What is the single biggest risk factor for being overweight?
Being surrounded by other overweight people.
This includes friends, family members, and spouses. In fact, the strength of this “social network” risk factor is in that particular order—with an increase in the likelihood of being overweight by 57%, 40%, and 37%, respectively.1 How many times have you been out to eat with friends and you order something healthy only to be hassled about your “righteous” food choices, or told to enjoy life a little? Or perhaps you were at a family gathering, and you knew it would break grandma’s heart not to eat her butter-laden food?
Everyone who participates in a fitness program has to deal with enablers at home. This can either be purposeful sabotage (in the case of a jealous spouse who doesn’t want to feel sub-par to their partner), or unconscious (they simply don’t want to participate in these bad behaviors alone).
To read why your loved ones try to sabotage your progress, click here. You can also get a snapshot by watching the short video below.
It’s hard to fight your friends about your menu choices every time you go out. Knowing how to deal with enablers can help you stay on track, but takes a lot of concentrated effort. The key is to turn these enablers into your supporters, and convert them to your team.
How can you accomplish this?
Avoid any judgment toward your loved ones bad habits.
It’s easy to come off as self-righteous when you make a serious attempt to make better food choices. Creating custom dishes at restaurants can sometimes rub people the wrong way. Additionally, constantly calling your friends out for their bad eating habits won’t actually help to convert them to being healthier. Everyone has their reasons for doing what they do. It took very specific motivating factors that led you to starting your fitness journey and committing yourself to living a healthier life. Instead of ostracizing your friends, try to understand their motives. Once they find their own reasons they will commit to making better choices too.
Provide opportunities for them to participate in your healthy activities.
Whether it’s helping you cook a healthy meal, prep food for the week, or join you for a weekend walk/jog, offer constant invitations to join you on healthy adventures. The key here is invitations. You don’t want to be pushy, but be persistent. Let them know that they can join you if they’d like, and let them know often.
This is likely the most important concept to help you recruit your loved ones toward a healthy lifestyle. It’s so important, in fact, that I made a short video discussing it too.
(Fun fact: THIS is the “article” I never published. =D)
Be a leader.
Every social circle has a leader, someone who implicitly decides what behaviors are normal in the group. If unhealthy eating behaviors are the norm in your group, it makes sense that this would increase your chances of being overweight. Stay committed to your program and share your successes (in a non-boastful way) to establish new group norms. Eventually, being fit and healthy will be your new group normal!
By putting these strategies to use you can begin to change the climate of established behavioral norms in your familial and social groups, making health and fitness the new “cool.”
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