I’ve been “on a diet” most of my adult life. Heck, I remember when my mom put me on what I remember to be my first diet when I was maybe 8 years old, suggesting that “we” were on a diet… and “we” weren’t going to be eating the frozen brownie ice cream treats in the freezer.
As a result of being on so many programs for 30+ years, I’ve had a lot of folks try to give me outside advice on how I could be doing what I’m doing better/smarter/faster/with different ingredients/etc. I’ve had great suggestions, great support, and well… I’ve had the other as well.
Inspired by this little life of mine and my lovely friends who supported me so well along the way, I’m going to share a few suggestions on how to offer great support to a friend/family member/co-worker who is watching their food intake.
Understand that this is a BIG Lifestyle Shift
Your friend/sister/brother/wife is embarking upon one of the most difficult feats! Consider this: If weight loss were easy, obesity wouldn’t be the epidemic that it is in America! Your loved one is in the process of trying to navigate this brand-new lifestyle that they have committed to and they likely have a range of emotions brewing about it. They may be nervous, afraid, eager, and impatient.
Change is not always as simple as flipping a switch. Be patient and compassionate. Know that they may implement trial-and-error along the way to create the best possible program for themselves, and that they may stumble 150 times along the way. Be supportive of the change… and mostly of your loved one. They’ll need it!
Do Not Play Diet Patrol
“Is that on your program?”
“Um… I thought you were eating healthy now?”
As someone on a journey to getting healthy, I’ll tell you right now… I don’t always do it right. There are times that I want to eat everything in sight. There are times when I just can’t resist driving through Chick-Fil-A (and getting the real-deal fried chicken sandwich.) I don’t perfectly all the time… and, I even have the nerve to call myself a “healthy living / weight loss blogger.” 🙂
But… those decisions are mine. I have to face My Fitness Pal at the end of the day to track my eats. I have to look in the mirror and face the music… I’ll deal with me. You deal with you. Sound good?
Avoid the Urge to Fix Things
How many times in my life have I said this: I don’t want to get off the couch and go to the gym. Um, many many times… my friends can attest to this. Often times, I just don’t want to go and sometimes, I need to share that. I don’t always need a rah-rah-ree, kick ’em in the knee kind of response… sometimes, I just want a friend to listen.
My friend Natalie is one of the best when it comes to offering support… I really don’t know how she does it, but she always says just the right thing. Lots of “Get it, girl” text messages… or, “Maybe you need a break. Go tomorrow!” Regardless… she walks the line perfectly for me. She listens to all my shenanigans… and offers support. This is all I need…a sounding board to my thoughts. I’m so lucky to have her! Now, if only she lived closer…
Consider Hosting Healthy Food Events
Eating out when you’re watching what you are eating can be a HUGE challenges. Even visiting a friend’s house for dinner can be a challenge!
My friend Deb does an amazing job at making sure that we’re all going to have a blast when we get together while taking into account everyone’s eating preferences. For example: Deb likes to make healthy choices too. When I was in the beginning of my process, she sensed my nervousness about gatherings, and always called me separately to assure me that she would have healthy options on hand that she wanted to enjoy too! I never felt like I was putting everyone else out by “needing” healthy options… and I always appreciated (and still do!) her kind approach to making sure I could stay on track.
Join in on the Fun
Early on in the process and when things were getting a little bit tough for me, my sister-in-law Beth jumped on board with Jenny Craig and signed up for the program. This was amazing support for me. I finally had someone to talk about the food with, to talk about the process, and someone who was participating with me.
Beth, while miles and miles away, was on board and also had some success with Jenny. It made the process that much more fun!
Not Everything Has to Be Food-Related
Before I started on my healthy eating journey almost 4 years ago, everything we ever did was food related. Wine night, dinners out, game night with snacks… with no regard to the calories we would be eating.
In the beginning, I just stopped joining my friends…. but over time, we’ve found other ways to have fun that include healthy activities! We go on lots of walks… Denver has SO MANY beautiful spots to walk and hike that this has become a common outing. My friend Tiffany and I do this quite often…
Instead of meeting for lunch, maybe we meet for coffee instead. My friend Kristin and I have worked this into our regular “catch-up” routine, and I love it!
Please Talk to Me about Other Topics
Just because I’ve committed to a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean I want to spend all my time talking about the do’s and don’ts of the latest fad diet on the market, what I had for breakfast, or how I’m spending my time at the gym.
I’m still your friend. That fun-loving, shoe-shopping, wacky story-telling friend. Let’s talk about all of those things… I love that you take an interest in my weight loss process… but even I need a break from it from time to time, and I get together with you to take that break.
Celebrate Success with Me
When the celebrations come… I’m going to want you to be there with me.
It could be to celebrate that I didn’t eat the free pizza at work… or that I hit my 10K steps for the day… or it could be that I reach my weight loss goal. Let’s celebrate together, ok? I love to share my life’s high points with you.
Ultimately, I’m going to win no matter what, I’m going to learn, and I’m going to change… but I’d like you there beside me along the way as my friend. Thanks in advance for all your support, love, and encouragement. xoxo