After making fitness, weight loss, appearance or health goals it is difficult to know whether to discuss these with others or not. It can be a very delicate subject and I have personally found that it can be both a good thing and a bad thing to discuss my fitness goals with other people.
On one hand it can be great to have the support, but on the other hand other people can start to feel threatened by your desire for change and they could try to put you off (they may not even know they are doing it!)
A good example of a positive outcome for me was this morning. I was getting up early to go for a run before work and I was feeling pretty grumpy about having to get out of bed before anyone else. I had a bit of a moan to my partner saying that I thought I might not go and he just said to me “go – you will feel good” which was enough to remind me that I did want to go for the run and that going would make me feel good, and also conversely, not going would make me feel bad.
He knew that going for a run would take me closer to where I want to be and so he encouraged me when I was in a weak moment. We all need support to reach our goals.
But what about when you tell someone and you don’t get support?
For example the situation I described earlier could have gone the other way. I could have said I didn’t really want to go and my partner could have said “well don’t go – stay here with me” which would be enough to keep me at home. When I later was upset about not running, not increasing my mileage, not getting fitter, not being ready for a race, not losing weight, not getting closer to reaching any of my goals – then I would have been resentful to him. Because what I needed was his support and yet what I got was the opposite. He would have been encouraging me to fail.
And why would he have been doing that? Well most often it is out of fear – fear of the unknown. Friends and family may fear how you might change, they may think that you are going to drift apart from them, that you have more fun with others when you are out of the house enjoying fitness. They may fear that you will not want to do the same things as before and therefore you won’t want to do things together with them. They may also feel that they wish they could change too and they don’t want you to ‘make it’ as it would highlight their own weight loss or health issues.
The worst part about it is that it can be difficult to spot who will try to sabotage your efforts before you tell anyone and so you may not know who to tell and who not to tell.
So how do you decide who should know?
Well it is important to tell those that you live with, especially if you eat together. This is mainly for the practical issues that will come up when you start to eat more healthily and care about what food you put on your plate. It is a good idea to work together to introduce healthier options and remember its going to be good for them to eat well too!
They can also be there to encourage you when you feel like quitting and ordering a big greasy take-away. If they are able to support you then they will become really valuable.
They may of course try to encourage you to eat cakes or chocolate or other unhealthy choices that you used to have together so you should take steps to avoid this by treading lightly and being very clear in your explanation of WHY you want to change what you eat. If you let them know what foods you will and will not be eating and why you want to change your health then if they really care about you they will try their best to support you. Of course if you care about them you will try your best to be patient if they slip up and present you with something forbidden!
It is also a good idea to tell your partner so that they are aware of what is going on and do not organize any ‘thoughtful’ surprises that you may have to turn down. They could also turn out to be your greatest supporter because they love you and want the best for you. Also hiding your goals from them to avoid bad situations could backfire and they may think you don’t trust them or see no future together.
Some people also find it successful to tell friends at work as they are then able to offer support by not bringing cakes and being encouraging about going to the gym after work or for walks at lunch.
Some, on the other hand, find that work friends can be the least helpful because they may get upset when you don’t want to eat with them and they may try to sabotage your efforts to go to the gym after work by constantly inviting you for drinks after a hard day. Its sometimes difficult to remember that this behaviour is actually a sign that they think you will succeed. They may be feeling really threatened by you and your focus and drive to become a better person. It may make them feel bad about their own health and fitness.
In this situation it may be better to try to keep your goals to yourself and just try to avoid snacking situations and drinks without causing possible tension by talking about why. Once you have started to make visible progress and they can see the positive changes then you may want to start talking about it but its also ok not to.
You don’t have to tell everyone that you hang out with or work with. Choosing to be fitter, exercise more, eat better or lead a healthier lifestyle is for you. Its personal. Its for your future, for your family and for your own well-being.
You know what you are doing is right and you know that the goals will be worth any effort and sacrifice.
Choose carefully who you tell and tell them with compassion. They will have to make changes too and that might be hard for them. Let them know that although some things are going to be different it does not mean you care for them any less or have any less fun when you are with them. You don’t have to stop being friends with people because they don’t want to stop eating ice-cream – you just have to adapt to a slightly different situation where you won’t be eating ice-cream together.
Its all about compromise and understanding, from both sides. If you are honest with them about what you want to achieve then you should be able to come to arrangements to suit both parties and you never know – they might want to join you! Yay – new workout buddies!!