When you embark on changing your habits to live a healthier lifestyle, your success depends on having a support system. The strength and support of your relationships with your family and friends will be tested throughout your entire lifestyle change journey. One day they may be cheering you on and the next, begging you to hit a bar and chug a beer or two. More often than not, your decision to do things differently to change your life may make someone close to you feel as if they are in some way lacking because they aren’t doing the same. This ebb and flow of emotions can take its toll on your mentality and motivation. So, how do you take care of your health and maintain your relationships with others? Here are 3 lessons you need to consider when taking a huge step at losing weight, given the personal relationships you share with others. 

Lesson 1: You Cannot Make Everyone Happy

Most of your coworkers and aunts mean no harm when they say, “just try a spoonful” of their four-cheese macaroni. However, they have no idea the mind games you play with yourself a hundred times over once the taste hits your tongue. The next thing you know, you are having an all-out “choice tug-of-war” in your mind to decide, “Should I indulge in something I’ve been craving or stick to the script?” When this mental game of gymnastics could have been avoided if you were upfront about your feelings and just said, “No.”

Here is a tip specifically for women. As women, oftentimes, we turn into people-pleasers. We think about another person’s feelings, while our feelings get shoved into two slices of pound cake we had no intention of eating at Aunt Becky’s and Uncle Dave’s 25th-anniversary party. While on the journey to weight loss, please remember when you decide to go against the grain of some of your family and friends, you won’t be able to please everyone. You have to be ready to support your journey to anyone who questions it and strong enough to turn down their offers in order to move forward.  When declining food, let family and friends know that you love their food; however, today you feel like changing up what you regularly eat.  This is your life, your body and your health. It is time you speak proudly about what you will and will not do.

Lesson 2: Tell the Pushers Where You Stand!

I know plenty of people who have no problem telling family members “no” when they offer certain foods that will derail their health-conscious efforts. But what about those friends who don’t take “no” for an answer? The friends who always push and push you to indulge, saying things like, “This one piece of fried chicken won’t hurt you” or “you already look good, stop worrying about your weight and try this sweet potato cheesecake.” Though most pushers have a ton of love for you; they often want everyone to dance to their same rhythm. Going against a status quo, oftentimes, causes pushers to feel something is wrong with their lifestyle and they feel their way is the “correct way” on how other people should live life.  

Communication will take you far when dealing with people who constantly try to force their way of eating and drinking onto you. The best approach with this type of family member or friend is for you to verbally ask for their support. The conversation should be discussed verbally and one-on-one, because they need to hear the urgency in your voice on how you are desperately seeking their support on this journey because you want to improve your life; and you need them on board. Reiterate to them, “When I say, no to a second helping of food, I need you to not say to me, ‘I’ll just give you a smaller helping.” 

Explain to them that you love them and your change in eating is not an attack on them, but an attempt to help me feel better about myself. If they have difficulty understanding your viewpoint after you’ve been so direct and detailed about something of importance to you, you need to lessen your social time around them. Speaking as one who was previously obese, losing weight is a challenge and you want to draw support and inspiration from all angles. If your friends or family are not on board to back your weight loss efforts, then scale back from being around them socially and/or at meal times.

Lesson 3: Migrate to People Who Are on The Journey  

One of the less taxing ways to stay consistent on your journey towards losing weight is to reduce time spent with incompatible people and increase time with individuals who are on a similar path. Let’s be honest, it’s already difficult enough to improve your relationship with food by yourself given all the emotions, cravings and temptations food can take you through just within 24 hours. Adding a few pushy friends to the mix as well puts your willpower in a lackluster position for a permanent change to the body. 

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn’s quote, “You are the average of the people you spend the most time with,” rings emphatically when it comes to positive movement when on a weight loss journey. Part of the solution to staying consistent along your path to success involves replacing bad habits with better habits. You have an increased chance of gaining (and sustaining) successfully healthy habits when you get reconnected with like-minded associates and friends.  

Likewise, unfollow people on social media who aren’t on the same page as you. The weight loss game is merely the sum of the choices you make daily for many days and months. You want to be influenced to continually make the best decision possible to achieve success. We want all of the people (celebrities, family members and influencers) we follow, including the pop-ups on the sides of our social media pages to be images of foods, activities, and stories, that will have a favorable impact on our journey. The removal of these images from your mind are profound, as repeated pictures of unhealthy foods options and an unwavering spirit of negative energy could thwart your efforts in believing you have what it takes to be successful. Be willing to unfollow posts of family members, friends, and people on social media you follow who are headed in the opposite direction you intend to walk.  

Some people will have a difficult time seeing your progress, physically and will feel that you have “left them,” because they are used to seeing you a certain way. When you know you’ve taken extra caution about your health and have decided to be diligent in making choices that will help you to take better care of yourself, it will become necessary to remind your friends and family that change doesn’t mean you’ve left them. For you to be a better friend and better relative to them, while still liking who you are, you need to take better care of yourself. Your character and friendship should not be wrapped up in your looks, so don’t hesitate to communicate to them you are always there as a family member and/or a friend to them and that you also need their support. True friends will always be rooting for you for any goal you wish to achieve in life.  Ask your ride-or-die family friends to support you on how you can be healthy and happy and maintain this feeling for as long as possible.