I hadn’t had sugar in about a year which was a huge accomplishment for me. I was feeling great and was deep into my routine of making good choices and healthy living. I had been working hard to conquer my sugar addiction. You can read more about that here:http://cleanlifehappywife.com/2013/08/29/living-the-clean-life/
It was my birthday weekend and a friend invited me over to her house to celebrate. This friend was a close friend. She had been with me for the past year and had witnessed my many ups and downs on my health journey. When I arrived at her house she ushered me into the kitchen where she showed me the amazing spread she had prepared in the kitchen! There were bowls of candy and chocolates cookies, a fruit and veggie tray and an assortment of chips. I poured myself a glass of water and filled my plate with the fresh fruit and veggies.
She looked over at my plate and made a sour face. “please tell me that’s not all you’re going to eat” she remarked. She pulled my arm back over to the table and picked up a bowl of mixed chocolates. She thrust the bowl towards me “Here! You HAVE to try these! They are amazing!” “Oh… no thanks. I’m good” I quickly replied. She slumped her shoulders and set the bowl back down on the table. “Okay, fine- but you have to at least try one of these cookies! I got them at Costco and they are sooo good!” I started to feel a little uncomfortable. She knew how hard I had worked on sticking to my goals. It was strange that she was “pushing” all of these sweets on me. I was perfectly content with my fruit and veggies. I tried another angle by reminding her of my goals and by making a joke of it. “No thanks” I said. “If I’m going to break my no sugar streak it’s going to be on a cheesecake or brownies!” I laughed. She broke off a small piece of the cookie. “Oh come ON! It’s your birthday! At least try a little bite. It’s not going to kill you!” she insisted. I assured her that I was fine with the fruit and veggies on my plate. “But it’s your birthday!!” she whined. “You’re being a party pooper!” She reached out and waved the broken cookie piece in front of me. I didn’t know if I should be annoyed or hurt or both. Why was she singling me out like this? It seemed like she wasn’t going to stop until I ate one of her sweets. The other girls were now watching too. She had made a bit of a scene of this. I reached out and took the broken off piece of cookie from her outstretched hand. She smiled with satisfaction. “Come on! Just eat it! You’ll love it!” she insisted. I slowly put the cookie in my mouth. “Now, tell me that’s not the best cookie you’ve ever tasted!” she exclaimed victoriously. “It’s pretty good” I replied feeling defeated. I made my way into the living room and sat on the couch. I almost felt as if I could cry. I wasn’t really that upset that I ate a piece of cookie. It wasn’t about the cookie. I felt hurt that my friends didn’t support me. It hurt that they were making a joke out of something I had worked so hard on and was really important to me. I felt stupid. I hated being singled out like that. I pushed the fruit around on my plate. I felt defeated and embarrassed. I just wanted to go home…
Isn’t it true that we are all struggling with something?! If we are honest with ourselves, there are areas in our lives that we are constantly working on. We develop unhealthy habits which pull us away from being our best selves- the way that God designed us to be! Each of our struggles are unique in their own way, but they are also very much the same. While the details of each of our own struggles may vary, the reality and challenges of breaking free from destructive habits are very much the same.
One of the greatest factors that contributes to a persons success in overcoming struggles is the support and encouragement of close friends and family. Even if you do not personally share the same struggle as your loved one, it does not mean that you cannot help bring positive change to their life. In fact it is the opposite! While the bulk of the work towards healthy change needs to be done by the individual themselves, YOU as the loved one play a vital supporting role!
Here are some very practical steps you can take:
#1- Don’t Be A Food Pusher
If your friend is struggling with food addiction and overeating, support them in this! Do not bring them a box of chocolates for their birthday or push them to have a “cheat night” with you. Eat a salad with them! Order water instead of a sugary drink. Help them feel like you are right there beside them, every step of the way! There is power in doing things together. We all need to feel like we have a support system and that we aren’t doing it alone. In the same way, if your loved one struggles with alcoholism- do not drink in front of them. Even if they say it’s okay. You can have that glass of wine another time- you don’t need to have it right then. If your friend struggles with jealousy or gossiping. Don’t bring up those juicy details you just heard from a co-worker. Initiate conversation that praises and builds others up. Change the subject to something positive when the conversation starts to head down a dark path.
*Spouses– this one’s for you! You have the ability to be your spouse’s greatest ally. If you know your spouse is working on his/her fitness goals do not- I repeat DO NOT plunk down in front of the game with a glass of pop and a bag of chips. Make healthy choices with your spouse. Do whatever you can to make the changes easy on your partner. Work towards it as a team.
“Let their time with you be a SAFE PLACE where their temptations are minimized.”
Don’t make a big announcement about the ways you are supporting them. Exclaiming “Oh I just didn’t know what to cook you- you eat SOOO healthy!” or “None of us are going to drink tonight- we’ll just have water with you”. No one likes to feel pointed out or made to feel like they are an inconvenience. Keep your support subtle. Support your loved ones by making choices that will be beneficial to them without needing your own recognition for it.
#3- Participate In Their Journey
One of the first things you learn when trying to overcome an unhealthy behaviour is that you need to replace bad habits with good ones. Again, this is so much easier to do with support! It’s hard to venture into new habits and stick with them when you feel like you are alone. If your friend is working on getting healthy, Offer to go for a walk instead of out for lattes. If your loved one asks you to join a spinning class at the gym with her- give it a try. (even if it’s not something you would love to do- do it for her!) When your friend comes over for “girls night” have an option of fresh fruit or flavoured waters for her. Having a friend take an active role in supporting healthy changes has such a huge positive affect!
#4- Talk to the Big Guy Upstairs
Why do we do the things we know we shouldn’t do? The trap of unhealthy habits can be so frustrating! If you have a loved one who has shared some of their personal struggles with you- keep them in your prayers. Think of them and pray for strength on their behalf. Oftentimes the things that we struggle with are just an outward symptom of a deeper inward struggle. Keep that in mind and be sensitive to the emotional healing that may need to accompany physical changes. When our own strength is not enough, there are things that only God can do.
Life is so much better when we live it together. We all have our own “stuff” that we are working through. If someone you love is struggling in an area in their life, be an encourager. We don’t always have to fully understand why people make the choices they make in life, but we can be there to help them overcome.
Who in your life needs a little support and encouragement today?
***Feel free to “share” this post if you need to subtly send this message to some people in your life! 😉