This is a letter to the friends of the fitness fanatic. Of the one obsessed with the gym. Of the one who has decided to make changes towards a healthier lifestyle.
It can be quite difficult adjusting to a new life. Having a friend that doesn’t do the same things she used to can be a big adjustment. But regardless of that, as her friend, it is your job to be supportive. There are many well meaning things that are said that come from a good place, but don’t help at all. You can be a huge source of encouragement or a source of negativity. Your thoughts and opinions matter more to your friend than you realize.
It can be hard to navigate what to do when it comes to being there for your friend while also missing the way things used to be. Here are a list of dos and don’ts that will help make the journey a bit smoother.
DON’T – “But you don’t need to lose weight!”
Unless you are genuinely concerned that your friend may be developing or already have an eating disorder, this statement is totally unnecessary. It demeans the work they’re doing and shows that you don’t support her goals. It is well meaning but takes way from all of the effort she’s putting forth.
DO – “You’re killing it! Holy cow you’re incredible!”
Be positive. Encourage her. Tell her you’re proud of all of the work that she’s doing. Even if you don’t understand it, this will help her so much. I have really big body goals – becoming a bodybuilder ready for the stage isn’t something my family understands. But even though they don’t get it, they encourage me. Hearing my mom tell me how proud of me she was for working so hard made me feel SO good – I’ve pushed so much harder because of it.
DON’T – “One meal won’t kill you.”
One drink. One meal. One food. One night. Don’t push her out of her goals when she has made the decision that she’s going to stick to them. Especially for someone battling food addiction, this could entirely derail her. By trying to push her to do things she has said she won’t just to make you comfortable doesn’t make you a good friend – it makes you the friend that she can’t trust. It doesn’t seem like much to you, but it will teach her that she won’t stick to her goals with you, so she’ll either avoid you or throw away her goals entirely. Don’t be that friend.
DO – “Instead of going out this weekend, I thought we could cook dinner at my house. Wana teach me a thing or two?”
This tells her that you still care about your relationship and also care about what she’s trying to do. Being friends with someone trying to change their life doesn’t mean that all fun goes out the window. It just means that some things may change, but in a good way. You don’t need to completely change your life to match hers, but you can make room for what she enjoys.
DON’T – “All you do is workout. You’re not fun anymore.”
I hear this all of the time to friends of mine who are working towards big body goals. This is such an unfair, selfish thing to say. What you mean is, “You’re doing the things I don’t want to do and making yourself a priority. I don’t like it, so it’s not fun for me.” Chances are she already feels guilty about the amount of time she’s spending in the gym and in the kitchen. You don’t need to make it worse.
DO – “I’ve been curious about the workouts you do – can we go to the gym together some time this week so you can show me some stuff?”
I have been blessed with an amazing friend who did exactly this. It felt so good to not only have her support but also that she wanted to know more about what I do. We were able to spend time together while she entered my world. Giving advice and sharing what she’s learned will help her to get closer to her goals and also get closer to you. Heck, you may find that it’s even more enjoyable than you thought. But if it’s not, you made an effort to get involved with what she’s passionate about and that will mean more to her than you could ever know.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but these are simple things that you can do to help make her life so much easier. Showing her your support is the most important thing. You don’t need to do everything she does, but include her and ask to be included. You have no idea how much this will help.
Are you the fitness fanatic that struggles keeping friendships while slaying your goals? For the friends – how have you helped your fitness friends keep to their goals?