How to Deal with an Unsupportive Support Structure.


Normally, I am on the science soapbox telling you about what the science says about weight loss, health, or longevity, but today I want to cover something more on the personal side of the weight loss journey. Specifically, your support structure and systems.

I’ve been coaching or working with clients or coaches themselves for over a decade and one of the biggest impediments I see in people’s journeys is outside influences forcing them off their path. Whether it is an unsupportive spouse, a family member who actively tries to get them to fall into old habits, or work environments that just make it impossible to sustain behaviors, outside influences can be difficult to deal. Also, there is not really a single universal answer or way to deal with this. However there are a few things I have learned along the way that can help you minimize the effect those influences have on your journey.

This is YOUR journey; do you.

The single most valuable thing you can do is realize that this is your journey. It does not belong to anyone else. They are not driving the train and they do not have to be on the train.

You may completely change your life. You might change your daily routine to include going to the gym instead of the bar. You might start buying completely different groceries. You might find a new group of friends. Your clothing style might change. Your hair style might change. Your Youtube “recommended” list might change.

These are things that you now value. That you have chosen to change. This may take people by surprise and they may not understand. That is 100% ok. Just remember that because your values and prioritize have changed, the other people in your life may not have changed theirs. They are still good people who love you, you just have flipped the script on what you value.

Don’t evangelize; lead.

This is a lesson I have had to learn the hard way.

When you start changing your life and you feel better, look better, and feel more accomplished it is natural that we want to evangelize the other people. We want them to experience what we experience. We also secretly want them to do what we do so we don’t feel alone.

The hard truth is that most people don’t hear your message the way you want them to hear it. The best way to help influence those around you is to lead by example and to let your life speak for itself. Showing dedication to something, remaining humble and gracious, and improving your own life will do far more than your words ever could.

Remember your old mindset.

One of the things I hated hearing as a kid was, “When you are an adult you will understand”. I was convinced that I already knew what they were saying but they were wrong. The truth was it had zero to do with what they were saying, and everything to do with the mindset of being an adult versus being a child.

Facts and mindsets are completely different things.

So when you find yourself at odds with a spouse who is unsupportive of your grocery choices or going to the gym on Friday night after a long week instead of unwinding with a pizza and a bottle of wine, try and remember what it was like when your mindset was the exact same as theirs. Instead of making it a battle of “you should support my new better me”, try and understand their mindset as if you were in their shoes.

Be honest with yourself and with others.

Here is the thing most people don’t talk about with weight loss. It often isn’t about weight loss it is about far more than that. Acknowledging that it really important in working to address outside influences in your journey.

It is also really important to be honest with those around you. If you are looking to lose weight and don’t communicate why it is important and why you are really doing it, how can you expect those around you to understand and support you in the way you need?

The Wrap Up

You might notice that this list had absolutely nothing to do with other people. There were no tips on convincing people to support you or how to have conversations about it.

That is intentional.

The honest truth is this journey is about you and no one else. Support structures can make things much easier or much harder, and navigating those support structure can be difficult. The best way to navigate them is to acknowledge that you are making a big life change, to try and lead by example to those around you, to remember what your mindset was like before and have empathy with those around you, to be honest with yourself and those around you, and to remember that each day that you improve your life, you improve the lives of those around you.