Negative Feedback Smackdown

When you embrace the new fitness lifestyle, there are others in your life, you might not be as supportive to your new habits, and excitement to be a leaner, stronger, healthier version of you.  

Read on, to discover how to respond positively (and not be offended) when others question, your new choices, in lifestyle.

Post Inspiration

Training sessions bring out the best insights from my clients.  

I like to keep conversation to minimum, as we there to work, however, through movement, you come up with perspectives about the fitness lifestyle, your choices, and the choices you see others make in their own lives.

We compare your thoughts and habits before you started on this journey to where they are now.

On this day, one client arrives with perceptions and judgements others place on her newly adopted (but not that new) fitness lifestyle.  

Her issue is that if others around her eat hamburgers, fries, nachos and other items that I would not consider healthy foods, yet, no one every comments on what they eat.  

She chooses healthier options, often and refuses, the higher calorie foods, yet, others have much to say, and tell her it is not so healthy to eat like that all the time, and she should ‘live a little’. 

This client is a long term chronic ‘dieter’.  

She trained intensely for a very long time on extremely low calories.  

She works in a restaurant and found herself picking at various sinful foods during the day as she thought it ‘would not matter’ to have a bite here and a bite there as she did not eat very much in the first place.  She tried to ‘eat well’,  but it was inconsistent, and quite restrictive.

We have been working together we have changed her approach to nutrition, and modified her training.

We increased her calories, changed her perspective on food as fuel for her workouts.  She has an active lifestyle, and implemented a structured eating plan where she will actually energize her body, with nutrition rather than restrict herself.

Education + Plan + Practice = Outcome

  • Mentally she has changed her relationship with food.
  • She lost around 30 lbs in scale weight
  • Starting size of 10-12, we added weight training has transformed her into a size 4-6
  • Friends have noticed her results
  • Family/friends/co-workers comment on her eating habits and consistent training habits

Feedback + Comments

They say, as reported by my client, “Wow, you look so thin, are you sick?”.  Or they see she has defined muscles (at rest), and everyone wants to know what type of diet she is doing, or her extreme training regime.

At work, instead of eating a nacho here, and a French fry there, she pulls out her vegetables, or power packed protein meal and others make comments.

She perceives these comments as judgmental, and negative.  Whereas she is just trying to do better, for her own lifestyle and health.

Comments such as:

“Why are you eating that?”

“Your too thin, you need to eat more.”

“You really like eating that way?”

“Why don’t you have some of this [insert food here]”

She is frustrated, as she has made a positive change in her life.  

She committed to a different lifestyle, more balanced, and has shifted her relationship with food.  

These foods make her feel amazing, yet others around her, continue to comment on her choices.

She views it as a lack of support.

If she decided to eat a hamburger, fries, and washed it down with a beer, no one would say anything. If she walked in with an iced cappuccino, from Tim Horton’s no one would say anything. Yet, because someone put cream in her coffee and she refused it as it needs to be with milk, they make comments.

Since she is choosing differently, which is outside the norm for others in her life, who may not live this way, comments/observations are made.

Reality + Time


This bump in the road always rears its ugly head at some point in the fitness lifestyle journey.   

This post is to empower you, with how too respond kindly, in order to minimize the comments.  

There are those in your life, who cannot accept the changes, you have made, and will try to derail, you or find it hard to access that you have suck to these changes.  

Leading with love, grace, and accept that not all will understand what you are trying to do, is much about being okay, being you, as letting others be themselves.

But you do not have to beat a dead horse, every time you come in contact with those who always seem unreceptive to your lifestyle changes, or choices, whether it be with fitness, or any other choice you have made in your life.  

These questions and comments not always judgments, (however, they could be) but from a place of inquiry, interest, or perhaps lack of understanding, of the lifestyle change one has to make in order to have sustainable results.

Your reaction and response to their questions, can either come from a positive place or add more fuel to the inquiry fire.  

My client had already been eating ‘differently’ before anyone really saw a difference in her. She was actually quite fit over a number of years, but like most falls off, due to whatever, reason, and wanted to get fit, and stay there.  

She is IN the change, while others just NOTICED the change.

The point here is to accept that others will say something once you shift you eating, in a way that requires you to make choices to certain food offerings if you have a fitness goal in mind.

This is not just in a restaurant situation, but also at dinner parties, or spontaneous celebrations or social events with friends or family.  It is about staying conscious in the process, and mindful of your food choices while making your life exciting.

With that, comes comments, and you might have to defuse these comments to allow others to understand what you are willing to put up with and what you are not.


It is people’s expectations of you, of the person you were, which need to be adjusted, and for them, it will take longer for them to accept the change. 


Your reaction is putting limits on what others say to you when it comes to your eating and training habits.

The point is to give a response that allows the person to understand what you are doing, but not so detailed to welcome discussion of it. It is best to have a script of sorts, and be able to put the kibosh on the conversation and shut it down when needed.

A change in your lifestyle, does spark a conversation.  It could be about fitness, and/or nutrition, as now others see you as a source of information and a role model.

Example Comments + Kind Response

Choose the most appropriate response, to any question or comment.  Feel free to use them as is, or come up with a modified script, that works, for you and your personality.

Do you have an response, when others around you question, or inquiry about your training and nutrition a habits?

Leave your best response, in the comments.


“You look different.”
Thanks. All in a good way right? 


Why are you eating like that?
It makes me feel good.


You really like what you are eating?
It gives me lots of energy, and I feel strong.


“Your too thin, I think you need to eat more.” or “Your so skinny”
“Are you eating enough?”
I eat lots, including lots of carbs. Thank you.  I think that is a compliment right?  You are saying I look good?
Thank you for your concern.


Why don’t you eat some of [insert food here]?
I love that [insert food], it tastes amazing, but I don’t feel like eating it today.


“You have amazing willpower”
I don’t look at it that way. I still eat everything you eat. Just not everyday.


“You look thinner” OR “You look really thin, are you sick?”
I lost weight, thanks for noticing.  I have been working really hard.


“What is your secret, what pill are you really taking, as I need that”
Hard work. That’s it. And a great trainer – go see them. Here is their information.


“Are you working out?”
Yes, it gives me lots of energy. My coach is great.  Would you like her number/email?


“Is this what you wanted?”
Yes, all self inflicted.  I have so much energy, and I am so much more productive in my day.


If all else fails, blame me. Blame the coach/trainer.
We have no problem taking the blame.  None.
You can tell them to reach out, to help get started on an individualized plan to success.

Original | 17 March 2015
Update | 27 June 2021

Written by Allison Ethier
Allison Ethier, is a wellness lifestyle & body coach, IFBB Fitness Pro, and mom & coffee lover. She provides structured training, and flexible nutrition, to guide everyday athletes, to move better, build strength, and feel good in their own skin. B.Sc, B. Edu, NSCA-CPT, ISSN, PN1
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