Help your unhealthy friend/relative improve their lifestyle!

Do you feel as though you are the only one in your group of friends who tries to be healthy? Maybe you have that one friend who you are worried about due to their unhealthy lifestyle. Perhaps it's a family member who concerns you. Now, how do you help them? I'm sure they realize they are unhealthy, and might even be looking for ways to improve their circumstances. You don't want to offend them by saying the wrong thing. This is a very touchy subject, so let's jump in!

So you definitely don't want to be asking the person “Do you know how many calories are in that!? Do you know how much fat that is!? Wow, are you going to eat ALL of that!?” These questions are just a few that might make the person feel self-conscious. This is exactly the opposite of how you want them to feel. Instead, invite them to dinner at your place and cook them a nice, healthy alternative. You could start by making them a favorite meal or dessert of theirs and swapping out ingredients to make it more healthy. Instead of using white flour, switch to whole grain. You can use applesauce, or yogurt instead of oil in a recipe. Perhaps choose stevia instead of sugar. Then after they have eaten it inform them of how you made the recipe healthier and share it with them. After this, maybe the next time you get together, try a totally healthy meal. Mixed greens salad with some grilled chicken. Steamed veggies with some whole grain pasta. Grilled steak with mashed sweet potatoes and asparagus on the side. Cooking not really your thing? Well, the next time you go out with your friend/relative, pick a healthy option off the menu and tempt them to try it. Hype up how tasty the dish is, get excited about it and mention they might want to try it.

Now that the food aspect has been tackled, the next step would be to activate the person. Invite them to do something active with you. Go for a nice walk, or bike ride. Go out dancing, or just have a dance party yourself. I would suggest easing them into exercise, especially if they are completely new to the idea. You don't want to drag them to the gym right off the bat and scare them away with all the fancy machines and shiny weights. Get them in the habit of being active, then on a day you know might not be so busy at the gym, invite them to come along. Show them the exercises you do and tell them there are trainers available to set up a program for them. This way they'll see how easy and fun it is to workout and know that a program can be specifically designed for them.

Now, everyone has to be ready to change. If your friend/relative isn't ready, no matter how much you try to show them how wonderful a healthy life is, they might not be ready to receive the information. In this case, just stop and back off. DO NOT try to push them harder, or you may push them away from the idea completely. Be gentle and supportive. This way they will know who to turn to when they do wish to change their lifestyle. For more information, contact the Wayne County YMCA at (570) 253-2083, or online at