Talking to Family and Friends About Fitness

“Why don’t you have some cake?”

“Why do you want to run that far?”

“Are you judging me?”

“Have you lost weight?” “Have you gained weight?”

“What do you think about Paleo/Gluten-Free Food/No Sugar Diet?”

Talking to Family and Friends about Fitness

I think in general the health and fitness industry and “obesity epidemic” is more prevalent than ever so it’s more and more common for stuff like this to come up in conversation with friends and family members. But somewhere along your health and fitness journey there is probably someone coming behind you with questions.

Share your experiences openly. If you’ve had success with running, by all means, share (don’t over-share though–not everyone is as interested in the benefits of hill repeats. ;)) and invite your friend to join you on a run. Did going on “sugar-free” change your life? Did Shakeology? Did moose tracks ice cream? (The answer is yes!) Share, but understand not everyone is going to be as enthusiastic as you are, depending on where they are in their health and fitness journey and their personal preferences.

Share your opinion respectfully.  There is no reason to get sassy; if you don’t like Crossfit, say it’s not your cup of tea and move on. Unsure about the gluten-free hype? Eh, whatever; I’m more app to use humor to soften the weight of my ever-present opinion. Like, “Oooh I have so much respect for people that go gluten-free, but it would take some serious health concerns to pry my bagels away!” Remember that every body is different, so if something didn’t work for you that doesn’t mean it won’t work for someone else. DSC_0708

Have other interests. Yes, low reps vs. high reps is interesting to some, but there are a lot of other things going on in the world. Make sure that if you take health and fitness out of the equasion you still have fun stuff to talk about! I talk about health and fitness so often on the blog sometimes I forget, oh yeah, I’m also into crafting, playing the piano, reading, decorating, social justice issues, and drinking coffee. 🙂

What about when you are concerned about a family member’s health? Should you speak up? 

This is a tricky one. I would say, mostly no.

 

The most important thing is to lead by example. Do your thing well. Don’t let negativity or pressure back you down from your goals and ideals. Keep at it with a smile on your face!

Encourage any progress. If you have a friend that just started walking a few times a week or went to her first yoga class–praisie the heck out of her. Ask to come along. If your aunt asks you about eating organic, say, “it’s great more people are getting interested in the quality of their food!”. Encourage any healthy step no matter how small.

Out with saucony triumph

Don’t be perfect.  Ugh, perfect people suck, right?! Be relatable! Share your struggles…and be real. Sometimes we are pms-y and eat a lot of pizza, that is life, my friend. It’s more your attitude and way of dealing with the imperfections that show the “nitty-gritty” of living a healthy life.

Offer to help. “I’d love to answer any questions you have about how I lost weight.” or “Would you like to meet up after work to go to the gym?” “Could I share one of my whole wheat pizza recipe with you?” “Do you want to run a 5K together?”

There are a few, very rare times when (depending on the relationship) it may be appropriate to take a more direct approach and have a conversation about health with a friend or loved one.

“You’ve said some things that make me feel like you’d be happier with yourself if you lost weight–do you want to talk about it?”

“Honey, I’ve noticed the last months we’ve been looser than we should with our diet, this month I’d like to focus on eating more wholesome foods as a family.”

“I’m concerned about your health. I love you and I want you around as long as possible. How can I help?”

[tweetthis]Tips for talking to friends & family about fitness #FitFam[/tweetthis]

Remember that kindness goes a long way in any conversation about health and wellness. Attack the problem, not the person and listen twice as much as you talk.

Do you get into health and fitness related conversations with friends or family frequently? How do you handle controversial topics like this? 

Linking up to Jill and Jess for #TheFitDish–thanks for the great topic ladies!

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41 Comments

  1. Oh MAAAAAAAn!! That’s a great post and great topic! I chat about that awkward bring up all the time with my clients who are losing weight.
    Often I tell them that if they think it will cause bad feelings to bring it up, then just lead by example. In a few weeks their friends or family will notice the weight loss, the break from sugar addiction and higher energy levels and wonder how the heck they’ve done it–
    And that’s what usually happens.

    Example is my fav. Great post!!

    1. Totally true! You’ve got to walk the walk, but it’s totally great to share when folks ask questions or as things come up organically.

    1. Yes! As I was writing this I was thinking, “I mean it basically comes down to being kind and not a jerk”. Put yourself in their shoes and think how you would want someone to broach the subject with you.

  2. This is really great! I can totally relate to the part about unhealthy family members. I am working with my mom now, because she finally asked me to help her. I have not shamed her or pushed her. I have offered suggestions when it was relevant to the conversation, but yeah overall it is good to be sensitive and recognize where you stand in the conversation. Love it!

    1. Absolutely! And that is awesome about you helping your mom! I think each person has to want it for themselves, but it IS hard when you want someone else to make good choices, but you def can’t do it for them!

  3. While I’ve lost weight my husband has gained some. His tummy has grown so much that his brother told him that he has a beer belly over Skype (but hubby doesn’t drink)! I’m always sharing my experiences but some things can be hard to describe to those not involved in fitness.

    1. I have definitely seen my husband go up and down on the scale (and he’s done the same for me) but when he wants to change his habits he does, my pushing never seems to help anything! I’m a more traditional “let’s go to they gym and workout” person and he only likes workouts if they are fun activities or games…like meeting friends for basketball or throwing the football or playing golf. We’ve had to work to find common fitness ground, but it’s fun once we do! I guess, I’m just saying just keep on being you and trust that he’ll change when he’s ready. (Easy to say, hard to do!)

  4. Talking to family and friends about these subjects is tricky business. I make an extreme effort to be respectful and supportive and interested. There are definite limits. Good topic to give some serious thought.

  5. Great advice! It is always tricky deciding whether or not to speak up about a family member’s health if you are concerned. I think the best thing to do is to just invite them to go on a walk or make them a healthy meal vs. confronting them about their health – which may feel like an attack. Rather than tell them what they’re doing wrong, try to show them how to do things in a healthier way, and hopefully they’ll catch on!

  6. I love this post. Sometimes it is hard to remember that not everyone gets health and fitness (or wants to get it for that matter). I try my best not to be judgmental and instead honest and open about my journey and offer to help in any way they wish.

    1. Right! I have to work really hard to not let my eyes glaze over when my husband talks about video games/guitar gear, I listen, and try to understand (because he’s my spouse and I love him) but I understand that he basically feels the same way about my mile splits or how long I hold downward dog. 😛 Sounds like you are right on!

    1. For sure, it’s easy to get pidgeon-holed as the “health nut”, but every person is so unique and interesting beyond what they ate for dinner and how far they run. It’s okay to NOT have health/fitness in common and share other interests or to have health and fitness is common but talk about other things. 🙂

  7. Its so hard to share concerns with family members, especially when they’re part of your immediate family. I often worry about a couple of family members winding up with very serious health problems because they don’t take care of themselves. Its definitely a very tricky line to tread when trying to address health issues with them.

  8. Great tips! I love how you brought up having other interests. Sometimes I think we forget we actually have other things in common with other people. Haha. We are actually more than what’s on our blogs or social media. Imagine that. 🙂

  9. Definitely agreed with you on all respects, especially on the “Lead by example” one! That’s what I aspire to do. :] I don’t like to impress my beliefs on others, so I don’t really talk about it much to people unless they seem interested in learning more, or specifically ask about it (in which case, I’m always more than happy to share! 😀 ).

  10. So thoughtful and well said, Kate! I love how you mentioned, listening twice as much as talking. It’s so true. That will bring a bigger benefit. I completely agree. So grateful for your perspective. And amen about having other interests. I have learned that it helps people feel more comfortable with you, because they know you aren’t all fitness, all the time. : ) Much love! Wish we could do some hobbies together!!

  11. Great tips Kate! Like you said with family it’s tricky. You genuinely want to help but your offer to help might not be taken that way. Love your take on this week’s topic. #fitfamLOVE

  12. This is such a rough topic and one I’ve dealt with since beginning my journey about 7 years ago. I’ve learned that being real works best. I share with others how AWESOME fitness makes me feel, but that I also struggle with motivation, and some days downright HATE working out too! (most days I love it, but you know..) I find that approach, rather than being “preachy” works best!

  13. I love these tips, especially that no one is perfect. I have a friend who acts like SUCH a know it all whenever we talk about anything health or fitness related. It’s really annoying, so imagine how annoying it’d be who is just starting to work out or isn’t that into it?? /endrant lol

  14. I agree with this post completely! And no one is perfect- so it’s best not to act like it or no one will really take you seriously 🙂

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