So you’ve done it: you’ve found your motivation, made the time, and you’re making gradual, sustainable changes to be healthier. Congratulations! But what about the rest of your family?
When you share your life with other people, making changes to your diet, fitness, and sleep routines can take buy-in from the whole family to become sustainable. While everyone doesn’t have to be on the same page about short and long term goals, everyone needs to respect one another’s goals, or else conflict is sure to arise.
Of course, if you think that your loved ones need to make changes for their own health, things can get more complicated. In general, you can’t force anyone to make major changes … However, you can work together as a family to find new healthier habits.
Tip 1: Focus on Adding, Not Taking Away
This goes for healthy activities and for eating. Instead of NOT eating certain foods, make a goal to eat at least 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day. Instead of banning television, institute a family walk after dinner every day, or half an hour of outdoor playtime at the park in the afternoon. Adding in healthy activities can be an easier way to break a habit, and it makes it less likely for reluctant participants to feel like their routines are being disturbed.
Tip 2: Start Slow
If someone in your family is almost totally sedentary, instituting 5 workouts a week is almost certain to backfire.
Tip 3: Come Up With Ideas Together
If you’re the only one who is excited about these changes, and you make all the decisions, you’re going to face a lot of resistance. Try to include others in things like meal planning and activities. Sit down with your kids and a cookbook (or TikTok!) and find new recipes that they are excited about, then make the grocery lists and cook the meal together. Does your partner hate running but love basketball? Buy a ball from the local sporting goods store and take a family trip to the local park.
Tip 4: Don’t Discount Bribery
Hey, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. “Gamification” can really help some people to get more engaged in building new habits. Whether it’s earning “points” for a new video game or getting out of dishwashing duty, finding ways to get everyone in the family engaged can make the process fun and creative. Maybe you make a bingo board or have your kids race to see who has a chore-free week—there are lots of ways to find prizes beyond overall better health.
Tip 5: Encourage Creativity
The unknown can be really stressful for many, and pushing yourself to try new things can help children and adults alike grow and change. Instead of just eating more vegetables, consider finding new vegetables that no one in the family has ever tried before. The same is true of activities: whether you are seeking out new local hiking trails or taking a taekwondo class, doing new-to-everyone things can help make these activities a great bonding experience for the family.
More than anything, remember that there is no one right way to be healthy. By being open to different ideas and trying new things, you can create new habits and new memories for your whole family!