I belong to a running group on Facebook, and recently a member asked for suggestions about how to deal with the fact that his wife does not support his running.
This is something I think about a lot, because it’s pretty common and it devastates me.
I’ve been lucky to have a huge support team: my parents, other family members, friends, and boyfriends throughout my life have supported me in fitness and other endeavors, but I know not everyone has that advantage. In fact, some people have friends and family who go out of the way to sabotage their loved ones’ efforts. Maybe that’s happened to you.
But why? Why wouldn’t you want to build up and help the people you love?
I believe the main reason for this is simple: the unsupportive family and friends are afraid. They’re afraid of being left behind. Maybe they’re ashamed that you’re making positive changes and they’re not. Maybe they fear you’ll get stronger and more confident, and you’ll trade them in for people who think like you do.
So they start to sabotage you. I don’t think this is always intentional, but it happens. This sabotage can come in several forms:
- Insisting you eat dessert, meat, dairy, or something else you’ve chosen to eliminate from your diet.
- Preparing a meal for you that includes foods or ingredients they know you’re trying to avoid.
- Refusing to help you complete your activity by, for example, refusing to watch the kids, not compromising with scheduling, or insisting you don’t spend money on the equipment you need (like running shoes!).
- Planning an activity when they know you usually do your workout, or scheduling something on the day of a race or another event you had intended to go to.
- Guilt-tripping by being hurt that you spend time running (or whatever it is) when you could be spending time with them (no matter how much time you already spend with them).
- Bad-mouthing your workouts or eating habits directly to you or in front of others.
- And so on.
It can be enough to make you quit or it can ruin your relationship.
As far as that goes, I don’t know how to convince someone to see something in a way they’re absolutely refusing to see it. If I did, I could solve a LOT of world problems. My best advice is to have a sit-down discussion (not an exchange of comments here and there as you go out the door) where you bring up the following points:
- No matter how busy you are or whatever responsibilities you have, you deserve time for something you enjoy.
- Your workouts and healthy habits are part of your healthy lifestyle. You want to feel good for years so you can spend more time with that person.
- If you have children, you’re setting a good example for them, not only by showing them how to make healthy choices, but by showing them it’s okay to take time to do things you enjoy. Especially when that leads to a healthy lifestyle.
- You can’t show up for that person if you’re not showing up for yourself. How can you be there for him if you’re not healthy and happy? Being a better partner/friend/employee/whatever means first becoming a better you. And by better, I don’t mean fitter or skinnier. I mean healthier, happier, more confident.
- You love the person. You want her in your life. You’re asking for her support. What would an ideal solution be like for her?
Even after all that, your friend or family member still might not be supportive. Whether you end up parting ways or not, you need a support team. At some point, the journey is going to get challenging, or you’re going to have questions, and you need people who have been there, done that, who can help you stay on track. We all need to know we’re loved and supported, and that’s true in many of our personal endeavors, too.
Finding Your Support Team: Start Here
- Me! I’ve spent my life in sports and fitness, and I love helping people tackle new challenges and encouraging them to be their best. Send me an email, leave me a comment. I’m on your side, and I’ll cheer like crazy for you.
- Facebook Groups: There’s a surprising amount of energy in the support of complete strangers. There are a huge number of running groups on Facebook; try a few and see where you fit best. Join my Yoga for Runners group if you’d like.
- Real-Life Running Groups: Most cities and even small towns have running groups; they meet up and run together, brunch together, and offer support. Check MeetUp.com and Facebook. If you can’t find one, start one.
- Boutique Gyms or Group Fitness Classes: Boutique gyms, like F45, are small and community-driven. We all get to know each other and we encourage each other. In a big box gym, it can be hard to feel like part of a community, but by joining a group fitness class, you get a little community there within the chaos of the busy fitness center. Group fitness class participants can grow close, which you’ll find out if you go for awhile and then skip a class or two — they’ll wonder where you’ve been.
- Personal Trainer: Yeah, you have to pay this person, but a good one will empower you and help you achieve your goals. A trainer can be a powerful member of your personal health and fitness support team.
- Workout Partner: You might ask another friend to join you for workouts or make friends with someone at the gym. The point is so you each have someone to hold you accountable.
- This Big, Beautiful Universe: Via yoga, I focus on how much had to go right in the world for me to show up here as I did. I believe the universe is biased on the side of good, the side of health, the side of joy. It’s always trying to move us in that direction, no matter what else is going on, and no matter how we derail its efforts. Whether you’re religious or not, spiritual or not, there is solid ground beneath your feet, and it will catch your every step.