So you want to get fit but others don’t

A while back I was having a chat with one of my clients about how their partner wasn't really interested in getting involved with the whole fitness and health thing – especially when it came to nutrition. They felt they were fighting an uphill battle in convincing their partner and it was even causing a little friction in their relationship – I made the promise to find out what I could when it came to getting your partner motivated to do the whole fitness and health thing with you and well here goes…

One of the blogs I subscribe to is Leo Babauta's Zen Habits. It an awesome blog for helping you to de-stress and simplify your life so you can focus on the important things. Recently I read a post on '10 Ways to Deal With the Non-simplifying Others in Your Life' and while he writes on different subject I found that his 10 points were also totally relevant to your fitness and health journey… That I've just adapted them a little… So this post is going to be a little back and forth between Leo's text and my own (eg. If Leo wrote it = an [L] and if I did = a [B]. Bare with it if you can and pick out what's relevant to you 🙂

Leo & Ben's Simple Methods of Dealing With Others who don't really get this whole fitness, health thing you're on…

1. Model behavior.

[L] The most important thing you can do to convert others to your ideas is to be the best model possible. Walk the walk, and do it visibly, so others can see what you’re doing. This goes for your spouse, for your kids, for family and friends, for co-workers. Just showing how to do it can be a powerful tool indeed. [B] Get fit, eat right, [L] and you’ll go a long way to converting others.

2. Share how important it is to you, and the benefits.

[L] This is really the second part of being a role model: as you start to live the [B] fit and healthy life, [L] show others how great it is to you, how important a part of your life this is. Talk with them about it, and tell them why you’re doing this. When people understand your motivation, they can start to get on board, or at least stop feeling so threatened. And when they see how great it is for you, how happy it makes you and all the great things it brings into your life, they’ll move closer and closer to your way.

[B] I'd would have to say that before you go and start evangelising to everyone the benefits of the paleo diet and CrossFit, that you're well on your way to getting point one sorted first: make sure you're walking the talk and getting results. I've also found that most of the time if people want to know what you're doing to look as good as you do and why you have so much energy – they'll probably ask you… and then you can give them the low down 🙂

3. Ask for help.

[B] To anyone that knows me they'll tell you I'm an 'all-or-nothing' kind of guy and to be really honest when it comes to making or implementing changes – I'l think about it for a bit (and not tell Becca) and then suddenly: boom change the next day! (dragging Becca, kicking and screaming on my latest and greatest new fitness and health escapade… I've done this with running, being a vego and becoming a PT – although that seems to be paying off for the moment…) Unfortunately I've since learned that it's better to ask for help and get Becca's buy in before implementing a change that has no support. Once I get Becca on board and she works out that the latest change I'm implementing isn't that bad it's all systems go and generally, she ends up becoming a mini evangelist for me anyway…

[L] Many people, if they truly care about you, want to help you. They want you to be happy, and if you tell them how they can help you succeed, they’ll do their best. If possible, make getting fit and eating well a team effort — not just something you’re doing, but something you’re all doing together. And make it fun!

4. Educate.

[L] The best way to educate others is, as I said above, by your good example. But beyond that, you may want to share books and websites and blogs you’re reading, not in a way that insists that they change, but just to show what you’re interested in and how they might learn more if they’re interested. Documentaries, podcasts, magazines, and other good sources of information are helpful as well. You can’t force people to read or watch, but you can make it available. In addition, talk with them about it — again, not in a pushy way but in a way that shows how excited you are and how you’d like to share what you’re learning about. If they seem put off, don’t drone on and on.

[B] Recently I had attended a workshop (2 day trip down the coast) focused on developing your interpersonal skills. One of the sessions included giving and receiving constructive feedback. Now while I'm happy to give constructive feedback, having the magnifying glass turned on me can sometimes get a tad bit uncomfortable… Some of the feedback I did receive was the observation that I can try too hard to explain too much and that I tend to come across a little pushy when I perceive a failure by the other party to understand the concepts I'm laying down. One conversation witnessed at the breakfast table earlier that morning after turning down a piece of toast, spiraled into a massive debate with me trying to explain/justify my dietary choices… I mean seriously… this person asked me and so I told them. They still didn't understand (or it turned everything thing they thought they knew about food upside down) and they asked and again… I then tried to explain it a different way. An so on and so forth… You get the picture…

It wasn't until later in the day at the feedback session where one of the guys in my team (who had quietly observed the breakfast debate) piped up and offered the following solution: explain that the information you carry is useful to you and that it's certainly worth a look and then leave it at that… I guess all I'm trying to say is this: educate others if you know something is worthwhile but don't stress if they don't get it and don't try and convert them.

5. Help them succeed.

[L] If you do have some success converting some of the important people in your life to your way of thinking, at least to a minor degree, don’t criticize when they don’t do it as well as you’d like, or to the extent you’d like. Instead, be encouraging, be happy for them, and support them in any way you can. Again, make it a team effort.

[B] Be extremely encouraging (without being fake). It's great that your partner or friend has started to grasp the concept eating right an regular exercise. To them this might mean that they're now going to one yogalates session a week and that they've cut out their daily can of coke. I mean you know they should be CrossFitting and have gone full paleo by now but baby steps are better than none – so congratulate them. This is also a fantastic opportunity for you to sit down with them and (wait for it…) LISTEN. Listen to their victories. Listen to the challenges, and only when they've finished their story – ask what you can do to help them achieve more.

6. Realize you can’t control or change others.

[L] One of the most common frustrations comes when people try to control other people, or force them to change. It’s a recipe for disaster. You can try to control others, but there will always be a struggle, and you’ll always fail to some degree. This applies to your significant other, even to kids. We try to control them but we can’t, not really. Instead, try to influence others, encourage them, support them, help them find happiness. And let go of the need to control. It’s difficult but really essential here. Once you can release that need to control, you’ll find much more happiness.

[B] If you've got point 1 Model Behavior (walk the walk) dialed in I guess that's all that really matters – If you've made the changes necessary to have the best possible life you can: You're eating right. You're exercising regularly and hanging out with others who are doing the same, then learn to be content with that. Remember that while it's great to share your experience with others this really comes back to you. What's important to you. It's all about you (there I said it…) and how you look and feel on a daily basis.

7. Set boundaries.

[B] Once you stop trying to control others, you have to find ways to live together with different goals and different ways of life. If you want to get fit and the others you live or work with don’t, how can you peacefully coexist in the same space? How do do cook in the same kitchen? This is a really hard one especially when it comes to altering a diet in a family household. You've given up bread, cereal, pasta and starchy carbs but your wife (or vice-versa) is still cooking up mash potato with every dinner – something's gotta give? If you've both agree to disagree (even if you know that your way truly is the path to enlightenment) some boundaries need to be set and generally all it takes is a little time to sit down (book it in when both of you are free) to lay down some ground rules. You need to explain your needs to your partner. You need to explain to your partner 1. what you're trying to achieve; and 2. what that's going to require. eg. “please don't serve me any potato because my PT says it's going to raise my insulin levels… etc.” Now there's a number of ways to do this tactfully and in the end for it to work, you both have to agree on the ground rules. But I'm not writing an article on emotional intelligence – so how you work it out… is up to you.

8. Have patience.

[L] Don’t expect others to change overnight just because you have. The important people in your life might not get quite as excited about this change, because it’s not coming from them. They might not learn it as quickly as you have, or go quite as far. Or they might not want to change or support your change at all, at first … but later, they might come around. Again, don’t push or be obnoxious about it, but instead be patient, encouraging, with an attitude of sharing what you’re learning and excited about. [B] Nuff said.

9. Change what you can.

[L] Sometimes you can’t change everything you’d like, and you have to learn to accept that. Find areas you can control, find places that others will allow you to change, and focus on those. The other areas might come later (or they might not). This is what comes from having others in your life — you give up complete control, but you also get the wonder of sharing your life with other human beings, something I’d never give up.

[B] Eat right. Exercise regularly. Get enough sleep. Change yourself first and just watch what happens – you just never know… Maybe you can influence your partner, your friends and your family. Maybe you can become a personal trainer… you get the picture 🙂 My dad told me ages ago “If you want to change the world – just keep trying and don't give up…” He explained that as overwhelming as the problem/cause might seem, it wasn’t worth giving up, that I should continue in my fitness crusade reaching one person at a time and that while it was possible that I could become the next fitness guy to change the world, it was equally also very possible one of my existing or future clients might also become a that fitness and health world changer. Awesome!

10. Find support.

[L] If you can’t get support from some people in your life, find it elsewhere if possible. This might be from others who are doing the same thing as you — friends or family, or people in your community…. Share your progress, challenges, frustrations with them, and you’ll find help from people who understand.

[B] Actually one of the best thing about AdaptHF is us. It's the people. It the trainers and the clients. It's our firebreathers and our average Joes. We're all about people. We love hanging out and we actually do give a shit about you achieving your health & fitness goals. Sean and I wouldn't hang out hours after a session's finished explaining the intricacies of the Zone and Paleo diets if we didn't really care. We wouldn't hassle you over and over to practice movements you suck at (double-unders anyone?) if we didn't really care about you getting more coordinated then you are right now. We wouldn't continue to look for new ways to keep your fitness journeys on track with online training diaries and reminder SMS's if we didn't really care.

But the really cool thing is this: Beyond the trainers and the arse kicking sessions that we love to run you guys through – it's the ever growing community of people that you meet and train with. It's our 'community of suffering' –> You come. You workout. But after it's all over – You hang out and make friends (real friends) with others who actually understand what you're going through – because they're right there by your side: hating every bloody minute of the WOD – just as much as you do – but they also know when the workout's over and all is said and done you'll be a better person for it 🙂

Sharing is Caring ;)
Coach B

Husband of @rebeccafwarren. Dad of Madz & Isabelle. Coach & Owner of @adaptcrossfit. One Passionate Dude.