A letter to your friends and family
If you’re reading this, then it’s likely because you are a friend or family member of someone who recently—or even not recently—started their own nutrition journey.
If we haven’t had a chance to meet yet, HI my name is Clare Burton. I am a nutrition coach and business owner who helps people through these nutrition journeys. I am a content creator, educator, and leader in the field. Something I do almost weekly, even 2-3x/week, is release and publish long form content in the form of blogs, which is what you’re reading now. I post daily on social media, write weekly email campaigns, and these blogs to educate my followers all about their nutrition & wellness.
If you’re not new, you know this...so bear with me...although maybe you need a bit of a refresher as to what I do...so keep reading!
My business, Clar-e-ty Nutrition & Wellness, is a nutrition coaching business comprised of three amazing coaches (meet them here!!) who help clients of all ages, walks of life, & lifestyles achieve the following:
Body comp changes
Strength & performance gains/improvements
Balance and moderation
A healed relationship with food
AND SO MUCH MORE
My clients work with me from as short as 3 months—yes it takes longer than 30 days so 3 months is the shortest commitment I offer—to as long as 2.5 years—my most successful client has invested in herself since May 2018 and lost 50+lbs, healed her body, AND eating ~1000 calories more than she ever ate prior to joining the Clar-e-ty tribe. Yes it takes time.
Over the course of time my clients work with me, we dive into EVERYTHING. We work on habits & food choices, portions, calories/macros, travel & vacations, mindset, biofeedback, and more.
ONE big area of issue I focus on with a number of clients is their relationships with those around them.
Which is where you come in...and the point of today’s blog. Why, you may ask?
Sometimes, as a friend or a family member, we don’t offer up a ton of support for the endeavors our loved ones are taking on.
Maybe you’re just unaware.
Maybe you just don’t care.
Maybe you are aware and care...but don’t know how to be your most supportive self.
Well like it or not, YOUR loved one needs your help.
In fact, a support system can make or break someone’s progress. AND I’m not just talking about weight loss. MANY clients come to me hoping to believe in and love themselves. MANY come to me in order to heal a relationship with food and themselves. MANY come to me for health reasons. In some cases, my clients NEED to see results in order to improve their quality of life and being met with resistance after resistance from their loved ones makes it really tough.
I’ll share two examples.
Example #1. My dad!
My dad used COVID as his opportunity to create some change and lose weight. He and I worked together to create a sustainable plan, while he was working from home (indefinitely which is what sparked some of his initiative) and while he had the time and resources. We got him walking & exercising daily and improving the quality of his intake. He prioritized more whole foods, consistent meals & habits, reduced his alcohol intake, and slowly watched as the weight fell off. Then 3 weeks ago, he traveled home to Virginia to take care of his mom (my grandma) after surgery. On his way back to Louisiana, he stopped and visited me. Seeing that this is what I do and I know how important it can be to feel supportive, I asked what foods he would want to have around so he wouldn’t feel forced to going off track. I stocked up on some seltzers, the creamer he likes for his coffee, and created space for his routine to exist (something crucial for my clients to do). I prepped some white bean chicken chili for us to have especially as he was stuck in traffic and got into town at 9pm. I created our weekend plans to account for his daily walk—while I kept my non-negotiable of going to the gym—so we both could feel good! When he left to drive back to Louisiana, I offered some on the road fruit & prepped some white bean chicken chili. Our weekend still consisted of yummy breakfast, bourbon, beers, and fried chicken, but it was both our choices to do so, not a forced obligation built from shame and manipulation. My dad heads back to LA ready to dive back into his routine still on track and seeing progress 😊
Example #2. My client!
One of my clients struggles with her body composition and feeling comfortable in her own skin. When it comes to her family, especially, she feels guilt and shame around making herself a priority. This does transfer to her friend group as well, and she still continues to struggle to say “no” when she wants to and to make herself a priority. When she’s home, her more conservative family takes advantage of every opportunity to shame her. They make fun of her muscles. They make mocking comments when she chooses to eat vegetables instead of candy. They accuse her of having an eating disorder for not going for seconds. They say “you’ve changed” like her loving herself is a bad thing. They guilt her for not having a drink or for going out for a walk or to the gym. Usually, she ends up giving up her life and her non-negotiables to please her family to “just make it easier” and wishes they’d just be supportive. NOW coming back to reality, she’s not ready to just dive back in like my dad was....my client needs 1-2 weeks of mindset work, rest, and de-stressing management to dive back into our plan. She needs a vacation...from her vacation. Her motivation is tanked. Her discipline is dwindling. Every time she returns from home, she questions why she’s investing in herself and questions whether she should just give up.
As a loved one, do you want your friend/family member to be like my dad in example 1?? OR my client in example 2??
Now I’m hoping you say example 1...so keep reading.
*NOTE that you don’t have to go above and beyond. You may NOT understand WHY your loved one is doing this and you don’t have to go out of your way and change your habits. You’re an adult. They’re an adult. You can still offer support, so they feel comfortable joining their new lifestyle with yours.
SO today’s blog is to teach you how to be the most supportive to your loved one who has made not only a $$$$ investment in themselves but a personal and meaningful one, as well. As we head into the holidays, this is absolutely SO SO SO important.
1. ASK QUESTIONS, START THE CONVERSATION & LISTEN
When I work with clients, we start first with awareness. Without awareness, you’re just flailing about hoping to get it right. Think of a doctor’s visit. Your doctor first gets awareness with an intake form or questionnaire to find out what’s going on and why you’re there. They do basic vitals.
Awareness precedes change.
In order for you to be supportive, a conversation has to happen!! Hopefully, your loved one initiates it. Ask questions, learn about your loved one!! Why are they doing it? What are they learning? What are they gaining? How is their life improving? What do they need from you? How can they be more supportive?
Most importantly, you need to listen.
Too often are we driven by emotions and knee-jerk reactions.
You might get upset at what your loved one is saying...but there’s the thing. Whether it’s right or wrong, true or false, they’re entitled to their beliefs and opinions and if they feel it, then there’s a reason. That’s their TRUTH. You have to accept that. You have your own truth and are entitled to that, as well. Maybe your friend/loved one doesn’t stop talking about how bad alcohol is for you as you’re sipping on a beer. You are allowed to voice your truth, as well, and they need to listen as you listened to them.
Gain the awareness first!! Then we reflect on it.
2. REFLECT & LEARN
One thing you need to do is get real with yourself and ask the tough questions.
When emotions come up with your loved one, dive deeper!! A lot of times, hurtful comments come from one’s own insecurities and are a reflection of ourselves...not those we’re directing our hurtful comments.
Are you upset your friend isn’t drinking at the party because you wish you had her willpower or because she’s still super fun without liquid courage?
Why are you annoyed?
What comments do you want to say? Are they productive? Will they create hurt? Would you want them said to you?
Is your loved one right? Where do you see the validity in their truth?
Hopefully, you’ve created space for your loved one to be honest with you. If they say something you’ve said or done is hurtful, listen and have the conversation.
3. CREATE CHANGE, MOVE FORWARD AND OFFER SUPPORT
What steps can you take to help your loved one?
Now you could be reading this and think that they should just “deal with it”. They made their bed and now they have to lie in it.
There may be some truth to that.
If your friend has chosen to abstain from alcohol, by no means do you need to.
If your friend orders or makes a salad, you don’t have to follow suit.
I know this can seem silly...but here me out. I’ve been doing this a number of years and I’ve heard the following from spouses.
“Why should I help them? I didn’t make that choice to eat healthy, so why bother?” (yes I’ve seen this tons of times – I’ve seen spouses & family members intentionally buy their loved one’s favorite food just to torment them...which is why this article is so long).
AND YES. You may not have made that choice.
There are many things you don’t “choose to do”...but ya gotta do anyways...either out of obligation or because...I don’t know it’s the nice thing to do.
I personally don’t choose to leave my grocery cart in the middle of the parking lot...but I still will take a stray cart back to the store. I personally am not old, disabled, pregnant, or suffering from a broken bone...but if I see someone at the airport struggling to stand, I’ll give my seat up for them.
Same with your loved one... you may not have chosen to follow a nutrition plan or sign up for a gym membership...but you can still support them.
Can you keep their new favorite foods around? Can you hide the foods they want to indulge on? Can you offer to go on walks with them?
Where can you support them and show up for them?