“Why don’t you have some cake?”
“Why do you want to run that far?”
“Are you judging me?”
“Have you lost weight?” “Have you gained weight?”
“What do you think about Paleo/Gluten-Free Food/No Sugar Diet?”
I think in general the health and fitness industry and “obesity epidemic” is more prevalent than ever so it’s more and more common for stuff like this to come up in conversation with friends and family members. But somewhere along your health and fitness journey there is probably someone coming behind you with questions.
Share your experiences openly. If you’ve had success with running, by all means, share (don’t over-share though–not everyone is as interested in the benefits of hill repeats. ;)) and invite your friend to join you on a run. Did going on “sugar-free” change your life? Did Shakeology? Did moose tracks ice cream? (The answer is yes!) Share, but understand not everyone is going to be as enthusiastic as you are, depending on where they are in their health and fitness journey and their personal preferences.
Share your opinion respectfully. There is no reason to get sassy; if you don’t like Crossfit, say it’s not your cup of tea and move on. Unsure about the gluten-free hype? Eh, whatever; I’m more app to use humor to soften the weight of my ever-present opinion. Like, “Oooh I have so much respect for people that go gluten-free, but it would take some serious health concerns to pry my bagels away!” Remember that every body is different, so if something didn’t work for you that doesn’t mean it won’t work for someone else.
Have other interests. Yes, low reps vs. high reps is interesting to some, but there are a lot of other things going on in the world. Make sure that if you take health and fitness out of the equasion you still have fun stuff to talk about! I talk about health and fitness so often on the blog sometimes I forget, oh yeah, I’m also into crafting, playing the piano, reading, decorating, social justice issues, and drinking coffee. 🙂
What about when you are concerned about a family member’s health? Should you speak up?
This is a tricky one. I would say, mostly no.
The most important thing is to lead by example. Do your thing well. Don’t let negativity or pressure back you down from your goals and ideals. Keep at it with a smile on your face!
Encourage any progress. If you have a friend that just started walking a few times a week or went to her first yoga class–praisie the heck out of her. Ask to come along. If your aunt asks you about eating organic, say, “it’s great more people are getting interested in the quality of their food!”. Encourage any healthy step no matter how small.
Don’t be perfect. Ugh, perfect people suck, right?! Be relatable! Share your struggles…and be real. Sometimes we are pms-y and eat a lot of pizza, that is life, my friend. It’s more your attitude and way of dealing with the imperfections that show the “nitty-gritty” of living a healthy life.
Offer to help. “I’d love to answer any questions you have about how I lost weight.” or “Would you like to meet up after work to go to the gym?” “Could I share one of my whole wheat pizza recipe with you?” “Do you want to run a 5K together?”
There are a few, very rare times when (depending on the relationship) it may be appropriate to take a more direct approach and have a conversation about health with a friend or loved one.
“You’ve said some things that make me feel like you’d be happier with yourself if you lost weight–do you want to talk about it?”
“Honey, I’ve noticed the last months we’ve been looser than we should with our diet, this month I’d like to focus on eating more wholesome foods as a family.”
“I’m concerned about your health. I love you and I want you around as long as possible. How can I help?”
Remember that kindness goes a long way in any conversation about health and wellness. Attack the problem, not the person and listen twice as much as you talk.
Do you get into health and fitness related conversations with friends or family frequently? How do you handle controversial topics like this?