“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Have you heard this quote before?
We’ve gotten a lot of emails from you guys asking how to get your friend, partner, or a family member to adopt a healthier lifestyle. And we get it that it might be hard, because just telling them to start eating vegetables and move every day may not make any difference.
But there’s a better way.
Be the Change
Maybe your friend or family member is eating tons of junk food. Maybe they’re jumping from one diet to another all the time. Maybe they just don’t even really care about how they look and feel.
A lot of people don’t even know how much better they could be feeling, because that’s the way they’ve always been–tired, sluggish and brain-foggy. It may be pretty obvious for you to see what they’re doing wrong, and you want to help.
When you work out and eat well on a regular basis, feel strong, capable and ready to conquer the world every day (ok, most days… no one’s life is perfect!), of course you want your loved ones to feel the same way.
And although sometimes it may seem like you should be doing more, the best way to help them is to lead by example. When you work out consistently, eat well, and take a good care of yourself every day, people will notice and hopefully want to do the same.
They May Not Tell You… But They Do Notice
I have a friend who lost a lot of weight in her fifties. Up until then, she used to be a yo-yo dieter who lost and gained weight for decades, but this time, her results have lasted for years. You guessed it–no crash diets involved there. That’s not how really fit people operate.
She has simply adopted a smart and sustainable way to eat and train, and she’s making good choices every day. She is the happiest, the most confident version of herself, much more than she ever thought was possible. She also looks absolutely amazing, and says that she feels like she’s 20 again.
Unfortunately, one of her recent pictures on Facebook received a mean comment from one of her friends:
You don’t look like a woman anymore – too much muscle!
There are so many things in just this short sentence that piss me off. But the bottom line is, this person who left that comment, noticed the change. He noticed it, despite the reaction that shows a good amount of jealousy and insecurity of this person.
Don’t Let the Negativity Affect You
At first, it may even hurt to get this kind of comment from someone who you care about. But don’t take it seriously. There’s a great quote from the book The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom:
“Don’t take anything personally. What others say or do is a projection of their own reality.”
In other words, how others see you has nothing to do with you. It’s their problem.
All that matters is that this person noticed the positive change, the leaner and stronger body, the big smile, and the genuinely happier person. It’s hard not to notice when all that shines through a photo!
And even though this comment was pretty rude, I’m sure this person wished he had the same strength to do all those great things and look and feel amazing too. Who wouldn’t want all that?
Don’t Force Anyone
It’s understandable that once you’ve experienced how making healthier choices improves your quality of life, you want to spread the word about it. You want to make sure that the people you care about will find about it too, and that their lives will get better through it.
Of course, you can ask your friend if she wants to do a little bodyweight workout or check out the new fitness class, or you can talk her into skipping takeout and try and cook something healthy together. But if your friend is still reluctant and doesn’t want to do any of those things, you can’t force it either.
The most natural reaction to any kind of forcing is resisting.
Kids area a perfect example of this. Whatever it is you tell them not to do, they want to do it even more. Whatever you tell them to do, and really force them, the bigger the tantrum and resistance… I know I was like that when my mom wanted me to take piano lessons, but all I wanted to do was to go to my track practice!
Adults are actually no different. If you’re trying to convince your friends or family members who eat unhealthy foods and never work out to start drinking kale smoothies for breakfast and working out every day… They may do it, but they probably won’t.
If you go even further and simply judge their eating habits, and even worse, make bad comments about their bodies, the smaller the chance that anything will change. Plus, you probably ruin your relationship.
Lead By Example
At the end of the day, you can’t make choices for other people. They may complain about their health or weight every day, promise to start making healthier choices, and make a long list of New Year’s resolutions every January, but whether they actually make any changes is up to them.
But while you can’t make their resolutions come true, you can be the example and leader.
You may not know it, but there are so many people out there who admire your consistency to work out, eat well, and take good care of yourself. If you have kids, they learn from you every day. Your friends pay attention. Your family members want to be like you.
So, we’re back to where we started: you have to show the way, be the positive change, and hopefully, others will follow.
Kersten Kimura is a NASM PT, kettlebell enthusiast and a fan of HIIT workouts. After relocating from chilly Estonia to California, she has taken full advantage of the area and works out outdoors whenever possible. You can find her throwing around her sandbag or swinging kettlebells at local parks, or sprinting along the gorgeous Bay Trail.
Find out more about Kersten here and sign up for her newsletter to get her one week equipment free workout plan and seven simple dinner recipes.
16 thoughts on “Why It’s Important to Lead By Example”
Thank you for making this. As a trainer I have trouble motivating. I was just tagged by someone I care about. It was a Fit to Fat to Fit show post. I have made leaps and bounds. I am now shredding back down from 230 back to the 199 I raced down to. I guess all I can do is offer and keep it moving! Sooner or later I will be shredded all over again and inspire them!
You’re welcome Calvin. With time and work, you get back there!
Oh yeah, people do notice. I had a friend do his first obstacle race after seeing that I signed up for one after 2 hips surgeries – that felt great to see him reach outside of his comfort zone! I sure wish don’t wish my injuries on anyone, but if my persistence helped someone else, then that’s ok. Thanks for an inspiring article!
Thanks for being a great motivation Kris! You did a great job inspiring your friend and probably also many other people around you! 🙂
I’ve heard the quote many times before, but I’ve had a harder time putting it into action. Many times I’m too busy looking at the splinter in someone else’s eye that I fail to see the log in my own eye. You’re right by leading by example and practicing what I preach I can better inspire others around me. Great post!
Thanks Thomas! 🙂
All of this is so true! Thank you for sharing this and leading us! 🙂
Thanks for reading Adele!
I can’t agree more with this. You can’t make other people do things you want them to do. They have to want it for themselves enough to do it out of their own accord. The best thing we can do to try and influence them is to continue doing what we do to keep ourselves healthy and happy and keep filling ourselves up with positive energy. Eventually, that positivity will spill over into our relationships and inspire those who are ready to be inspired. 🙂
So well said Andy! I totally agree. Thanks for sharing!!
really needed to read this post.
We’re glad to hear that Rich!
Kirsta, your articles are so amazing!
Thank you Ben.
Some of your work outs have been really fun.
We’re glad you like them!