You want to be a fit person, right? That's why I'm sharing my own habits for keeping fit and staying healthy in the ongoing Habits of Fit People series.
Here's one that works for me: surrounding myself with other active people.
Maybe it sounds obvious, or maybe it sounds impossible, but either way, I believe that it really does matter. As much as we like to think of ourselves as unique individuals, able to make our own decisions, able to resist the influence of others, it turns out that we are actually very similar to our friends, neighbors, family members, co-workers, and acquaintances. Whatever is the norm in your social group, usually becomes the norm for you, too.
This isn't just my opinion. Research supports the idea, too—that obesity is "contagious" and that when we eat with other people, their food choices affect us—how much we eat, what we eat, and how we feel about it. We are always making decisions based on other people's thoughts, actions and habits, which is why it's so important to surround yourself with people whose values and habits support your healthy lifestyle.
I believe that habits are contagious. If your friend is always negative or feeling down, it's hard not to feel the same way yourself. If your family lives to eat, you might have a hard time saying no to certain foods, too. And if your friends are always getting on and off the weight-loss or exercise rollercoaster, then you might not always have the support you need to get to the gym on a regular basis.
But the inverse is also true. Surround yourself with fit, active people who enjoy healthy foods and living healthy, and you'll be more likely to make the same healthy choices.
Lucky for me, I have a big network of friends who are into fitness and healthy eating. My husband (yep, I got hitched) has always been active and exercises six days a week and just completed his first triathlon. We enjoy being active together, too: riding bikes and walking the dog, and signing up for races with our friends, for example. My best friend is an avid exerciser. I'm often calling her up on the weekends to meet for a run or a hike, and she constantly invites me to come to her gym and try Zumba with her. When I don't feel like exercising, my friends say, "Do it!" not "Take the day off. You deserve it." And when we go out to dinner with our friends, or head over to my friend Lauren's house for a dinner party, I know that healthy food is going to be on everyone's plate, and that we'll all support and influence on another in a positive way. And probably more importantly, I don't have anyone trying to sabotage my efforts.
Since healthy living is more than a lifestyle for me—it's a hobby that I love—I tend to find and hang out with people who have the same interests that I do. If you feel like fit and healthy friends in your life are lacking, it's not always possible to convert them (but you can lead by example). However, you can definitely find great support systems in SparkPeople's community. And as you begin living a healthier lifestyle, you're like to run into more people who share your interests and could help make up your "fit people" support system. You'll find fit people at the gym, your first 5K, the health foods store, your local health fair, the farmers market, a weight-loss support group, in Spinning class and just about any place where fit and healthy people tend to frequent to support their lifestyles. I've made great friends through classes at the gym myself!
How about you: Do you think it helps to surround yourself with fit and active people? Do you have a large enough support network for your healthy lifestyle? Have you active friends influenced you in a positive way?
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