One Battle at a Time: How to Explain IF to Friends and Family
A feature I was particularly into when I started discovering intermittent fasting was the way it fitted my then very hectic schedule. I was very flexible maintaining long hours, so it worked well for me to not have to think about food more than twice a day. I worked my schedule around the meals more efficiently and always managed to finish everything in time.
However, when a new client asked me to meet him for breakfast to go over some project details, I never figured the things could get uncomfortable. And don’t get me wrong: I was well prepared for the discussion. The meeting fit my schedule perfectly, I had all of the materials ready, either on my tablet or in print and, as we were supposed to finalize everything, I was feeling pretty enthusiastic about myself as I anticipated my morning cup of coffee.
What I never anticipated was that me not having anything to eat would be met with dead silence.
For a very long moment, I had my client utterly confused. He wasn’t sure if I was showing disrespect by avoiding the meal or if I was in too big of a hurry to provide him with my undivided attention regarding the project. That was the moment I realized IF would not only impact my health but also complicate my social life in a way I haven’t thought of before.
And I have to admit, I was intrigued: Intrigued enough to continue thinking about it for the next several weeks. I started bumping into similar situations on purpose with my family and friends.
I figured that would give me an opportunity to figure out how to explain IF to friends and family (and, eventually, coworkers) with as least tension as possible. So here are my answers:
Why is that so?
Intermittent fasting is still a matter of mystery for most of the people. It’s not like you can expect an advert promoting IF to pop up on every other lifestyle blog. If you’re not a food blogger, or at least in the food marketing business, you probably haven’t heard about a single food blogger who is standing behind IF. But you have seen lots of bloggers sharing their tips on maintaining perfect weight by having 5 perfectly balanced meals.
Which further supports my point that people have limited ways of informing themselves about IF unless they know what particularly they are looking for.
And if you constantly keep listening and reading about that one particular method and how it is perfect for everyone, you will eventually start believing it. That’s why when something different and radical like IF comes up, you get the instinct to stand up against it.
That’s actually a common reaction: It’s the way all of us react in most of the social situations.
But what can we do now when we are on the other, radical side?
Get your facts straight
Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is just an excuse for people who lack motivation.
As motivation shouldn’t be a problem for you anymore (as we talked before, IF does increase productivity). The first step you need to cover to avoid awkward situations with your loved ones is making sure that you really find out everything about IF so that they can be assured you haven’t actually lost your mind.
Now, you might be thinking: “Why the fuck would I want to explain myself to them?”
You are a young, vibrant, and successful professional, right? You need not explain your actions and intentions to anyone. While you’re not obliged to, your effort will always be met with appreciation. The fact that you didn’t just jump into something you’re not familiar with, but rather took your time to find out more about it and base your decision on solid evidence shows that you have integrity and know what you are doing.
Another important thing to remember is that they are, after all, the people you are closest to. No matter how deep we dive into our professional selves, there’s always that important aspect of our life we need to nourish, and that aspect is greatly influenced by our family and friends. Maintaining close social relationships is important when making bigger lifestyle changes, as they serve as a great emotional and motivational support (of course, once you feed their initial curiosity).
Also, if you already see positive results in your own example, why not share your experience with others?
If you’re wondering where to start, just remember that you can always go back to our FAQ that will cover the initial outburst of questions. I find it refreshing to check out that same page once in a while as a sort of reminder and a source of motivation, too.
“Show, don’t tell” works great here, too
Another very convenient way to show the important people in your life that everything is well is taking them out for a meal. Or inviting them over. Whatever fits better into your schedule.
This creates the perfect opportunity for you to show that you are actually doing nothing that goes against reason, and that intermittent fasting isn’t some sort of blasphemy upon the dogma that is healthy nutrition. On the contrary, they will be able to see that you actually have a completely satisfying intake of all the needed minerals, vitamins, proteins, and carbs on a regular basis.
You’re just doing that in less time than them.
How your F&F can affect your motivation
While most of us don’t want to talk about the changes in our eating regimen until we see it actually work, for some that can also be the main reason of failing. Sharing this experience with one or more closest people in your life can, on the other hand, be beneficial.
As I said it in the introduction, every change can be hard, even if you’re the most driven person in your surrounding. Having a couple of friends or family members to share your first impressions regarding IF can help push past that phase faster, even if they are not all that familiar with the IF.
They can still be people of trust you can share your feedback with and, in case you live together, or at least eat often together, let you know if they notice any changes about you. As it could take your body some time to adjust to the new regimen, you could experience crankiness and cravings (especially sugar cravings).
And who can draw your attention to the fact that you’re a pain in the ass better than your friends? That’s right: No one.
Other awkward situations 101
Of course, your closest friends and family are not the only people you’ll be meeting. After all, you’re an active social being. Business meetings, working in hubs, and dinner dates: You can’t call off the entire social (and professional) aspect of your life until you get back into shape. However, what you can do is find a way to make it work. As you’re a natural when it comes to problem solving, otherwise you wouldn’t be in the business, this should be a piece of cake for you.
Your first advantage is that you can have coffee and tea even during the fasting period. And discussing business over a cup of Joe can be as productive as talking it over a hearty meal. Maybe even more productive, as coffee can boost your metabolism, as opposed to food, which can make you drowsy after.
Now, what about when you’re at the office or a hub? Having meals together is one crucial part of bonding among co-workers, so would it really be a good idea for you to skip the better part of that experience for the sake of maintaining IF?
Let’s not get that radical, alright?
No matter how much intermittent fasting can help you with increased productivity, it will never be able to make up for the invaluable importance of either networking or being a part of a team. Luckily, there are things you can do to turn the situation into your favor.
As modern entrepreneurship and networking are more about sharing experience than anything else, intermittent fasting can be your asset and not a reason for your lack of success.
If you’re in the position to take initiative for networking events and team building activities, arrange them during your feasting period. You would be able to enjoy the event as much as the others, and you wouldn’t have to explain yourself if you don’t want to.
On the other hand, if you end up at an event that includes food, and it’s during your fasting period, you could consider this an excellent opportunity to once again test your social skills. Grab a cup of Americano or quality green tea without any sweeteners and just try to be the best version of the entrepreneurial you.
If you really don’t feel comfortable enough to talk about intermittent fasting yet, you can always say that you’re on a juice cleanse. I, however, wouldn’t consider this option for two reasons: I don’t like lying, and I try to do it only when it’s completely necessary. Secondly, intermittent fasting gives way better results than juice cleanses, in my opinion. The only upside in this excuse is that people are more familiar with juice cleansing than intermittent fasting as the first one is more prominent in the modern media.
However, your other option is to mind your own business. If a conversation takes a turn for this topic, speak about it, and do it with enthusiasm. If you’ve already gone through the ‘how to explain IF to friends and family’ phase, doing the same to your coworkers will even be less challenging.
You can open by saying that you’re only starting this new eating regimen and are looking forward to seeing the results. It can also be good to point out that you don’t mind other people eating during your presence when you’re fasting, as you no longer have cravings. While some would find that sufficient, you can wind up with just the same amount of questions from others as you did from your family.
While knowing your facts is great, knowing how to present them plays a huge deal in the process of getting your point across. Imagine you’re holding a TED talk on intermittent fasting. While length and data like numbers are not all that important, keeping your listener focused and offering solid examples is what plays a major part.
If you have been into IF for several months, you also have personal examples to show. Tell your friends, coworkers, or family about how IF makes you feel, how much has your fitness routine changed since you started with intermittent fasting and what have you noticed regarding your productivity so far. Once you have the actual results, it all makes it much easier.
Now to the two important things we often lose from our sight:
Don’t sweat it
You’re fine. You’re fucking better than fine. Pushing yourself in the world of entrepreneurs is no small nor easy thing to do. And you’re doing it. While also making sure your body is as sharp as your mind.
If somebody doesn’t agree with your choice, that’s not your problem. Which brings us to our next point:
As the topic of this article was explaining IF to your friends and family, I think this is very much worth pointing out. Intermittent fasting is not something you have an opportunity to hear about every day. People have misconceptions. Introducing a topic they potentially feel strong about doesn’t always go as smooth as we would like to.
Don’t let situations like that one raise your stress levels. Fuck stress! You are doing this to improve your health, not make it worse. Getting into a fight about this is nothing but counterproductive. You will lose your nerve and your point won’t be taken seriously.
What is important is to keep moving on.
We have talked before about the importance IF can have among entrepreneurs. The facts gathered so far are in your favor. Though switching to IF could be a significant change, in case your current lifestyle is not anything like the one described in our previous posts, benefits such as productivity and motivation shouldn’t be something easily disregarded.
The social aspect of it is, well, important. But not something to make a big fuss about in case you don’t get the initial reaction you were looking for. Along with results, come second and third impressions, so let your results speak for themselves.
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Originally published at www.biohackingentrepreneur.com on September 20, 2016.