That’s it – you’ve motivated yourself to make a change in your lifestyle. Maybe you want to train for a race, lose a few inches around your tummy, or perhaps improve your eating habits. Whatever the case may be, you’re ready to run. You’ve pre-portioned your dinner. You’ve planned an early morning workout. You’re ready to get those full eight hours of rest. Until, that is, you get the text from your friends begging you to go out. Now what?
While health and fitness and self-confidence are critical components to your overall well-being, having a positive and supportive social life plays a huge role in a healthy life as well. That’s why isolating yourself from everyday life or avoiding plans that deviate from your fitness regimen simply doesn’t work. So when the going gets tough and you’re trying your best to change an aspect of your life for the better, use these tips to help you succeed, regardless of whether or not your friends are on the same page.
Introduce Your Health Goals
The conversation of health and fitness can oftentimes be a delicate matter. Groups of friends tend to be quite diverse: different routines, different opinions, and, of course, different body types. However, if you don’t share your new goals with them, you can’t expect them to automatically be aware of your initiatives. Showing them the entirety of your thought process is a simple way to build understanding. Start by telling them what you’ve been inspired to change and why. Fitness is a personal choice, but by asking for outside support, you may feel like you are more equipped for the challenges that arise on your journey.
Through this conversation, it is important to avoid making your friends feel guilty or self-conscious about their own habits. You can share with them some of the steps you’re planning on taking in your own life, but don’t make it about theirs. Never condemn any of their behavior by saying things like “Do you know how many calories are in that?” or “I wish I could eat what you are.” Making friends feel like they disrupt your goals will inevitably lessen their own self-esteem.
Plan for Your Plans
It sounds corny, but it’s true: anticipating what the night or weekend will bring allows you to have solutions that you won’t regret in the morning. For example, eating before going out will keep you from picking at appetizers and finger-foods that may be floating around. Declaring yourself the Designated Driver of the evening formally removes any pressure to guzzle down calorie-rich drinks. If you do decide to drink, ordering an expensive cocktail will remind you to enjoy each sip, and discourage you from overdoing it.
Make Alternative Suggestions
If some of the activities your friends want to do don’t jive with your new lifestyle, suggest other activities you all can do together.
Go on a hike. Weekends aren’t just for going out; try getting out. Research parks or hiking trails nearby and suggest a nature day with your friends. With serene views, a healthy packed lunch, and a day of gossip without the slightest fear of an eavesdropper, you’ll feel completely at ease. Getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life will make it easier to focus on each other, not simply the food and drinks that normally accompany plans.
Try A Zumba Class. You and your girls love to have a good time, so why not go dancing? Zumba is an excellent way to bond with friends, get your sweat on, and look cute while doing it. The group atmosphere will feel less intimidating to any friends who are less fitness-oriented (or simply less coordinated), and you will feel recharged by this new addition to your fitness routine. As a bonus, you might even meet some new friends while in class!
Cook a Meal Together. Selecting your meals well in advance is a key component to many dieting techniques. Rather than opting out of dinner plans with friends, why not invite them to join yours? Pull up some new recipes you’ve been dying to try, head to the grocery store with your closest pals, and make a night out of it! Not only does this give you the satisfaction of hand-picking the best quality ingredients for your dish rather than combing through the calorie counts of a restaurant menu, but it also gives you meaningful time together. As friends contribute to the dish, they may develop more appreciation for your healthy choices–and the delicious food that comes with it.
The key is making your friends feel that they can support your goals without being excluded from them. While it takes some practice, some discipline, and some courage, you can incorporate your health goals into every aspect of your life, and every aspect of your life into your health goals. It’s all a matter of balance.