Monday, June 23, 2014

Guest Post: Inspiring Friends and Family to Get Healthy

Every once in a while, someone important to me raves about something they read on Daily Dose. Whether it's a recipe, product or workout, I find joy in these moments. Not because it means that someone is reading what I write, rather, because it means that someone is finding inspiration or learning something from what I write. And that, in a nutshell, is why I keep Daily Dose alive. To inspire, educate and entertain people with healthy tips, tricks and more. 

It's a hard journey, the whole healthy living thing, and it's one that we all have to take on our own. Push it on someone, and you'll inevitably hit roadblocks. As much as we want our friends and family to embrace the healthy lifestyle we've chosen for ourselves, we can't force them. But we can encourage and inspire them. I'll let Coco tell you more:

Hey, there! I'm Coco, and I blog at Running With Perseverance. You also can find me on Twitter and Instagram as @Got2Run4Me. I'm so grateful to Tara for the opportunity to guest post over here today, and I hope you enjoy my thoughts on how we can inspire our friends and family members to get healthy.

If you didn't know me 15 years ago, you might think I was one of those people who was always fit. But until I had graduated from college, gotten married, had two kids, and graduated from law school, just the opposite was true—I had been overweight all my life. It was an honest (and scary!) lecture from my doctor that finally got me started on my journey to healthy living, and now there is no looking back. I have friends who knew me way-back-when, and while some have been inspired by the changes I made to start making healthier choices in their own lives, it is frustrating to see others still stuck in their unhealthy ways. But diet, exercise, weight loss, and fitness are such personal and touchy topics. How can we encourage our friends and family members to get healthy without being annoying or coming off as condescending?

1) Set an example.
I think the first and best thing that we can do to inspire others is to set an example. When friends and family see us making healthy choices—eating healthier foods and exercising—they do notice. When they see us enjoying our lighter dishes and having fun being fit and active, they just might be willing to try a new recipe, or join us for a walk or gym class. We need to look for those windows of opportunity and be ready to act on them.

2) Tempt them with tastes of your own healthy lifestyle.
When I make a fantastic new recipe, I often share it with my friends, either by bringing them samples or leftovers, or by making it for our next potluck gathering. When they comment on how delicious it is, I offer them the recipe. It may be a while before they start making healthy dishes on their own, but when they realize how good healthy food can be, they won't be afraid to try something just because it is "low-fat" or "nutritious." It can be harder to "share" my love for fitness. Few friends who aren't runners will want to join me for a 6:00 am run! But inviting a friend to meet for a walk or even a hike can be a great way to shift your socializing from the coffee shop (or wine bar) to something healthier. At least once in a while. If you belong to a gym and have a friend who expresses any interest at all, see if they can come with you as a guest. Walking into a gym on your own can be so intimidating, but going with a friend is less scary and hopefully at least a little bit fun.

3) Be a cheerleader, competitor or coach.
Once a friend or family member has started to make healthy changes, it can be important to encourage them to keep at it, especially after their initial enthusiasm wears off. How best to offer encouragement will depend on your relationship, your personalities, and their needs. Some people need a cheerleader to congratulate them for every healthy choice. Some people need an accountability partner to nudge them and check in on them. Some people need a competitor to challenge them. Some people need a coach who will do a little bit of all of these things.

4) Back off. 
It's also important to recognize when to back off. Diet, exercise, weight loss, and fitness are very personal, and your friends and family may not be ready to make the changes that you would like to see them make, may encounter hurdles they aren't ready to overcome, or just may have different priorities at the moment. If they know that you care for them no matter what they eat, what they (don't) do, or what they weigh, they will know that you are someone they can turn to when they are ready to start taking better care of themselves.

Question: How have you inspired others to get healthy? What are the biggest challenges you've encountered?


Pua RF said...

Tough choice! I think the foot notes are cute. :-)

Holly S. said...

Be Open...on either one!

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