It Takes a Village
I believe when people decide they want to better themselves in some way, for the most part it’s not always exclaimed to the World they are unhappy and want to make changes. I find most often when it comes to someone’s personal fitness, they tend to keep their struggles and frustrations internal.
There are a few reasons for this:
- Not everyone that is closest to you in your personal life is going to be supportive.
- The fear of failure. Sharing your goals with others makes them real, so you feel an astronomical amount of pressure to succeed and with zero slip ups. This is especially true when it comes to fitness, since 99% of the public is very uneducated it what it takes to lose body fat they are overall naive surrounding the process.
- You’ve tried previously and failed, you don’t want to put too much pressure on yourself this time round.
These are just a few reasons off the top of my head, I feel they are all relevant in some way shape or form for most people. Touching on point #1 regarding not everyone being super supportive, this comes up often in my training sessions with clients. They bring up a conversation they may have had with a co-worker, a friend, a family member, that made them feel uneasy in some way but they couldn’t put their finger on it. The person is supportive in certain ways, they give advice as to what they do themselves, but you also feel like they are almost being competitive with you, or like they do not want you to succeed in some way. The vibe is not super out there so it’s hard to pick up on, but every time you talk about your workouts or diets with this person you never walk away feeling better about yourself and what you are doing. You are not misreading the situation, your feelings surrounding the conversation with certain individuals regarding your fitness and diet are usually accurate. However, the reason they are making you feel uneasy or like they don’t 100% want you to change or be successful is strictly due to the fact you are a direct reflection of themselves, and it’s intimidating. The person may even feel confused themselves about their reaction, or may not be able to help their type of jealousy. It’s usually the most insecure people that will make you feel like you are doing something wrong, or being too strict, or not living your life. I will always repeat what I read about this situation to my clients because it was SO BANG ON, “the active offends the inactive.”-Dani Shugart. I read this article by Dani Shugart regarding social interactions and weight loss, and what she says about the person being offended by your activity is very true. This is why it can be confusing to read, because it’s not that they are angry that YOU are getting in better shape. It’s that you are their peer, someone they saw on the same level and same page as you, and now you are persevering through the same shit they have going on and bettering yourself. Or on the other hand what can sometimes make the situation confusing, the person giving you weird vibes is in better shape than you. This is usually because in this person’s mind, they are the “fit” person in the crew and that is ultimately THEIR identity. If you have always been the one sort of struggling with your weight, or have never really batted an eye at it previously, then you are almost intruding on their identity when you start to get in better shape.
It’s obviously isn’t the most positive subject, to discuss why those closest to you are throwing shade on your willingness to improve your health and wellness. But it is one of the biggest reasons why people keep their goals to themselves, but also one of the biggest reasons why people fail. Yes, there is obviously going to be some downsides discussing your goals and feeling not supported. But on the positive side, I find time and again someone’s person fitness journey exposes a couple snakes in the grass along the way, so to speak. What I mean is, the people you thought would have your back are not always there. Maybe there were tiny glimpses and vibes previously in your life within your relationship with this person, but when someone drastically improves their health and well-being and you are met with resentment, it’s very clear this person doesn’t have your best intentions for not just fitness, but for literally anything that might be an improvement in your life. You don’t want these people around you anyways, and even though it hurts in the beginning, you are better off in the end. You may find its actually the people you didn’t expect are coming out of the wood work with words of encouragement and support, and the parallel will make it clear what kind of people you want closest to you. People undermine how much their social circle can impact their ability to move forward in life because the non-support may not show up in an obvious manner, sometimes it can very subtle. But ultimately, if they are not there for you at your best, they will not be there to pick you back up when you are tumbling down. Watch out for people who are only there for you or want to hang out when you are off the fitness train temporarily or have not been killing it like you usually are. Pay attention to how people talk to you, encourage you, or don’t encourage you, then start eliminating and finding new people. If this is some who you cannot eliminate from your life, such as a family member, then you need to stand up for yourself. The next time you feel like they make a remark regarding your meal plan, or gym schedule, put them in their place. It doesn’t need to be aggressive, but they should care about your health and vitality, they should want you to live a longer, healthier, more energetic life. Be upfront with them about how important your goals are to you, and that you need to make sacrifices in the beginning to get to the reward.
On that note, turn to your family for help on your diet or gym schedule. Ask a family member to help you cook and prep, this will take a ton of stress off of you and help you focus on getting to the gym and lifting weights. If you need accountability but cannot afford a trainer, tell a friend or relative you are close with to message you when you should be going to the gym. Or even find a gym buddy who will meet up with you occasionally, just make sure you don’t rely on them if they bail. Remember, this is your goal and they are supporting you in it, don’t flake on the gym just because they do. Tell your friends and family for the next little bit if you are going out to eat, maybe you will meet up with them after, or the food needs to be healthy. Family occasions can be hard, especially if you are a certain culture that gets offended if you do not eat their food. I get it…actually I don’t my family is not one of those cultures, but I do empathize and sympathize fully with you if this is your situation. Appease them, but don’t go overboard. Drink a protein shake before you enter the party so you are full, take smaller portions of what they offer, and then get back to it the next day. Just because your family is pressuring you to eat more, doesn’t mean you have to eat more. If family occasions such as these are weekly then that’s a problem. However, I doubt they happen so often it’s enough to hurt your fitness goals.
At the end of the day, someone’s fitness journey is never going to be linear. There is going to be a lot of getting off and on the fitness train, so it’s important to have a good safety net of people behind you to catch you when you fall. It’s very easy to get into your head, and/or feel overwhelmed with the entire process. Feeling anxious to get to your goal, mixed with impatience and a ton of temptation. Questioning constantly if your sacrifices are worth it, risking getting down on yourself when you don’t succeed how you believe you should, or getting down on yourself when you have fallen off. This is why it takes a village to make someone succeed in their fitness goals. It needs professional guidance, a strong friend group who are not going to sabotage you, a family who is willing to step in when your schedule gets too busy, your co-workers/acquaintances to give you words of encouragement, and then ultimately the journey exposes who didn’t have your best interests at heart. When you go at it alone, things can spiral quickly. Do not struggle internally, or get too down on yourself when results don’t have in 2 to 6months. It takes over a year to make life long and stable changes so it’s long time to take on a task solo, especially one that can be complicated and frustrating. I understand the reasons why people are choosy and do not want to expose their goals or true feelings about themselves, but be selective and intuitive with the people you share things with you, don’t block them out. Always remember it’s never going to be a straight path to success, there are going to be a ton of bumps in the road. Just don’t give up. Keep looking for alternate routes to get to your goal, just because you don’t know where to go yourself doesn’t mean someone else can’t show you the way.