You’ve probably heard the saying, “You are who you hang out with.” It’s usually recited to teenagers as a warning as they pick which high school clique they want to join. At that age, there’s nothing worse than being associated with the wrong crowd. But it turns out the saying applies not only to our reputation, but also to our health.
According to research from Harvard University, if an individual is friends with an overweight person, his or her chances of becoming obese increases by more than 50 percent. This might explain why obesity, which now plagues a third of all Americans, is expected to rise to 42 percent of the nation in the next few years.
While simply surrounding yourself with lean friends does not help you lose weight (If only it were that easy!), I think it’s smart to spend time with people who share and support your health goals. I know I’m much more likely to order a salad when out to lunch with a health-minded friend than I am when eating with someone who doesn’t make staying fit a priority.
With all of this in mind, think about the people in your life and how they influence your diet and exercise habits. Are you hanging out with people who will encourage you to live your best life and make the healthiest choices you can make?
I also challenge you to think about the impact you’re having on the people around you. Even if you don’t struggle with weight issues yourself, you can benefit from making good lifestyle choices. If nothing else, you can be a cheerleader to your friends and family members as they work toward their goals. Don’t be the person who brings donuts to a co-worker who is trying to lose weight, or who encourages friends to skip the gym and grab a drink with you instead. You can catch up on a jog just as easily as you can over a margarita!
Whether they mean to or not, there are people in our lives that deter us from our healthy habits. Do any of your close friends and family members fall into one or more of these categories? More importantly, do any of these types describe you?
The Social Butterfly
They have your number on speed dial and constantly invite you out for drinks or dinner. It’s not that you don’t want to spend time with this person, but does every meeting have to take place over a daiquiri or a plate of nachos? If you can’t entice this person to hang out in a healthier setting, it may be best to let their calls go to voicemail!
The Unreliable Gym Buddy
You’re all set to meet up with your gym partner when she announces the latest drama in her life and asks if you want to hunker down with a chick flick and a tub of ice cream instead. The next time you meet up, she’s forgotten her running shoes. If you’re serious about regular exercise, you gotta find a more reliable partner. Or, you may be better off joining a class, hiring a trainer, or just flying solo.
This individual bakes a cake or tray of cookies for every conceivable occasion…book club, birthdays, Presidents Day, Grandparents Day, Tuesdays…you name it. If you don’t partake in her latest effort, she’s completely offended. She’s also apt to serve you a huge serving and only dole out a tiny bit for herself. You may have to avoid the office break room from time to time, but if you know what’s best for your health and your waist line, steer clear of little Susie Homemaker!
The Skinny Mini
These people have never had to diet in their lives and can’t understand why anyone would want to restrict their caloric intake. After all, life is too short to skip French fries, right? While there are people who are naturally slim, that doesn’t mean they are necessarily healthy. Explain to them why health is a priority, no matter our size, and how they could benefit from a lean diet and regular exercise. They may not make any big lifestyle changes, but perhaps it will help them sympathize and be more supportive of you.
The purpose of this post is not to alienate you from your friends and cause you to become a hermit! I’m just trying to get you thinking. Many of these types are well-meaning people who have no idea that they are derailing your weight loss efforts. Some firm but gentle education or a simple request for more support could turn things around. Unfortunately, there are people who purposely set out to sabotage others’ health efforts or turn it into a competition. I don’t know about you, but those are not people with whom I want to spend a lot of time.
Can you think of any other types of people that can influence our health in a negative way? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Have a great day!