Sure they are your friends. You love talking with them, entertaining each other, sharing experiences and trouble shooting together but here’s the real reason why you will absolutely ADORE them! Your friends are a very important key to the success of any of your goals! Fitness and weight loss are usually top on the list of those most impacted by your posse.
When I work with clients and their weight loss goals I’m looking for several different metrics. Of course I want to know their health history, exercise readiness, diet, mental status and many other points. However, I find that having a support network and getting motivation from a spouse, good friend or team member is crucial to their success.
We humans are hardwired to strive to find membership to a pack or tribe. We find comfort in belonging. We identify with others like ourselves, and we will search until we find that tribe that supports us most. Our social lives have a direct impact on everything we do. It influences where we go, what interests us and who we hang out with. It can also influence how successful we are at attaining a goal.
Fitness and weight loss goals are heavily affected by social influences. When someone wants to lose weight they usually recognize that there is a process that involves preparation, planning and certain actions that need to be taken. If your immediate network of support doesn’t value what you are attempting to do you may feel as though they are plotting against you. For instance, your friend invites you out to lunch only to realize that her lunch includes fries and ice cream. Every time you try to workout your kids have a crises. Or your spouse implies that you are wasting your time, buys cake and chips for the kids and you end up eating it. Inevitably you will fail at your goals simply because your goals are not as important to your tribe as they are to you.
When you are a part of the tribe that is interested in being successful in the same goals that you have, then real progress can be made. Our perception of what is attainable is greatly influenced by what others have already accomplished or believe is possible. If you observe that a friend of yours has a great network and other close friends and family that believe in their goals, then more than likely they will have greater adherence to their plan and ultimate success. When you are a witness to this kind of community, you will find yourself wanting that kind of support and looking for ways to spend more time with those who can give it to you.
There is a very real neurobiological reason why we function in this manner, why we strive to be a part of the “tribe”. Social isolation can not only increase our chances of being depressed it can also stimulate activity in the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenals. This can increase stress and release cortisol. Stress and it’s cortisol bi-product are two of the top reasons why people have difficulty losing weight. Bonding with friends and family increases hormones like oxytocin and vasopressin that facilitate bonding, make us feel like a wanted and an important part of the pack. There are some studies that indicate that an increase of endogenous opiates also play a huge role in our brain’s reward and memory systems. Thus our close relationships represent an emotional high that we can remember and try to repeat throughout our lives. Having those relationships will not only give you practical support but make you feel awesome while you are striving for them!
These are principles that are not lost on the fitness or weight loss industries. The “buddy system” is a huge sales pitch that does produce results. Buddy exercisers are more likely to stick with their workout. Only 6.3% of those engaged in a buddy fitness program ultimately drop out. Single exercisers drop out rate is closer to 43%.
If you want to produce great results no matter what your goals are find someone or a group to share them with. Find activities to do with them while you share your ideas and strategies. You may even want to create a plan with them that you can work on together. This will inspire you, improve your game and keep you on point. As you progress try to acknowledge each other’s achievements and create a reward system that you both can enjoy. The best part of success is the ability to share it with those who have supported you then entire time. Keep bonding with your buddy and think about how great you will feel when you’ve finally accomplished your goals!