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​Healthy Changes More Likely to Succeed with Support

Starting a new diet or exercise program? Your chances of success will be greater if your friends and family are behind you.

Kelsey-Seybold dietitian Humaira Maqbool, R.D., L.D., confirms that starting and sticking to a diet or exercise plan works better when family members empathize and even participate.

“When my patients ask me how they can be more successful, I tell them to communicate with family members and actively ask for support in making lifestyle changes,” Humaira says. “Patients who have a difficult time making diet and exercise changes often lack support from family or friends.”

Humaira advises her patients to take the following steps in launching a new personal health program:

Share your goals. Talk to your family members about what you want to accomplish and why. It is important to communicate your goals to family and friends. Be specific in asking for their support. Describe the specific things they can do to help you.

Center social engagements around physical activity. Instead of scheduling Happy Hour with friends and co-workers, take them walking at a local track or park. Sign up for one of the many charity walks this fall.

Involve your family. Make healthy changes a family affair. For example, introducing children to the kitchen at an early age fosters healthy eating choices, and provides help with cooking and clean-up chores. Offering menus that incorporate favorite foods with foods that are better for them may help persuade your family to support you. For example, start with a dinner that offers chicken, rice and vegetables, rather than a dinner of chicken, rice and dinner rolls.

Don’t give up. If family members are lukewarm or even negative about your plans, don't give up. “Keep in mind, you cannot change others. You can only change yourself,” says Humaira. “Chances are, once family members and friends see your progress, they will be inspired to make positive changes in their own lives.”