From Chapter 12: Support (Not Just a Good Sports Bra)

How to Gain Support from Your Cheering Squad

Let’s assume your support system is in equilibrium; you’re not feeling disapproval, per se, but you’re not getting much encouragement to work out, either. Gaining a little support doesn’t start on the defensive. It doesn’t start with an argument about “higher living,” or even opening the lines of communication by politely asking for more support. It’s important not to seek out change from your Future Cheering Squad (family, friends, co-workers, and anyone else you’d add to the list), because this isn’t about changing them, it’s about changing you. This is about your actions. Here are some ways to attract support, or at least how not to repel it.

Respect time

Living a fit lifestyle requires that you take time to pursue fitness. As we’ve already discussed in previous chapters it’s not easy finding this time in our day. Often, to acquire said time, we have to “borrow” it from somewhere—or someone—else.

Say you like to run on your lunch hour. That doesn’t mean you have an hour to run. You have to factor time to get in and out of your running clothes and time to eat (this is part of the fit equation, too). If you’re a quick-change artist you might be able to squeeze in 45 minutes, at best, so that you don’t take advantage of your employer (or worse, piss off the other employees who stick to their allotted hour for lunch).

The same applies to your family. If your plan is to work out on Saturday morning, make certain that you don’t leave your partner or kids in a lurch. Assume that your partner has things to do, too, and stick to the plans you’ve made. Make it to that soccer game if you promised your daughter you’d be there. In order to accomplish everything you’ve promised (to yourself and to your family), you might have to get up earlier than you’d like to on a Saturday morning. You might have to decline the invitation to go out for pancakes with your pals.

Once we overcome feeling guilty about being away from our families, once we realize we really do deserve the time to ourselves, it’s easy to cross the line and feel entitled to more. Getting in a little “me time” can be intoxicating; often we want to over-indulge. It’s like money—there’s never enough. Resist that dangerous (selfish) mindset. Enjoy your “me time,” but don’t overindulge.

Avoid over-talking

Once we’ve made fitness a “habit,” there is a certain sense of pride and excitement about accomplishing new and perhaps more lofty goals. We know how exciting it can be to go farther, faster, higher, or longer than you ever have before. It feels good to win a game, hit a home run, lift a heavier weight, or score a goal. These milestones impact your confidence in big ways. And it feels wonderful to share your accomplishments, your passion for fitness, with those around you. Just don’t be smug about it. Sometimes exercise enthusiasts turn people off with their fervor. We want our passion to be contagious, not lethal.

By all means share “your best workout ever,” how you’ve lost more weight, or your secret to boundless energy (for sure, we want to know about that one). When you do, though, be mindful of just exactly how much the other person wants to hear, take time to let them respond—and this is important—take time to listen.

Show your gratitude

The reality is, as mothers, we’re always on borrowed time. Someone always wants us somewhere else. The trick is not to resent it, but to be grateful—truly grateful—for the time we get just to ourselves. We’re not saying you should show how grateful you are in a generic sense, either, but directly grateful to those who make it possible. Let your boss know how much you love to run during your lunch hour (perhaps add how running increases your afternoon productivity). Let your kids know how happy you feel after a workout. Tell your partner how much you appreciate the time you get on the weekends for fitness. You get the point. You teach your children good manners; make sure you lead by example. Say thank you.

Returning the favors

The only thing better than saying thank you, is showing your gratitude. The most direct way of doing this is by giving time back to those people who help  support your fit lifestyle. So it’s willingly, happily, encouragingly saying, “have fun” when your partner wants to get in his workout (or walk the aisles of Home Depot, or watch the football game, or whatever it is he does). With your children, this might mean taking them on a bike ride of their own when you’re through with yours, or letting them hit a bucket of balls with you at the driving range. At work you might stay a little later in the day, if you take extra time at lunch to exercise. It’s not so much about making sacrifices for others as it is making “deposits” into the Bank of Nice. Karma people. It’s about karma.