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Creating a support network matters when it comes fitness and exercise

Fitness trainer Lisa Lanceford and her husband Romane discuss the importance of being surrounded by supportive friends and family


Support: It’s important you are surrounded by people who back you in your fitness goals. Credit: Getty Images

Support: It’s important you are surrounded by people who back you in your fitness goals. Credit: Getty Images

Getty Images

Support: It’s important you are surrounded by people who back you in your fitness goals. Credit: Getty Images

Romane: I personally think that it doesn’t really matter if your partner shares the same nutritional or fitness goals as you. What is hard is when they don’t offer you support or encouragement. And that goes for anyone in your life that you are close to.

From my own experience, the minute you decide to do something positive for yourself, you may find that those around you try and knock you off course. They ask, ‘Why would you want to do that anyway?’ The problem with changing is that often the people around you stay the same, and watching you make your incredible progress can make them feel negative about their own reality – and this may make them want to pull you down.

When I was PT’ing, the number one reason why people who had done amazingly well fell off their diet plan was because people close to them tried to push them back into their old lifestyle. They would make them feel so guilty that in the end, they would cave. It would be sisters, husbands, generally anyone who wasn’t able to do it themselves. It’s not nice to think about, but from my experience, the people closest to you can be the biggest challenge to keeping on track in the long term.

Lisa: One of Romane’s clients gained muscle so naturally, she was just genetically programmed to do it – she had something really special. But as she started building her strength, her friends began to constantly put her down for her progress; they couldn’t work out why she was making compromises to achieve something which they didn’t deem desirable. In the end, she stopped training completely for a long while. We see it so much in our Facebook group. People post saying, my mum said this, or my best friend said that, and it knocked my confidence. But here’s the thing: other people’s opinions on how you look are nothing to do with how you choose to live. If weightlifting and building a strong body make you feel and look great, that is all anyone else needs to know.

Romane: As soon as I started competing, I became pretty strict with my diet, and I really enjoyed that challenge and doing something for myself. The first thing I noticed was how mean everyone around me suddenly became about it. I couldn’t work out why they were trying to pull me down, because what is it to them if I don’t eat a sausage roll for my dinner? It’s up to me what I do and how I live my life. However bad it was for me; I do think that kind of response is even worse for girls.

Lisa: It happens to me all the time. I’ll go to a party, or a lunch and I’ll be asked, ‘Ooo, can you have that?’ or ‘Are you allowed to eat this?’ Then it will be, ‘Go on, try it,’ or ‘You look like you could do with a bit of cake.’ My response is always the same: of course, I could have it if I wanted it, it’s not like I have the police coming round if I have a slice of cake! But for me, if it’s a choice between that cake and achieving something that I really, really want, I’m going to leave it. Thanks, though.

Romane: Part of living strong is that you’re going to have to put up with people trying to make you eat an extra piece of cake for the rest of your life. You start looking and feeling better and more often than you would believe, the response from others is to try and get you to quit your plan.

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Lisa: I think understanding the psychology behind why people are trying to knock you off your track is important for helping you to resist the pressure.

Romane: From my perspective, when I try to stick to a diet, or we do it together, I know how much potential we have inside of us. Potential to build our business and inspire other people, potential to create great, engaging content and potential to develop our bodies to feel and look amazing. That’s what I’m always thinking about. I know that if we make those

compromises, something really special will come from it.

Dealing with fitness setbacks

  • If you want to continue to reap the rewards of your mental and physical strength, you have to continue to invest in them. There is no going back to your old lifestyle, and that means you will have to commit to certain changes for the long haul.
  • Fad diets are a total waste of time, as is excessive restriction of the things you love. What you are seeking is a new balance where you can indulge in moderation without compromising your progress towards mental or physical strength. Equally, it is important to admit that you will need to make changes if you want to see changes. Nutritional goals still have their place, and you cannot ignore the impact that food (and drink) can have on your strength.
  • What works for you is what works. If you are achieving your strength goals and have found a balance and rhythm that suits you, don’t feel the need to listen to any commentary on your diet. If you follow our guide to nutrition, you will be providing your body with everything it needs to progress, but the exact balance of how the calories and macronutrients are consumed is down to you.
  • After you achieve some of your goals, you may find the people around you begin to react to the changed you in different ways. Remember that your progress can threaten others, and even people who love you can say and do things that might pull you down. Rise above and remember that you deserve to feel strong, no matter what. Anyone who wants to keep you from living strong is only showing their own weakness.
  • Progress isn’t linear, and you’ve got to expect that you will have periods of plateauing and even breaks from your routine. Keep going, get back to your plan as soon as you can and never feel defeated – no one is perfect and it’s a long-distance race not a sprint.
  • Living in the present will help your mental health and relationships. While long-term goals are great to anchor your ambitions, make an effort to appreciate how far you have already come.

Extracted from 7 Steps to Strong: Get Fit. Boost Your Mood. Kick Start Your Confidence by Lisa Lanceford, Century, £16.99

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