Assert Yourself - Ask for What You Need

Getting support from others can make all the difference in your journey. Here are some pointers to make asking easier.
Published July 10, 2017

Remember that Bill Withers’ song: "We all need somebody to lean on"? It's totally true when you're trying to lose weight. The people in your life can be your cheerleaders, coaches, sounding boards, and/or sympathetic ears, helping you shed pounds—and keep them off. They can give you encouragement, fresh strategies you might not have thought of, and even a metaphorical kick in the pants when you need it.

Set up the "how and what" of your ask using the DESC method: Describe the facts, outline the Effect, Specify your needs, and show the Consequences.

Who can support you? Family and friends looking to make healthy changes (just like you!) can be a natural fit, since you can help each other. Maybe there's a cousin who's trying to get his cholesterol down, or a neighbour who's looking for a walking buddy. But here’s the thing: Many of your nearest and dearest might not be up to speed about your weight loss or healthy living effort—and some might be not-so-immediately on board. You'll want to enlist their support and then steer their feedback in a positive direction. A few pointers for getting them on your side:

Plan for the specific help you want or need. Do you blossom with compliments, or need trigger foods out of your sight, or crave an exercise buddy? It's easier to be clear if you have thought things out in advance.

Then ask! It’s generally more effective to ask someone to start doing something (asking if you want to go for a walk after dinner) than to get them to stop doing something (asking you if you want to skip dessert). Keep your tone warm but firm. If they've helped you in the past, thank them for that; the reminder can help them feel invested in your success this time, too. To make the asking easier, consider: Maybe your target wants to lose a little weight or become more active himself.

Play up the good in your lifestyle changes. If you're feeling positive about weight loss, and can share with family and friends how your improved mobility, happiness, and health will enhance all of your lives, they're more likely to cheer your efforts. Tell your kids that you're dialing down the family's nightly ice-cream fest—so you'll have more energy to play with them. See? You both win!

Be ready to stand up for yourself. You may get some grousing at first, and some subtle (or not-so) pressure to make unhelpful choices, especially when, say, you're out with friends for happy hour. Nicely shake it off, and remind them you're counting on them to have your back.