Don't Go It Alone
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
“Birds of a feather flock together.”
“Guilty by association.”
“Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”
“As iron sharpens iron, so one friend sharpens another.”
“The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray.”
There are so many quotes, idioms, and proverbs regarding our personal relationships that a complete list would be miles long. It’s a fairly universal concept: We are highly influenced by those around us, and therefore must be careful about who is around us. Of course, this is easier said than done. You can’t choose your family. Sometimes it seems like you can’t be too picky with friends or coworkers either. So, what do you do when you want to get healthier but everyone you know is eating pizza?
The first step is often to look beyond your immediate circle of friends and family for inspiration. Just past these inner rings are new and exciting possibilities — groups of people who like doing things like eating kale and working out. More often than not, these are people just like you, with spouses and close friends who often prefer takeout to taking a walk. They’ve already begun to blaze a trail through the complicated jungle of balancing relationships and health decisions. Read blogs. Read books. Join a walking or jogging group in your community. It won’t be long before you realize that there are lots of healthy people around you. You may be surprised by what you can see once the blinders are off!
The second is to be honest about who you keep around you so that you have an excuse to behave poorly. If you’ve got a friend with whom you tend to make your worst weekly health decisions, it might have more to do with you than them. Do you need that extra drink or serving of wings? Can you still keep up with your coworkers and get together for drinks without ordering the single worst thing on the menu? Be honest! Even if you get teased a little, no one worth keeping in your inner circle will ultimately criticize you for becoming healthier.
Third, be strategic about your time with family. If you’ve got a date night or vacation tradition that always indulges to excess, you need to change the nature of the date or vacation. There’s nothing sexy about indigestion and nothing family-friendly about hangovers. If weekday dinners with your kids are always fast food, it might be time to remove a few extracurriculars and start cooking together.
Fourth, look for health allies. There are bound to be members of your family and friend group who are already healthy or who want to get healthier. They are probably looking for allies, too! Be intentional about spending more time with these wonderful people. It won’t be long before you are drawing others into your positive group.
Finally, get professional accountability and guidance. Despite our best intentions, we rarely keep difficult promises that we make only to ourselves. When we determine that our health is a worthy investment, putting actual dollars into hiring a movement or nutrition coach can pay back exponentially. Additionally, having a true expert guiding you can make your efforts more productive and minimize the chance of stupid mistakes.
In other words: Don’t go it alone!