Did you know your friends have more of an impact on your health and weight than family or genetics?
According to the Framingham Heart Study (one of the longest and most respected health studies), if your friend is overweight or obese, your chance of also becoming obese increases by 57%.
What makes that number interesting, is if your spouse (who you are probably eating most of your meals with) or your family member (genetics) is obese, your chance only increases by 40%.
Your friends play more of a role in your health than family and genetics.
The people who you surround yourself with impact your idea of what is normal. So, if weight is a symptom of behaviors, the behaviors that your friends have that led to their own weight gain are easily adapted and become your new normal. Typically, without knowing and with very little effort.
To build on that, if you decide you want to make changes to your own health and behaviors you will need to push against their normal. Even when they are 100% supportive, there is an added friction in your decision making. At first this is not a big deal, but over time or after a rough day the added friction can feel like too much and you just revert to what everyone around you is doing because it’s easy.
The good news is that as the in the same way friends and support can make “bad” behaviors feel normal, they can make the “good” ones feel easy and effortless.
What do you do with this information?
If you have followed me for a while, you may remember that I wrote a blog about two years back where I shared how I changed my personal social network 12 years ago. This had a dramatic impact on my personal health and happiness!
Recently, that network changed again and so did the “normal” that made most of my healthy habits easy. This made it easier to skip workouts, eat out rather than cooking, not push back when I knew there wouldn’t be anything great at the restaurant. It didn’t derail me, but it made life harder.
I recognized that I needed support and to expand my network. So, I joined a new gym where I could be around supportive friends daily and hired a trainer to give me a little more individual support weekly while I’m finding my new norm.
My professional network changed as well. Finding a local group for entrepreneurs wasn’t as easy so I found a group that I could connect with on-line. We have a private Facebook group for day-to-day support and weekly virtual Q&A sessions for the more individualized support, which is surprisingly incredible.
The reason I’m sharing these two examples, is to show that support can be found in many different ways. Sometimes it is a friend that knows you inside and out, sometimes it is physically putting yourself around new people and seeing what sticks, and sometimes it is a virtual community that you can reach out to and say “Hey, I’m having a hard time with this today. Can anyone relate?”
The people you surround yourself with have a significant impact on your health and happiness and, quite simply make the process way easier. So If you are trying to make some positive changes and feel the friction of those around you, I challenge you to look around and see where you can gain more support. Often it is as simple as a single friend, a single connection or a single community. No one should have to do all of this alone!