I can’t imagine starting my journey to health with no support. When I started my own journey I was 208 pounds. Throughout the most impactful part of my journey I leaned on and relied on the help of my husband Alex to support, guide, teach and hold me accountable. His support is still one of the things I credit largely to my success.
A proper support network is what helps to keep you accountable, motivate you and support your efforts. It is possible to succeed otherwise but the road is much tougher and longer (typically).
I want to share with you some key ways that you can start to build your support network and for those of you who have ‘challenging’ surroundings, my hope is to show you how to better manage your network to support your goals. We ALL have family who are not always on board with our goals, choices or lifestyle habits. The key is to get them to be respectful of your journey while you are equally as respectful of theirs.
Ultimately, no surrounding or network will ever be perfect. The foundational component is to maintain the WILL to succeed within yourself. If your ability to succeed lies only in who you are surrounded by, more often than not you will fail. The desire has to come from within.
Typically, most people fit into one of two groups:
You either have a pretty steady awesome kick butt support group surrounding you when you start OR you do not.
You may have people who love you, care about you and want to see you happy (family, spouse etc.) but still unknowingly present roadblocks and difficulties when it comes to helping you reach your goals. They sometimes are well meaning (other times, not) but overall, they are your family. You can’t just get rid of your family, friends and children because they aren’t fully on board with your desires. However, (pay attention here) you CAN kindly ask that they respect your desires and goals enough to not press their way of living onto you. Make sense?
Let me give a little example: I have seen COUNTLESS times in my history as a Health Professional where a husband or a wife will start training. They will express a desire that their spouse join but the spouse usually doesn’t want any of it in the beginning. The person participating in our program feels frustrated that their spouse or family isn’t on board with wanting to be healthy too. THIS is where you face a crucially important choice.
Do you allow your spouse or family to win by giving up and saying ‘it’s too hard’ or do you sit them down and explain that your goals and your health are valuable to you and you don’t expect them to do it but you do expect their support?
The whole concept is that your mind is made up with or without them to be healthy but you must all come to a mutual understanding that you will respect each others positions in the matter.
Your job (listen,now) is not to force feed or brow beat your family or network into wanting the same things you do. Your job is to get them to understand your goals, position and your stance so that at the very least they remain respectful of your journey and do not become a hinderance to it.
If you are in this rather challenging group here are some things you can do to help better manage your support network as well as to strategically build an extra layer of support:
- Have the tough conversations. Most communication problems arise from not communicating at all! Have the conversation with your family, spouse, children and other networks and be sure to make your goals, objectives and purpose to them clear. Also communicate (patiently) that you are not forcing change on them but you are asking for their support as YOU make changes for yourself.
- Do not get overwhelmed. It is SO easy to allow frustration, anger and resentment to overtake us when in fact, it is our diligent pursuance of goals, patience with those we love and support of our family that will cause them to want to make a change themselves. When you do not allow yourself to get overwhelmed by the ‘big picture’ and you chew off bite size pieces, you allow yourself room to succeed.
- Strategically build an extra layer. This is crucial. While you can help to better manage your close family and friends to better understand your goals, you still need support of likeminded individuals. Perhaps consider adding the surroundings of friends, forums, various social media networks or a ‘buddy’ to help hold you accountable. For example, this is the role that A+A Wellness plays for many of our clients. We have fun, challenging small group sessions that encourage and help hold people accountable but the real fun happens when people make friendships outside of the gym within these groups and now they start to slowly build their extra layer. Between the Coach (yours truly) and a handful of new like minded friends, this can make ALL of the difference in the world.
- Never give up. The most important piece of all! This is called a ‘journey’ for a reason. Resolve from day one that you will not give up. You can fall, we all do. Pick yourself up and move forward. You will have to dust your knees more times than you can imagine in this journey but eventually you stop falling. Eventually your desire for health will far outweigh your old desires. The key is to simply not give up.
There is never a perfect season, day, time or circumstance to begin. There is only NOW. Some days are better than others but when you start to build up your support network *and better manage the one you have* you will eventually taste success and do not be surprised if you look behind and see your family, spouse or children close behind. People always fight what they do not understand. It is up to YOU to be the change maker and simply pave the way.