240. Go Ahead, Defend Yourself, It's OK

mental fitness nutrition pillar coaching read Jan 14, 2022

By: Michael Beiter


Many clients have complained about family members, friends, and coworkers talking bad about healthy behaviors and even changing how they act towards them. 
I don't think it's terrible to learn to say "fuck off" or "stop projecting on me."  But my approach can be careless to the uninitiated.

I admit I'm tired of repeating myself and just plain confused about how we got ourselves into this predicament where health is politicized and taught that it's out of our hands.
Fit people make up a small percentage of the population and therefore have to work with criticism, jealousy, and sometimes flat-out hate for how they live their lives. 
So now and then, I'll talk about how to defend your actions and beliefs against the mob who says they are wrong. 
First off, pick your battles. The vast majority of people aren't worth your time and energy. Brush them off, give them the cold shoulder, ignore their comments, refuse to reply. Whatever your strategy is, stick to it, and you'll save a lot of headaches.
Secondly, if you do argue, start with feelings. I know, this sounds odd coming from a data guy, but hear me out.
Statements like "I'm not hungry, or thirsty, or in the mood to eat" can't be argued by anyone because they are feeling reflective of nothing but you.
When Ted, the coworker, asks why you're not eating office birthday cake, and you reply, "I'm watching my carbs," you're arguing with facts that can be disputed. Ted might reply with what he read about moderate carb diets in a magazine or some other fact-based response which opens your door to an argument that can never be won. You're better off with a feelings claim and shutting it down on the spot. 
Third, if you argue with facts, bury them with your data. Plenty of people will have the knowledge and a position on nutrition supported by science. Unfortunately, about 15,000 new scientific journal entries about food published yearly are too much for anyone to understand. When cherry-picked and looked at the right way, there is enough evidence to support whatever you want to say. This is why it's essential to follow consensus and stay grounded in the basics before reaching the complex.
Additionally, you should respond to an inquiry like Ted's with precise facts about where you are in your day nutritionally, eg. "I have 210 carbs daily, and that cake has 50 grams per piece; that cost is too high, so I'm not going to eat it." 
I've always found it valuable to cement your data with facts about progress. People hate counting their food, and hundreds of camps say it's terrible. But I have yet to find anyone who argues when progress is brought up. To build on your example with Ted, you could add data about achievement, eg. "I have lost 30 pounds of fat and kept it off for 19 months with this method." Progress facts are argument winners.

Fourth, kill them with kindness.
This is the hardest of the four suggestions but by far the most effective. We should not have to defend ourselves for prioritizing our fitness and nutrition. Keeping up with the gym, food, and sleep is hard enough. At some point, you might find it's time to take an active role in spreading the word about fitness and nutrition. People who have changed their lives for the better, gotten healthy, lost a bunch of body fat, and brought awareness to their eating are in a brilliant place to help others do the same.
For starters, they have proof of the concept with their progress.
Second, hearing from someone you grew up with, went to school with, or are in a family with makes the relationship easier to navigate than hiring someone cold and changing your life that way. There is built-in trust with these people that no business or salesperson can foster. 

I hear it all the time: "What I would give to have learned this decades ago!" and "How is this not core curriculum?!" and "What the hell were my parents doing?"
These quotes are from successful clients who wake up to a healthy lifestyle in such a decisive manner that they are eager to help others do what they've done. 
In the most helping way you can, kill the dissenters with kindness. They often don't believe they can make the change themselves. But you showing belief in them no matter your conversation might be all they need to change their life. And let me tell you, THAT is the most rewarding thing I've ever been a part of. 
So go on, defend yourself if you choose with feelings and facts. If you want to make a difference, kill them with kindness and help them learn what you know.

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