Have you ever heard the quote, "You're known by the company you keep"? My mom said that to me regularly throughout my youth. It's a take on the verse found in Proverbs, "Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble."
She cautioned me to choose my friends carefully, knowing that they would have significant influence over me, and I over them. To avoid the "wrong crowd," I kept busy with church activities, school work and athletic pursuits, and was expected to abide by strict house rules and a rigid curfew. "Nothing good happens after midnight," Mom would say.
While I balked at such conservative parenting as a teen (but now model it as a parent!!), the idea that we reflect those with whom we spend time rings as true for me today as it did then.
I spend a fair amount of time on social media, and it struck me one day while perusing Facebook that a significant portion of my FB friends share my passion for fitness. Through their posts, I've been enlightened, inspired, educated, and even motivated to stop procrastinating and get up from my computer right then and there to go work out. Beyond that virtual community, my work in health clubs allows me to be surrounded by fitness enthusiasts nearly every day.
While not all of my friends share a love of health and wellness, the majority of the company I keep does--and it has made all the difference. I'm absolutely certain that the fitness community to which I belong has helped propel my career and kept me on track when I questioned what the heck I was doing, or if my efforts had value.
By nature, humans gravitate toward others like themselves. We have an innate desire to be a part of a group, a pack, a unit. So it makes sense that I would align myself with likeminded fitness folks. For those who desire to lose weight, get healthy and seek wellness, whom you align with will make or break your success.
There are many examples to prove this, but one in particular was a woman--we'll call her Beth--I coached a few years ago. Beth was eating right, losing weight and on the right track, yet she came to my office distraught. I asked her what was wrong, and the bottom line was this: her best friend, who was also overweight, felt threatened by Beth's success. The friend had nearly stopped speaking to Beth. Beyond that, Beth's larger circle of friends didn't embrace a healthy lifestyle either despite her invitations to the gym, so she was constantly pressured to eat poorly and skip exercising.
Beth knew she was doing the right thing for her health, but felt unsupported and lonely, and was contemplating abandoning her program. Here's the deal folks: it's easier for others to pull you down than it is for you to pull them up.
I'm a loyal sort, so I wasn't going to tell Beth to just ditch her friends, but I did tell her that it was time to make some new ones. If she was going to be successful at reaching her fitness goals, she had to surround herself with those who shared her mindset, and would provide encouragement, accountability and positivity. She did just that by increasing her time in the club, attending classes and taking advantage of social opportunities with them. This growth was at times a painful process for Beth, but her desire for self-improvement, for metamorphosis into her best self, meant shedding the old and embracing the new.
If you're someone who's working toward a goal for better health, yet your best buddies are always tempting you to try the latest fast food concoction, the new buffet on the corner, a doughnut when they see the 'Hot & Now' sign, or to ditch working out for happy hour, it's time to make some decisions. Will you allow that company to thwart your efforts to live a healthier life? Or will you seek a new circle of fitness friends who will help get you to your goal?
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Molly is a wife, mom,
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I am not a registered dietitian, nor a medical professional. My blog is a representation of my views and experiences, which are not intended as medical advice. While I am a certified personal trainer, descriptions of things I eat and exercises I perform may not be suitable for everyone. Please speak with a medical professional before making any changes to your current routine.