If you’ve been a reader of my blog for awhile, you may know my story about how and why I got into running, and later health and fitness and personal training. Although I know I’ve inspired a few friends and readers to start their own health and fitness journeys (which is amazing and awesome and is the number one reason why I continue to share my experiences on social media), the one person I’ve always been trying to inspire is seemingly un-inspirable.
The one who’s health issues scared me into exercise in the first place and made me swear off fast food forever. He’s stubborn, set in his ways, and can’t stand to be told “no”.
Perhaps you also have a stubborn loved one, close friend, spouse, brother, sister or parent who has bad and harmful habits you wish they would stop, because you can see how detrimental it is to their health. That despite heart attacks, angina, various heart surgeries and diabetes that has all but claimed their mobility, they just can’t change their ways. Because to you, you think that they’d rather eat burgers and fries and sweets and alcohol than be around for your wedding day. You think that because they don’t care about themselves, they don’t care about you.
Intellectually, I know that’s not true. Weight loss and changing bad habits is a complicated endeavor, and there are so many factors at play. But emotionally, I know how badly you just want to scream at them and say “don’t you care?!”, force them to eat nothing but salad, throw out all the junk food in their house, smack the greasy junk food from their hands and smash every bottle of beer in their fridge. But of course, you wouldn’t do that, because a) that’s not very nice, and b) that would just make them even more resistance, and they’d probably never speak to you again.
So what CAN you do to help convince a family member or friend to get healthy? Here are three things you can do to help move the process along, but remember — you must have patience. In the end it has to be their idea, and sometimes that can take a very long time. They need to either find their rock bottom (which you pray and hope isn’t the heart attack that claims them) or have a moment of insights, or an epiphany, to spark the change.
Live by example
This is probably the most important thing you can do. Even though they may not visibly react to it, they see how happy you are running races, hitting the gym and enjoying big green smoothies. They can see how easily you’re able to move and do fun things they’re unable to do because of their condition. They see what you order when you go out to eat. Trust me — they understand you’re in great health because of the choices you make.
This is another important one. What is your immediate reaction when someone tells you to do something you don’t want to? You get angry and defy them. They know what they need to do, but they’re not ready to make the change and they sure as hell don’t need someone pointing out what they’re not doing right. Remember, good choices have to be their idea. Be positive when they make a good choice, but don’t oversell it — they know what you’re trying to do.
Help make health and fitness easy and accessible to them
Next time you’re invited over for dinner, offer to bring a big salad or veggie dish, or make a healthy dessert. Only stock healthy food in the house, and if you do get coerced into buying treats, choose healthy alternatives. Invite them on outings where you have to move around. Offer to take them to try a new fitness class. There are lots of things you can to do bring fitness and health to them that don’t involve forcing them into a gym membership or signing them up for a juice cleanse (please don’t ever do that).
Anything you would add to this list?
Do you have a loved one set in their ways that you’re trying to inspire?
Have you inspired someone to make a healthy change?
What was your experience?