Your friends and family play a major role in your fitness journey. They can oftentimes be the motivating and supporting push you need to stick with it. So, when that support system falls through it can create some roadblocks. Unfortunately, sometimes your friends, family, spouses, or work colleagues may not be as supportive of your healthy lifestyle as you hoped. Whether it’s not taking you seriously, making jokes or snide remarks, or just making you feel bad about your lifestyle choices, here are some ways on how to deal with it.
Why are some people unsupportive?
There are many reasons why people may be or seem unsupportive of your goals and the changes you’re making to get there.
Sometimes, it’s not even about you. It’s about them. Aaptiv trainer Rochelle Moncourtois says, “Family members and friends can be unsupportive of a person’s new healthy lifestyle changes because they can’t bring themselves to do it, too.” It can be hard to watch someone else make the changes they need to reach their goals, especially if they share the same goals. Whatever obstacles are blocking your friends or family from doing it themselves—whether it’s the ability to afford it or not having the time—can cause jealousy.
It’s also possible that some people might believe that you’re becoming selfish or obsessed with your healthy lifestyle. “They could have also been affected negatively in some way by someone in the past in relation to fitness or nutrition that has left them bitter,” adds Aaptiv trainer Candice Cunningham. These are deeply personal subjects that can also be sore spots for people and can bring up bad memories.
How to Respond to Negativity
Use it as fuel.
Let them fire up your motivation. Cunningham explains, “Use it as fuel. Use their antagonism as motivation for you to really work hard and get the results you want.” Transform the negativity around you and channel it into making positive changes. Plus, it’ll be a great way to attack your workout harder!
Be open about your journey.
Your friends and family may think that you don’t need them anymore. They might also be thinking you’re looking down at their own choices. Your changes can make people uncomfortable, whether it’s about turning down drinks on the weekend when you used to be the one pouring them for everyone or opting for a morning run instead of your weekly Sunday brunch catch up.
Letting them know that you still need their support and that they’re still important to you will help show them that they have a space in your life, despite the changes. Offer them alternatives so that they know they’re still important to you. Invite them to go on a run with you or tell them to come over for a nice homemade dinner.
This way, you can still spend time with your loved ones and experience new things together! And who knows, you might even inspire them too.
Talk to them.
At the end of the day, you’re embarking on a healthy lifestyle because you want to. You want to be a healthier, fitter, better version of yourself. The best thing to do is to really make sure that they know this.
Moncourtois says, “Some great ways to respond to negative feedback is by simply letting them know that you chose to make these changes to better yourself. You want to be happy so you can be a better person. Making healthy lifestyles changes isn’t just about looking better, it’s about feeling better altogether!”
So tell them why; why you want to make these changes and why you want to feel and look better. Your family and friends may need extra help to understand. Share your perspective and hopefully, that’ll open their eyes.
Know you can’t change their minds.
If you’ve tried your best to get them to understand but they don’t change their unsupportive ways, it’s not your job to keep trying. It’s also not your job to make them happy, especially if you’re prioritizing yourself and not hurting anyone else. Don’t give up because of them.
“If what you’re focusing on is to make yourself healthier and you aren’t doing any extremes, then there is nothing wrong with what you’re doing,” explains Cunningham. “If they’re truly a good and true friend or person who deserves you, then they’ll eventually come around and support you somehow even if they don’t join you.”
In the meantime, there are still plenty of people out there who bring positivity into your life.
Find a supportive community.
“The best place to find support would be your local gym. Try out some of the classes to socialize with other gym members,” advises Moncourtois. “You can create a healthy circle of friends who’ll always support your decisions and help you achieve your goals.”
She has great memories from finding her own circle. “I was with a running group once and I completely loved it because everyone in the group had the same interests and was very supportive!”
Cunningham recommends “looking into your city for meetups or events that cater to healthier lifestyles.” She also agrees with Moncourtois. “Find fitness groups or online weight loss or support groups with different goals. For example, find a running group, or join a group fitness or personal training gym.”
You can also look for support online. The Aaptiv Facebook community, for example, is designed as a space where members can come to share their successes and their struggles. No matter where you are on your fitness journey, there’s likely someone you can connect with through social media or another forum.
So if your current loved ones and circle of friends are unable to be supportive of your healthy lifestyle, then there are other people out there who will be. You just have to find them!