You've done it. You've committed yourself to being healthier, and you have a plan in place. You're eating better, exercising more, and even though sometimes you have difficult discussions with yourself about this whole thing, you're generally feeling good. Way to go! But are the people around you supportive of what you're trying to do, or do you hear more negative comments than positive ones? Here are some common comments that are more subversive than supportive.
“Come on, one cookie won't kill you.”
And they're right, it won't. But that isn't the point, is it? When you're trying to make positive changes to your diet, you are faced with some tough choices. Certain things need to go, no matter how much you love them. Or, if you do decide to let yourself indulge, it is under strict conditions (a piece of dark chocolate after a meal taking the place of a chocolate bar from the gas station on the way home from work, for example). Being faced with a sudden choice when someone brings treats into the office can be really tough, and it's made even tougher when the people around you apply pressure.
“You're so lucky, you can eat whatever you want!”
As a wise man once said, “in my experience, there's no such thing as luck.” Not only do you work hard to keep fit and healthy, you work hard to make the best dietary choices you can. The truth is that everyone can eat whatever they want, as long as they don't want to eat bad stuff. That may be a bit too Zen Riddle for you, but it's true. As you cut sugary, salty, fatty foods out of your diet, you crave them less, making it easier to turn them down. At the same time, a balanced and nutritious diet means that you can have a cupcake at your daughter's birthday party without consequence, since you certainly won't be having one tomorrow. That's not luck. It's a mix of willpower, determination, and hard work.
“Ugh, you run? I hate running.”
I don't mean to pick on running. You can substitute yoga, weight training, boxing, etc. This one bothers me specifically, mostly because I don't always love working out either. It can take a lot of discipline to get to the gym, and it takes even more when I do decide to run because I'm just so bad at it. If you are wrestling with thoughts like this and someone close to you says how much they hate it, you aren't likely to feel very motivated.
“The gym? You don't even need to lose weight!”
This statement is not to be confused with “I think you look great, no matter what.” One is a supportive and caring thing to say, the other is dismissive. Comments like this are made when someone has misconceptions about why people decide to work out. Even though weight loss is helped by exercise, diet is arguably more important, and there are many other benefits to a regular exercise regimen. Of course you know this already, and you understand the benefits of becoming stronger, more flexible, less stressed, and generally healthier.
“Just skip the gym, let's go out!”
Again, this is a dismissive comment, and it has a more sinister cousin; “You spend all your time working out, what about me?” Assuming you don't actually spend a destructive amount time at the gym, this is said by someone who feels left behind by your new commitment to yourself, and wants you to be more focused on them. They want to spend time with you, and that's not a bad thing, but they aren't being supportive of your choices, goals, and schedule.
So what do you say?
Assuming you want to maintain relationships with the people around you, a polite but firm reply is best. You have no obligation to explain yourself to anyone, but it may help. It's pretty difficult to argue with statements like “I may not have weight to lose, but I do want to be stronger” or “no thanks, eating a cookie at 9am just isn't in line with my goals.” Of course you can decide what tone to use, but the important thing to remember is that standing up for yourself is a good thing. When people make comments like the ones above, they likely aren't consciously trying to undermine you, so acting as though they are isn't helpful. Firmly stating your position and giving a confident “thanks, but no thanks” ought to be enough. It is possible that they are feeling envious of your results or guilty about their choices, but that is their problem, and you certainly don't need to make it yours.
Ryan Casselman is a personal trainer, musician, and the founder of Real Trainers. Stay tuned as he finds out what he's going to write about each week or so!