If you’re like most people, you have some rather unhealthy friendships. We don’t mean relationships with friends who chip away at your self-esteem, make self-destructive choices, or consider you their number-one crisis management resource (although, you may have some of those, too). In this case we’re talking about friends who spur you on to order fries and dessert when you’re out, would rather get a root canal than go for a jog, and who consider “broccoli” a swear word. When your friends live unhealthy lifestyles, it can be difficult to find a common ground amid the Margarita Mondays and Taco Tuesdays. Double the difficulty if your healthy habits are new for you. Your friends might feel blindsided by this new (albeit improved) you, and never mind the fact that munching on the lonely side of carrot sticks among the plates of gooey, cheesy nachos and fried mozzarella sticks is just plain hard. Need some help with how to handle this tricky situation?
- Keep your eye on the prize. You’ve worked too hard to give into the temptation of bar food on a regular basis. Which, to be honest, isn’t even all that great. Don’t let one moment master you. Instead, load up on water and a healthy, satisfying snack right before your outing. And think hard about the ingredients that went into the food in front of you. Mentally dissecting that queso dip may make you lose your appetite for it. Even better: you can almost always find a healthy happy hour snack option. Whether it’s a plate of veggies and hummus, veggies and salsa, steamed edamame, or some decadent-tasting shrimp cocktail, healthy options exist if you’re willing to seek them out (even if it means asking the server for something that isn’t on the menu). You never know when a little positive peer pressure might kick in, and have your buddies reaching for the black bean burger sliders.
- Offer up some alternate activities. Enroll in a healthy cooking class, art class, or even a kickboxing class. Or, how about subbing out Marg Mondays for Walking Wednesdays? Maybe even research an upcoming charity walk that supports a cause you and your friends are passionate about. You never know – your group might be wanting to make a change in their own health habits as well, and may just need a little nudge from you. Plus, chances are that you are a powerful walking advertisement for healthy living, with your increased energy, stronger physique, and lower stress levels.
- Don’t put off your own success for the sake of your pals. Does your trainer session conflict with Sunday brunch? Go exercise! Nobel Peace Prize recipient Albert Schweitzer once said that “Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” Your pals will likely end up admiring your dedication to exercise, and may be inspired themselves. Not only that, but you’ll feel so much better for having stuck to your priorities.
The best case scenario is that your friends will be inspired to improve their own health, too. Regardless of that, however, if your friendships are worth their weight in hot wings, they will be accepting and supportive of your efforts to improve your health. Keep up the good work. You never know how far the ripples of your perseverance will spread to those around you.