How to Involve Your Family In a Lifestyle Change
When I started this journey I'm calling #myfighttofeelbetter, I obviously wanted to shed weight that's literally been weighing me down for years. I wanted to enjoy activities without battling aches, pains, and headaches. And even moreso, I wanted to be happier, healthier, and more active altogether.
Deep down, I had hopes that changing my own lifestyle would trickle down to the members in my own family... even friends. My Husband has watched me start and fail at almost every "program" out there. We have been together for over seven years and through that seven years he has seen me transform from fit and happy to overweight and frustrated. He's tried to be as supportive as he could be but I always took his help and encouragement as something negative which looking back was so silly of me.
I already knew this time would be different because I wanted him to be more involved with my journey. For me that meant sharing my numbers, my goals, my fears and #allthefeelings along the way. It meant that I had to finally be vulnerable with him and LET HIM IN. I wasn't pushing my new habits on him, I was just doing my own thing and sharing it with him along the way.
Well, slowly but surely he showed interest in what I was doing and wanting to live healthier, too.
Shaun is already lean. He's a cattle rancher and burns insane calories every day but he's felt "weak" for years and after witnessing my transformations begin to set in, he wanted in on that action, too. Through Beachbody on Demand, he found a program perfect for his own goals which is to build more muscle.
Our programs are totally different but that doesn't matter. Without being pushy or trying to make him do what I was doing, I instead took the approach of letting the results do the talking.
In a nutshell, we are both working out every day. We are both happier. We are finding more meaning and satisfaction in our marriage. We want the same things when it comes to living a long and healthy life for ourselves and for our child (maybe someday "children"). We want Riley to see that her parents respect their bodies and work hard to take care of them, every day. We want to teach her healthy habits so she can in turn live a long and healthy life.
We aren't perfect and yeah, we still have pizza nights and eat popcorn together on the couch most evenings but I can't remember the last time I felt so connected to my people.
I wanted to write a post to give a few tips on HOW to involve your own family in a lifestyle change and what has worked for me so far in making this so much more than a ME thing...
1. Don't force it.
For me personally, and knowing my Husband, forcing it was not the right approach. In the past I've literally gone through the entire pantry and thrown away anything classified as "bad". Shaun would get so mad at me when I'd do this because he wanted those things and just because I was cutting the crap didn't mean he should be forced to do the same. Looking back now, my approach was SO wrong. Shaun and I have completely different bodies. Sure, I want him to eat better too, but there are things he can eat more of without worrying because of the amount of calories he burns every day on the ranch. It wasn't fair and I know that now. Instead of that approach I just "divided" our things when I started my own journey. I gave myself my own section in the pantry devoted to my healthier items. It wasn't long before the chips stopped showing up and other unnecessary snacks that we just don't need. This happened naturally, without me tossing it in the garbage myself.
2. Surround yourself with others on the same mission to be healthier.
While I love sharing my journey with my Husband, I knew he couldn't be my ONLY outlet on #myfighttofeelbetter. So I put myself out there with opening my studio to others who want to work out and in turn I've made new friends who have the same goals as me to be healthy. We draw inspiration from each other daily. Building a community outside of my own family has helped me find more independence and strength to crush my goals.
3. Establish new routines that promote activity.
Something that has always disconnected me from my spouse is that he is so lean and fit. He scales up mountains to hunt. He can go miles and barely break a sweat. This has always been a deterrent for me for ever wanting to do things with him outside. One of my goals is to be able to go with him on more adventures outside. I still have a lot of work to do, but he knows (because I've told him), that I want to do those things with him. Okay, I probably won't be scaling up a mountain to shoot an Elk, but I would love to go on hikes with him without feeling like I might die.
So now we are focusing on doing things as a family to promote more movement. The weather has been so crummy but as we get closer to spring and summer, we are already scheming plans to make Sundays a day where we all go for some sort of hike or walk outdoors as a family. For the regular days, I'm simply trying to carve out windows of time every day that promote activity and it's been pretty dang easy with my workout videos that are 30 minutes long! Riley loves to do them with me (kind of), haha! Since I started exercising every day she doesn't even really want to watch TV anymore and prefers to be up and moving with me. The shift has been crazy and I see it every day.
4. Make time to meal plan.
I've involved Shaun in this because it's fun. He's the hunter and knows what meat is out in our freezer so our meal planning looks something like this:
Basically he and I decide what protein we want for dinner and then I fill in the gaps with WHAT to actually do for dinner. This has been fun for us because he's always been the meat guy, so he's usually in charge of making sure that part is ready to go and I'll worry about the actual meal itself, salad, or some sort of green to go along with it. For dinners like spaghetti, Shaun wants the pasta and that's fine! However, now I make an alternative for myself like spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles! We are finding the balance on getting him the calories he needs while making sure I'm not overdoing it.
5. Take baby steps, not huge leaps.
I talk about this a lot, but I'm not on a quick fix... I'm on a LIFE change. There is no destination for me, just the journey. Once I was able to realize that, I knew I'd be successful with my weight loss and health goals. While Shaun's the one out working all day on the ranch, I do consider myself the head of the household. I keep things tidy, I pay the bills, I do the laundry and most of the cooking. Making sure that all the heads and hearts in our family are healthy is a lot to put on my shoulders every day. I'm finding that the key is baby steps. Getting healthy is a journey, I don't have to do it all at once and that's okay.
And lastly, just live by example.
I can't expect those around me to want to live a healthier life if I'm not. If I want my children to eat healthy and exercise, I have to model that behavior. I'm not perfect but by being persistent and committed, there's not much standing in my way. Those little eyes are always watching us and taking notice more than I ever realized.
It's awesome and this fight I'm on is quickly turning into #ourfighttofeelbetter because it really does go so much deeper than losing the weight... this is about our FOREVER and what we want our children to experience. When I start looking at the big picture, it makes the day to day things a bit more manageable.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: EMMA ROSE
Emma Rose is a Squarespace website designer and photographer based out of the Pacific Northwest. She helps photographers not only stand out online, but dig deep to find the why in what they do. She strives to work with like-minded entrepreneurs who want to grow an audience, start and thrive their online business and change the freakin' world. She aims to help people create not only meaningful businesses but lives. For more about Emma, click here!
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