By Callie McBride
Yes, I am aware that this may be one of the most repeated suggestions for those looking to lose weight or switch to a healthier lifestyle, but I am here to repeat it once more, it’s that important: workout buddies!
Creating a nutrition and fitness routine for yourself is awesome, but don’t you ever wish you had a bit more recognition for all of your hard work? Unfortunately, not all of us have the luxury of working up a sweat to the screams and cheers of millions of people, like Serena Williams and Michael Phelps. A small pat on the back every once in a while would be nice, thanksverymuch.
That’s exactly what you’ll find when you enlist the support of others. Family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, we all have our social circle of people that would love to benefit from healthy eating and regular exercise, even if they don’t know it just yet. I am huge fan of working out with others; it motivates me to be consistent, it keeps me accountable, and (for innocently vain reasons) it pushes me to go harder when I am slacking. Oh, you just punched your treadmill speed up a few notches? I guess I will too…
Encouraging friends and family to join you on your journey to health can be tricky, though. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts that I have put together, from experience, on how and how to turn your loved ones into your most trusted workout partners without alienating them or causing tension.
Don’t: Flaunt your healthy lifestyle to others in an annoying way. I’ll admit it, I learned this lesson the hard way. As soon as I became vegan and found a passion in exercise, I was too quick to bug my family about it. When I thought I was just showing excitement about my logged miles or new favorite recipes, it turns out that I also gave off a bit of a snobbish attitude toward their continuous love for fast food. Oops! It’s important to remember that a motivational push every once in a while is okay, but people need to make the decision to live healthier on their own. As Ayinde has said, “don’t try to push your epiphany on others. It’s YOUR epiphany.”
Do: Open a dialogue with friends and family about living a more healthy and compassionate life. For instance my father, a faithful gym-goer for years, gets his daily workout by spending 30 intense minutes on the elliptical–something that he complains about constantly because of how hard the session is to endure. Recently we were talking over dinner about his dread for the gym, and I suggested that he try changing his attitude.
“Be thankful that you are capable of performing at such a high level, and try to look at it as something rewarding and pleasurable!” I said. It worked! He has reported that every day for the past two weeks, he has changed his outlook on exercise and has looked forward to that 30 minute workout as a way to blow off steam and reflect on the day’s events. It just goes to show that positive views toward our bodies and how we treat them can rub off on those around us.
Don’t: Force your family and friends to gulp down low-fat, zero-calorie fare in an effort to slim down. Often times, foods that boast about being low in fat and empty of calories–think t.v dinners or microwavable meals–are actually highly processed and far from food in its natural state. Try fresh salad beasts, marinated and roasted vegetables, and banana soft serve in place of heavy ice cream. Eating right never tasted so good!
Do: Put the fun back into healthy eating. My older sister, who has recently ditched meat and diet soda, swears that the more presentable a healthy meal looks, the more willing she is to eat it. Exhibit A: Alex’s cherry tomatoes filled with homemade guacamole and topped with festive flags, thanks to decorative tape, tooth picks, and a visit to Pinterest.
Don’t: Guilt your partners into sweating it out with you. A little jeti-mind trick lesson for you: the more you push and nag your friend or family member into working out beside you, chances are the more that person will resist and dread the idea of going. Especially if you stand over them like a creepy gym teacher, whistle in hand, relentlessly urging them to get off the couch. Like I mentioned before, people need to find their own inspiration for getting healthy, without feeling guilted into it.
Do: Remain loyal to your workout buddies! Once your hopeful workout partner agrees to get fit with you, stand by your word and keep each other accountable! Try to complete as many workouts as you can together, and check in with each other on the ones you do alone. This goes for nutrition, as well. Once my mom and sister starting eating similarly to me, they were so much more excited about cooking and eating healthy together with a team to back them up.
Should these tips and tricks motivate you to call up a friend the next time you head to a yoga class, let me know how it went! Remember that we all have the power to positively influence those around us into forming healthy habits.