Do you find that your good intentions go down the drain when you’re out with friends? Here is a list of tips to avoid feeling the peer pressure. In most cultures around the world, social gatherings are organised around food and drink.
Work lunches. Drinks with friends. Family get-togethers. Dinners. Parties. Brunches. Lunches.
The list is endless.
For some, not a day goes by without eating out, meeting friends or drinking with clients.
And of course, it gets right in the way of our healthy intentions.
Want to learn how to become a Fitness Warrior, and overcome the pressure? Read on to find out more.
A constant battle
I’ve always struggled with social situations myself. Up until very recently, I would have a super healthy week, exercising everyday and eating really well. Then the weekend would come: I would meet my friends for drinks, dinner and maybe a night out.
And suddenly, I could not resist doing exactly the same as them: too much wine, too much food, too much pudding.
I was never able to stand up for what I believed to be right for me. Instead, I followed everyone else’s habits and forget everything I was trying to achieve.
Then I would beat myself up until Monday morning before throwing myself again into training and healthy food.
Until the next dinner / lunch / event that is.
From my client’s stories, we’re all just the same. Try as we might, our willpower fades and our courage disappears as soon as we’re not alone.
Even though there is no direct peer pressure at times, social eating has a big impact on what and how much we eat: studies show that people tend to eat more when they are in group than when they are alone.
The truth is, we all like to be liked. We like to feel admired, valued, and part of the group. Standing out can be too much of a risk: we may lose friends, love, and support. No one wants to be seen as outside of the norm, different from the group.
And so when the time comes to follow through with our intentions, our mind gets in the way:
“They are all doing it / eating it / drinking it. It MUST be OK.”
“They’re going to laugh at me if I don’t do the same as them.”
“I won’t have as much fun if I don’t have a drink too”.
The fact is that many people will indeed have some negative reaction to someone who is trying to be healthy. You see, unless you have very non-judgmental friends, you probably will encounter some resistance when you stick to your guns.
Because they are reminded of their own lack of commitment. Of the many times they have tried to get healthy and have failed. Of their own battle to follow through with their intentions.
Ever been in the reverse situation, when a friend or colleague has openly revealed their plans to be healthy, which has triggered a deep feeling of negativity in yourself? And you have then used your most soothing and welcoming voice to offer them exactly what they were avoiding in the first place?
Or is that just me? (Cue maniacal laugh Mwahahaha)
How to deal with social situations
Fitness Warrior Trick #1: Plan ahead
If you know where you are going, you can look up the menu in advance and decide beforehand what you will choose. If not, at least have a specific idea of what you want to eat. You can always ask to swap the chips or potatoes for vegetables and salad.
Trick #2: Eat beforehand
Eat a handful of nuts or some raw vegetables before you go to lunch or dinner. It will curb your appetite and stop you from ordering the entire menu! And if you’re going out for drinks, have some protein and fat beforehand: as alcohol is a carbohydrate, you will at least have a complete meal – and it will slow down its absorption!
Trick #3: Set an intention
This is the simplest and yet most effective trick: remind yourself of your desired outcome, and set your intention right before the meal or drinks to follow through with it. Many times, we rock up to a social engagement with either an already unhealthy intention in mind, or just “going with the flow”. The only issue is that the flow tends not to be in direction of our goals…
Trick #4: Use If..then strategies
Research has shown that preparing “if…then” strategies in advance increases our chances of success. Write a list of the possible “ifs”, then select 3-4 alternative behaviors that you could choose from. For example, “If we go to a bar after dinner … Then I will switch to water”. This will prepare you against any surprises – and any impulse decisions!
Trick #5: Talk to people in advance
Let your group of friends or colleagues know what your intentions are, either as a group, or 1-on-1 beforehand. This will help you feel less vulnerable when voicing your decision and give you more confidence in your choices. And hopefully you’ll find some support too – if not, Trick #8 might be for you.
Trick #6: Be mindful of how much / why
Find cues to remind yourself to be mindful of what and how much you are eating or drinking throughout the event. Maybe notice when you are re-filling or taking another mouthful, and ask yourself “Am I eating/drinking because I want to or because it is giving me something to do?” Many times we eat and drink way too much simply because we are looking to avoid boredom.
Trick #7: Organize healthy alternatives
Most social situations are centered around food and drink. However more and more people are looking to alternative ideas for gatherings. For example, Business Innovator Nilofer Merchant tells us about the new trend of walking meetings in business, for their health benefits but also for the out-of-the-box thinking that arises, because “fresh air drives fresh thinking”.
Trick #8: Change friends
OK, this may sound a bit harsh. But if you find yourself surrounded by non-supportive friends or colleagues, it may be time to re-think your relationship with them. Do you want people around you that support you in your health and weight loss endeavors, or people that will undermine you because of their own guilt?
Now it’s your turn to face the pressure. Take 5 minutes to think about which Fitness Warrior Trick you will use, then leave a comment below with your ideas. Even better, leave a comment after your next social situation, and tell us how you did!
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Love & Health,