Staying on track of our wellness goals when socialising…

healthy boundaries

This morning I had such a great session with my client who has been doing so great over the past few months. She has had such a great result to date in a short few months: body fat going from over 33% to 27% and her metabolic age going from 38 to a young age of 24 (she is 33). Amazing progress! 

Because this has not been the greatest of the weeks for her, we dug a little deeper. We spoke about not only achieving weight loss for the sake of it, but also developing healthy habits that will serve us for a long time and keep the weight off for a long time too.

I believe life is too short to spend it losing weight one part of the year (or for years), only to go back to our old eating habits so we can gain everything back. So, we can go on a diet again. Many repeat this cycle every single year.

My client’s biggest challenge this week and, in general, is in her friends and family members making her feel guilty (no one can make us feel guilty, we do this to ourselves, it is important to add) if she does not want to eat types of food/amounts of food they do when they are together. 

She feels she is not in control whenever she is around others.

Sounds familiar?

I feel for her because I come from a background where similar happens and people just do not take a NO for an answer and would feel almost insulted if you did not keep replenishing your plate with all the yummy foods that they cooked for you.

Because my client is changing her habits, there is a resistance from the people around her and she is noticing how her (healthy) choices are sometimes brought into question.

My client Julia yesterday, on the other hand, spoke about the support she gets from her partner who will cook her exactly what she wants, even if it means he will need to also cook a separate meal for himself.

Sometimes our partners or people around us do not buy (yet) into our healthier lifestyle and I believe they have the right for that, as much as we have a right to choose what is right for us.

Julia has developed some very healthy boundaries in her relationship and they allow each other the freedom to make choices without one guilting the other into theirs. Actually, it happens on occasions, but she seems to have resilience to kindly and lovingly communicate her choice. I am seriously impressed.

But, I think most need help with this…

So, this morning, we spoke about childhood and how we are sometimes pushed to eat “because there are people starving right now” or “we don’t want to be wasting food/money”, “I will call your father, he will make you” (guilt and fear) etc. and we end up with quite an unhealthy relationship with food as well as with ourselves. 

Actually, we now know that this is where eating disorders can easily start to form in the worst case scenario. We all have a story when it comes to our first food memories as many answers to how we are right now stem from our childhood.

So, today we spoke about solution to her occurring issue – how do we say YES to ourselves even if it means saying NO to others?

We must have the right to be in control of our health choices, right?

We agreed that the answer is in building healthy boundaries for own own health, both mental and physical, whilst still cherishing relationships with the people we love.

Many people succumb in a company of others and sometimes it is because they want to. I know this because I am like that sometimes. I choose pizza or a cake, because I want to. Because life is about balance, I believe. Because it is a rare occasion.

Problem occurs when it happens too often. When we simply can not ever say NO. When we do not have a discipline yet developed to stay on track of our goals. Perhaps because we do not want it badly enough although answers could be a lot deeper and not so simple.

If we want to be in great health and shape, we have to find the right balance. And if our life has a lot of social events that leave us vulnerable, than we need to draw a line somewhere. If we want to have the health that we desire, that is. We must love ourselves enough to choose what promotes our wellness.

My client actually has a young daughter and wants to be a great example to her and a role model in every possible way as well as to feel good in herself. Part of that is to go back to her pre-pregnancy weight and shape, which she now has tools and support to achieve as she has been working with me.

However, environment plays a big part and she has realised that her biggest current challenge is being really weak in asserting herself in the social situations and part of that is cultural as well as they way she was brought up. And there are lots of these events in her life.

It is tough, but, we both agreed that she would feel so good about herself if she was able to communicate her choice of food quantity and quality to her friends and family members.

She agreed that this would be great example to her daughter too and can play some part in her developing into a strong and resilient adult with healthy boundaries herself.

So, we thought of a few strategies to help her start establishing some clearer boundaries. We agreed that people eventually just adjust, it is just making that first step and our intention known.

When people invite us to the restaurant, if we know they usually order too much and guilt us into eating all so money isn’t wasted – perhaps preempting that by saying at the beginning “please try not to order too much, I won’t be able to eat as much”…

When visiting friends who we know will go overboard with cooking and then who will guilt us into big portions – preempting that by telling them that you love their food, but also asking them not to count you in with too much as you currently need to take care of your digestion…

When our partners insist we indulge together way too often, we can, perhaps, build healthy boundaries that would diminish or, hopefully, eliminate both guilt and resentment by just telling them we want to be healthy and it would mean so much if they supported us. Than spell it for them what that means on a day to day basis… whilst still enjoying time together.

The main thing is truly believing that we have the right to our self care.

Have You got any other strategies that come to mind? 

Do you feel easily persuaded into choices you normally would not make?

Struggling to say NO?

Do you think we were conditioned into it?

What were your first memories of food, your first food story you remember?

Our memories, beliefs, and associations about different foods have a bigger impact on our choices that we may realise…

Hope this has brought in some awareness or was a food for thought. I certainly do not have all the answers, but, this may give us all something to chew on.

Let’s build stronger and healthier relationships with ourselves and others… and healthy boundaries… as a great way to protect and take good care of ourselves!

Thank you for reading,

Sanela 🙂

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