How to get your friends and family to help you

Changing your lifestyle, eating and exercise habits can be hard work. And if your friends and family are not on board and helping you, it can become an impossible task.

Maybe they will say things like:

  • “Go on, just one won’t hurt you!”
  • “You don’t have to change, you look lovely!”
  • “You have had a hard day, why not relax with a takeaway and movie?”
  • “Oh, you are trying to lose weight again? Like all the other times? Hahahaha!”
  • “You are the one trying to lose weight, why do I have to change anything?”

Whatever they say, getting the people in your life in your corner can make things so much easier. So it is worth putting the effort in to get them supporting you. And here is a simple step by step guide to how you can do it. But while you are reading and putting it into practice:

Remember, they are not a mind reader.”

Step 1 – Explain to them why

You may know why you want to change how you eat, drink and live your life, but that doesn’t mean they do. Trust me, they probably don’t know your fears, anxieties, hang ups, dreams, hopes and goals like you do, so they don’t know why you are making this brave choice.

So tell them. Explain to them why you want to change things. Just some of the reasons we have heard over the years are things like this:

  • “I’m not happy with how my life is currently, and feel this can make me happier.”
  • “I am at risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and this is my “medicine” to treat it.”
  • “I am worried about missing out on my grandchildren/ children growing up and it is important to me that I am there for them as they grow up.”
  • “It’s very kind of you to offer, but I don’t want that sugary treat because I’ve already had some, it tasted great but I’ve had enough now, thank you.”
  • “I had a scare at the doctors this week and want to change my life for the better.”
  • “I’m taking the stairs/having a walking meeting because I feel more awake, am more productive and my back feels better afterwards.”

Step 2 – Explain to them what

You may have thought long and hard about what you are going to do and the best way to do it. But other people have not. So don’t forget, what might be clear and obvious to you, might be surprising and confusing to others. So make sure you explain the actions you are going to take.

It could be anything like:

  • “I am changing what I am eating, so I’ll be having less of the usual foods and trying others that you might not expect.”
  • “I’ll be experimenting with these actions for the next 8 weeks, finding out which ones work/don’t work for me.”
  • “I may be doing different things, at different times, at different places and maybe with different people than usual.”

Step 3 – Explain to them how they can help

Your friends and family like and love you. So they (almost) certainly don’t do things deliberately to annoy and sabotage you. They do things because they think it is nice, friendly or a kind thing to do for you. But only you know if their efforts work or not! So let them know for certain what they can do to help you change for the better.

It could be you need them to start doing things, or maybe to stop doing things! Here are a few we hear regularly:

  • “Although it’s really kind of you, it would be really helpful if you didn’t offer me those sugary treats.”
  • “When we meet next, could you ask me how I have done and not accept a fake excuse from me.”
  • “I’m not asking you to eat the same things as me, but could you avoid eating/drinking my trigger foods in front of me?”
  • “It helped me so much when you encouraged/praised/noticed me that time I was struggling.”

Step 4 – Ask for their input

While you may have thought long and hard about what you are going to do, it is always good to get the opinions from those around you. They may have really helpful suggestions you never thought of, or they may have reservations about what you have asked them to do.

So ask them for their opinion, feedback and thoughts about what you have asked of them. Don’t just assume you are doing things perfectly and everyone will be happy to fall in line.

And if for no other reason, people are more likely to help you if their thoughts and feelings are taken into account.

  • “So do you think if you did that for me, I would have a better chance of succeeding?”
  • “Do you mind helping me in this way?  I would feel so much more confident with you by my side.”
  • “Can you think of any other way you feel able to support me?”

Good luck with your conversations. And if you are anxious about having these chats with your friends/family, don’t ever forget:

“You, your health and happiness are important and worth the time and effort.”

Building your support crew