When you make positive health changes in your life, you would imagine that everybody around you would sound the trumpets and be full of congratulations for the wonderful new lifestyle you have chosen to lead.
You would think others would be inspired and amazed by the fact you look better than you did on your wedding day.
It would seem likely that they applaud you as you choose the vegetables and fish instead of the burger and chips.
Mostly, you imagine that they would be proud of you for taking the bull by the horns and putting your health first.
A great many people will be full of kind words and admiration. Unfortunately, others may not be.
“Just live your life – I don’t understand why you can’t just have the cake/drink – you’re no fun”
“ You might not live longer, it will only feel like it”
“I thought you looked great before, not sure why you need to do it”
So why do people do this?
I suspect that it is easier to justify lack of exercise, poor food choices, regular alcohol binges etc when sharing the experience with others who are doing the same.
When confronted by a peer/friend/relative who is suddenly making positive changes, it may feel like you’re getting left behind.
So how should we deal with friends and relatives who start questioning our decision to be healthy?
1. Do NOT tell them they SHOULD do it- until THEY reach out. (and they will)
Try not to question the decisions they make and compare them to your own.
They will come to you when they are ready.
Regardless of what people say, they are almost certainly VERY impressed that you have lost weight/have a new lust for life/shown discipline – and curiosity will eventually get the better of them.
Not many people like being told, but everybody likes seeking out answers.
2. DON’T defend yourself.
I believe this is very important.
It was a decision you made. No need to explain it. No need to discuss the endorphins you release as justification for exercise or the vitamins that give you more energy as justification for eating more vegetables.
If people question your motives, say it’s a lifestyle choice and that you’re happier. The end.
Resist the overwhelming urge to recite the (endless) list of unbelievable benefits you are experiencing from living the healthy way.
3. When you DO talk about it, don’t talk about the benefits. Talk about the ACTION.
It’s feels great to discuss how much weight you’ve lost, how much better you feel and how much better you’re sleeping. It feels great (because it is great), but try and resist this temptation (again.)
Talk about how much you enjoy exercising and extend an invitation to do it together.
Discuss how you love the taste of healthy foods and talk about how you prepare it.
Discuss how much you are looking forwards to going for that evening walk and ask them to join you.
Action makes us equals. Outcomes divide us.
When you talk about the fact you have lost 20 pounds, people may look in the mirror and start comparing themselves.
When you talk about how you sleep so well, people will start questioning their own sleeping patterns.
Instead, talk about what you DO and that they can do it too.
I know you want to shout from the rooftops about how wonderful life has become and you want the people you care about to experience what you have – but pressing people into doing healthy things rarely works.
People are far more open to listening to and being inspired by what they can do than what you have achieved.
I’m sorry to break it to you but as much as they may care about you, what YOU’VE achieved isn’t nearly as to important them as what THEY can do and achieve.
So if they are interested, they want to know HOW they can make their own personal achievements. Success for them may look very different to success for you, but HOW we get there connects us.
If people ask you how much weight you’ve lost, tell them, but don’t make this the point of focus.
If they goal is to lift others up – don’t allow comparison to weigh heavy on their shoulders.
Even more importantly, DON’T allow the judgment of others to pull you down. Believe in your choices. They ARE the right ones.
What do you think? This is only an opinion piece after all.
Is the best way to inspire others with our actions or is it with our outcomes?
How do you cope with friends and relatives who question your choices?
Have you lifted people up and inspired others?
Have you allowed others to stop you from moving forwards?
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