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How to Set Boundaries to Achieve Your Fitness Goals

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Christmas cookie wrapped in ribbon. Text on image: Holiday food triggers. Don't let them derail your fitness goals.

The holidays can be the best time of year because with holidays comes family and friends time, right?

But there’s also a downside to the holidays for many people who are looking to get healthier. That downside is the unwanted opinions and conversations that sometimes come with family time. 

The parties with all the food and drinks can also make it challenging to stay on track during the holidays. 

We realize these are challenges you can face at any point in your fitness journey, not just around the holidays. So here are some tips for navigating the holidays or any other time when someone feels the need to comment on what you are (or aren’t) eating or doing. 

Setting boundaries is key to enjoying yourself, the family and friends time, and attending all the parties. 

At KJO Coaching, we teach our clients to set boundaries with family, friends, and even themselves. 

Setting boundaries with yourself and others can help you get through the holidays or any other event a little more easily.  

 

Make Progress During the Holidays

 

It’s one thing to say you need to set boundaries to achieve your health and fitness goal and another to actually tell grandma “no thank you” when she offers you another slice of her homemade, once-a-year pie…

Here are five steps that can help you set boundaries to make saying “no” to grandma (hopefully in the nicest, guilt-free way possible) and staying on track easier. 

 

1. Identify Your Needs

When you think about family or friends gatherings, do you feel anxious about being around a certain person or nervous about the food choices you’ll have to make? 

Write down your feelings, identify any triggers you anticipate, and come up with some ideas for how those situations could be better.

For example, if you know your aunt, who loves to comment on everyone’s weight, will be at Thanksgiving dinner, write out how her comments make you feel and come up with some responses. 

You might want to say, “I actually don’t feel comfortable discussing my weight for various personal reasons.” 

Or you may decide to change the subject without any explanation or reaction to her comment. 

Figure out what kind of response you’re most comfortable with and go to that dinner prepared. 

 

2. Prepare for Criticism or Disagreement

Pushback is common. 

When people criticize or resist your boundaries, it’s confirmation that you need those boundaries. Don't let it deter you. 

Remember your needs and why they are important to you.

Similar to the response example above, you can choose to comment and reaffirm your boundaries, or you may decide it’s best to change the subject entirely.

Either way, stay strong and maintain those boundaries.  

 

3. Clearly Communicate Your Boundaries

Be clear and specific about your boundaries. 

You may hear, "just have one," or "come on, it's the holidays!" or "you can have just a little." It's okay for you to respond honestly and tell them why you don't want what they're offering.

Responding with values rather than outcomes may work even better. You could say something like, "No thanks, I’m trying to be a better me."

 

4. Stay consistent

If you want your family to respect your boundaries, you need to make sure that you are respecting your boundaries, too (read that again). 

By letting your boundaries slide every now and then, you are setting the example that it is okay if others aren’t making them a priority, either.

Show others how you want them to treat you by treating yourself that way first. 

If you told yourself you would only have one glass of wine with dinner, stick to that. 

If you said you would go for a walk after dinner, get out there and go for that walk. 

You're reinforcing your values and boundaries by showing your friends and family that you are respecting your boundaries and doing what you said you would do. 

 

5. Excuse Yourself if Needed

If you set clear boundaries and someone violates them, don’t be afraid to excuse yourself. 

If you need to leave a conversation or a gathering for the sake of your well-being because you feel like no one is taking your needs seriously, do it. Doing so will show others that you won't tolerate disrespect. 

It will also keep you from being more uncomfortable.

This isn’t a time to worry about what others will think of you walking away. Looking out for yourself is more important than that person’s opinion.

 

But Are Boundaries What’s Really Holding You Back?

 

Setting boundaries are just one tiny sliver of what it might take to secure lasting health and fitness behavior changes.

Are you aware of what you really need to work on most?

Not trying to call you out here, but most people don’t have a clear picture of what they need to do…

More cardio?

Less carbs?

Mindset shifts?

What’s your “one main thing” that you need to work on?

 

Check out our FREE assessment to help you find this out. It was crafted specifically for you based on research in behavior change and nearly a decade of coaching experience. 

If you want additional support in reaching your health and fitness goals, the team at KJO Coaching would love to help you. 

We can teach you to embrace a growth mindset, exercise to achieve your goals, and nourish your body.

 

Click here to learn more about KJO Coaching. 



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