“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You, too? Thought I was the only one.’” (C.S. Lewis)
Which is why—whether you’re looking to eat healthier, increase your energy, lose a few pounds, or build up those nearly atrophied muscles—it’s good to find a fitness friend, maybe even several! In fact, experts say sharing your goals with others is vital to achieving them. Electing your own personal health-related “board of directors” can give you important tools—knowledge, insight, moral support and even humor—to help you get results.
But before you run off to enlist the aid of just any Tom, Dick, or Harriet, be forewarned. You should carefully consider how (or who) you appoint to your personal shape-up board. Picking fitness buddies can be fraught with danger; implicit in the concept is the level of trust and confidence you seek. Are you just looking for a jogging buddy? Or do you want someone who (gently) holds you accountable for overeating while at the same time encouraging you? Will you ruin a long-term, otherwise healthy relationship by pressing your spouse, neighbor, or friend into a new role that really doesn’t suit him?
Consider carefully whom you choose and the role they will play:
Don’t be afraid to share your goals with family and friends. Having those closest to you in on your plans can mean daily, invaluable support and assistance. You may even find that they’re willing to modify their own lives, at least temporarily, to help out—giving up soft drinks or helping plan healthy meals, for example. What’s more, just the fact that you’ve confided in them is a powerful motivator for helping you remain consistent and persistent.
Avoid naysayers. For whatever reason, some folks just have the habit of belittling or ridiculing the goals of others, whether because they feel inadequate and threatened, or are simply mean! You‘re under no obligation to discuss your goals or action plan with anyone. If you know upfront that someone will be negative—or even if you discover it after the fact— steer conversation away from personal topics.
If someone close to you is unsupportive, either tune out the negativity or distance yourself from that person. If that person is your partner or lives in the same household, the problem’s a bit more complicated. As far as possible, try to understand the motivation behind the negativity; is the person critical of your particular goal or of goals in general?
Demonstrate encouragement for the goals your friends and family want to accomplish. Even better, come up with some common goals that you can work on together. There’s strength in numbers. The simple act of one person saying no to an unwanted dessert can spark someone else to think hard about whether they really want to indulge.