Leading an effective and sustainable healthy lifestyle- training regularly and eating properly- is made harder when you are surrounded by people who do not understand your way of life.
This is a true, but unfortunate scenario. A lack of empathy from your partner, family and or friends can lead to undue friction and unnecessary arguments at times. NOW I’m not going to go all uber-fitness on you and tell you that to solve this age-old quandary you must “cast aside these negative people”, and to “banish those who hold you back!” Rather, I am going to detail some ways to make aspects of your healthy practices rub off on (and benefit) the important people in your life- not, reduce your friendship circle to you, your training partner and a dumbbell. Being informative, rather than enforcing, your ideas and knowledge is hard given the extremist nature of the industry- where bright orange tans, snake skin covered in capillaries and exclamation marks are the apparent norm.
Obvious benefits of widening the catchment of the #FitFam lifestyle include better health, increased understanding of actions and daily practices, and reducing disagreements in your personal life. In some cases even minor changes will potentially increase longevity, for example weaning my dad off cigarettes, family sized packets of crisps and increasing his mobility (chronic back/shoulder nerve injury- ex-fireman) has become a project for me in itself!
Helping people adjust certain areas of their lives, or adding healthier options shouldn’t be enforced– this can lead to a negative perception of an already vastly alienated industry- but rather introduced to them in an nonthreatening format. Below I will detail some suggestions on how to do this:
Health & Well-Being:
Something as simple as a multi-vitamin or an effervescent tablet is great. Including increased amounts of vitamin D3, vitamin C, Vitamin B, and Iron in their diet is a good place to start- all contained within a multi-vitamin in some cases. These kinds of health pills have a disputed effect with regards to micronutrient uptake/retention, but even as a placebo they may have a positive effect on mind-set.
Increasing water intake is another good area to focus on. Improved hydration improves bodily function, reduces hunger and the chance of hydrating too commonly with high-sugar/chemical beverages. 2-4 litres a day is a good target; the latter end for moderate/very active individuals. This simple change can improve headaches amongst other things- a main contributor to mood swings!
The introduction of non-processed wholesome foods at, at least one meal- alongside the introduction of good quality protein and vegetables- will undoubtedly make them feel fuller for longer, reducing snacking on and replacing processed foods. Replacing but not totally excluding their vice foods slowly over the course of weeks and months should be the long term aim, progressing as they realise and feel the benefits of good food and proper hydration.
Calling your mum or partner’s bluff and actually cooking dinner for you both/your family is the most simple way to start; stop what you’re thinking- don’t cook them brown rice, chicken breast and broccoli! Select one of the Healthy Curries, Burgers or any other equally delicious recipes from our Nutrition Archives; utilise spices and presentation to your advantage here, increasing a mix of complimentary flavours and tricking them with a masterpiece on a plate- indirectly discouraging the overuse of sauces. Showing your family or partner that healthy food isn’t arduous to prepare and or hard to stomach breaks the back of many arguments straight away! Prepping their food for work alongside your own is also an offer they would be unlikely to refuse, and will result in them feeling fuller for longer and realising healthy meals don’t have to be boring and tasteless (with some effort and creativity on your part!). Who’s going to turn down better value, home-cooked meals for expensive shop bought sandwiches?
Show your close friends and family that healthy eating doesn’t have to be exclusive and solely ‘clean foods’, but help them realise they can replace crappy food with a healthier, homemade equivalent! When your friends come round to watch the football, trial these Sweet Potato Nachos with Salsa and Guacamole Dip, alongside some protein-powder based baked goods! Another option at social events is learning how to make a nice tasting, low-kcal alcoholic drink, such as Vodka Lime Soda, or using diet mixers in moderation; you’ll be surprised how many boys welcome the aforementioned options over high volume, high kcal mixers, beers and ciders! This article lists the most common alcoholic drinks by calories, and details the effects of binge drinking upon fitness.
Small consistent changes will undoubtedly make them feel better mentally and physically over time, and as you begin to withdraw your assistance they’ll want the good feelings to continue! This can eventually reduce your workload too, as you can share meal prep, rotate cooking dinners and reduce time-wasting arguments.
Mobility & Stretching:
Throwing an inactive person in at the deep end will inevitably fail if you don’t provide constant support (which most simply don’t have time for), and may cause injury if they are poorly conditioned. A good place to start is improving their mobility; a warm shower followed by a simple stretching routine as detailed here has improved my own conditioning massively. Stretching has also ‘repaired’ my Dad’s quality of life- limited mobility, headaches, muscle spasms, tightness, posture and general aches and pains have all eased as his flexibility has increased.
Simple body weight exercises such as lunges- concentrating on keeping the knee in line with the ankle and not collapsing inwards- or progressive squats and press up work, are also beneficial to get the body working again. Improving co-ordination and exposing weak links is a good base to suggest what exercise and exercises they would be suited to or benefit from next- even giving them a target to work towards such as restarting 5-a-side football or running 5km once you’ve improved any outstanding weaknesses.
Asking an enthusiastic friend or relative, “Hey, do you fancy an easy personal training session with me?” Is an example of one way to get the fitness ball rolling. Don’t expect to be able to train to your fullest alongside them for the first couple of sessions, and remember, beginners do not need as many working sets as you. With resistance training especially, the practice of proper technique is best, and you can always beast them with some introductory HIIT cardio at the end of the session if you do fancy roughing said person up a bit! Aiming to inflict horrendous DOMS upon them for days afterwards WILL NOT encourage them to continue training- trust me. Picking someone with potential could also slowly blossom into a wonderful lifting romance: #IronBrothers4lyf #LiftingSisters #FitChicks and such!
Again you don’t even have to take this person(s) to a gym– given the one you’re a member of may be quite intimidating to outsiders. A home bodyweight circuit, utilising light weights and furniture is an easy non-threatening option. The outdoors provides scope for a multitude of activities; Local Parks and green spaces could better suit the individual- not forgetting that getting people out of man-made environments into nature has countless benefits in its own right.
With regards to initiating training, your relationship with the person, and some common-sense, is key to picking a suitable venue to get them started.
In summary, when trying to invite someone effectively into the #FitFam conduct and abide by the below points as a starter:
- Try to be educative, without being arrogant: people don’t want to be directly accused of being unfit, and can easily be made to feel belittled and stupid- by no fault of your own.
- Provide options and opportunities they would be mad to refuse: a free weekly PT session or personal chef is an offer only a mad person would turn down! Especially when offered in the correct format for that specific person.
- Demonstrate balance in your own life; all work no play can make you a bad example- you should be an advertisement for the health and fitness lifestyle, showing how you can have fun, kick-back and still make progress towards your training and aesthetic goals.
- Don’t try to inflict horrendous DOMS on the person- I personally have lost clients as I didn’t realise beginners didn’t need as much volume to work them just as hard as an experienced lifter. Again I’ve made several friends vomit training with me- who’ve surprisingly not been up for training with me again or on a semi-permanent basis.
Please don’t take this article as me stating I know all the above advice for certain to work, as everybody is different and will respond differently to offers, advice and approaches. However, do get in touch with any additional points you feel strongly about, and tweet your views and opinions to @LDN_Muscle and @MB_LDNM.