It’s not uncommon for me to hear stories of sabotage from my clients.  Whether a loved one or friend knows they’re committing fitness sabotage, just the act can take an emotional and physical toll on clients working hard to create new, healthy habits.  I focused on this topic in the December issue of Natural Awakenings magazine and hope that the tips I included help you turn your fitness foes into fitness friends!

Click the image below to view the December issue of Natural Awakenings magazine (Strong Body’s article is on page 34) or read it below.

Fitness Sabotage

Prevent Health & Fitness Sabotage – Have a Plan for Family and Friends Who Undermine Your Efforts to Improve                 

by Jennifer Trimmier

When you decide to commit to a new fitness and wellness program, you need the support of family and loved ones. Achieving new health and fitness goals is hard work, and we need all the encouragement and support we can get!

But what happens when your support system feels more like sabotage? Maybe your best friend buys you multiple calorie-laden drinks at happy hour even though you’ve said you didn’t intend to drink that night. Or your husband brings home pizza and unhealthy takeout a few nights a week “to give you a break” from cooking duties.

Yes, sabotage happens. Understanding why it happens and how to overcome it is just as important as sticking to your training regimen.

Why friends and loved ones sabotage

  • They’re jealous. When friends start to see you change and reap the rewards of a new healthy lifestyle, they may wonder why they aren’t able to do the same. This can put more focus on their own need to make improvements. Instead of making their own positive changes, they become jealous and start to derail your efforts.
  • They’re afraid of you changing. Change, in relationships, careers, lifestyles, is scary! When something rocks the boat, we tend to react negatively or defiantly. Friends or family may worry that the improvements you are making will change the way you feel about them. This is actually a natural reaction to change. Finding ways to proactively and positively address these feelings is important for both the saboteur and sabotaged.
  • They’re being selfish. Your loved ones most likely enjoy spending time with you. When you devote more time to gym/workout/fitness, they may feel that you’re taking something away from the relationship they share with you.

As you can see, sabotage most often happens when friends and loved ones are focused on themselves – not on you.

Dealing with Sabotage

Your job is learning to recognize sabotage and being ready to respond when it happens. Here are some ways to address and overcome sabotage, which is key to reaching your health and fitness goals.

  • Create a support system. Find friends with similar goals and stick together. This will help you feel better and help you find new ways to cope when you feel like those closest to you aren’t being supportive.
  • Communicate; share you feelings. Let the saboteur know how you feel. Then tell this person what he or she can do to help you. For example, if your husband brings home unhealthy takeout, ask him to instead buy dinner from a healthy eating restaurant or to help you prepare the healthy meal you planned to cook. Remember, it’s possible that your saboteur doesn’t realize that he or she is undermining your efforts. His or her awareness can change the behavior immediately.
  • Be encouraging. Because sabotage often emerges from feelings of fear or inadequacy, be a source of positive energy and encouragement. When people receive encouragement for their pursuits, whether career or hobby or new fitness goal, their attention naturally shifts away from trying to change you. A wonderful thing about human nature is we tend to get what we give, so giving more support and encouragement to others will bring more our way.

Finally, remember why you started your journey. Stick to your plan, no matter what! When others see that you aren’t swaying from original intentions, they’re less likely to continue coercive behavior. Stubbornness often wins the day, and your perseverance and positive results are sure to inspire others.

Jennifer Trimmier is an ACE-certified personal trainer who owns Strong Body San Antonio Fitness & Wellness Coaching. She provides at-home and on-location personal training and wellness coaching for individuals and groups. To learn more, visit www.strongbodysa.com or call 210-445-0448. 

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