I constantly hear from women who are trying to lose weight complaining to me that no one else in their house is helping. They’re trying to get rid of pop and chips but they can’t stop buying them because their husband still wants to eat that stuff.
Sometimes the husband is also overweight and just doesn’t want to change; sometimes he’s perfectly healthy and doesn’t need to make any changes. So they ask, “How am I supposed to change if he won’t?”
My response is always the same: “Have you talked to him about this?”
Nope. They have made some passive aggressive comments. They may have scolded him when he tossed something in the cart when they were grocery shopping. Usually though, there just isn’t a conversation about the changes they’re trying to make for themselves.
The reality is that most people will help you if you ask them. If you let them know exactly what you need to support you through the changes you’re making, most people will help. The starting point is being honest and loud about your goals.
If you’re overweight, it’s not a secret. People in your life have noticed and when you start saying out loud that you want to change, and that you want to be healthier, the majority will become the cheerleaders that you need. They’ll be a comforting place to turn when you’re filled with doubts and fear. They’ll ask about your journey, and they’ll help keep you on track by reminding you that you wanted to change, and that once you were strong enough to face the truth.
Most people won’t take that step, though. They won’t tell the people in their lives they’re unhappy, or that they want to change. They’re either afraid of the impact it will have on their relationship, or they’re afraid of the accountability that comes from telling those closest to you that you want to change.
When I was starting out I had a clear goal and I was really loud about it. My goal wasn’t a number on a scale or a certain size waistband. My goal was a total lifestyle makeover because I knew that those changes would make me healthier, better educated about food and nutrition, and give me the confidence to make better choices. I knew that if I concentrated on lifestyle changes the weight would take care of itself. So I told all my family, friends and coworkers. I had one-on-one conversations with the people closest to me in my life where I confessed the depth of my bad habits and asked them for their help in what I knew would be the battle of my life.
I can’t say they all stepped up, but most did. The vast majority of people who are really important to me helped me get started on this journey and even now, two years in, they’re the people I lean on the most. They’ve been with me through all of the changes, and have the greatest appreciation for just how much I’m changed. They help me keep perspective on all of this, and they remind me that it’s okay to ask for help.
As my friend Jenn likes to say, she’s been there through thick and thinner.
This column originally appeared in May 29, 2014 issue of The Chronicle Herald – Cape Breton Star.