After working with my clients for a few months and having them experience great results and the confidence that comes with achieving a goal, the conversation inevitably turns around to their loved ones. Almost all of us have people in our lives that could use a healthy kick to the head (I can see you nodding right now, envisioning that person – or those people) and it can be hard to watch them further destroy themselves with shitty food and competing for #1 Potato Coucher. With all of this extra energy and positivity that you’ve developed from rockin’ your health, you can’t understand why they wouldn’t want to follow in your footsteps!
So how do you get your less-than-healthier loved ones to get off their butts and do something?
I’ve got bad news for you, my friend.
I know, I know! It sucks but it’s true. You absolutely positively canNOT change another human being. If they’re going to get off the couch and ditch the pop for good, they need to do it for their own reasons, not because you want them to. In fact, the more you bug them to do that, the more they’re likely to get defensive and become even more stubborn because even though you’re just doing what you think is right for them, they’ll see it as a judgement. That you don’t accept them for who they are and will only love them/like them/appreciate them if they live up to your expectations and, well, if that happened to you what would you do? Exactly. You’d do the opposite because to put conditions on love is just silly.
But there’s gotta be something, right? I mean, okay, so you know you can’t control them but there needs to be something, right?
These are the things I do personally with varying degrees of success. Remember, this isn’t a surefire thing – they still need to make the decision themselves – but it’ll make you feel good for at least trying and may just help them to take those first, amazing steps toward a healthier life!
Lead by example
This is the best thing you can do! Don’t think people haven’t been paying attention while you’ve been getting healthier because they are! It may take a few months but when they realize that this time you’re not quitting, that you’re done with the life you were leading and you’ve committed yourself to a healthier life, trust me, they’ll notice even if they don’t say anything. As Ghandi said: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” You can’t expect other people to do something if you’re not doing it yourself! Focus on making each day a better and healthier one and I can all but guarantee you’ll inspire at least one other person to do the same!
Praise Healthy Behaviours
Your usually non-active spouse comes up to you one day and says they decided to go for a walk at lunch instead of heading to the lunchroom? Praise their healthy behaviours. Humans love praise and we’re more apt to doing something that gets us our kudos than to do something that doesn’t. Of course, there’s a caveat here; make sure you don’t praise them like they’re a kid as they’ll notice that immediately! You don’t want to say “Oh honey! That’s soooooooo great! I’m so proud of you!” and pinch their cheeks. It’s just condescending. Instead, give ’em a big ol’ smile and say something like “Oh awesome! That must’ve felt great!” Get them to think about how the activity made them feel as it’s something they can easily remember the next time they want to go for a walk. It also opens up a dialogue to see if going for a walk every lunch hour might be something they’re considering. If they’re not considering it, just drop it because again, you don’t want to bug them or else they won’t tell you about any future walks!
Why not just ask if they’d like to join you at the gym, or for a walk or run? Never assume you’ll know their answer and it shows that you want to include them. Or why not suggest doing something active but fun like going skating or heading out of town for a hike? They may say no, but they may actually say yes! If they do say no, don’t judge, just leave the invitation open that if they’d like to do it in the future to just let you know because you’d love to share why you love doing it so much!
In the end, the biggest thing you can do is to make sure that they know you love them no matter what their decision. If they open a dialogue about wanting to get healthier, perfect! Be open and understanding and ask them how you can help them to achieve their goals. Research has said that it takes up to 7 serious attempts to change before it sticks so be empathetic and caring and your loved ones will be grateful for your support and they’ll also know that if it doesn’t work out, you’ll still love them.
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