Who hasn’t been here: determined to finally make big changes that deepen your commitment to a healthy lifestyle, then suddenly friends, co-workers, or family members start to question you? When you decide to make improvements with the way you eat, move your body, or talk to yourself, the people in your life don’t always know how to react.
They might feel frightened or rejected.
They might feel defensive.
They might just miss their partner in [culinary] crime.
Then you feel bad, even guilty, for your good intentions. It may even seem like life was easier before you started eating better. When your roommate whips out a big bowl of movie theater popcorn or your significant other pops open a bottle of your favorite red wine, it can be hard to stick to your resolve.
But instead of feeling pulled down a one-way street towards sabotage, it is possible to live an intentional, healthy life and include the people you love. Even better: you might get them to join you.
Enthusiasm and inspiration are contagious – just as being “naughty” or breaking the rules is so much more fun with a partner. Here are some of my favorite ways to engage your loved ones so that they come along for the healthy ride with you.
Show, Don’t Tell
When you discover the healing properties of turmeric, it’s tempting to tell everyone, but your 10-year-old probably doesn’t care. (Your Uber driver is probably not interested, either.) More effective is simply living your life as a happy, fit, energetic human who happens to drink turmeric lattes after dinner every night.
When you feel great, people notice and naturally want to know what you’re doing that they’re not. If they ask, then you can reveal the details of your love affair with turmeric added to smoothies, turmeric roasted veggies, and turmeric-spiced quinoa.
Having changes foisted upon us can feel overwhelming – especially to children. Instead of instituting rules, give your kids a voice. Replace “three vegetables a day, every day” and ask each child to choose one vegetable (and a fruit!) every time you go shopping. Then, invite them to whip up a fun dish with you in the kitchen. During dinner, they can tell everyone about their creation (and you’ll both likely learn to prepare things you’ve never made before).
Encourage your partner to choose a new recipe from a plant-based cookbook, then get cooking together. Invite your best friend to meet you at the farmer’s market. Take walks with co-workers during your lunch hour.
Provide [a Lot of] Healthy Choices
I’m the person who brings kale salad to potlucks or gorgeous macaroons colored naturally with beets to a dinner party. I roll out trays of grilled vegetables whenever I entertain. I make grain-free brownies and refined sugar-free protein bars that taste like fudge for the lacrosse team. (Shhh. Don’t tell them!)
So when my friends want to catch up, I suggest a walk on the trail instead of cocktails. A few subtle options, offered with a smile, can go a long way towards getting others excited about your new, healthy choices.
Lead with Enthusiasm
When you make exciting changes to your life and begin reaching your health goals, you feel amazing. Channel that infectious energy and confidence into your interactions. When your co-workers tease you about the superfood toppings on your green smoothies, smile and explain that they make you feel great.
If your roommate rolls her eyes at your cauliflower fried rice with kale, laugh and mention how much more energy you feel these days. It’s next to impossible to argue with a confident, happy person who’s obviously cooking, moving, and living in a way that works.
Listen, I’ve been there. I’ve spent the last 20+ years trying to get my two sons (and husband!) onto my Healthy Lifestyle Bandwagon. And it has been a long process. There were plenty of complaints about too many Brussels sprouts or not enough “white” pasta…plus lots and lots of “Oh, mom! You’re so annoying,” eye rolls.
But a few months ago, I sent my younger son off to college. He went armed with his own blender to whip up superfood smoothies. Now, when he comes home, he begs me to make “lots of veggies”, and in between visits, he requests (and I oblige with a smile!) batches of homemade bars and energy balls so he doesn’t have to rely on packaged foods to sustain him between meals. (This mama is proud.)
My husband? For a guy with a meat-and-potatoes upbringing, he’s surprisingly content with simpler dinners now that the boys are gone. Immunity soup and an arugula salad have become his meal of choice – as long as a fresh out of the oven [healthy] chocolate chip cookie is involved, which I’m happy to bake and share.
Remember, enthusiasm is always contagious – so don’t be afraid to spread yours! Show your friends and family how passionate you are about your new eating and living habits, and they will naturally be inspired to do the same.
There’s nothing more empowering than feeling like a part of a community when improving your health and happiness. Everybody WINS when we’re in it together!
Now, it’s your turn: A healthy lifestyle tastes and feels way better when friends and family join in on the fun! So, I’m challenging you to take action and encourage the special people in your life to jump on board. Share your plan (or your success stories!) in the comments.
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