“Does this dress make me look fat?”

All of us have navigated tricky emotional waters when it comes to conversations with support people in our lives about our weight, food choices, and health. We desperately need the help — both practical and emotional — from spouses, family members, and friends, but we sure as heck don’t want the food police breathing down our necks every time we reach for a second cookie.

Learning to have successful conversations with the support people in our lives is an important step toward personal wellness.

How To Have Successful Conversations

I’ve learned these lessons the hard way. During what was probably my 4th, 5th or maybe 8th time around of using the Weight Watchers program, one evening as Mike and I were sitting watching T.V. together, I watched as my naturally thin husband sat down with a heaping bowl of creamy, delicious-looking ice cream.

My years of pent up jealousy got the better of me and I snapped. “Could you PLEASE not eat that in front of me?!” I asked as his spoon was lifted, mid-bite. Mike, caught off guard, quickly returned the ice cream to the freezer. Evening snacks were awkward for years after that incident.

Since then, I’ve learned to how to have more positive interactions. It’s still not easy at times, but I’ve learned to be assertive yet gracious in asking for what I need.

Step 1: Figure Out Needs

“But I don’t know what I need!”

This is an understandable lament when we are moving into unchartered territory ourselves. Consider the answers to these questions:

  1. What do I know I do NOT want? Fill in this blank: “Please don’t ever _______ when it comes to food and my weight.”
  2. What are my physical needs? Some examples might be: childcare, more income budgeted for fitness items like gym memberships or clothing, new shoes, junk food put in a cabinet where I can’t see it.
  3. What are my emotional needs? Examples of emotional needs include: kind and encouraging words, a supportive environment for my goals, cheering for me when I’m down.

Step 2: Accept it’s Okay to Have Needs

This is a huge one for so many of us! We deserve to have needs and to have our support people meet these needs. It’s possible this is going to be uncomfortable and move into new ground in our relationships.

We might need to develop some new supportive relationships, too. This is good.

Also consider the question, Whose needs have I been meeting instead of my own? 

Step 3: Have Ongoing Conversations

This isn’t a one-time conversation. Instead see this as a series of ongoing, loving conversations where we express our needs and ask to have our needs met. Do not expect any one person to meet all needs all the time. It’s impossible and unnecessary. However, our loved ones should meet some of our needs some of the time.

Step 4: Ask Support People Their Healthy Goals & Support Them

Absolutely the desire is for this to be a two way street. All relationships work better when the two individuals are both as healthy as possible. How can we support our loved ones as they work toward their fitness goals, too?

If our spouse or friends are not currently doing much to reach toward fitness, perhaps our being vulnerable and honest about our own needs will open the door to a great conversation about how we can help them do more to get fit.

support conversations for healthy goals

Is it tough for you to ask for what you need? Have you ever asked for help with your fitness goals? How did it go?

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