We all know any fitness journey means incorporating some form of exercise into your week and modifying your diet in some way, shape, or form. This is true whether you are trying to lose fat or build muscle.
What most don’t consider is that a successful fitness journey isn’t all counting reps and macros. Several external factors can contribute to how well you do. Today I’d like to talk about one of these factors: your friends and family.
Peer Pressure Isn’t Just For Kids.
One of the more challenging parts of my journey was at the very beginning. In case you didn’t know, I used to be a beer sales rep. As you can imagine, the job comes with drinking often and eating out at restaurants just as much.
When I decided I wanted to get healthier, it meant cutting way back on beer and burgers (my go-to lunch when I was visiting accounts). This was tough, but not for the reasons you might think.
The craft beer community prides itself on supporting one another. If I was doing a bar event, I could always count on fellow beer reps from other breweries to show up and vice versa. The camaraderie was nice, but what followed at the start of my fitness journey wasn’t.
It didn’t take long for people to notice I wasn’t drinking as much. When you’re the only beer rep at the bar with water and a salad, heads begin to turn. Instead of being forthright and honest about wanting to take control of my health, I lied constantly. I would tell people that I had a lot of driving to do and couldn’t drink much or that I had gotten a poor night’s sleep and didn’t want the booze to affect me even more.
I got all sorts of comments.
“Whaaaat?! You’re really done drinking? You’ve only had one beer…don’t be lame!”
“We’re beer reps…we’re supposed to have big beards and bigger bellies.”
“C’monnnnn. One more beer won’t hurt you.”
The peer pressure to drink more was coming at me from all angles. The truth of it all was that I was lying to everyone because I was afraid I wouldn’t be looked at as a “cool” beer rep anymore. I know now how ridiculous that is, but I didn’t want to be ostracized back then.
Even if my fellow beer friends were joking, it didn’t matter. Those kinds of comments made me feel bad and nearly got to me more than a few times (I’m happy to say I never gave up on my journey, but also probably caved to the peer pressure every now and then).
If I didn’t have a strong will and desire to see my fitness journey through, having those comments thrown at me could’ve easily stopped me dead in my tracks. I know how arduous a fitness journey is in and of itself. To not have the full support of everyone around you makes it even harder.
Family Matters, Too
It’s not just friends either. There are plenty of family members who make backhanded comments, too. How often have you visited a family member you haven’t seen in a while only to hear comments like:
“You look like you’re sick! You need to start eating more!”
“I think you looked better with a little more meat on your bones.”
“So what? All you do now is exercise and eat healthy? You’ve become boring.”
There is a myriad of variations of those comments. The worst part is most of the time the family member in question doesn’t think they’re in the wrong. They think they’re being helpful or cute without realizing what they’re saying is actually a slap in the face to your hard work.
Hearing unsupportive phrases like the ones above from those you love can at best be hurtful and at worst, mess with your head and ultimately your journey. Having loved ones negatively criticize the hard work you put in over and over again may very well lead you to quit.
How To Deal With Negative Comments
If you’ve ever been on a path to better your health and have dealt with comments like this, you know how hard it can be to have a retort to the kinds of comments mentioned above. You certainly don’t want to start any fights, but you also know how hurtful these phrases are. So what can you do when these situations arise?
First, remember that you don’t owe anything to anyone. It’s your body and you and only you get to decide what you do with it.
It doesn’t matter if someone doesn’t like that you now go to the gym 3-5x per week. It doesn’t matter if someone thinks you need to eat 4 servings of mac & cheese because you’re “too thin.” It doesn’t matter if someone wants you to drink that extra beer or wine. Only you get to choose what you do with your body and what you put into it.
Not only that, but you don’t have to give any kind of explanation. The word “no” is a complete sentence. If you want to launch into the details of why you’re now going to the gym and eating healthier by all means talk away. But if you’re offered food & drink you don’t want, you have every right to turn it down. Don’t let food pushers derail the hard work you’re putting in. I can promise they’ll try hard, too.
One of the major things to remember is that when you receive comments like this, it’s because of THEIR insecurities. They don’t want to feel like they’re getting left behind while you’re putting in the time and effort to improve yourself. There’s a famous quote that says, “Everyone wants to see you do well, but never better than themselves” and that rings just as true for things like careers as it does health.
Here are a few more actionable items to help you find a more supportive cast to keep around:
At the end of the day stay strong, stick to your guns and what YOU want, and don’t let anyone else dictate otherwise. With a supportive cast around you, I promise achieving your goals will be THAT much easier.
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