3 Tips to Build a Strong Support System
Research has shown that social support from friends, family, and even coworkers predicts improved success in weight management, yet many people struggle to navigate a social life while making big lifestyle changes. Social undermining—that is, actions from people in your life that undermine your efforts to manage your weight—can have a big impact on your success, confidence, and relationships. Your friends and family might be concerned that your relationship with them will change with weight loss, that you won’t have time for them, or that you won’t be able to do the things you’ve always loved to do together. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open so that your loved ones know that their support matters to you. If you don’t have a strong support system yet, or your friends and family undermine your efforts to make lifestyle changes (whether intentional or not), read on for 3 tips to build a strong team that will set you up for success.
1) Be specific about how your loved ones can support you.
Ask the people who are closest to you for support and let them know early on what would help and hurt your efforts. For example, you could tell them that you would not like them to make comments about your body size or shape, but you would like to spend more quality time doing activities outdoors with them that don’t involve food or alcohol.
2) Find the right person for the type of support you need.
If you have a friend that loves fitness, make him or her your workout buddy and inspire each other. Maybe someone else in your life is better for emotional support when you need to vent, like your partner or a buddy who is also going through a weight loss journey. One person probably can’t do it all, so knowing who to turn to when you need a specific type of support can be really helpful.
3) Be honest when and if someone undermines your efforts.
If someone you love is saying or doing something that undermines your efforts to make healthier lifestyle changes, they might just not be thinking about the impacts of their behaviour. It’s important to be honest with them and stand up for yourself, but this doesn’t have to be confrontational or a serious sit-down talk. If your friend is pressuring you to do something that goes against your values and goals, you could make a playful joke to put it on their radar. If a loved one makes you a special meal that you don’t want to eat, you could tell them how much you appreciate their generosity and offer to take some with you to enjoy at another time. People who love you will not try to sabotage you. Be open and honest with them and they will learn how to be better supporters.
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