How to Get Healthy When Your Family Won’t

I would argue that this is one of the hardest parts of the getting healthy journey. Whether you’re wanting to lose weight, get into bodybuilding, or just become overall healthier. It isn’t easy to do when you’re surrounded by those who either aren’t on board or who actively try to sabotage you.

The first thing I will say about this is that you can’t make someone else want to change. Trust me, I know. You can’t want something for someone more than they want it. I have quite a few people close to me that I wish would care about their health, but I went crazy trying to make them want it. And all I did was end up hurting myself and my heart in the process.

So the first thing you have to do is to stop focusing on others. I know it’s hard, especially for moms. We want desperately to help and to fix. I get that – it’s in my nature, too. But you will never get where you want to go if you’re constantly waiting for everyone to get on the train with you. You’ll just burn yourself out.

Think of it this way – before you were ready to finally make the changes, would you have wanted someone constantly in your face about it? I’m all about that tough love, but not everyone is ready for it. That isn’t to say they’ll never come around. They may not, but the best way to reach them is to lead by example.

It isn’t easy, especially when you have an unhealthy relationship with food. But this is where you have to learn some solid discipline. It will take time, but every time you resist temptation the discipline muscle will get stronger.

So how does that work exactly?

First – it’s all about mindset. You HAVE to make the decision that you not only want to make a change but that you NEED to. No one can change your life but you. I don’t mean “Oh I mean it this time” but you have the underlying thoughts that “I’ll probably cave. I’ll give in.” If those are your thoughts, you haven’t made the decision.

I understand that life happens and being prepared for it is one thing. But telling yourself that you’re going to give in before the opportunity even arises for you to is setting yourself up for failure. You need to give yourself a solid reason why you’re doing it, a reason why you’re not going to give up.

For me, it’s a multifaceted why. I have chronic pain and illness and I used to let it run my life. I told myself for years that I wanted to be a bodybuilder but I never actually acted on it. My 5 year old son has special needs and I tell him all the time that he’s capable of doing whatever he sets his mind to.

I’m done letting my diagnosis rule my life. I refuse to be limited by my body. I desperately want to reach that goal of being on the stage as a competitive bodybuilder. If I tell my son that he can reach his dreams regardless of circumstances, what example am I if I don’t go after mine?

That why is enough to make me go after my dreams full force. Your why has to be just as strong. Strong enough to withstand temptation and sabotage (either on purpose or accident).

Depending on the people that you live with, there are certain things you need to prepare for. Sometimes there are snide comments or eye rolls. As annoying as they can be, ignore them. People get very attached to their way of life and they don’t like when that way is shifted. The number one thing to remember is this – if people are 100% satisfied with their life, they won’t take the time to criticize yours. If they feel the need to attack you in anyway, that is a sign that they are feeling convicted about their own choices.

If you are the one in charge of shopping and cooking, then you’re the one in charge of what goes on the table. If this is the case, I don’t suggest drastic changes for everyone else. That isn’t to say that you cook two separate meals. But start to include a big bowl of greens for salad on the table. Hide veggies in the usual things you make and gradually increase the amount. Decrease the amount of processed foods and if possible put a glass of water by each plate.

Here’s a warning for those who have kids: do not force them to eat everything new you introduce. If they aren’t accustomed to eating clean, they’re going to fight back. Just keep giving them the option. Even if it takes three months, eventually they’re going to scoop some salad on their plate because they’re seeing you set the example.

My son is used to seeing new things show up as I’m always experimenting. He doesn’t have to eat everything I make but we do have a rule – you need to take just one bite. If he doesn’t like it from there, that’s fine. But I praise and thank him for being willing to try it. Especially for younger kids, the praise and excitement will work wonders. Every time they try something new, thank them and tell them how awesome they are for trying it. This has encouraged my son to continue to try new things.

In my house, I live with several other people who don’t eat the way that I do. I wasn’t responsible for cooking for them, but it was difficult seeing them eat pizza, fast food, and processed junk I used to love so much. This is where that discipline muscle comes in. You’ve got to remember your why. Stick to the food you bought and took the time to prepare. Your body will thank you and the craving will pass. It took my family a long time before they stopped offering me those things. That was even harder – having to say no to what were my favorites before. But my why was strong enough and I said no thank you.

It took time, but eventually they caught on that this wasn’t just a phase. At holidays and family meals, they find alternatives for me to have so I could feel included. Then even the unexpected happened – they started following my lead. They ate less processed food and junk. They started asking why and how I eat the way I do. Now that I have drastic results from the work I’m putting in, now a handful are actually changing their lives. If I wouldn’t have set the example, if I wouldn’t have been there to answer questions, it probably wouldn’t have happened.

Patience and acceptance are things I’ve always struggled with. I get very frustrated because I don’t make decisions on a whim – I’ve got the science to back it up. My bookshelf is filled with so much nutrition information I should start a library. So why won’t they listen to me? Why won’t people just look at the facts and apply those facts? But I had to have a long hard look at my own life and how long it took me to make the changes I did. It took me years of knowing before actually applying them to my life.

So learning to be patient to allow others time to grow in their journey is a major lesson that will save you a lot of frustration in the future. But the more difficult one is accepting that there are some people you really care about won’t change. They are too set in their ways and don’t care about new information. I know and love many people like this. And while it breaks my heart that their choices are negatively impacting them, I have to accept that their life is theirs – and they can do with it what they want.

Beyond that, you need to find a support system that will push you to be better and celebrate your wins. I personally choose to share my journey through Instagram. Knowing that I can inspire others and seeing all of us uplift each other helps to keep me motivated even when I want to quit. There are groups on Facebook and websites like SparkPeople.com that provide amazing support groups. I’m sure there are also people in your area that you can meet up with and call if needed.

As much as I knew I needed to start this journey on my own, I wouldn’t be able to push as hard as I do without my amazing support. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, and they don’t do the work for you. But having someone you can call when you’re having a bad day or feeling lazy can save you so much heartache down the road.

Changing your life for the better and getting healthy isn’t easy and I’m so proud of you for making the decision.

What has been your experience with unsupportive family and friends? How did you deal with it? Do you struggle with finding support? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to connect with you!

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