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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, January 14, 2010

Don't forget relationships in setting goals

By Charles Stuart Platkin

Over the next few weeks, many of you will be setting goals -to lose weight, quit smoking, spend more time with your children, etc. Whatever your goal might be, it will more than likely influence many other aspects of your life.

We often set goals without thinking about how they're going to affect other people. But you don't live in a vacuum. Your actions and decisions affect your family, coworkers and friends to one degree or another. Not only that, but the people around you influence you as well.

Therefore, when setting and planning goals, you need to consider these relationships by asking questions such as:

• How does this goal affect my family?

• How will my family influence my ability to achieve my goal?

• How do my responsibilities at work influence my goal?

• How does this goal affect my friends and coworkers?

• How might these friends and coworkers influence my goal?

If you sense that the pursuit of your goal is creating friction with other people, you need to confront this issue head-on before you go any further. Discuss your goals with your loved ones. More than likely they'll be pleased that you've decided to make a positive change. If they have any worries, you can assure them that you've thought it through and you know what you're doing.

For example, let's say you're married and decide to train for an upcoming 10K run. In all likelihood, your spouse will be thrilled for you and happy to see you in great physical shape. But he or she might also be concerned that such training will cut into the time you spend with your family. To offset that concern, you might suggest that your spouse join you in some aspects of the training, or you could offer to cut down on other solitary activities such as watching TV or doing the crossword puzzle, and use that time to prepare for the 10K.

Another example: Your spouse decides to bring home ice cream, cake and other high-calorie treats on a regular basis, claiming that it's for his or her own enjoyment and adding some comment like, "Why should I suffer just because you've decided to diet?" Again, you need to consider and discuss these feelings as part of your planning process. Talking with your family and friends about the healthy food changes you are making should help to gain their support.

Another personality to prepare for is the food pusher. All of us know someone in the family or among our friends who is a food pusher. These are the people who are always telling you that you look great, and in fact, "You're getting too thin." "How can one bite hurt?" they ask. Or, "You have to at least have a taste." Or perhaps they keep telling you, "You're fine just the way you are," and "You don't need to lose weight."

Your purported "support group" may be trying to sabotage you because they are jealous of your newfound goals or because they feel guilty about not having made the same choice to pursue a healthier lifestyle.

Charles Stuart Platkin is a nutrition and public-health advocate, and founder of www.DietDetective.com.