Recently, in one of my classes, we were asked to brainstorm times in our life that we have someone start a new exercise program and to share their successes or failures with our classmates. We were then asked to discuss the barriers involved with making that lifestyle change. This discussion made me think of all the times I’ve heard the people I love and care about complain about how badly they want to make a change, but never actually do anything about it.
My favorite example of this in my own life involves my own mother. A woman who today, might be even more health conscious than I am myself. It certainly wasn’t always this way though. When I was in high school my father and I were regulars at the local gym and would often invite my mom to join us. She would usually decline and say she was too busy cooking dinner or scheduling appointments for her small custom window treatment business. I hate to say it, but over the course of years of inactivity she began packing on a few extra pounds and certainly wasn’t proud of it. She was self conscious about her weight wouldn’t be caught dead in a tight pair of jeans or anything besides her favorite sweatsuit for that matter. One day, when I boldly asked her why she never accompanies us on our trips to the fitness center, she answered “I’m too fat to go to the gym.”
What an absurd thing to say, right? That’s exactly what I thought at the time. How could someone think that they were too overweight to workout? It’s a lot more common than you think. Changing a behavior can be extremely intimidating, especially when you’re doing it alone. There have been times that I refuse to try a new fitness class simply because I’m too intimidated by the regulars who I assume must already be experts. The following are some ways that you can help someone else change. They’re simple and easy and can even help improve your own health and get you trying new things! Anyone can change, they’ve just got to want to, and wanting to will be a lot easier if they’ve got your support!
1.) Start small
Taking a walk after dinner instead of watching TV or gathering at the high school track instead of a local restaurant for a meeting with friends are simple ways to start adding a little more activity into both your own life, and the life of someone else. Starting small and building up over time is actually proven to help people stick with their program!
2.) Sign up
Signing up for a fitness class or training session with someone else will make you both feel more obligated to go. Zumba all alone? I’d be pretty mad at the friend who left me hangin’!
3.) Make it a Routine
Meet at the gym after work or class, set an alarm for the time you want to leave for the gym, make a pledge to stop taking the bus or driving. Once you start working exercise into your everyday life, it will become a lot easier to do, and a lot harder to skip.
4.) Be encouraging
Reward every small accomplishment with a “great job” or “I’m impressed”. Everyone likes an compliment and they’re especially helpful for those who are working towards weight loss goals. Pointing out positive choices is also helpful. Remind them that you are supportive of their decision towards a healthier life.
5.) Reward healthfully
Instead of rewarding accomplishments with a dinner at your favorite buffet, gift yourself something that will help you work towards goal. A new balance ball or workout outfit will make you more excited to stick with the program!