The other day, I was on my weekly call with one of my clients and she had just experienced a lunch outing that I was very familiar with.
Now, my client has made a lot of progress over the course of the last 6-12 months. Having turned 40, something has been sparked inside her and she has been in hot pursuit of her health and her life! She has lost over 27 lbs and has sparked a passion for strength training and fitness that she has never felt before! In fact, 2 months ago, she hired me to help her achieve a big dream of possibly doing a Bikini Competition or a Fitness Photoshoot.
In other words, she has just pushed the “GO” button on pursuing a dream that is out of her comfort zone! It’s big, bold and audacious, and she is doing it a SMART way by hiring someone like me to make sure she is staying balanced, level-headed and doesn’t lose herself in a quest for a fit body. We have seen incredible progress so far! She’s a shining example!
However, with such audacious goals she and I both know that she has to be very consistent and mindful of her nutrition. In any Fat Loss effort, your NUTRITION is ~75% of the solution! She already trains about 4x/week and works out HARD, but if her nutrition is not on point, there is little hope that her metabolism will spark up enough to continue to lose enough body fat to reach her goals.
Well, this week she experienced an outing with some of her coworkers that I have experienced dozens of times before—what I’ll call the “Girls Who Lunch Conundrum.”
They all went to the standard restaurant chain, ordered a fried appetizer, sandwiches and fries, and I’m guessing diet sodas too. My client declined on eating the appetizer and ordered a chicken salad with dressing on the side. I am so proud!
Well, as you can imagine that she got quite of bit of slack for being the “only healthy one” at the table. They made jokes and little snippy comments and really bummed her out. I’ll call this reaction the “naysayer” reaction.
She came to me on our call feeling a little defeated. She said, “I’m just trying to be healthy for myself and they try to make me feel guilty about it. I’m not judging them for their food choices at all, I’m just not choosing not to eat them. I don’t see why they are judging me for my food choices.”
You can imagine how she feels right?! I mean, haven’t we all been there? I know that I have felt this exact same way with not only acquaintance type of friends (the coworker variety) but also with some of my closest friends, and family members. This is exactly what I discussed on my 5-Part Series called WINE NOT?! too. The social implications of being healthy can be the hardest!
Being healthy can sometimes make you feel like you are on an island all alone. Not only are you battling the urge blow off your new healthy food and exercise habits, but you are now also battling some of your closest friends and family who are not exactly supporting you!
What I learned over the years of being the “healthy one” at the restaurant has allowed a shift in perspective and spiritual awareness that has made a monumental difference in how I handle the snippy little comments from people or simply any friend or family member that just doesn’t “get it” with regards to my health choices.
I shared these lessons with my client on our call and I am sharing them with you today too!
4 Ways to Handle Your Unsupportive Friends:
1. You can Empathize with Their Defensiveness:
Before you started to make all these tough health choices for yourself, you knew just what it was like to be in their shoes. You can remember all those times that you used food as a coping mechanism for your own stress and can empathize with the fact that they are feeling insecure and defeated by their own choices.
In the situation for my client, all of her coworkers were professional women that had small children at home. So they worked all day and had families to care for at night and all had some weight to lose. I reminded her how they must be feeling on the inside. Their stress is likely so high that they saw the fried appetizer and the sandwich and french fries as their best solution to cope with that stress. They see their food choices as their “reward” for their hard work. All too common and we can all relate.
Now mind you, they are wrong. Those food choices are actually making their stress worse in many ways because they are getting way too much fat (especially trans fats) and not nearly enough nutrients which would help their bodies physically deal with the cortisol and adrenaline (e.g. the stress hormones) much better.
But I simply reminded my client that they just haven’t learned that lesson for themselves yet. She is lucky that she has!
The same goes for all of us. If we can detach from our reactions for a beat and simply take the perspective of their journey and understand that their reaction is not about you at all, but rather is a symptom of their own struggle, then you are able to detach and move on.
“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.”- Wayne Dyer
Empathy takes away their power and ability to change you. Empathy gives you a stronger mindset that will stop the event from festering in your mind and consume any part of your energy. Empathy allows you to move on unfazed.
2. You Can Realize that God Didn’t Design You to be Defensive Either:
This one is a big one and a more challenging one to grasp but really important. It is all too easy to use someone’s defensive behavior as an excuse to react defensively ourselves.
We all do it:
Someone criticizes you and in return you criticize them.
Someone questions your actions or beliefs and you immediately want to question their actions and beliefs right back.
We must all realize that this is our own sin that will not serve us or our Greater Purpose.
I was reminded in a book I read recently called “Good News for Those Trying Harder,” by Pastor Alan Kraft that some of the most overlooked sins in our lives are the following:
- Shifting Blame
- Deceiving Others
The author challenged me to try to go 1-week without doing any of the above.
…I lasted about 20-minutes. Ha!
So often, we think just because we are doing something good for ourselves that we now have the right to judge others for not catching on with us yet.
This is called being “Self Righteous.”
To me, this is the number one sin that many Christian people have today. That we can get caught up thinking just because we are “Christian” that we are some how “better than” or “above” everyone else. We don’t realize that this very thinking is a sin itself!
Now, I could clearly get into a theological tangent here, but I won’t.
Suffice it to say, all of us must hold ourselves accountable for our reactions and stop worrying about theirs.
If we want them to stop being defensive with us, we first just learn to not react defensively either.
If we want them to support us, we better be sure that we are already supporting them!
God did not design us to react this way and we must recognize our own sin and focus on bettering ourselves first!
“Let ye among you without sin be the first do condemn.”
3. You Can Give More Love Because You Have Love:
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in life is very few relationships are actually 50/50.
If you find yourself being the one that always seems to give more effort in your relationships, this can often harbor feelings of resentment within you.
But for those that find the courage and ability to SURREND’her your life up to God, means that you can experience a fulfillment of love on unprecedented levels.
By opening up your soul to the love of God to fill you up causes a massive shift in all of your relationships.
You realize, you depend less on other people’s love, affirmation and validation because you have more than enough of all of that from God.
This is also the case for our friends and family that don’t understand or criticize our health and behavior.
We can love them back, even in their criticism, because we have enough love to give. We don’t have to depend on their praise or affirmation. We have all we need from God.
4. You can be a Student and a Teacher:
I have come to understand that my friends, family members and acquaintances in my life come to me with a purpose—-I can both learn and teach!
Be A Student: By opening yourself up to the empathy and understanding from lesson #1 you learn so much! This creates a better version of you! Always strive to gain wisdom and understanding in this world and realize these circumstances and people are the tools that will give you that.
Be a Teacher: Now this is not to say that you need to tell all your friends exactly what they need to be doing. Umm….no! That will probably get the opposite reaction than the one you hope for!
Instead, you teach them by doing.
So whether my client or her coworkers realized it right then too, she was serving as a valuable teacher for them. She showed them that it is possible to stare something like fried asparagus in the face and not eat it. It is possible to order healthy foods at typically unhealthy places. It is possible to create big, audacious goals and to actually stick to them and conquer them!
As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
My personal and mission for A.Wright Fit is found from Matthew 5:16. I want to “Let my Light Shine Before Others so that They May See (My) Good Deeds and Glorify my Father in Heaven.”