As an experienced coach, I’ve had a lot of conversations that have gone like this:
“Jack, my family just don’t get what I’m trying to do. They think tracking calories is weird and obsessive. They guilt me into skipping workouts. They say things like ‘Why can’t you just be happy with how you look now?’
What should I tell them?”
Well, let me try and answer that for you…
Once upon a time, in a town just like yours or mine, there lived a man named John.
There was a quality John always had…carried around with him, you could say…
John was “heavy set”.
Until one day, he wasn’t.
For 6 months, John labored in the gym four days per week and paid close attention to his nutrition.
His friends gave him praise.
He got more attention from both men and women.
And his doctor was absolutely ecstatic at how much his health markers had improved.
But during a trip home, a 50 pound lighter John was met with mixed emotion.
“Are you okay mate? Your face looks a bit ill!”
“You really aren’t going to have any more pie, John?! Your Mum made your favourite..”
“To me, it seems, this whole counting calories thing is, well, silly and probably dangerous.”
John’s throat dried up during what felt like a barrage of passive-aggressive comments over dinner.
In a stupor, the usually articulate John fumbled over her words as he failed to coherently explain exactly what this fitness journey meant to him.
Though, I would imagine, if John had time, caffeine, and a quiet place to organise his thoughts, this is what he would have said:
Firstly, I appreciate that you guys care. Seriously, I do.
I know that’s what this is. That you are concerned about me.
And unsure of odd phrases like “calorie counting” and “macros”.
Different can be scary, but different doesn’t automatically mean bad.
So let’s start here.
Macros are macronutrients.
They exist in all food sources and we all eat them every single day.
Right now, I track them and watch how many I eat. Sometimes with a scale. Sometimes without.
Sometimes I ask what % of fat is in the ground beef. Sometimes I ask the waiter to put the dressing on the side of my salad rather than on it.
I probably won’t track forever but it is teaching me a strategy that allows me to eat some foods I really enjoy while till getting leaner, stronger and healthier.
You will see me eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. And I still eat some desserts from time to time and enjoy the occasional drink.
By the way, about that apple pie, Mum, of I course want 3 slices! I assure you, my irregular pie consumption was no testament to your baking.
Next, let’s talk about workouts…
To be honest, it bothers me when you guys try to guilt trip me out of a visit to the gym so I can “spend more time with the family.”
We are talking about 45-60 minutes. 4 times a week. That’s not a lot of time.
There are plenty of hours in the day for us still to be together.
No, I’m not “obsessing”.
I legitimately feel better on the days I work out compared to the days I don’t.
Though, it really does mean a lot that you want me round so often.
Lastly, I want to touch on something a bit weirder than just diet and workouts…
Part of you may be concerned that this fitness journey is being motivated from feelings of inadequacy or another not-so great place….and you wouldn’t be wrong!
Do I like looking leaner and trimmer? Yes. Do I enjoy the extra confidence that comes with it? Yes.
But let me remind you of two things….first, if a twinkle of vanity exists in my motivation but the outcome is fantastic blood work, the ability to move better and an increased lifespan, was the vanity all that bad?
And second, you didn’t raise me wrong or not pay me enough attention. As all this “fitness” stuff becomes even more mainstream in the next 10-20 years, you will see that I’m not as crazy as you think.
Now, I know 23% body fat looks very different to 40%.
My face is much leaner than it has ever been and you aren’t use to me looking like this…
But, I promise, I am healthier than I ever been and I’m going about this the right way.
I need you to trust me.
I need you to know that you instilled enough common sense , character and patience in me that I’m not doing anything dumb or dangerous.
Far from it. Staying out of shape would be the dumb and dangerous thing.
Know that your family and friends will sometimes make your journey hard for you.
They do it because they love you and don’t want you to suffer.
Which I know is ironic because you are far more likely to suffer down the line if you are overweight.
If your friends and family persist at giving you a hard time, consider cutting them off. At least for a while. This may sound harsh but ultimately if they aren’t going to support you and constantly bring negativity into your life, do you really want them around you?
Once you’ve explained yourself once to people, if they still aren’t getting it, that’s a red flag. You’ve got to put yourself first. Your mental, emotional and physical health is important and you should treat it so.
Remember, fat loss feeders exist and will try and derail your progress.
Stay strong and remember why you’re doing this; for YOU!