Motivating a Loved One to Exercise

It can be difficult to watch a loved one who struggles to stay healthy face health problems.  Obesity and other exercise related problems can sneak up on even the best of us. If we are busy, focused on our career, families, or other concerns, it is easy to get into patterns of inactivity which lead to a number of lifestyle related problems. And even if we live a healthy lifestyle, we cannot control those around us. If someone close to us, a spouse, parent, or child is not making healthy decisions, what can we do about it? This can be particularly difficult because often people are insecure about their fitness levels. Take care to be loving and kind, and let them know that you value them for more than their appearance. Rather, you want them to exercise to ensure that they live longer and healthier.

The first thing that we need to remember is that ultimately, it is up to them. We cannot force them to do anything, and at the end of the day, they will make their own choices. What we can do is give them support, and some of the tools that will help them to make good decisions. Start by realizing that health is a lifestyle choice. It is not a matter of going on a diet and starting an exercise regimen, but it is an overhaul of the way that we think about our bodies and our lifestyle. So, you should not push people to suddenly make massive changes. If you take someone who is not particularly healthy, and convince them to start a strict diet and exercise routine while not changing anything else, they will hate it. Very few people can do that suddenly. And even if they can, only a tiny fraction of them will be able to keep their health gains after they have “finished” their diet. Rather, it is better to make small and incremental, but permanent changes. Not only is this easier, but it helps to shift thinking. For example, put some walking into your routine. It doesn’t have to be something major. The point isn’t to do something right away that will make a huge change. The point is to create a shift in thinking. Once people start to change their thinking and focus on their health, you can begin to see long term changes. So, when encouraging a loved one to be healthy, try to help them start small, but make meaningful, deliberate, and health conscious decisions.

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