Friends, family, and your significant other aren’t super keen on your newfound healthy eating habits and going to the gym frequently. What do you do? In this article, we’re going to dig into why people may not support you, how to address and deal with those who don’t encourage you, and how to maintain relationships with unsupportive people.
By Sue Bush
When I first started my own fitness journey, I began and started over so many times. Summer after summer, year after year, I kept saying, “Next year will be the year.”
I would try implementing different habit changes and workouts for a few weeks, only to fall right back off the wagon. People in my life didn’t know me as someone who made nutrition and training a priority.
So, when I finally made these changes for good, I dove in and went ALL in, balls to the wall tracking my food and going to the gym consistently. I was tired of failing, saying I would do it and not follow through, and making promises to myself that I wasn’t keeping. After the first year or two of being consistent, I did my first bikini competition (which I don’t really recommend, but that’s another topic for another day), and the rest is history from there.
I was expecting everyone in my life to know that this was the new “me” and this was the way I was going to live my life. People weren’t necessarily unsupportive, but they didn’t know that it was permanent or how important it was to me.
Maybe you’ve been in a similar situation, or you’ve recently decided to eat healthier and hit the gym more, and the people around you were flat out NOT supportive of it at all. Either way, it can be a source of stress and frustration when you don’t have that kind of backup from the people you love.
Why Does Your Support System Matter?
In our onboarding document for new Physique Development clients, we ask you how supportive the people are around you regarding your fitness journey. Sometimes we hear that everyone is supportive and along for the ride, while others say they’re supportive but don’t understand, and others don’t have support at all.
It is super difficult to go through your fitness journey without support, especially when accountability is a struggle. If no one in your life is supportive, it makes accountability even harder – even when you have a coach. They might tell you it’s okay to skip the gym, blow off your macros, whatever it may be, which means you aren’t getting closer to your goals.
Why don’t they support your fitness goals?
There are a few different reasons why someone might not support you. I want to talk about this to understand it from their point of view, which is important if you want them to understand yours.
- They need to know about your new goals and that these lifestyle changes are here to stay.
You commit to focusing on your training and nutrition, and you do it by yourself for a while, but you never fill anyone in on what our goals are. One of the reasons someone might not support you is because they just don’t understand that it’s important to you or that these changes are permanent. If they’ve known a past version of you not prioritizing your health to now caring about it a lot is a stark difference – don’t just assume they know and understand without telling them. They might be more supportive than you think!
- They haven’t been able to bring themselves to make the same kind of changes.
The people in your life might have certain obstacles that keep them from changing and chasing health and fitness goals the way you are – or they’re holding themselves back. It can be hard to watch someone else succeed, and it could actually bring up jealousy or frustration, and then they, in turn, act unsupportive. Now, this isn’t always the case, but it’s possible. In this case, the unsupportive behavior isn’t really about you. Shame, insecurity, can get in the way of them supporting you, and if that’s the case, the negative comments shouldn’t be taken personally.
- They have a history of being negatively affected by someone in their life who made health-centric changes in the past.
Maybe they had a friend or family member in the past who stopped hanging out with them after pursuing a healthier lifestyle or a major fitness goal. The resentment or disappointment could still be lingering, and they are now worried that the same thing will happen with you. You don’t know someone’s past experience.
- They may believe you’re becoming selfish or obsessive with your healthy lifestyle.
This would be a legitimate concern if that is the case, so make sure you are staying aware of your own behavior and don’t get defensive when someone in your life approaches you out of love with concern. However, they may just have a hard time coming to terms with what your new lifestyle looks like and how they fit into the picture.
What To Do When You Encounter Unsupportive People
HAVE A CONVERSATION
If you couldn’t tell, all of the situations above likely warrant a 1-on-1 conversation with your loved one or loved ones who aren’t supportive. You’re embarking on this healthy lifestyle because you WANT to. You want to get healthier, fitter, stronger, a better version of yourself, feel better, help with a specific health condition – whatever the reason, your loved ones need to understand that.
If you feel like someone is pressuring you to veer away from your goals or not respecting them, you can tell them why you’re making these changes. They may just need some extra help to get on board!
Here’s a script you can borrow and modify when starting this conversation:
“I know you’ve known a different version of me for a long time, and I am still me at the core of it, but I have things in my life that have been weighing on me and not making me feel good. This is a step in the direction of caring for myself. My health matters, and I would love for your support with that.”
BE OPEN WITH YOUR HEALTH & FITNESS JOURNEY.
Your friends and family might feel unneeded or not a part of your life now that you’ve decided to make significant changes with your eating habits and to go to the gym. They may even feel like you think that you’re better than them and look down on their choices while you’re achieving or focusing on your fitness. Or, they could feel hurt because you don’t always want to do the same things that you did with them before – eating out often, drinking, staying up late, etc.
Vocalize to them that they are still an important part of your life, and they have space in your life despite your changes. You can offer alternatives and redefine what hanging out might look like so that they know you aren’t abandoning them entirely.
Still Not Getting The Support You Need?
You’ve done the above steps and tried your best to get the support you want and hope for from friends, family, or your spouse/significant other. But they still haven’t changed their unsupportive ways.
What do you do?
First, know that it is NOT your job to continuously try to get them on board or make them happy. I’m not a fan of the “ditch everyone who doesn’t support you 100%” attitude – it might take a while for them to come around.
However, don’t push the envelope if you’ve genuinely made an effort to help them understand. At that point, you need to decide what’s best for you. If you’re focusing on your health and what’s best for you without going to extremes and still making time for the people you love, keep doing what you’re doing. People who actually care about you will likely meet you in the middle and do their part to keep you in their life regardless of what your goals are (just don’t be that person who talks fitness all day, every day when that’s not their thing!).
Some extra quick tips:
- You can always find people who have similar goals at your gym or through social media! Connect with those on a similar path and build the support system you need.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for support when you need it. We all need it, but sometimes the people around us don’t know how to support us or that we need them at all. Speak up!
Have you struggled with finding supportive people or dealing with unsupportive friends, family, or your significant other? Share with us in the comments!
And be sure to listen to the full Physique Development Podcast episode on this topic here!