Keep Your Friends Close....And Your Workout Buddy Closer

As I studied for the ACE PT Certification, I learned many new things. In fact, so many new things that I often went to bed feeling as if my brain was swollen with all the new information. However, some of the information I had already learned from personal experience. One of the biggest "duh, I already knew that" tidbits we received was the importance of social support in determining adherence to any new fitness program.
I had learned this from my own life in two ways....having that support and not having it.
My marriage offered absolutely 0% support in pursuing and/or maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In fact, I would almost say it offered a negative percentage in that he quite literally encouraged me to eat junk food, skip workouts and watch lots of t.v. But, just as I pointed out in my last post, I do not at all blame him for this. It was ME and me alone who allowed him to persuade me. I was a consenting adult of sound mind each and every time I made a poor decision and I will not hand the blame, nor the power, to anyone other than myself.
That being said, if you are already on the fence about getting healthy and not very motivated, social support can make all the difference.
So, fast forward to today. I make it a point to surround myself with health conscious people whenever possible. I'm lucky in that my mother, sister and brother are all as health conscious as I am and we are all very close so I already have a great support team there.
However, add to this my boyfriend, and I have the perfect support network. Instead of the typical American couple pass times of t.v., sitting beside each other on seperate computers and dining out, our bonding time consists of working out, hiking, yoga, juicing, planning & cooking healthy meals (well, he helps with the planning and eating part anyway, haha), meditating, making vision boards, and finding and sharing inspirational reading material with each other. We, in a positive and gentle way, talk each other out of poor choices and suggest healthy ways to deal with problems.
People could argue, "well, you're just lucky that you have people who are so supportive, that's not what my circle of friends/family is like". And I would respond with the following four things:
  1. I began and maintained my healthy lifestyle before I left my husband, while I had post-partum depression, a new born baby, extreme financial problems, 30+ years old, back and neck problems, and while weighing 275 pounds and exercising in about 4 square feet of our storage room.
  2. I have eliminated certain, toxic people from my life because they didn't contribute to my wellbeing.
  3. I have a fitness-minded boyfriend because I refused to settle for anything less. In fact, I ended relationships before him because (as I mentioned in #2) they were not conducive to my new lifestyle. I spent years fantasizing about the type of partner that I could embrace this lifestyle with and I held out until I found it.
  4. are right, I am very lucky.
Yes, I didn't choose my family. My mom became health-conscious while I was growing up and set a great example for us during our teen years. However, since I've embraced the lifestyle, I've passed on new information and dedication onto my family and the synergy of all our knowledge and experiences has helped us all to grow exponentially over the past few years.
So your family sucks when it comes to nutrition? Your husband is clutching tightly to his Pepsi and your kids to their tater tots and you hate making two meals? Well, first, don't!!! Make one healthy meal. Be the example that your family is missing.
I will address one issue that can be a little stickier and that's feeding small children. While husbands and older children can fend for themselves, younger children (like my 4 year old son) are dependent on you to make sure they eat. My son eats better than most kids but I still have to make two meals because he gags on some of the more bitter or sophisticated foods but I still feed him healthy, single ingredient foods. A typical meal might be a salad with fish for me and boiled eggs, raw cashews & apple slices for him. He still isn't going to get junk just because he can't eat grown up food.
Small children need these types of nutritional building blocks as much as us if not more because these are the foods that are literally creating the bodies that will carry them through the rest of their lives. We must build a solid foundation, not just physically but psychologically as well by setting the best example we can for them. It can't be perfect. My son goes to daycare and they feed him total crap. (He actually informs the lunch lady that the food she is giving him is not healthy, haha, that's my boy!) And when he's with his dad one day a week, he gets pancakes for breakfast and peanut butter & fluff for lunch. However, he understands that sugar constipates him and eating too much junk food could make him sick so, when he comes home, he understands the importance of eating fruits and (occassionally) veggies. And he has even, at 4 years old, choked down fresh juice that tasted nasty because he was trying to beat a cold he was getting.
I assure you, I haven't done anything amazing here.
We splurge on junk food occassionally. He is exposed to it basically everywhere else when he's not with me. But he sees my example and he listens to my words (I don't just say "eat this, it's good for you". He even understands what his immune system is). If you can't motivate yourself to eat good for YOU, then let THIS motivate you! They are watching your every move!
Okay, so on to the real reason for this post. Social support. No, you can't change who your family is or what they eat/don't eat. You probably don't want to change who your spouse is, so you're kind of stuck with that as well. But, other than gently encouraging (mainly through your actions) your loved ones, you can find support many other places. Here's ideas of ways you can find social support:
  • Start a competition or support group in your workplace or church.
  • Look online for workout buddies (just be careful with this one and meet in a public/safe place)
  • Call your local gyms and see if they offer any kind of support programs
  • Post a message on Facebook asking if any of your friends are looking for support/workout buddies. Commit to more than one person. Not only does this broaden your support circle, it also ensures that, if one person flakes on you, you have a backup, or two, or seventy!
  • Join online support groups and/or communities.
  • Hire a personal trainer, health coach or nutritionist. Personal trainers will often train small groups of people so you could find a couple friends to do it with and the cost would be much more economical.
  • Go to Zumba!!! It's so easy and fun to make friends in these classes and people will start to notice after a while if you don't show up. Don't want to dance?....participate in one of the other 50-bazillion group exercise classes!
  • Get creative and be open to making new friends wherever you go. Join health based groups or a hiking club. On a Friday night, attend a yoga class instead of going to the bar, you're much more likely to meet like-minded people in these types of places than at bars, clubs, etc.
Bottom line, you don't have to have the support of every person in your life. Hell! You don't HAVE to have support from anyone but yourself! But finding creative ways to strategically place positive, health-conscious people in your life can be that extra little incentive you need to make healthier food choices or get to the gym. The reason for this isn't just because you have people supporting you and to who you must be accountable to but because what we think about is what we ARE about! If you are hanging out with fitness-minded individuals, you are likely going to be discussing the aspects of health & fitness more or even just thinking about them more merely by association and, I think we all know by now....Energy Flows Where Attention Goes.

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