I coach people everyday about health and fitness. I have no problem telling a client, business acquaintance or friend that they are eating wrong or that they need to exercise more. Many meals have become awkward situations when the conversation comes around to a how to get healthy and fit. Getting people healthy and fit isn’t just a job, it is a passion. Naturally that passion flows into all aspects of my life.
Except when it comes to my own family. I love my family and want nothing more for them than to be healthy, happy and fit. Yet for some reason talking to them about how to do that is one of the hardiest conversations I have.
I think we all have that family member that we want to have a health intervention with. Perhaps it is with the parents of a young niece or nephew who won’t touch a vegetable and drinks soda all day. Or maybe it is a mother or father who has long struggled with weight and now is really feeling the limitations of being overweight in everyday life.
It is actually several people in my family. Since I don’t think any of them read my blog I feel pretty safe in discussing the situation a little bit further. If by chance they do, then maybe this will is just the venue I needed to get my point across in a somewhat less confrontational way.
I guess I will start with my family. My mom is actually the least of my worries these days. My mom is also the one I have the least amount of problems talking to. She listens, most of the time too. It took some time but she is exercising on a regular basis now and at least making some attempt to change her diet. Her problem is she doesn’t like to cook. I try to explain to her it doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy, but she still uses frozen entrees as her go to meal. I try to explain the fact that even though they are “lean” Hot Pockets are not nutritious. Still a work in progress.
My aunt is another story. She is the classic “when I get back from this vacation/trip, I’ll do something” story. The problem is there is always another trip coming up, always one more thing to try to get through before she can focus. I really worry about her because she already has some health issues that appear to be getting worse due to poor diet and lack of exercise. I tried to help her once by agreeing to work on her nutrition with her. I sent her a food log to complete in November. I have yet to see it completed. I can’t help her until she is ready to help herself.
The hardest group of all is my husband’s family. First of all let me be very clear, I am extremely fortunate to have wonderful in-laws. They welcomed me with open arms into their family from day one and we get along fabulously. However, they are pretty much all unhealthy. They are all aware of the issue but simply won’t make the required lifestyle changes to fix it. Here is a great example. My husband’s birthday was last month and the normal birthday celebration revolves around chocolate cake and ice cream. My mother in law asked my husband if it was okay to skip the cake this year because her doctor was upset with her for gaining back the 10 lbs she had lost. Of course he said okay and I was happy to hear her taking the issue of her weight seriously.
The weekend we were supposed to visit the weather was awful and, inconsideration of his grandmother and the new baby in the family, we decided to wait a week. When he called to tell her this she said, “What am I going to do with the cake”. She baked it anyway. He asked her to freeze it and he could have a piece later.
That didn’t happen and there was brand new cake when we finally went to visits. 2 sheet cakes gone in one house in the space of one week. How do you fix that?
I am trying to resign myself to the simple fact that I can’t. I can be a good example. I can share advice and knowledge when it is requested. But I can’t make anyone do anything they don’t want to do, no matter how much I love them and how good my intentions might be. Unlike my clients, I can’t assign them extra jump squats for missing a workout or chastise them for not keeping their food logs. So I love them and just try to do the best I can and hope they can figure it out before it is too late.