When you are working hard to adopt a healthier lifestyle, it’s easy to get derailed by the people around you. You know how important it is to have the support and encouragement of other people, if you are on the other side of the equation and there are people who want to take better care of themselves, what is the best way to show your support and help motivate them?
Psychologists who have studied this situation agree on a number of strategies. First, they say that it’s important to find out what is motivating that person to improve their health. For some people, it’s about appearances and being more confident out in public. For others, it’s about taking care of their health so they can be with their spouses, children and grandchildren for as long as possible. And others may have been awakened by a health crisis, and they suddenly realize that they haven’t lived a healthy lifestyle for a long time. Regardless, it’s important to find out why that person has decided to change their lifestyle, so that it will be easier to support them. Your interest and empathy can help someone through a difficult transition.
Another point of consensus surrounds the issue of accountability. Knowing there is an “exercise pal” waiting for you to show up, compels most people to be more active. Even attending a group exercise can spur more participation. Supportive communities are created. An absence is noted and others in the class often show care and concern. And of course, when you laugh together, the burdens of exercise are lessened. Be there for your friend. Encourage them to exercise with you.
If the person you want to support is a family member, create a positive environment at home. Make sure that healthy food choices are available. If time is an issue, buy vegetable and fruit that are already cut up and ready to cook or eat. In addition, remember that example is everything. Don’t preach about healthy habits if you are not living up to them as well. If they are the only family member who is changing their habits, their journey can be a lonely one. Walk the walk and everyone wins.