Relationships affect how we perceive and live our lives. Family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, community, strangers – they weave together memories and experiences. But have you ever wondered if relationships affect weight? I think they do in at least five ways: social influence, food choices, activity levels, stress management, and habits. Let’s take a closer look at how relationships affect weight.
Relationships Affect Weight Through Social Influence
Relationships influence how we eat, the foods we choose, and the things we do or do not do on a regular basis. Our weight is also affected by social influence. If we’re at a party where alcohol is abundant, we may be influenced by our peers to drink. If someone brings in a birthday cake at work, we may be influenced to eat a large slice. If we’re at a restaurant with peers, we may make poor food choices based on the choices of others. Social influence may get us out of bed and to the gym to meet a friend. It may find us at a the top of a mountain taking in a serene picturesque view. We may try a green smoothie because our best friend added them to her diet and says she has more energy now. Social influence affects the decisions we make on a regular basis whether or not they have a negative or positive effect.
Relationships Affect Weight By Influencing Food Choices
Take a closer look at how you eat. Do you eat foods similar to those of the family who raised you? Do you tend to eat the things that other members of your household enjoy? Do you eat at the same places as your three closest friends? When you try to make healthy choices, do you find it difficult because of the choices made by those you love? Do you find it difficult to eat healthy at work when your co-workers bring in donuts, cake, and fast food? Do you find it hard to eat healthy at home when family members want chips, ice-cream, cookies, and sodas in the house? By the same measure, when you find someone who brings in a healthy meals to work use this to your advantage. Ask them how they prepared the meal. What ingredients were used? What do they like about it. While relationships affect weight through negative influence, they can also affect weight through positive influence.
Relationships Affect Activity Levels
What do you do for fun when you have time off from work? Are you and your friends active? Do you like the idea of kayaking adventure or riding a bicycle on a local trail or do you prefer a movie, a quiet night in with pizza, a tailgate party with beer, snacks, and a football game? Where do you park at work? Do you fight to find the closest spot? Do you take the elevator or the stairs? What do your co-workers do? Do you live with someone who enjoys going to the gym, taking regular walks, or running on a treadmill? Do you live with someone who watches a lot of tv, avoids yard work, and doesn’t want to do anything that might break a sweat. How do you fit into this picture? Are your activity choices similar?
Relationships Affect Weight Through Stress and Stress Relief
Another way relationships affect weight is through stress and stress management. How do you feel about your boss at work? Does your boss create stress in your work day or find ways to create an environment of creativity, teamwork and trust? Do your co-works vent throughout the day or encourage one another? Do your family members or friends frequently talk about being sick, tired, or frustrated? Do you have positive people in your life? How do you feel around them? Why do you take the time to have tea or coffee with a friend? Do you take walks with friends, plan meals together, listen to music, do yoga, or other stress reducing activity? Think about how your relationships affect your stress levels.
Relationships Play An Important Role in Behavioral Modification
While social influence, food choices, activity levels, and stress management are all important aspects of weight management, behavioral modification–lifestyle changes–are critical to sustaining healthy habits, a healthy weight, and a healthy life. Relationships play an important role in behavior modification. There’s a saying that if you share a joy you double it and if you share a sorrow, you cut it in half. Let me add to this. Sharing a new behavior with someone you know and love helps solidify the decision while keeping it to yourself makes it easier to revert to old behavior.
If you want to make positive changes, become more aware of how the relationships in your life affect your weight management efforts. Find people who influence your life and choices in positive ways. Weight management is more complicated than counting calories or carbs. Awareness is always the first step in any positive change. Become aware of how the relationships in your life play a role in the success of your weight management efforts.
Julie Butts is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition® (IIN™), the American Fitness Professionals and Associates (AFPA), and the American Council on Fitness (ACE). She is a certified health coach and weight management specialist who combines holistic and conventional wisdom to support women who crave lasting weight loss. Her personal mission is to inspire, educate, and promote lasting weight loss through healthy balanced living. She offers a variety local and online programs to support her clients and is known as The Lifestyle Mentor for Lasting Weight Loss™. Subscribe to her newsletter to receive your free copy of Awareness! Weight Loss Success For The Average Woman and to gain access to her free monthly mentoring calls.