Before you roll your eyes and stomp off to your room, this isn’t a lecture from your mother about bad social influences. When you’ve made the decision to embark on a healthier life path, it seems your friends can do one of two things. They can help you or hurt you. To ensure you stay on track with your health goals, you must be mindful of the role your relationships play in your long-term success.
Peer Pressure Doesn’t Go Away After High School
Do you consider yourself a very private person? Or are you someone who is comfortable sharing everyday life events on social media? It doesn’t really matter which of these “categories” you fall into (maybe neither apply and you’re somewhere in the middle). What does matter is when you start a diet/fitness/wellness program, you need to tell your friends and family about it if you want their support.
When you tell them, you may find that your loved ones are all very supportive, initially. And, like most things in life, some will be more supportive than others. The tension usually arises when you begin to choose healthy activities over the unhealthy ones you may have previously engaged in with them.
If you’ve already begun your ‘Get Healthy’ journey, you’ve probably heard this statement from a friend or two when you decline an invitation to Happy Hour: “But I miss you! We never hang out anymore!” Invariably, this causes strain on the relationship. Perhaps you begin to doubt yourself, not wanting your loved ones to feel as though you’re choosing the gym (for example), over them. You don’t want to drop them from your life, but you don’t want to drop your health goals either. So, what should you do?
Make New Plans
Instead of dropping your friends, try to include them in your new healthy lifestyle. You don’t need to make them feel like they have to go to the gym with you if they ever want to see you again, but you can suggest that you all go do something active together instead of sitting around drinking and eating.
But you must prepare yourself for their answer to your invitation, with the strength to make some tough decisions. Some of your friends will love these healthier activities, but some may insist on remaining status-quo. With these friends, you’re just going to have to tell them the hard truth that being healthy is very important to you. You can still make some time for them, but maybe you’ll only be meeting to hang out with them after you’ve done something active.
Remember and remind yourself often if you must: If they’re really your friends, they’ll understand that this is nothing personal and not an insult to them.
Bond with Healthy People
Some of your friends will want to join you in your lifestyle change. They’ll get excited about bike rides, ice-skating, and going running with you. They’ll tell you about their accomplishments, and you can tell them about yours. These are the people you want to keep close. They’ll help you stay motivated and accountable. When you feel lethargic, instead of saying, “Well, let’s just go get drinks and dinner instead and workout tomorrow,” they’ll suggest that you do something fun and active together. They’ll become your support group. And on this healthier life journey, you’ll need all the support and encouragement you can get.
The friends you want to keep in your corner will be those who cheer you on as you work toward your health goals. These are the people who will get up at the crack of dawn to surprise you at the finish line of your first marathon. You don’t have to choose between your friends and your health. But you can set yourself up for health success by sticking with the friends who will be there for you and support you rather than those who drag you down and guilt-trip you into old, unhealthy habits.