Whether you live with a significant other, children, roommates, parents, or all of the above, cohabitation often involves compromise. And that’s certainly true when it comes to diet, exercise, and healthy living. For instance, it’s a lot easier to cut down on sugar when you live in an ice cream-free home than it is if your partner is constantly pushing you to split a pint with them. And sticking to your evening workout routine is trickier when your roommate has Netflix cued up like clockwork every night.
That said, you can absolutely still achieve your health, weight loss, or fitness goals despite being out of step with the people you live with. These tips from nutritionists, health coaches, and personal trainers will help you stay your path while cohabiting peacefully.
First, have an open conversation about your wellness journey
If you’ve committed to changing your lifestyle, speak up. Let everyone in your household know your goals and why you’re making these efforts.
“Sit them down and explain that the changes you’re trying to make in your health are important for you to achieve,” explains wellness-focused physician John Martinez, M.D. “Ask for their support—or at least for their understanding.” After all, your loved ones can’t be truly supportive if they don’t know what you’re working on and why.
Invite your crew to Participate
In some cases, your folks, siblings, roomies, or partner want to make healthy changes of their own—and you might be able to inspire them to join you on your journey.
If you’re focusing on cleaning up your nutrition, for example, offer to cook, say, one night a week. Who knows, your crew may come to love your signature plant-based bolognese with chickpea pasta as much as you do.
Adding daily exercise to your routine? Invite them along for your walk or workout.
Make your needs heard—but don’t be afraid to go at it alone
Not everyone’s into your healthy MO? Don’t let their reluctance to join in potentially derail all that you’ve set out to accomplish. “Remember: Your health goals do not need to match theirs for you to be successful,” says dietitian Shena Jaramillo, M.S., R.D.
With some savvy adjusting and mutual respect, you can make things work even if your loved ones aren’t on-board.
“If you have a fitness goal, schedule your workouts early in the morning to get them done before family and work issues can interfere with you completing your workouts,” says Martinez. You may also find it helpful to carve out a designated workout space, whether it’s a full room or a sliver of real estate next to the TV, with your jump rope, weights, and yoga mat, so others have a visual reminder of the importance these goals have for you.
If you’re focusing on nutrition, prep your own meals or cook yourself single servings of vegetables to supplement whatever the rest of the family is eating, suggests Jaramillo. Brussels sprouts and carrots are particularly easy to whip up for one. Simply drizzle them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and whatever other seasonings you like and roast them up. Steamable veggies are also easy to cook in small portions.
And, of course, you can still hold your loved ones accountable for small acts of support.
For example, if treats are always the first thing you see when you open the fridge, approach your family with an empathetic statement, like ‘I’m really trying to limit my added sweets. I know you love cinnamon rolls for breakfast, but would you mind if we found them a home in a cupboard so it’s easier for me to make a healthy choice?” suggests Jaramillo.
Pack the pantry with plenty of healthy foods
If you’re stocking up on treats over healthy eats for the sake of other people in your household, stop. “If foods fit your goals and taste, you ought to consider yourself worthy enough to purchase them,” Jaramillo says. “Remember, this is your journey.” After a few weeks, you may even notice your dad digging into the jarred artichokes or canned beans to boost his own meals.
If you’re embarking on a new healthy eating routine or weight-loss journey, check out 10 foods nutritionists always have in their pantries. And, in the meantime, keep any treats you stock up on for others in the back of the fridge or pantry so they’re out of sight.
Write down or schedule out your commitments
Chris Fernandez, C.P.T., trainer and CEO of Women’s Health Interactive, knows firsthand how tough it can be to cohabitate with those who don’t embody a healthy lifestyle. He lives with his brother, who doesn’t work out and isn’t all about healthy eating.
To stay true to his health goals, Fernandez enters his workouts into his calendar. “If the person you love and live with wants to ‘do something’ during that time, you simply say ‘No. I have another commitment right now,’” he suggests. “Remain steadfast. If you allow them to interfere with the goals you’ve set for yourself, you’ll have two unhappy people in the household instead of one or none.”
Focusing on a specific meal plan or eating approach? Write it down and stick it to your fridge so that you (and the rest of your household) have a concrete, visual reminder of your objectives.
Record your post-workout moods
Whether it’s a 20-minute yoga flow on YouTube or a three-mile power walk, log your exercise as soon as you’re done, recommends Sergio Pedemonte, trainer and founder of the Your House Fitness franchise.
In addition to logging your actual workout, jot down your mood, energy level, and something that made you proud of your sweat session. Whether it’s walking up and down a few extra flights of stairs or holding a plank for an extra minute, anything goes.
“If you’re not getting compliments or recognition from family members and housemates, or worse, these folks are talking negatively about your fitness journey, then take matters into your own hands and be your own cheerleader,” says Pedemonte. “Putting your feelings in writing will help you see your progress towards your health goals. It also helps you recognize that the benefits of exercise are more than physical.”
Join an online support group or program
Still feeling like you could use a little extra moral support beyond ye olde fitness journal? Surrounding yourself with like-minded people in a digital space can be incredibly helpful. “These folks are likely in a similar situation as you,” notes Pedemonte. “They’re seeking mental, emotional, and social support to stay on track with their health goals. After all, you can’t always control who you’re surrounded by in your home, but you can control other support systems.”
If weight loss is your primary goal, communities like MyFitnessPal and SparkPeople might be a particularly good match. For those looking for some friendly competition and motivation in “getting their steps in,” try Fitbit’s vibrant community. Looking for general healthy eating and lifestyle support? Check out The Vitamin Shoppe’s Eating Healthy Facebook Group. (Facebook is also the place to hunt for really specific interest groups, say for vegans or triathletes.)
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