Who is your support team?
Making a change in your diet or lifestyle is a personal decision, but it definitely gets easier if you feel supported by your surroundings, especially by the people close to you. On the other hand, being surrounded by people who constantly put obstacles in your way might make it very hard or even impossible for you to reach your goal, and thus to realize your maximum potential.
In an ideal world, your partner would be your best ally on your health and fertility journey, supporting you as much as possible or maybe even making an effort him/herself to optimize his/her own health and fertility.
This would be ideal ESPECIALLY when it comes to preparing for a baby, because both partners play an equally important role in the conception process and their behaviors and attitude prior to conception have a big impact on the future health of the baby. Explaining this to your partner might be enough to make him/her want to take responsibility, too, and do the best he/she can. Especially men might even feel grateful that they can do something in a process that they might otherwise feel so little involved in. Just beware of trying to control your partner! From experience, I can tell you that obsessing too much about optimizing not only your own, but also your partner’s diet and lifestyle will create the opposite of what you need: stress and conflict.
At the very least your partner should not sabotage your efforts to improve your health and/or fertility. Constantly offering you sweets, alcohol or coffee, or deliberately enjoying those substances in front of your eyes is not a very loving behavior and can make it very hard, if not impossible for you to stay on track. Again, it helps to inform your partner about what you are doing. If the two of you are used to drinking a bottle of wine every night, going for fries in the evening or having coffee and croissants for breakfast, and you don’t explain to him/her that these things hurt your health and fertility, and that you want to try something else now, you cannot really blame him/her for doing what he/she always did.
Of course, dynamics can vary from couple to couple, especially when it comes to communication. However, I would suggest that if you feel like you cannot talk to your partner about this, leave alone ask him/her to support or to join you (or at least not to sabotage you) or if despite you explaining your motivations to him/her and asking for support he/she continues sabotaging you, you probably have to think twice if you are with the right person, and ESPECIALLY if you really want to start a family with him/her. Trust and communication are essential in a romantic relationship, and if those are not present, not being able to get pregnant could be a blessing in disguise, as hard as it sounds.
Friends and Family
Apart from your partner, your friends are most likely to offer you support on your journey. However, sometimes it’s those that you call “your very best friends” and family who actually make it hardest for you to change. That’s kind of logic, considering that we usually choose friends that share our likes, dislikes and behaviors. It’s always nicer to eat junk food or to go for drinks in a group – it makes us feel less bad about ourselves, if everybody else is also doing it. How many times did a friend ask you if you wanted a piece of cake – just so that she could have one, too? If you don’t play the game anymore, they might not necessarily like that, because it makes you stick out and reminds them of their own shortcomings or even provokes guilt. You stating that you want to eat healthier because you want to take responsibility for yourself (or for your future baby), might make them feel like they are irresponsible because they don’t. And of course, it is true, but this is not a comfortable thing to acknowledge about oneself, so it’s easier to make YOU wrong.
Again, it helps if you explain your reasoning to your friends, rather than keeping it to yourself. If they are real friends, they will understand and support you, because they want your best and they definitely want you to be healthy. If they don’t, well, then maybe it’s time for you to find new friends. Because it shouldn’t matter what’s in your glass or on your plate – as long as you are with them and have some fun.
With family, it can be complicated as well, especially since you cannot simply choose a new one. If explaining your motivations is not enough, then it might just be the perfect opportunity for you to strengthen your “saying no” muscle. Chances are that if they are not collaborative in helping you to be healthier (or during preconception), they won’t be either when it comes to other matters that are important to you, but not in line with their views (or once baby is there). You might want to get comfortable speaking up for yourself (and/or your baby) more. However, it can also be the opportunity to loosen the reins a bit and to simply let go of your rules during the occasional family gatherings. Only you can judge what is appropriate in a given situation. The goal should always be to limit your total stress (physical and emotional) and maximize pleasure, which sometimes can mean to leave the cake, and sometimes to eat it, depending on your own individual case and state of health.
Find your tribe
Apart from your partner, family and friends, it can be very useful to get additional support from like-minded people, especially if the former three groups are not the most supportive. The best way to find those people is through attending events or forums related to healthy eating and conscious living. You can also work with a specialized coach, like myself. Either way, reaching out to other people is crucial and will make the whole process much easier and more fun, too!
Be your own best cheerleader!
It is true that often we are our own worst enemy. We have higher expectations of ourselves than of anyone else. We beat ourselves up the moment we slip. We constantly find something to criticize, a reason why we are not good enough, why we will never get love, happiness, etc. etc. If you treated your best friend the way you probably treat yourself, she/he would (hopefully) fire you!
So start treating yourself as your own best friend. Take good care of yourself. Respect yourself. Take responsibility for yourself. And at the same time, be gentle on yourself. Cheer yourself up. Celebrate the small gains and forgive the slips.
The harder this is for you, the more you need to practice. More inspiration in this article.
Who is YOUR support system? Do you have the support you need? Or do you need to make some changes – in yourself, in your surroundings – to make sure you can indeed be the best you can be?