on this fitness thing”.
If someone hasn’t yet made the decision to prioritise their health and fitness, they’re probably not going to be able to wrap their head around the quite significant investment of time and money that goes into nutritious food and daily exercise.
Time for me to trot out a cliche. The best thing you can do for your family is invest in your own health. Really. Without your health, nothing else works.
Want to know what’s really expensive? Being chronically unwell and subpar. Underperforming. Potentially getting sick with a preventable disease and not being there for your family. Watching my wife go through a serious health event recently has reinforced that there is real cost (and not just financial) in being sick. The wheels fall off pretty quickly when a parent is unwell.
The people in your life have to get used to you putting yourself first. And it’s up to you to hold these boundaries around your time kindly but firmly.
“You’ve tried before and you always go back to your old ways”.
That might be true, but this time you’re going to succeed. If you get comments like this, ask for support and encouragement. Don’t be defensive. Say that you probably will fall off the wagon again, but you’ll do your best to get back on track because this is important to you. Most importantly, don’t let this really quite sabotaging comment become your own internal dialogue.
“You’re getting too thin”.
Oooh I hear this one ALL THE TIME! Did you know that 63% of Australian adults are overweight or obese? That means that being overweight has become the norm. But it shouldn’t be. This isn’t an aesthetic issue – being overweight is really, really bad for you.
When you start to lose weight, however much you want to lose, expect to hear this comment all the time. If you eat a healthy, varied diet with plenty of fat and protein, and unless you exercising hours and hours every day, it’s highly unlikely you will “get too thin”.
This is really just one comment to brush off as kindly as possible. It’s not genuine concern for your health, nor is it nasty. It’s likely just a combination of jealousy and a reflection of our society’s normalisation of being overweight.