Two runners sharing success
February 26, 2018 | by Susan Baumgaertel MD

It’s true: If you surround yourself with others of like mind, you will feel more supported and have greater success with goal setting. Yet, we don’t always have the luxury of spending time with others who feel exactly like we do.

Accept the Choices of Those Around You

So many times, I hear my patients lament “my husband is a meat and potatoes guy,” or “my wife doesn’t like to go on walks.” It seems that this almost unspoken mantra gets played in their heads to the point where they feel like their efforts to change are thwarted and self-defeat is reality. It leads to the destructive behavior of giving up without even trying. Sometimes the playlist of our life gets so loud in our heads that we can’t seem to find a different path. That’s where creativity is vital.

Stay Focused on Your Own Goals

Here is a great example from my own journey. I recently hosted our Menu for Change program’s lecture event on “Functional Foods” with Kris Fuehr from Cascade Culture yogurt and Julie O’Brien from Firefly Kitchens. They gave a fantastic talk, complete with a robust tasting session afterwards. I proudly took home a jar of Cortido Kraut and put it in my fridge. My goal was to try to add more fermented foods into my diet, just one tablespoon at a time (translate: a gift to my gut microbiome).

Well, less than 12 hours had elapsed and my husband curiously asked “what is that?” as he opened the fridge to survey the contents. I excitedly described my kraut quest, and he seemed less than enthused. So, right then and there I could have decided to abandon my idea, and just not mention the kraut again. Instead, the next day I decided to experiment for breakfast and added it in. I whipped up four scrambled eggs, diced red bell pepper, ribbons of kale, feta cheese, a leftover piece of prosciutto, and freshly ground black pepper. Oh yes, and a tablespoon of Cortido Kraut. He completely loved it, and I did too.

Find a Way to Make it Work

Apart from simple examples like my kraut story, this theme plays out over and over again in many different ways, from seemingly insignificant to almost insurmountable situations. It could be exercise choices, nutrition changes, sleep schedules, or work ethic. Sometimes you need to strike out on your own. More often than not, however, you can find a way to change or adapt your goals to include others, and also to find a parallel path to get to where you want to go.

Your husband does not share your morning lark tendencies? Find a walking buddy from work or in your friendship circle. Interested in eating more veggies but your roommate is a carnivore? Add extra veggies to each meal without taking meat away. Trying to focus on better sleep quality and quantity but your wife snores? Invest in really good (and comfortable) ear plugs – or better yet, have her evaluated for sleep apnea (because you love her, right?!).

If You Need Help, Just Ask

Creativity is essential to navigating these journeys. If you are not feeling that creative, enlist the help of a health coach to work with you. It is essential for your mental and physical health, and certainly beats the alternative of just giving up.