The other day, my husband told me he was going out for a run. My response was, "Are you running the same route you always run? Why don't you run somewhere different? And you should do some interval training, because you can burn more calories, and you should..."
It was at that moment that his eyes glazed over and I very quickly picked up his silent message: "Shut up, dear."
I love giving advice, even when it isn't asked for and I think that's something many exercisers enjoy. We like sharing our knowledge and helping people, but sometimes we're just annoying, as my husband can attest.
A few things I've learned about giving advice:
1. Don't - What I've learned from my husband is that, "I'm going for a run," doesn't actually mean, "Tell me how to improve my workout in excruciating detail." Unless someone specifically asks for advice, it's probably best to keep it to yourself.
2. Don't oversimplify - When people do ask for advice, especially beginners, we sometimes oversimplify, forgetting what it's like for people who are just starting out. For example, saying, "Why don't you just eat less," to a person struggling to lose weight may make their eyes roll out of their heads, leading to permanent blindness. In fact, almost any sentence that starts with, "Why don't you just..." is usually followed by a useless statement. Remembering our own struggles can help us avoid that kind of counterproductive advice.
3. Don't waste your breath - Then there's that person who constantly asks for advice and never actually takes it. We probably all know someone like that and our advice usually goes in one ear and out the other. Some people are looking for justification for their behavior, not real advice. If you find yourself saying the same thing over and over again, ("Maybe you can't follow that diet because it requires you to eat tree bark and lemon wedges all day"), it may be a good idea to back off and save it for someone who's listening.
4. Listen - This sounds silly, but most of us spend half the conversation thinking about what we're going to say next. Instead really listen to what the person is saying so you can give a thoughtful response. Sometimes people say one thing ("I can't seem to lose weight") but they're really talking about something else ("I feel so stressed, that I eat more than I should"). Knowing what's really going on may make it easier to offer your help.
5. Share your own struggles - It's great to offer advice, but it's also helpful to talk about how you struggle with your own choices at times. When you're healthy and fit, people may feel intimidated by that, not realizing that we all have to work at making healthy choices.
Do people come to you for exercise advice and, if so, do you ever go a little too far? What's your advice for giving exercise advice? Leave a comment and tell us about it.