Your social circle probably has a type.
You probably spend money similarly, you like going out to the same places, you listen to the same music, and you watch the same shows.
On top of all of that, you probably have similar wellness habits.
As much as we don’t like to admit it, our social circle matters when we begin making changes and setting new goals or intentions for our health and fitness. W. Clement Stone correctly said that you are the product of your environment. I’ll take that a step further and say that you are also a product of your social circle. If you decide to make some changes to prioritize your health or really hone in on your fitness, then your social circle is an important consideration: how the people around you will probably affect you as you aim to make changes and how you will also probably affect them.
If you have ever wanted to order a healthier option, decline another round of drinks, or want to get up early to go workout and you are met with less than supportive comments, then this blog post is for you.
The goal of this post is not division or suggesting that you just go get a new group of friends. Instead, let’s explore some ways to set boundaries and be inclusive on your journey!
First, let’s identify who is in your social circle and what their habits look like.
Question 1: What friends, family, and colleagues would you consider to be in your social circle?
This includes anyone whose habits might influence you and vice versa, whether it be an acquaintance-level colleague that you see daily or your best friend for years. Truly. Take a moment and think that through.
Question 2: What do their wellness habits look like?
This question might sound “othering” or “judge-y,” but stay with me. We are observing here, not casting judgement. Think it through because it raises awareness.
We discussed earlier how you probably have similar wellness habits as your social circle. Do you see how the shifts you are making in “leveling up” your intentions and priorities might rock the boat so to speak inside your circle? It might affect your weekend plans, your evening plans, etc. and I view taking a moment to think through all of this as a sign of respect to 1) your people and the choices they make for themselves as well as 2) respect for yourself and your new intentions and goals.
Wondering what to do if the boat gets rocked? Stay tuned, let’s first identify who is actively in your corner.
Question 3: Who in your circle is actively supporting you?
Habits and lifestyle changes are significantly easier to implement when you aren’t doing it alone.
Have you communicated to your significant other or friend that you are trying to incorporate more vegetables at home and want to eat less takeout?
Who in your life knows you are trying to lose weight?
Who knows that you are trying to drink alcohol less?
You are working on drinking more water throughout the day – have you told anyone that?
Bring people into your journey who are going to root you on and help you stay accountable. I previously worked with a wonderful client who immediately embraced including her social circle and brought her boyfriend and her roommates into her journey. Her people saw her excitement and intention and were eager to encourage her. She played rec volleyball and several times her roommate asked her if she wanted to run to volleyball practice (<1 mile) so she could get in some extra movement. This client saw the success and results that she wanted because she chose to not do it alone.
If you find that the people closest to you don’t support you on their journey, then let’s talk about boundaries and how to handle uncomfortable situations.
Example: Your colleagues are trying to get everyone together to go out tonight. It’s Friday night, and they are ready for drinks. You had planned on waking up early Saturday for your favorite workout class and going grocery shopping later. You tell them you can’t make it due to prioritizing your early morning tomorrow. How do they respond?
Another example: You are grabbing dinner with your friends and they are wanting to splurge on all the food and you say that you want to order some healthy options. How do they respond?
In these situations, sometimes it’s best to just draw a firm boundary and stick to it. Maybe it’s your first time speaking up for yourself and your health, so it might be good to practice and hear yourself say it out loud.
“Sorry I can’t go out, I’m trying to be healthy and think I will just cook at home tonight. Have fun though!”
“No thanks, I don’t want to split a dessert, I’m trying to watch my sugar intake.”
On the other hand, I want to point out that these comments can at times make them take a small moment of self-reflection and create thoughts such as “she’s not eating dessert so maybe I shouldn’t be eating dessert.” These types of situations can create an uncomfortable and self-conscious moment for them and could potentially cause division or resentment.
Remember, our goal is respect for them and also respect for your goals. I fully believe that you can hold both, you don’t have to pick one or the other.
My biggest piece of advice when you are trying to prioritize your health, especially your nutrition? Create room for inclusion.
“Oh I can’t eat there sorry it’s not healthy” versus “I’m trying to include more vegetables in my diet – would you like to split a salad / side dish of veggies with me?”
“Sorry I can’t make girls night, I have a morning workout I can’t miss” versus “Instead of going out tonight, what are your thoughts on joining me for a workout tomorrow morning and then grabbing brunch somewhere after?”
Let me add in two caveats:
They might not want to be included, and that’s okay.
They still might make comments or not support you on their journey, and that’s okay.
Both have more to do with them than with you.
Some actions points for you:
- Identify who is in your corner and tell them about your New Year’s goals and intentions.
- Think through difficult situations where it might be challenging to follow your goals and plan ahead for how to handle it; don’t leave your priorities to chance.
- Encourage your social circle on their own wellness journeys. Look for ways to support them too.
- Practice boundaries as needed with the choices you make.
- Practice grace for yourself if your resolutions don’t come along perfectly. “I thought you were cutting out sweets?” comments can make you feel self-conscious and like you failed, but remember that this is YOUR journey and the goal is progress, perfection.
Have thoughts? I would love to hear them!