How to Help a Loved One Meet Their Health Goals
Making healthy dietary and lifestyle changes can come with a lot of challenges along the way, which is why so many people fail to reach and maintain their health and fitness goals. Why do many people fail while others succeed? The answer may lie, at least in part, with the company we keep. New studies show that having a support system to lean on is a major determinant in our ability to stay on track and achieve our health goals.
When you have someone, or a group of people, to help hold you accountable, you will be more likely to stick to your healthy eating and fitness plan. If you have a loved one who is trying to be healthier, one of the kindest things you can do for them is to show them some support, but that means more than just offering an “attaboy” (or “attagirl”) from time to time. Here are eight ways to support a loved one who is trying to be healthier… which often results in our pushing ourselves to be healthier as well!
Top Ways to Support a Loved One Who is Trying to be Healthier
#1 Meet Them Where They Are
No matter where your loved one is in their health journey, meet them where they are now. Instead of telling them what they should be doing, or all the things they are doing wrong, start by asking them why they want to get healthy, and encouraging them right where they are. This is a great starting point to better understand their goals and how you can best help them.
#2 Help Them Set & Achieve Goals (then set the next goal)
Goals are key for any of us getting started on a health journey. The best way to set a goal is to connect the actual goal to an outcome. For example, if your loved one wants to lose 20 pounds, ask them how they can connect this to what the outcome of weight loss would mean for them. Would it mean that they may be able to keep up with their kids or grandkids? Or maybe it means they would be able to improve their endurance while working out. Setting goals and actually thinking about what achieving those goals would mean for your loved one is a great way to show support. From there, just break down the major goals to smaller ones on the calendar, and hold them accountable.
#3 Ask Them How You Can Help
Often we think that we know what our loved ones need from us, but sometimes it’s better to ask questions and listen before taking action. Ask what they need from you, and what exactly you can do to help. Maybe they could use a weekly workout partner, or someone to hold them accountable on some aspect of their diet or exercise program, or maybe they just need someone to help them not beat themselves up. You may be surprised to find that what they actually need for support is not at all what you thought.
#4 Set a Meal Prep Day
One of the hardest parts of making healthy lifestyle changes is finding the time necessary to do so. But often, a lot of time can be saved with a little preparation. One of the best ways to show support is to ask your loved one if you can help out with meal prep. Ask what day works best for them, and then show up and meal prep together. Not only will this help things go more smoothly, it can also be a fun bonding time for you as well. Sunday afternoons work great for a lot of people, as they prepare for the week to come.
#5 Acknowledge Their Achievements
Very often, people get so focused on their fitness goals that they become our own worst critics. This is where a supportive loved one comes in. Acknowledging their achievements brings joy and satisfaction to the process. Let them know that you see the changes that they have made. It may be exactly what they need to hear to keep pushing forward.
#6 Don’t Mother Them
Remember, your role is to support your loved one, not to mother them. There’s a difference between being supportive and being the exercise and diet drill sergeant. While it’s okay to offer a gentle push when needed, try not to reprimand your loved ones, or make them feel bad about any bumps in the road that are likely to come along. If your loved one falls off the bandwagon, help them up by offering support and encouragement that they can get right back where they left off. But don’t make excuses for them either. Balance is key!
#7 Check in Often
Remember to check in often. Even a quick phone call or text asking how they are doing and how you can support them better can make a huge difference. If you live far away but want to work out together, why not do a video call and do an online fitness class together? Not only are you showing support, but you are doing something healthy for yourself at the same time. It’s a win, win.
#8 Don’t be a Hindrance to Them!
Sometimes when a friend or loved one has specific health goals that are different than ours, it can seem like an inconvenience. It makes planning get-togethers more difficult, or you may be tempted to make a spur-of-the-moment decision like ordering pizza that you know would cause a setback for your loved one. Be selfless enough to help them by doing healthy things when you’re together, even if you don’t share the same goals.
We’re All in it Together
Making healthy dietary and lifestyle changes can come with setbacks and difficulties, and it can be hard to navigate it alone. We all want our friends and loved ones to be healthy, so offering support to any loved one who is trying to be healthier is such an amazing way to show your love and show that you care.
Everyone is different but it’s typically less challenging when we don’t have to go it alone. Be that agent of change for your loved ones, and help them be successful in getting healthier. Better yet, join them on their journey to better health and watch your health change for the better at the same time.