• Daniel Bowman PhD

Being healthy when those around you aren't.

One of the hardest things, when it comes to weight loss and being healthy in general, is maintaining the changes you have made or want to make when those around you are behaving in ways you are trying to stop or avoid. Others behaving in an unhealthy manner may even subtly or obviously pressure you to join them in their unhealthy behaviors.

A lot of research shows that we are influenced by the behaviors, attitudes, and moods of the people we associate with. That's why, whenever possible, you should choose to be around people whose values and behaviors are similar to the values and behaviors that you want to have.

I want to believe that because I have a Ph.D. in psychology and am an expert in behavioral change that I can be around fun friends and enjoy them without engaging in their unhealthy behaviors, but the reality is that I have drank more than I should have or eaten a lot of processed foods or been less physically active just because the people I was hanging out with were behaving in that manner. So one of the most important things I have learned is to choose friends and partners (work and life) who value the things I value and who strive to be their best and to help others.

But what do you do if your own family engages in a lot of negative thinking or behaviors? What do you do if your spouse refuses to make healthy changes and pressures you to be unhealthy in certain ways?

It's hard, if not impossible, to change another person. If you're going to be around people who are not behaving in ways you want to, you need to have a strategy in place to avoid or minimize damaging your progress and goals. For instance, if you know you're going to a cookout that has no healthy food choices at all, eat a small meal before going so you won't eat as much. When at the cookout eat slowly and do things like have a hot dog or burger without a bun. If you're close to the person hosting the cookout, perhaps you can ask if you can bring your own food to grill out (like fish or chicken). Or maybe you can bring some type of salad to the cookout, like a broccoli salad, and mostly eat the food you brought. But it's trickier when it's a spouse constantly bringing unhealthy foods into your house or unhealthy attitudes. How do you deal with that?

It's important to be honest with your spouse or partner and ask them to help you make and maintain the changes you want to make. If your partner is unwilling to help you by limiting what they expose you to or making positive changes themselves, it may be time to consider couples therapy, and if they are unwilling to do that, you may have a very tough decision to make. But if you decide to be with or around a person who is unhealthy, and that is inevitable, at times, for all of us, then remember how hard you have worked to make the changes you have made. Is an extra hamburger and three extra beers worth a six mile run to work them off? Is adopting a negative attitude going to get you where you want to go? You might fear being lonely, or not finding another job, or not being able to find positive people to be around, but there are a lot of people who are doing their best to be healthy and to help others. Look for them and cherish them, and be a good example to everyone in your life. There are a lot more strategies I can teach you about doing the right thing when others aren't. I want to coach you to be your best. If I'm not already your coach, make an appointment today,

and we'll get you to the top.