Making the leap into fitness can be a pretty tough one. When you start lifting, a lot of things change. Like your lifestyle, your mindset about the scale and even the people around you. Fitness is hard enough on its own, but it’s even harder when the people around you are unsupportive. Most of us have a hard time getting support from our significant other, let alone be fortunate enough to have an entire support system.
So how do you get through it? I won’t lie, it is absolute gold when the people around you support your lifestyle, or at the very least don’t try to tear you down for it.
You can’t change the people around you, but you can change how you cope with them.
The Unsupportive Significant Other
If you know me, you know that I am obviously very into fitness — but it wasn’t always that way. I spent years yoyo dieting and believing there was a magic pill that existed if only I kept looking. I refused to lift weights believing it was a ‘man thing.’ When my husband (then boyfriend) started getting healthy a few years ago, it bothered me. I felt jealous of the gym. I felt left out. I was the unsupportive girlfriend. I simply didn’t get it.
There are endless ways your sig other can be unsupportive. From pressuring you to eat like crap, to giving you guilt trips for hitting the gym. They also may be ignorant about what lifting weights does for a woman’s body and tell you that you will get “manly” looking and try to discourage you. It’s all very shitty. Not to mention there may be some underlying unresolved relationship issues and your new lifestyle could be triggering them.
Talk to them
In an ideal scenario, your relationship is healthy enough where you can express how you feel and they will listen and adjust their behavior. If not, then you need to set boundaries or make sacrifices and stick to them. You are doing this for yourself and if they are choosing to make it difficult for you, then you must rise above for the sake of your own goals.
When it comes to meals, there are options. If they refuse to eat what you cook, then you can always both cook your meals separately. If you’re the one that cooks for the family you can make the family meal and make your own separate. The best way to do that without going nuts is rather than making an entirely separate meal, make modifications. If they are having tacos, make taco salad for yourself. If they are eating fries, make your own baked ones.
As far as taking time to go to the gym, you need to explain that you’re doing this for yourself and you’d appreciate they not make comments.
You can not force or guilt trip someone to join you on your journey no matter how unhealthy they may be. That is YOU being unsupportive as much as you want to believe that you are helping. My husband would get so frustrated with my unhealthy mindset. There were times when he would gently nudge me towards fitness and other times he would downright shove me.
I agreed to a month of Crossfit foundations classes and then didn’t go back. 6 months later I received an email from the gym, inviting me to their new “light” program. I was in the midst that I needed to do something and this less intimidating program opened the door. After that I had to fuel my own fire but it was enough to get lit.
Ask them if they want to join, but don’t force them. Include them. Be warm and inviting and if they decide to participate in any form of fitness, accept it. Even if it’s not what you would prefer they do. A start, is a start.
You might have to accept that they aren’t going to join you on your journey and all your swolemate, fit couple fantasies will come crashing down. But they may still be supportive of you going– and you should let that be enough.
What’s not okay
If your significant other is putting you down, calling you fat, discouraging you from bettering yourself, not accepting you or downright controlling you— then there is more here to look at. These issues extend beyond the gym and you may need to ask yourself if your relationship is healthy or if this is the sort of person worthy of being your partner.
The unsupportive family
Families, especially when you’re super close to them can be sooo unsupportive. Most of the times they mean well. They love you and hate seeing you not “enjoying yourself” by eating all the food at a gathering. You might lose some weight and they tell you that you’re getting “too skinny” or that your muscles are “too much.” Maybe they even put you down because you’re the “big one” out of the rest of them.
All of this can really fuck with your head. This is your family. The people that are supposed to love you unconditionally. And here they are shitting on you for trying to better yourself.
In this situation you really only have a couple of options and that’s talk to them or ignore it. I always try to talk things out first, sometimes they don’t even realize they are being unsupportive or how it is affecting you. Other times, it’s just the way they are. Older relatives and parents especially– you can’t change them. You just have to adjust your mindset to the understanding that they don’t get it. If you keep doing what you’re doing they might see it someday, and if they don’t, that’s just something you will need to accept.
The unsupportive friends
As much as I hate to jump to jealousy, this tends to be the case when it comes to friendships. People hate to feel like you are surpassing them on some level or another. A lot of friendships are complacent and comfortable, and you’re generally seen as equals. So what happens when one piece of the equal pie starts to better themselves? The other person starts to feel it. They might look at you and feel like you think you are better than them. Your newfound healthiness might shine a light on their unhealthiness and an insecurity explosion may ensue. Rather than use you as inspiration to get better themselves, they may try to get you back on their level by making rude comments or trying to aid you in sabotaging your progress.
As shitty as it is, this is something that happens. You can try talking to them and including them like the significant other section above, or you may need to allow the two of you to simply drift apart. A lot of friends are lost on fitness journeys because you are elevating yourself and quite possibly growing out of the friendship.
The unsupportive co-workers
This is probably the easiest to deal with emotionally but also the most annoying because you see these people just about every day. Co-workers have zero obligation to love you or support you. They will berate you for eating healthy and then lose their minds when you eat something they consider ‘unhealthy’ that you’re treating yourself with or even fits your macros. This is where compartmentalization, commitment and determination really have to come in. From doughnuts in the break room and catered lunches, to people rolling their eyes at your healthy packed lunch– you just have to be strong. You can politely ask them not to make comments, but in my experience, ignoring them and not giving them the satisfaction of ruffling your feathers tends to be the best way to go. Some of them may even eventually ask for your advice.
You have goals, and you can’t let anyone, no matter how close you are to them, stop you. You are bettering yourself, improving your health, your life, your mind and your body by embarking on this journey. Don’t let unsupportive or ignorant people keep you from that.
And if you have no one? Sometimes that’s even better. You may not have anyone to support you– but you don’t have anyone to drag you down either. At the end of the day you’re the only one who can accomplish your goals. When you can make shit happen without support, you’ve already proven to yourself you can do it, so when you do have it– it’s simply a bonus.
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