I love the topic of boundary setting especially when it comes to our health and wellness goals. Boundaries are for you not for them. Oftentimes we find that boundaries are not implemented with ourselves and others inside of health and fitness regimens. This is a big reason many individuals really struggle in accomplishing their health goals.
SO WHAT IS A BOUNDARY?
By definition a boundary is something that indicates bounds or limits; a limiting bound or line. Sometimes these boundaries are not set, communicated, or disregarded, and this implicates chaos inside of our emotional state of being.
So let’s look at boundaries inside of health and wellness. An example of a lack of boundary would be a friend or family member of yours routinely pressures you into eating or drinking when you are together. Maybe these pressures are to the effect of “Just one won’t kill you.” or “you’ve done so good you deserve to have a day off.” or even “Why are you dieting, you’re perfect the way you are, you don’t need to lose weight it’s a waste of time.” (Read about the importance of nutrition in your health and fitness goals here.) And while there are commonly no “bad” intentions surrounding these comments and the intent of why they were made, when you really peel back the layers of the onion, the onion being you, you find that these very comments and pressures are the catalyst to why it makes it difficult for you to stay the course of the goals you have set for yourself inside of your health and wellness. You tend to feel guilty and tend to give into these pressures and although it leaves you feeling a small sense of relief in the moment, the guilt, remorse, and hamster wheel cycle seems to start all over again as soon as the dust settles.Two things that go hand and hand here. Lack of boundary setting, lack of communication.
HOW DO I SET A BOUNDARY?
Here’s the thing, this is your journey. Not theirs. Boundaries are put in place to help us feel better and make our lives a little more manageable on a daily basis. Even if the above scenario isn’t your exact story you can find some resonating piece that may pertain to a similar situation or experience. We can talk about scenario setting all day but the real question is HOW do I actually set a boundary and follow through on it and when is it appropriate to set a boundary?
Great questions, happy to answer.
- Identify situations that leave you feeling uncomfortable.
- Assess if a boundary is necessary for the recurring event that is leaving you uneasy.
- Create an obtainable boundary for you and others
- Communicate your boundaries with others.
- ASK if that boundary is obtainable for the other person.
- Set boundaries
- Follow through on the consequence of the boundary if your boundary is crossed.
So when we think of boundary identification we have to assess if it is appropriate to set one. There is a difference between something small that we can live with but may find annoying or if it is something that causes us true discomfort. An example would be a partner leaving the cap off of the tooth paste when you’ve repeatedly asked them to put the cap back on. This isn’t a situation that would be terms for an end to a relationship, it’s just a really annoying habit that may make you irritable. Whereas if a spouse cheated on you this would be grounds for the end of a relationship because it goes against a hard boundary of your relationship.
When we set a boundary for our fitness goals we first must identify if this is a cap off the toothpaste situation. An example of an appropriate time to set a boundary would be in a peer pressure situation. NO is a complete sentence. When you are in a social setting or in your home and you feel pressured to eat or drink when you truly do not want to. This would be a great time to set a boundary. “ Hey X I am really focused on achieving my fitness goals, I recognize that I feel pressured to participate in things that go against my goals I have set for myself, I would like to attend dinner but I am asking that you respect my decision not to partake in X and are respectful of my decision to not partake in X while I am in attendance.” They will likely respond in support and respect your decision.
This can be a gentle and respectful way to still be present but also set a boundary that will leave you at peace and un pressured to participate in things that may leave you feeling not your best. If you are in a situation where you feel your boundary is crossed after communication. That is your time to remove yourself from the situation calmly for protection of your peace of mind.
WHY BOUNDARIES ARE IMPORTANT:
People often cast judgement from a place of 1. lack of understanding and 2. reflection of their own internal insecurities. Becoming mindful of our journeys being our own and recognizing when 1 and 2 are a reflection of someone else’s struggle. Your goals and feelings are valid also. It’s okay to ask for what you need. It’s okay to say no. No is a complete sentence and you do not owe someone an explanation for why you have made that decision for yourself. Although it can help others understand. You should not miss out on moments that mean the most to you, but we can find ways to better support our goals, our wants and needs, and still enjoy the little moments that bring us joy to be a part of without the guilt, remorse, irritability, and discontent we so often feel in association with our decisions or pressures of others.