It’s always inspiring to see another person make choices that will improve their overall health and well-being. If you have a friend or family member who’s starting to adopt habits that will positively affect their quality of life, then it’s likely that you’ve also felt the need to show them your support. After all, you want the people you care about to reach their health and fitness goals.
A word of caution, though: it’s possible to go overboard with your well-intentioned encouragement. Adopting a new exercise routine or healthier eating habits is a daunting goal for anyone to work toward. Indeed, showing excessive support or being too critical of the person’s new activities can discourage them instead of motivating them to improve their form and keep going. How can you show that you support your friend or family member’s new lifestyle in a constructive manner? Here are a few ways to go about it:
Offer to Be Their Fitness Buddy
One of the best ways you can show your support to someone who is trying to be healthier is to accompany them on their fitness journey. If a loved one starts expressing the desire to look and feel better, and if you have the extra time and energy, why not help them get started by going with them?
If they want to join a fitness class, for example, shop with them to look for stylish tights that they can use in their class, or sign up with them and see what the class is all about. If they’re trying to eat well-balanced meals, how about meal planning together or shopping for healthier ingredients? Showing interest in their activities and being there for them as they take their first fitness steps are great ways of expressing your support and encouraging your loved one to keep doing what they’re doing.
Ask About Their Motivations and Goals
Your friend or family member has a reason for taking this first step to becoming healthy, and it’s sometimes different from what you think it is. It’s a good idea to find out exactly what drives your loved one to make a positive change. Perhaps they want to improve their chances of living longer and raise their quality of life, or they just realized that they still have a lot of things they need to do in order to reach their full potential.
That said, take the time to ask them what motivates them and the milestones that they want to reach during their fitness journey. This way, you can offer the right form of support and encouragement that they need. When the going gets tough, you can help your friend regain their drive by reminding them of what they wanted to achieve in the first place.
Help Them Clear Misconceptions and Hurdles
One of the challenges of living a healthier life is finding fitness programs and eating habits that are suited to a person’s particular needs. It’s easy to get swayed by exercise and diet fads, and this is not always good for someone who’s just starting their fitness journey.
If your loved one is getting discouraged by their lack of progress despite sticking to their program, it’s helpful to point out that there are activities and eating habits that might be better suited to them. Remind them that physical activities and eating habits are not one-size-fits-all; they have to be personalized so that they can address the specific needs and goals of the person.
If your friend or family member is starting to tie their progress and self-worth to the numbers on the scale, remind them that health can come in all forms and sizes. Hitting a particular number is not necessarily an indicator of health, and being healthy is a journey rather than just a destination. Being able to stick to healthy habits, in itself, is a sign of significant progress.
Now that you know what you can do to support your friend or family member, it’s also good to know what you shouldn’t do. There are forms of encouragement that may seem like a good idea at first but can undermine the efforts and challenges that your loved one has managed to overcome. This includes being overly critical of their eating or exercise habits in an effort to get them to proper form. Other examples include making them feel guilty for slipping up or getting ahead of their efforts to stay healthy.
Remember: this fitness journey is your loved one’s initiative, and you’re here as a member of their cheering team. When asked, offer them your thoughts and opinions, but try not to judge them for their efforts. Remember that they’re making a change for the better because they acknowledge the fact that they still have room for improvement. As their friend or family member, you want to help them realize the best version of themselves in healthy and productive ways.