Friday, March 2, 2012

The Willingness to Change

Happy Friday, everyone! I hope you had a fantastic week and are looking forward to the weekend. Any plans? We're going wine tasting tomorrow! ...After our seven mile run. UGH. As the runs get longer, we dread them more, but we love the feeling of accomplishment afterward. I can only hope the races themselves will feel even better!

Tonight Terry and I met up with two of our friends for dinner at a Japanese market in West LA. Terry, Justin, and April enjoyed some ramen while I ordered the vegetable tempura. Except sushi, I haven't had too much Japanese food, and I reminded myself tonight that we should really take advantage of living in such a diverse city. Within a one-mile radius of our apartment, we can enjoy Persian, French, Italian, Japanese, American, Mexican, Indian, and Chinese cuisine. And Diddy Riese cookies, too. :-)

After dinner, Justin led us on a tour of the market.

Terry just wanted to visit the candy aisle.

Aaaand we bought some.

And now for a completely different topic...

This week, two separate conversations got me thinking about influencing others to be healthy, and I'm eager to hear from you about this one. During a Twitter Fitblog chat on Tuesday, another blogger, Carley, mentioned that she helped inspire a family member lose 25 pounds. She wrote that in order to truly help someone else, they first have to be willing to make the change.

Similarly, at our dinner event with Coach Jim Mora the other night, Coach Mora spoke about not just wanting to succeed but being willing to succeed. That means not just saying or thinking that you want something but actually taking the steps (literally, in some cases) to accomplish it.

The connection here is the willingness. I think it's often easy to dream up goals or fantasize about end results, but lack of willingness to go out and do what we need to do is where we often fail. As for inspiring or motivating others to be healthy, I imagine that Carley's comment is right: You can't help them until they are willing to help themselves.

My question is this: If you have a person in your life who exhibits unhealthy habits, is there anything you can do to influence them to make a change?

Luckily, drug- and alcohol-related problems now have intervention and rehabilitation methods that have proven extremely successful for a lot of people. But these types of programs are less widely available for folks who struggle with diet and exercise issues.

I assume most people have been in a situation where you watch someone you love (hell, even someone you don't really like) hurt themselves or not take care of themselves. But if they are unwilling to or uninterested in making a change, is there a way to help?

I wish I could provide an answer here. But I don't think there is one answer; I think there are options out there that might work in some situations. Here are ways I try to influence others around me:

  • Lead by example. If I let my friends know that I can't meet them for happy hour because I need to get my workout in, maybe they'll all be willing to join me for a run - and then we can go get our drinks!
  • Gently provide some reading material. Reading In Defense of Food and Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan changed my life, and I'm always happy to suggest them to others. We recommend novels, so why not informative texts, too?
  • Invite your loved one(s) to join you for some healthy activities. Maybe you want to try a new healthy recipe at home and invite your friend over to be your taste tester. Maybe you are eager to walk/hike/bike/run a new trail or try a new yoga class and you ask if your sister would join. They may say no, but you can keep trying.
  • Take charge. I have to admit that when Terry and I started our 30-day Let's Eat In Challenge (<--my first post!), I was nervous about how others would react. I thought they might not take it seriously and expect us to cheat certain days to hang out with them. Well, my friends completely proved me wrong. When we all decided to get together for a lunch, Terry and I reminded them we'd need to pack something from home (we also were happy to eat separately if they wanted to go to a restaurant). But they all jumped on board! We packed a huge picnic together and enjoyed it immensely. Give people a chance to surprise you!
I do not believe in preaching about my lifestyle, and I certainly don't want others to feel uncomfortable or annoyed around me. But when you love someone, you can't help but worry and wish the best for them. 

I'd LOVE to hear from you about this topic. Have you ever motivated someone else to make positive changes in his or her life? What advice do you have for me or other readers about how to help their loved ones take those first steps? Respond below or e-mail me at!

1 comment:

  1. Read this and thought of you!