Choose Your Friends Wisely

Be careful who you hang out with, because being overweight is contagious. Have you ever heard the term “birds of a feather, flock together”?  Well, being overweight or obese has been shown to be no different.

Studies have shown that if the top 10-20 people you hang out with are overweight or obese then you have a significant chance of becoming overweight or obese, or you already are.  This idea may seem odd but it kind of makes sense doesn’t it?  You are more likely to engage in activities that your circle of friends is participating in.  And if those activities are things like eating out, smoking, consuming alcohol, or other things that increase the chances of obesity, than by default you are more likely to become obese.

Losing weight, in a very large part is about behavior change.  If you can understand that the people around you effect your behavior, that’s a big first step to making healthy changes in your life. That being said, you don’t need to ditch all your friends and make new ones just to get fit.  Remember this paradigm works both ways. Being healthy is also contagious.

We are extremely social animals and when you decide to make a change to become a leaner, stronger more healthier you, this behavior can rub off on the people around you as well.  This is why most of us find more success and appeal in group exercise programs or having a partner to go to the gym with or go on walks. Having someone with you who supports you can be the main thing that keeps you from falling off the rails.

Being able to recognize who you are surrounding yourself with at different times can be crucial to your success when it comes to making the change to a healthier lifestyle or any significant change for that matter.

This is all especially true for women.  Men have the luxury of knowing that when you're with the guys, your buddy next to you on the couch with a beer in his hand isn't ever going to be secretly thinking how your thighs have gotten bigger.  For women however, there is far more pressure put on how you look even when you are just hanging out with friends and family.

There is a very easy activity that I’ve come across from a gentleman at great a company called Metabolic Effect and I’d like you to take 5 minutes to go through it.

1) Get out a sheet of paper and write down the names of the 10-20 people you hang out with daily

2) Draw a table with two columns and three rows forming 6 blocks

3) In the upper left block write "agenda stealers"

4) In the upper right block write "agenda saviors"

5) In the middle left block write "emotional trapdoors"

6) In the middle right block write "emotional ladders"

7) In the bottom left block write "energy vampires"

8) In the bottom right block write "energy spark-plugs"

9) Now fill in the blocks with the people on your list. Who belongs in what category? Keep in mind, some people may be in multiple categories and some in none.

10) Now analyze your paper and look for patterns.

How many people are stealing your agenda or sucking the energy out of you? Are there many people on the left side?  Are names appearing in more than one box?  Are you lacking in people that give you a boost when you need it?  Do you have enough people supporting your efforts?  Or is everyone bringing you down?

By doing this simple exercise it gives you a very simple but incredibly powerful look into how the people around you are effecting your ability to reach your health and wellness goals.  You may need to limit contact with some people and increase time spent with others when you are trying to make these changes in your life.  If there are people who only show up on the left side and do so more than once you may have to think about whether it’s worth having them around at all.  Remember some people on that left side can be parents, siblings or even spouses.  Now you can’t go around getting rid of your family but you can talk with them and let them know you love them but also how their behavior is effecting your life.

We hear it all the time but the power of positive influences in your life can never be overstated.  Always try to surround yourself or spend the most time with people who are supporting and energizing you to reach your goals.  Over time situations and people change so don't be afraid to reassess every once in a while.

Making a lifestyle change to get healthier and improving your quality of life for the long term is difficult enough without outside forces making things even harder.  Trying to force others to change for you usually never works out well so it’s up to you to take responsibility for your life including who you keep in it.

It isn’t your fault when negative people try to bring you down.  However it is your fault if you don’t do anything about it.

Rob Nayyar