Happy Motivation Monday! Today’s topic is very near and dear to my heart, but there are messages for YOU to take away also. Enjoy!
A few weeks ago, I received an email from my father-in-law that brought tears to my eyes (more on that at the end). Then, last week, my Dad told me that he had made the decision to clean up his diet, and asked for a list of healthy breakfast, snack, and lunch options. Yesterday, my Mom sent me this picture, of a green smoothie (from a Lyons’ Share bottle!) with Laura’s Zucchini Banana Protein Muffins that I made my parents, and this healthy dinner that my dad ate a few nights before.
Let me give you a brief background on how I’ve interacted with my family on their health. My Mom and my Mother-in-Law were my very first two clients back in 2011-2012 when I was finishing up my Health Coaching certification, and they were patient and wonderful to work with. They’ve both been on their healthy living journeys ever since, and are doing SO well. My sisters and sister-in-law have participated in my Spring Reset and Fall Reset, and do great with their health as well. Kevin has made SO many changes in his health since we’ve been together, but it’s taken almost the full 11 years for some of the changes to happen (NEVER pressure your family, especially your spouse!). (picture source)
But the two that have always been content with their own way of eating (or, rather, just didn’t want to deal with me telling them what they could do to be healthier 🙂) have been my Dad and my Father-in-Law. These two both mean the world to me (see my Father’s Day shout-out to them here), and of course I care about their health. 10 years ago, when I started my own healthy living journey, of course I wanted to scream “Gary, try to eat a half carton of ice cream every OTHER night instead of every night!” or “Dad, you really have GOT to eat a vegetable!” But that would not have been effective.
You see, sometimes family members are the very hardest people to inspire. Sometimes, it takes time for people to want to change, and that’s OK. I strongly believe that people have to be ready to change themselves before you can be helpful at all in providing them the information and motivation to change. In fact, I’ve turned away health coaching clients who wanted a “quick fix” or didn’t really want to make any changes, because I knew that my information would go in one ear and out the other. The same thing goes for family – as much as you care, you have to let your influence rub off on them slowly, and they WILL make positive changes when they are ready. If you’re lucky, maybe they’ll even ask you for help or use some of your guidance on their own journeys.
Here are a few pieces from my Father-in-Law’s email:
As you know, I am a typical Irish Guy who spent his first 30 yrs in Boston eating potatoes and meat 6 of every 7 days. But I wanted to let you know that I found myself salivating like a hungry dog tonight as I sliced up my grilled chicken breast to add to my Caesar salad. Trust me when i tell you that is an involuntary response that even shocked me. Boston guys aren’t supposed to like and surely don’t salivate over a Caesar salad!
So my question is: Has the subtle but daily education that I have received from all your Facebook posts and blog entries somehow trained my subconscious mind over time to eat what is right and to salivate when it sees it? When I look back at how and what I used to eat, I am shocked that I have lived to this age of 63, but proud of how much my diet, due to education, has changed for the better. I am not so sure that it happened consciously! You and The Lyons’ Share have perhaps stumbled upon a devious but planned method to just slowly but consistently convince those that you care about (and I know that you care about every single human being in the world) to “clean up their act” and they may very well do so whether they consciously do so or it just mysteriously happens. You may just save the world yet!
So here’s the message for you … if your own healthy living journey is taking a while to get rolling, that’s OK. Be patient with yourself, but then when you’re ready to make a change, do anything you can to bottle up that momentum and keep it going. If you’re trying to inspire others (especially family), be patient with them, too. It will happen over time, when they are ready.
And when they do make those changes, they may have their ups and downs – that’s OK, too. Everyone does. I’m not expecting my Dad and Father-in-Law to just be 100% healthy for the rest of their lives (I’m certainly not 100% healthy every day of my life, and that’s OK!). But the fact that they have taken steps to improve their own health makes me just about the happiest person on the planet.
So tell me in the comments … Do you have others that you’re trying to inspire … over time? Do you have any additional advice for inspiring family members? Or, share something healthy that YOU did this weekend, so we can celebrate you!
Jeez.. that made me tear up a little too! How beautiful! It made me think of my own father who is currently on a weight loss journey. He’s a pretty big man but he is trying to make small changes to change his diet and lifestyle. He sends me updates every few days like: “just though of you.. while I ate my salad; who knew I liked kale!” and: “I had tea instead of coffee today, no milk or sugar! Go me!”. It makes my day! I’m so proud of him!
I LOVE your dad’s updates, Christine! How is he doing in his journey now? Keep inspiring!!!!
I think I might have has some influence over my stepmom and dad, but with my mom it will probably never happen. 🙁 So it also comes down to accepting that some people will never change and you have to be OK with that too!
Tonya, even if you feel that your mom will never get to “perfect health” (which I don’t believe even exists), you can still try to influence very tiny changes and improvements! Don’t give up!
This is so cool!!! You never know who you affect just by doing your thing. And your dad! I think it’s even more impressive with people our parents age make positive changes like this. It’s hard to reverse a lifetime of habits!
And totally honored that you made them my muffins. Thank you! 🙂
Thank you, friend! It is hard to change at an older age, but still possible!
It absolutely does take time for some and it’s always so exciting when the come to you ready to take that step. There are times I find myself discouraged that my efforts are just for nothing but then out of no where someone comes to you ready to go and you know all those posts, announcements, emails, etc are worth it. For those of us blessed with the drive and motivation to live a healthy life of our own and teach others we must also be patient and understanding that not everyone was given that as their strength and when they are ready they will come to us and it will be awesome. 🙂
I couldn’t agree more, Rosi! Your efforts are NOT for nothing – I guarantee it!! Keep it up!
Aw what a lovely message! It’s so true, the only way is to be kind to yourself and others. I do worry about my dad sometimes but I am lucky in that although his diet isn’t always great he does at least exercise regularly with cycling and has even started to run again – I’m so proud of him! Although when he decided to do Whole 30 with me and quit on day 5 I can’t say I was best pleased (purely from a selfish demoralisation basis!)!!
Pip, it’s awesome that your dad exercises so regularly! You must be a great inspiration!
I think it can be really tricky to have a positive influence on the people were are closest to! It’s taken 9 years but my husband has come a LONG way from the lifestyle he had when we met. He never worked out and lived off of junk. Now he runs 4 days a week and packs salads for lunch and no longer drinks soda!
That’s SO awesome, Lisa! I relate to it taking a while for your husband to change … Kevin was ALWAYS great at exercise (maybe too great sometimes), but the food thing took a while. Just have to change on THEIR own time!
Yes! This post is amazing. I’m pretty sure my dad is a lost cause when it comes to healthy, but I’m always trying to reach out to my mom. She’ll make little changes or temporary ones but always trying to keep that motivation alive with her.
Julie, those small changes that your mom is making really do add up! Don’t give up!! 🙂
This is a great quote. Ive been trying to inspire my husband for years. Very frustrating but you’re right people have to be ready to want to change on their schedule and not yours.
Deborah, like I said to Tina, just keep at it with your husband! It took my husband 6 or so years to make ANY changes at all, and after 11.5 years, he’s a super, super healthy guy!
People have to remember that they didn’t get into their current situation overnight, they won’t get out of it overnight. They are creating a whole new life for themselves, and in order to do it “right” and in a way that truly does work for them, they need to be patient and understand that they will falter at times, but they will also succeed!
Yep, agree, Suz!
Megan this is incredible!!! Just what I needed to hear. My dad is also very stubborn, and I have been trying to work on him for years, you give me hope that someday I will be able to move him towards healthier habits, just need gentle nudges! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Tina, don’t give up on your dad!! Nudges really do add up. Just don’t be too forceful and don’t judge his current position. Keep at it, friend!
haha … this is a great post, and after your comment yesterday I was really looking forward to reading it! 🙂
Ha! That gif reminds me of my nieces! 🙂