Your environment and social network can influence habits that will negatively impact your weight and health. A study done by the New England Journal of Medicine found that obesity can be “socially contagious”, meaning that people tend to eat as their friends and family do. When friends and family become obese, so do their companions. The study found that a person had an increased chance of becoming obese if their social network was obese. The risk increased 57% if a friend was obese, 40% if a sibling was obese and 37% if a spouse was obese.
These stats are quite alarming. I have seen these situations in many of my clients’ lives. When an individual does not have the support of their friends and/or family members, it makes it much harder to make lasting changes and maintain a healthy lifestyle. I have heard these scenarios over and over again.
- I was really good all week and then my friends came into town.
- I went to visit my family and none of them are into this “eating healthy thing” so everything went down the drain.
- I fell off the band-wagon and I will get back on Monday.
- The chips and margaritas just looked too good at my friend’s party. I couldn’t resist.
My clients find it much easier to control their diet during the week when they are staying at home and can be in a routine. That routine is often out the window on weekends and challenges naturally arise. However, these challenges can be overcome.
Here are some suggestions on how to do that:
- Ask for your friends and families for support. Explain why you are making changes in your diet and lifestyle and ask them to support you.
- Fire people that do not want you to change. Sometimes it is interesting to see the reactions of close friends and family when we decide to change. Some people want you to stay fat and unhappy because if you make changes then they feel like they have to as well. You many need to set boundaries and separate yourself from these negative influences until you feel confident about your new lifestyle.
- Find a healthy buddy. Whether it is a friend or family member, find someone that is already living the lifestyle you want. They can help guide and support you on how to continue to make the changes that will positively affect your health.
- Plan ahead. I will say this 1 million times. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Our culture sets us up for failure. You need to have a plan and stick to it.
If you want to be successful at long term weight loss you need to make consistent choices that support a healthy lifestyle. Anyone can follow a plan for a couple months but long term consistency is the key!!! Just remember that your surroundings make a huge impact on your success!!!