It's been said that we are the average of our 5 closest friends. Whether the precise statistic is exact or not, the concept is true. The people you are closest to influence your decisions and your lifestyle more so than anyone else in your life. It is for this very reason that a healthy social life is a key factor in making your healthy lifestyle a realistic one. Below are 5 tips for developing a social life that best suits your personal healthy lifestyle needs.
1: Have a Social Life
This might sound like an unnecessary tip, but the secret to having a healthy social life is not to avoid social events but to participate in the right ones. And just like anything else you do in life: it’s not what you do that counts-it’s how you do it. Therefore, if you have a social life that seems to be detrimental to your health, consider maybe modifying it in a way that instead jumpstarts your health. For example, choose a healthier restaurant instead of the Mexican bar and grill that offers only deep fried foods. And if you don’t have a social life right now, research ways to get involved in your community and get to know your neighbors.
2. Join a Support Group
It can be hard to know where to begin when it comes to implementing a new social life. One of the best ways to get started is to join a group of people with similar goals as you. For example, if one of your goals is to improve your healthy cooking skills, the first place you might look is a place that offers hands on cooking classes. Or if your current goal is to improve your overall fitness then join a gym that offers small group training and/or group fitness classes. During a stay at Hilton Head Health, you will be amongst a group of like-minded individuals working towards a healthier lifestyle. Some of our most successful guests are the ones that make friends here and keep in touch with each other for support. Regardless of where you meet your friends, it is essential they have similar goals.
3. Chose Your Friends Wisely
Let’s talk about those happy hour friends again. If these are the types of friends that treat every happy hour like it’s thanksgiving, this may not be the best group of friends to be with once or twice a week. Even someone with the mightiest of willpower and best of intentions can be broken by a group that repeatedly orders beyond their hunger scale. Even if you are strong enough to make it through one happy hour, or even two, it’s only a matter of time before the peer pressure of your friends prohibits you from reaching your goals. Although it may not feel easy, the best way to remedy this is by telling your friends about your goals and hope they can help encourage you and keep you accountable. In a perfect world, they would instantly join you on a path to being healthier. However, if this group of friends does not share your value of improved health, it may be time to spend less time with this group of friends and move on.
4: Chose Your Social Setting Wisely
Sometimes it isn’t your friends that are the problem, but the environment that you’re in. Maybe your happy hour friends would love to join you in your endeavor to becoming healthier but the Mexican bar and grill is just too tempting of a place to manage willpower. Perhaps everything on the menu is irritably and self-destructively good. Perhaps switching to a healthier restaurant that serves more whole foods and fills you up before you over-consume calories is a possible solution. Or maybe you and your happy hour friends decide to replace happy hour by joining a softball league. As Bob Wright says, "Environment drives behavior." Consider the types of environments you can put yourself in that will drive healthy behavior.
5: Share Your Meals
If your current social network wants to support you in a healthy way then one way to manage portion sizes while in a social setting is to share or split meals. Sometimes people can feel guilty about doing this because it makes them feel cheap. If money is not an object, a good remedy for that is to offer to pay the restaurant for 2 meals even though you are only getting one. If you are worried how this may appear when out with a group of your football-watching bros, then ask the server to bring them out on two separate plates. We tend to like eating everything we see on our plate in order to feel satisfied. Therefore, if you share a meal and it’s served on separate plates made to look filled, this could be your next milestone in your healthy lifestyle.
If you feel that there is no one out there that meshes with you right now, the next best place to start in today’s world of technology could be to find 2 or 3 role models or leading organizations of health to follow on a social media platform. Hilton Head Health, for example, makes regular posts on our social media platforms inspiring and supporting people in their healthy lifestyle journey. Whether you are surrounded virtually or physically, the messages you hear the most often will influence how your brain will react for future behaviors.