This is very common and frustrating. I currently have one woman who is struggling to lose weight and get healthier. Her partner (and a very loving one) buys her candy and sabotages her eating by suggesting they eat out at fast food places. What they choose to eat is very unhealthy. I have tried to point out this behavior to my client, but she defends her partner. She has worked on strategies to combat this, such as pointing out that candy is not on her diabetic diet, or suggesting a healthier restaurant, but she has not been very successful with this. I did try to talk to the partner, and she was very defensive; said she just wanted to give her partner a treat for working so hard.
When I start with a new client I usually try to include listing support people and possible roadblocks to their goals in the hopes that we can avoid something like this happening.
I look forward to other suggesting a good strategy for this!
as Janet said, this is not uncommon. I have seen it more often with ‘friends’ who feel threatened by the success of one in their circle.
I often ask clients about social habits and suggest that the ‘girls’ night out’ could be replaced by a fun activity that does not revolve around eating. I also try to prepare a client for this occurrence. When it comes from a partner, it is a very difficult situation but social interactions can be altered more easily.
Discussing strategies with clients in preparation for events like that is often helpful. Workplace temptations can also be anticipated (eg. the candy jar on the colleague’s desk).
It also helps to discuss with your client that the newly acquired healthy behavior does not need to be broadcast in a proselytizing manner and thus inviting such a backlash.
I like to talk about how to incorporate healthy habits into an existing lifestyle / relationship. We talk about situations that will be tough, and plan in advance how to work with them.
For example, I’ve reduced the glycemic index of what I’ve been cooking lately, which means that I don’t eat pasta. My husband is 1/4 Italian, and refuses to give up pasta. Knowing this, I make pasta and sauce separately and then serve my sauce over a bed of spinach and their sauce over pasta with a thin layer of spinach sprinkled on it.
This unfortunately can be a common theme in many households. Support from family and friends is a really important predictor of success with regard to physical activity and healthy eating habits. It can be very difficult for someone to develop and maintain healthy lifestyle modifications if they do not have a support system. However, if the client is in the action stage and ready to make behavior changes, you can help.
You can be an advocate for your client to develop healthy habits, and encourage altering some things in home environment. One motivational strategy is to ask your client to prepare her environment ahead of time to help trigger healthy eating or exercise. Keeping a gym bag ready by the door, preparing a healthy grocery list and meals in advance, engage in a group exercise class where the client will meet others who are supportive, etc…
Try to associate your client with other groups who have similar interests and goals of healthy lifestyles. It can be challenging for your client, but it can be done.
Best wishes to you and your client.
Hello Sandy M. Fernandez,
The client does not need to follow others’ habits. It is not about converting someone else, this is about the client taking care of their health. When others see how the better lifestyle is working to improve the client, they just may be ready to jump on that wagon, also.
The client should never feel pressured into doing what they don’t want or guilty for having the strength to follow a good lifestyle.
If necessary, limit the time with those who push the poor lifestyle choices. I would brainstorm those tactics with the client.
Natalie aka NAPS 2 B Fit.