Speak Up for Yourself

How to ask for help in reaching your goals.
Published March 23, 2018

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You can't always get what you want

But if you try sometimes, well. you just might find

You get what you need.”


The Stones were on to something. Most of the time, you have to be your own advocate—and it's especially true of a weight-loss journey. The people in your life, while meaning well, can wind up setting you back. You know how it goes: "You look fine just the way you are." "But I made it just for you!" "Can't you take a break from your diet?" For member Erin, who you'll meet in your Weekly, her husband's habit of bringing home cupcakes and other sweets ("Food is love!") kept tripping her up. They call it helpful, you call it sabotage.

Turn sabotage to support

As your Weekly points out, such comments aren't done out of ill will (most of the time). Your friends and families want to help. So harness their good intentions and let them! Asking, specifically, for what you need from your tribe can help you shed pounds—and keep them off. Whether they're cheerleaders, walking buddies, co-chefs, sounding boards, and/or sympathetic ears, 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.

Assemble your squad

Who to ask for help? Your front line of support is often family or close friends who encourage and cheer you on. If they, too, are looking to make healthy changes, it 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 you can find simpatico voices and thoughtful advice in lots of places. Take to Connect: Share a struggle, celebrate a victory (on scale and off), or ask for advice—you have thousands of members to lend a hand or an ear. If you’re on Facebook, head on over to our page  to add comments, post photos, and check out the daily tips and motivators.

Ask nicely—but ask!

Speaking up can be challenging—we don't want to come off as aggressive or demanding or unlikable. But think about when someone asks you for help. Aren’t you happy to do so? Next time you need someone to put away the chips or to join you for a morning walk, reality-check your unhelpful, “they-won’t-like-it-or-me” thought to shift your mindset into a helpful one. Practice using the Describe—Effect—Specify—Consequences method outlined on page 4 of the Weekly. The more you do it, the easier it will get.

Getting to "yes"

Many of your nearest and dearest might not be up to speed about your weight loss or healthy living efforts—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 that elaborate on the DESC method:

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.

Request that someone start doing something (asking if you want to go for a walk after dinner instead) than stop doing something (asking you if you want 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, remember: Maybe your target wants to lose a little weight or become more active themselves.

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.