Apparently, peer pressure doesn't end with high school. Thinking back over the decades, consider how friends and family have guided your life. Chances are, decisions large and small have been influenced by those who are dear to us. Education, careers, and where we live may all show the mark of loved ones. It turns out that some research suggests that friends may influence our health behaviors, too, including how well we maintain a healthy weight and whether we are free from smoking. Many of us are more likely to have seconds on dessert, or make a trip to an exercise class, when our best friends do so.
Not every friendship is supportive of health improvements. A dear friend of mine is religious about daily vigorous walks and healthful eating for herself. However, the moment I walk in the door, not 10 minutes pass before I find myself at her kitchen table unable to resist her command, "You just have to try some of this pie I just made. With ice cream, of course. It's so delicious. A little bit won't hurt you. I won't take no for an answer! Here's a napkin " Other pals teach me through example that a sensible snack is even more satisfying after a brisk walk, even if they have to drag me along the way.
So what do you do if near and dear ones tend to sabotage rather than support your important health changes? A direct appeal is worth a try: if you are really committed to a change, share it with friends and family and ask for their support. If they still don't get it, try meeting with them at times and places that best support your health change at least in the beginning.
Transitions are more challenging when those around us misinterpret our efforts as a threat to the stability of a friendship. Yet, over time, you can prove to them that a healthier you and a healthy friendship can happily coexist. The other side of this equation: when we make health improvements, over time they can be contagious to those around us.
This information is purely educational and does not replace a physician's advice that may be unique to each individual. For all medical concerns, please see a physician to establish a diagnosis and explore proven treatments. Please note that any views or opinions presented in this email are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company or REAL Powered by Humana program.