WARNING: A whole lot of tough love comin’ atcha! If that’s not your thing, totally cool. Feel free to stop reading and check back later, if you choose.
“I want to change, but my family won’t let me.” *Let* you? Whoa, hold up… who’s life are we talking about? Whew, ok. That’s what I thought. I hear it all the time from clients and potential clients who want to “get healthy,” but who’s environment (i.e. home, work and/or social) isn’t exactly conducive to the lifestyle change(s) this entails. Unfortunately, that’s not an excuse. Ideal? Perhaps not. Uncomfortable? Sure. But we cannot equate hard with impossible.
You have one life to live, and one body in which to live it. And if you don’t take care of it? Well, that’s on YOU. We have a tendency to project blame onto someone or something else, it’s easy; but ultimately, it comes down to personal responsibility. You can’t control other people, only you: your attitude, effort, choices and actions. So to everyone out there who’s already decided they hate all things ‘healthy,’ eff that! Lack of support from family, friends, colleagues, even strangers, is really insecurity and/or jealousy manifesting itself in this adolescent behavior. If this lifestyle change is something you want, prioritize and make it happen. Own it, with confidence. #doyou
A few examples that might resonate with you:
Maybe you’re the mom to the world’s pickiest eaters, or the wife/girlfriend of a husband/boyfriend whose diet consists of steak and potatoes, wings and nachos… and beer. Or both. Here’s the thing. Just because you’re the one putting food on the table, doesn’t mean that you need to cater to the individual palates of everyone living under your roof. Like with anything, you can’t please everyone and you’ll make yourself crazy trying! Constantly catering to their every
need want reinforces this as acceptable behavior. Picky kids (and husbands!) will eat if they’re hungry enough. Same goes for extended family. If they don’t like what you cook, they don’t have to eat it. If they don’t like your snacks, they can bring their own.
During my twelve-year stint as a vegetarian, my mom didn’t make any special accommodations for me and made sure no one else did either. I either ate more of what I could from their meal or, made my own. My sister and I were never forced to finish anything, but we had to try everything once. If we didn’t like it, fine, but how could we know if we didn’t try? They respected our unique taste preferences, but if we were hungry enough for dessert, they argued, we certainly had room for our vegetables. *Bottom line: Put one dinner on the table. If they don’t like it then they have a choice: go to bed hungry, or learn to deal. It’s only one dinner.
Perhaps you don’t have kids, or your significant other willingly eats whatever you cook for him because the alternative is cooking for himself. You feel pretty good about the environment you’ve created for yourself at home but then, there’s the workplace. A break room stocked with everything you could imagine feasting your eyes on (no pun intended): vending machines, a fridge full of sodas and 100% juice, sandwich platters, condiments, cookie platters and all of your favorite Starbucks fixings in the form of a coffee mini-bar. You know what I’m talking about. And I know what you’re probably thinking: “but Emily, it’s convenient. I eat a good breakfast, dinner is super clean, too, AND I workout therefore…” No. Like it or not, it’s an atomic bomb for fat storage aka carb (sugar) and fat together. 🙁 It doesn’t matter who you are, what you eat or don’t or how much you workout. It’ll send your hormones into a tailspin regardless and show up on your waistline, among other things. And unless you’re Mr. President, there may not be a whole lot you can do to change it. But that’s why it’s your job to BE PREPARED. It might mean a bit more work on the back end (i.e. packing your lunch and snacks for the day at home, keeping fat loss friendly options in your desk drawer) but if your health is a priority to you, you’ll willingly oblige. #leanlifestyle So what if you’re the coworker that eats out of Tupperware, or plays dessert defense with your cleaner treats from home. *Remember: we don’t care what they think!
Cool story. About a year back, I had a woman in one of my small groups who was just getting started on her health/fitness journey. She joined looking for some motivation to get her going. A little background… She’d just moved to town as the top dog at her organization and led the high stress life that so many busy professionals lead BUT, she didn’t allow that to become an excuse. She knew that she had a significant amount of weight to lose, and committed herself to losing it the right way, all the while recognizing that she needed to get her mind, and environment, right first. I helped with some mindset quick tips, but she gets ALL the credit for taking complete control of her environment. You see, one of the luxuries of being at the top of the totem pole is that, on certain matters, what you do/say goes. Makes you want to be your own boss like now, no? Ha. Anyways, she walks in for our workout one morning and says, “Guess what I did?” I was expecting something along the lines of what I hear far too often: “I binged on X; I messed up; I cheated.” None of that. What she said next blew me away: “After work last night, I dumped out the candy bowls. They’re now fruit baskets. The coffee station? We’re now sweetened with stevia.” Amazing, right?! This lady ‘got’ it. She knew that she’d be fighting her environment (and willpower) if she didn’t change it and so, she did. Something so common-sensical, yet easier said than done. Remember, information does not equal implementation. She’s since found her inspiration and is still going strong. 🙂
Home life? Great. Office? Love it! Something still holding you back? Time to check, perhaps restructure, your inner circle. Jim Rohn says, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Do NOT underestimate the power of your support network. Our social relationships exert a powerful influence on our choices; both consciously AND subconsciously. You know that person at cocktail parties ready to replace your empty glass before you’ve taken your first sip? Or the one that tries to force-feed you dessert every time you go out to dinner? “Come on. Just one bite.” Repeated subtle stabs at your intent to live more healthfully are included here, too. Those people have got to go. It might not be a cut-all-ties-relationship-ends-now kind of thing but those people do not belong in your inner circle. Individuals deserving enough to have a space carved out for them in your inner circle will add to your life, not detract from it. *FYI: Trying to sabotage your fat loss/healthy lifestyle efforts counts as detracting from it. I have an aunt who used to do this and it’s annoying as fuck. At family gatherings, would literally try to shove dessert down my throat before we’d even served appetizers. Ain’t got no time for that! Byyye.
As humans, we don’t like change; we resist it. These positive lifestyle choices are so often met with such strong opposition from others simply because this healthier existence is so far from what they’re used to. It’s not that they’re opposed to “health” and our pursuit of it; they just don’t know (teach them 😉 ). I love this quote from Lao Tzu: “Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.” I’ve talked here about being the black sheep in a different, but related capacity. You may not always be understood, but you can’t let that stop you.
Is your environment helping or hurting your wellness endeavors? Would love to hear your thoughts over on my Facebook page.