Two years ago I had the privilege of seeing Joel Peterson, chairman of the board for JetBlue Airways Corporation, speak at an event. He’s an amazing speaker and shared insights into lessons he’s learned over the years. One really stood out to me… “be a cheerleader—not a policeman—for my kids.”

When I returned home, I shared his advice with my husband and we strive to make it part of our parenting style. We still make plenty of (too many) mistakes, but we do our best to remember this core ideal.

Obviously there are times when kids need their parents to “wear the hat” of a police officer, but there are so many more occasions to be their cheerleader when mindfully seeking the opportunities to cheer vs. correct.

Recently, I came across an article from Mr. Peterson, “If I Could Start Over, Here’s What I’d Do Differently.”

He offers such great advice, but this time when I saw the reference to being a cheerleader vs. policeman, it made me think about how do we as a society cheer on people’s personal health goals vs. living in a police officer or corrections officer mode?

We already know fat shaming doesn’t work and I don’t know anyone who wants a friend, family member, or co-worker to become their personal health police officer (even those with good intentions) and correcting every “wrong” or “unlawful” healthy move. For anyone trying to get healthy, surely we can find ways to become cheerleaders and support their everyday efforts, whether its eating fewer calories, squeezing in workout, getting to the gym more frequently, hitting the home fitness equipment, or training for a marathon.

No one who wants the health police (even those with good intentions) correcting their every move.

No one who wants the health police (even those with good intentions) correcting their every move.

If you’re truly concerned about someone’s health, especially if you know that genetic health issues run in the family, WebMD has a wonderful list “10 Ways to Help a Loved One Lose Weight” that also apply to cheering people on towards accomplishing all their health goals.

Take a look for some great ideas that will inspire you to be helpful rather than hurtful in 2015.

  1. Be a cheerleader, not a coach
  2. Become an active part of their program
  3. Help develop healthy incentives
  4. Show them you care about the person, not the diet
  5. When they’ve had a bad day, listen but don’t judge
  6. Be “aggressively supportive”
  7. Find non-food ways to celebrate the small goals along the way
  8. Encourage a healthy lifestyle, not just weight loss
  9. Learn about their weight loss program
  10. Be positive!

Our number 11: Set a joint goal like running a 5k together (and soon…use Excy together).

fat shaming

If you’re truly concerned about someone’s health, these are some great ideas that will inspire you to be helpful rather than hurtful from WebMD

So, are you a Health Cheerleader or The Health Police? Something to think about next time you find yourself offering advice!

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