This month we have guest blogger Trina sharing some healthy lifestyle and weight loss tips. Trina has been an active member of the Organize Yourself Community for a while now and I’m thrilled to have her here. She is a Canadian millennial that is passionate about writing, helping others and community building. She provides advice and reads in her spare time. She is a leader and optimist who believes in everyone’s ability to change. You can learn more about Trina on her website, Twitter, and Instagram.
I have to admit something.
I’m a recovering helper. When someone tells me a problem, my mind swirls with solutions and is alight with all the possible futures that I could present to my conversation partner. I see a problem and I want to fix it.
Dying to lose weight? Sure, I have resources for that.
Want to cook more often? I have LOTS of recipes that I love.
Struggling to do yoga but are on a budget? Here’s five Youtube channels I love.
My wonderful friends and family smile and nod lovingly as I dispense information to them, excited about the change they wanted to make. I know change has impacted my life significantly and I knew it would impact theirs too. If only they would follow my lead.
My husband has received a significant amount of my helping and one day said to me “Are you even listening?”
I wasn’t. I was trying to share what worked for me. The techniques, the food, the exercise, the thought processes. All of it was what worked for me. I realized I was being selfish. I was addicted to helping in the worst possible way.
Here are some of the ways that I was helping in ways that were completely unhelpful, along with tips so you can do better.
1. Being Overly Enthusiastic About THEIR Change
I started my lifestyle change six years ago, four months before our wedding. I had started going to hot yoga and eating differently when, after an obviously late night, my husband said “I saw this great exercise program on TV and I really think we should try it”. Being a supportive partner, and not-so-secretly wanting my to-be-hubby to bulk up before the wedding, I joyfully agreed. We went and got the weights, the resistance bands and figured out the meal plan.
I started following the program and saw the results I was expecting. I got excited and wanted my future hubby to join in on the program because it had obviously been a great idea.
Nope. Not happening. Still not happening six years later.
One of the ways to NOT get someone else to join you is to enthusiastically support what they’re doing. It seems counterintuitive, but think back to when you were first getting into working on your food intake and exercise. Did it feel daunting? Did you feel like you were overwhelmed with information? Imagine if you had an overly bubbly cheerleader standing on your shoulder the entire time you were starting. Imagine how that inner cheerleader would have likely reacted when you failed. Most people don’t change well under that kind of pressure. We aren’t diamonds – we’re way more squishy.
When you get super psyched about your friend’s or partner’s change, you’re the bubbly cheerleader. You’re also one of the most important people in your partner’s life. Letting you down sucks, so if they fail at this, it could be a huge blow to their ego. I know the urge is to support them and I encourage you to, in a gentler manner.
2. Asking close-ended questions
Instead, ask open-ended questions. These are questions that avoid yes or no responses.
- “That sounds great! What interests you about that program?”
- “Awesome! How can I support you getting started?”
- “Fantastic! Sounds like a good change! What’s one small thing you’re starting with?”
Why ask those questions? Open ended questions lead the person who is answering to respond thoughtfully without cutting the conversation off. Usually responses lead to more questions, which helps both people learn about each other. Keep in mind, this is their change, not yours. Their journey may look very different.
3. Changing Your Partner’s/Family’s Diet Without Involving Them
Lifestyle changes are a mixture of physical, emotional, and spiritual changes. When you’re looking to change your body (and your mind) by fueling it differently and stretching it through exercise, small changes are going to lead to great results. However, when you are part of a larger ecosystem of people, you need to take their desires into consideration.
When I discovered mason jar salads (thank you Tammy!), I thought they would be awesome for both of us. I made enough for a week’s worth of lunches and didn’t even think to ask my hubby what he wanted. He should just be happy that I made his lunch for the week right?
He really didn’t like them. So I had salads for a week and a bit.
As we started talking. We talk about:
- The grocery budget
- What we each like to eat
- Splitting the cooking responsibilities
- Meal planning and upcoming events
Let me tell you, communication conquers all. If you’re having difficulty opening up the conversation, here’s a few starters:
- “I need your support when it comes to being healthier, when can we talk about that?”
- Have kids? “We are going to talk about eating healthy as a family. What are some of your favorite healthy foods?”
4. Talking About THEIR Weight (if they haven’t brought it up)
Don’t do it. If you think that your partner could lose some weight, remember that it is their body and they have to want to make change before you can support them in it. If they are content with their body, it’s not up to you to try to change it.
However, if they’re hmm-ing and ha-ing and hmmph-ing about their weight, saying things like “I wish I could lose weight” or “I can’t…”, a opportunity to ask open ended questions has presented itself. Here’s some that you could try:
- I noticed that you say you shouldn’t eat that. Why do you say that?
- I hear you want to do something about your weight. What is one thing that you could start today?
- What impact would a change to your health make in your life?
Recently, a friend of mine was telling me that she wants to get out of debt, lose weight, stop drinking coke every day, and get a great job.
I told her that all sounded great. Then I dropped the bomb – “What’s the one small thing you want to start with?” Instantly, she told me drinking more water. We did a quick little quiz to figure out how to motivate her and when we realized that she needs external support, we set up a daily check-in for water. A few months later, she’s still drinking water and is starting on more small changes.
As you discover a healthier version of yourself, take the time to recognize whether your partner supports you. Support takes many forms – they eat the asparagus and quinoa for dinner. They make you a healthy meal. Perhaps an evening walk has become something you do together.
Take this with you: Your journey is your own, trying to drag others along with you only slows you down. Your partner will come along in their own time, if they choose to do so. Keep your eyes open for other ways they support you and be thankful for that.
Some not-so-obvious ways your partner or friends support you on your gettin’ healthy journey:
- They quietly eat the quinoa.
- When it’s their turn to bring treats to work, they try to make sure it’s healthy.
- Restaurant picks have something that you can enjoy.
- Taking care of something around the house so you can exercise.
- Going on coffee walks or out to walk the dog with you.
Homework for this week: Ask your partner, a friend or a co-worker some open ended questions. Let us know how it goes!
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