Monday, September 21, 2015

Build a Support Team

This is the 5th post of a 13 part series on Healthy Life Habits. In case you've missed the previous posts we've already covered:


This is probably the most important healthy lifestyle habit you'll ever work on. Why? Because not doing this almost guarantees backsliding into unhealthy habits. 

So, what do I mean by “build a support team”?

This sounds all official, doesn’t it? “Build a support team” brings to mind a construction crew, an architect, an engineer, lawyers, and an Indian Chief. But its not that complicated, I promise. This is all about flocking together with other like-feathered birds, as well as enlisting some carefully chosen professionals.

Let’s start with our friends and family.

First, you need to let them know you’re working on creating some healthier life habits. If they laugh, are dismissive, or outright undermine your efforts, then you need to think long and hard about how much time you can afford to spend with them.

If they support you then all is well. You’ve got a good bunch of friends, there. If, however, they say they support you but do passive-aggressive things like bring Krispy Kreme doughnuts to the yoga class you’re taking together when you’ve told them you’re working on cutting back on sweets, then take some time to consider your options.

I’m not suggesting you cut off your friends. Or Krispy Kreme doughnuts. ;-) I’m suggesting you acknowledge how helpful they are being…or not being. Maybe a little talk will put everything right, maybe not. The thing is, friends can get scared when they see you making changes they’re not ready to make themselves. They might fear losing you as a friend so they might try to lead you back to the comfortable, less healthy dance they’re used to.

The key is to be honest with friends and family. Tell them you mean business. You want to feel better and live healthier come hell or high water. You’d prefer their support, but you understand if they can’t give it to you at this time.

But, if that’s the case, then you might need to take a step back until you get some of your healthy habits more firmly established.

 Let them know when you feel undermined by their words or behavior. There will be push-back. I promise. But stick to your guns. Don’t give in to Aunt Betty’s guilt-trips over not eating a slice of every pie she baked for Thanksgiving. Tell her you’re happy to sample one of them, but you’ll have to pass on the others.

If all else fails, don’t show up for the negativity. I know this sounds harsh, and it is, somewhat, but I swear you will be grateful you established clear boundaries. Down the line, it will pay off in spades. Maybe your family will see the changes in you are here to stay and get inspired. ;-)

Maybe your best girlfriend has been thinking of doing the same thing and wow! You can both get started together. Perfect! However, if she keeps canceling your walk dates, go without her. You don’t have to end the friendship, but maybe look around your social circle or the park for a new walking buddy.

As you adjust your lifestyle, you’re going to encounter people who are heading in the same direction. Make new friends with people who think what you’re doing is important and will cheer you on.

And you can cheer them on, too.

Where can you find these like-minded, healthy habit souls? If your current circle of friends isn’t on board, then try the local gym, wellness center or, like I said, walking at the park. Take a yoga class or sign up for a 5k charity walk. Pop online and search for wellness groups or gurus on your favorite social media site. Follow blogs like mine to get inspired and meet friends in the comments.

Finding and befriending people who are walking the same path to health will make the journey all the richer. It may not make it easier, but having a tribe to support us will make it more fun and more likely to stick because we’re not always being tempted by unhealthy things.

Second, we need to recruit a few professionals for our support team: doctors, therapists, nutritionists, life style coaches, personal trainers, massage therapists, fitness instructors, and the list goes on. You may not need any of these right now or be able to afford too much, but you should at least have a doctor and someone you can talk to about making lifestyle changes, such as a wellness coach, personal trainer, or a lifestyle coach.

You may already have a great doctor who is all about healthy lifestyle habits. Yippee! Most are; however, make sure your doctor is also open to options besides prescriptions. Nothing wrong with a prescription if you need it, but what if you could ween yourself off, say, blood pressure medication with the right healthy habits?

Is your doctor on board with giving it a go? Yes? Great. No? Hmmmm…you may want to interview some other doctors, find one who is willing to support you on this journey, wherever it takes you. Maybe you’d like to experiment with meditation or acupuncture. How does your doctor feel about those things?

You absolutely do NOT want to find yourself hiding things from your doctor. If you go see an aromatherapist and your conventional doctor has a problem with that, how likely are you to tell him or her? Your doctor needs ALL the facts to assist you and treat you. 

If you don’t feel you can afford a wellness coach or personal trainer, do some research before you nix the idea. You might be surprised at the affordable options out there. Grab a book on healthy living and look up the author’s website. And if you do hire a coach, make sure you’re on the same page.

It’s really important that your wellness coach is supportive of your journey, not pushing their own agenda. You should be open to new ideas, but if your coach is insisting you do things her way no matter what, then it’s probably not the right fit.

Take the time to interview every professional you consider hiring before you make any commitments. Some trainers and coaches require you to sign minimum session contracts and you don’t want to be stuck with 7 training sessions you don’t want to use because you and your trainer just got into a big fight about the Atkins diet.

In the end, make sure you have surrounded yourself with like-minded, healthy habit types. When you fall (and you will) they will be there to catch you, dust you off, and cheer you on.

Whew! That’s a lot of information and there is so much more to talk about. But let’s stop here and reflect on who in your life will be supportive of your new healthy habits journey? Who won’t be?

Don’t be afraid to step out on your own. You will be pleasantly surprised at the new friendships you form and the new life you breathe into old relationships…especially the one with yourself.

1 comment:

  1. Really good and useful post! And these methods can work not only to the team but to couples too! I read another good article where you can find another advice! Read it too, this words can inspire you!