Friday, March 11, 2011

peer support ...

Making the choice to be healthy is challenging. We live in a world where inactivity and poor nutrition are fostered. We drive everywhere. There is a fast food restaurant every five feet. Fewer and fewer schools have a quality PE program. Obesity levels are at an all time high. Did you know that there is only one state with an obesity level of 20% or below? I didn't either. (It's Colorado, in case you were wondering).

We are an unhealthy nation. And it bothers the heck out of me. Because it wasn't inevitable. It was caused by a series of choices. Choices that each and every one of us is presented with.

Last night, I started reading Body by Design. In the early chapters, the author discusses the effect of our peer groups and support systems in the choices we make. Apparently, research has been done that shows that if an individual has obese friends, they are more likely to fall victim to obesity as well - even if they don't have face-to-face interactions with each other (think social network sites).

When I thought about it, it really started to make sense. As a teen, I was overweight. And so were my friends. We fostered each others negative behaviors. We (as a group) chose eating out over eating healthy and movie nights over workout sessions. Then, when I decided to make a change, I found myself drifting from those people, maybe intentionally, maybe not. And as I drifted, I formed new connections with people who supported, agreed with or shared my passion for health and fitness. And now, I am surrounded (both virtually and in real life) with individuals who "get me" and what I am trying to do. They understand why I would want to run a marathon or be a vegetarian, even if they don't aspire to do the same. They understand that my choices are intended to improve the quality of life for me and my whole family. They see the big picture.

Sure, there have been speed bumps along the way. I've encountered people who I thought were there for me, but their negativity was too great to overcome. So, I've left them behind and I'm better for it. It hasn't always been easy, but every struggle has been worth it. And I will continue this journey with the support of my peers (especially my loving husband who supports me 100% regardless of what I throw at him). And I will do my best to inspire the people around me to do the same, if for no other reason than to give back some of the support I have received ...

33 comments:

Run with Jess said...

Fabulous post!! Probably means I will like that book, huh?! I made the decision several years ago to get healthy. 50 lbs lighter now, I've never felt better about myself. I made a lifestyle change... I spend my free time differently. I eat/drink different. I get excited about new things. And I've grown apart from many friends. It hurts sometimes, but you really do have to surround yourself with the people that love and support you no matter if you're toasting a beer at Friday happy hour or a gatorade after a great run. It's been a tough learning process in life for me.

Jogging with Fiction said...

This is great! You're inspiring to me! You're a seriously awesome runner and have a great (hilarious) family!

Side note, I don't know if this is the same everywhere, but I just found out that schools here no longer require kids to run the mile! I know I hated doing it in school, but it was definitely good for me!

Jen said...

Yay.... I can definitely admit the same thing. I used to get invited to lunch a lot... know, not so much. Not because I am busy or because I don't eat... but because they are ashamed at their own eating habits.

I invite them to take a walk or go to the gym with me... they haven't accepted yet, but I haven't given up hope!

You ARE inspiring to me and I hope I can count myself among your support system.

Rock on!

Cat B. said...

Love this! I never really thought of the virtual peer group as having an effect on my choices...but really, if it wasn't for the inpiration and understanding I get online, I probably would not have even tried to reach some of my goals.

theAlmostRunner said...

it's so true... all the unhealthy eating, sedentary lifestyle... everything, is socially based. encouragement is everything!

fancy nancy said...

Love this! It breaks my heart when children are so overweight and sedentary. I started a running group at the old school I worked at in order to get kids out and running. They lack the education on health and we didn't have a program in the schools to teach them.

You inspire so many...keep up the great work!

Rene' said...

What a great post this morning! I like you changed some of my friends when I started making changes i.e running, eating healthy etc...I still like my original friends but, I don't have as much in common with them anymore. Instead I spend an hour on the phone with my calendar and my running friend planning our races for the next 6 months.
What is amazing to me as far as obese kids is the fact that it is not just poor kids who don't have money for food. I live in a pretty nice community with parents who should know better, but if you would see what kids eat you would be horrified. I mean seriously an entire roll of sugar donuts for "snack." and they are heavy, heavy, heavy. It is just gross!
Thanks T for being who you are. You inspire me on a daily basis with your posts and your training plans. While you feel the support from the blog community you are also a super supportive person too. Can't wait to see you in two weeks, xoxoxo!

Mamarunsbarefoot said...

I'm an so sad to see children overweight, no one outside. The shopping carts of parents of little kids makes me want to scream!!!!!! What has happened to people eating real food and simply moving.

Keep inspiring!!!

Carly said...

Totally agree. I have found losing weight to be easier this time around since my husband is willing to be healthy with me. It also helps that I have parents and a brother who also care about their health. It really does make a difference. And that's also one of the reasons I blog as well as attend Weight Watchers.

Kurt @ Becoming An Ironman said...

So true!! Great post.

I've seen the exact same thing happen! As I spend more and more time training, reading my triathlon books, and blogging, I spend less time with my inactive friends. My version of "hanging out" is now workouts, training someone, or work.

It's always good to be surrounded by people who support you. They don't have to fully understand, but as long as they 'get it,' it's a huge help.

Lesley @ racingitoff.com said...

Amen. Great post.

I'm still going through some issues related to this. When I make a healthy choice when out from friends and getting the "just order what you want" speech. Uh no, cause what I want contains more calories than I should eat in a day. It's hard to make good decisions, but certainly easier when surrounded by people making the same decisions.

SupermomE12 said...

I am interested in the book too!

You are right... it is important to be around people who support you, ESPECIALLY when you are making a big life change and starting on a new path. I find now that I am committed to running, eating well, etc. I can handle being around others who aren't more, but when I first started I really needed the support. Now I hope I can be the one to inspire those who are living sedentary life styles and are eating junk to make a change. :)

Beth said...

This is so true. You tend to act like the people around you. My friends all call each other the enablers, we encourage ridic amounts of exercise and even more ridic amounts of eating. Its hard to say whether its healthy or not, or what you would do without the influence of friends.

Becka said...

You definitely inspire ME!

(PS, I live in Colorado :D )

Anabela (Bela) Neves said...

Great post and so true! Most of my friends are very inactive and I admit I don't do things with them very often because if I hear how they took their kids to McD's one more time I will scream. I really need new friends ....LOL

jackie said...

my problem is with family (not immediate family)...just cousins and inlaws & my mother. they look at me like i am crazy because i am active and eat healthier. thank you for all of your inspiration! it is because of blogging that i stay inspired and motivated.

Shellyrm ~ just a country runner said...

I cannot believe you just posted this. I just bought this book. My friend Jason on FB (well we grew up together actually but he moved away) was trying to get me to start this when he did. I just talked him into reposting his "after" photo which he had taken down because he was getting comments that didn't encourage what he was trying to encourage.

I am excited to do something to change the shape of me. Right now is a great time to start with my need to limit miles running between races. I just hope I can stick with it.

As for peer support, I think it is almost critical for long term success. (Looking back I know that I spent a lot of time with friends who took my classes or that I was training. Many of them were not quite as far on their fitness journey as I was. But what I realize now is that they allowed me to "stall" in my goal setting. It wasn't their fault. It was mine. But in hindsight I can see that my choice of friends to spend time with had deeper ramifications.)

Rochelle said...

That's so sad about our country. I am taking this get healthy journey for myself but also for my kids. I don't want them to grow up with the insecurities or overweight issues I had! Lovely post and I love my "blogger" world of friends I have found who are going through the same things I am!

Love and Puppies, Christy said...

You are amazing!

akjenniekt said...

This is a great post and I think it makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the great post!

Elizabeth said...

I am lucky to have never been in “obese” status. Sure there was a time back in college where I “blew up” from a size 4 to 10/12 in a matter of months. I slowly took weight off until 2 years ago when I made a lifestyle change. I am not back to a 4 but I am comfortable with who I am. I have several friends who don’t “get it” and constantly criticize the amount of time I run or exercise or when I watch what I eat. They unfortunately have not jumped on the bandwagon and still struggle with their weight. I know some of it is jealously and I hope that they will one day get it. Good for you for taking care of yourself and finding the right support system. And I agree about our country-something has to change!!

trifitmom said...

since i have started what i guess i will call my journey - i have seen the difference in how i interact with friends. i seek out others who are like minded like myself.

Tortuga_Runner said...

we have a saying in my family/culture that translates to "show me your friends and I'll I show you who you are"...it is the same concept you discuss here, but I never thought to apply it to health and fitness.

Marlene said...

I was just thinking the other day that ALL of my good friends right now are runners. Funny how that worked out... I love surrounding myself with healthy, like-minded people and have a really hard time connecting with a lot of my (in-law) family because they are sooo unhealthy and don't give a damn.

Melissa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa said...

Hi! Oops...for some reason my comment got deleted after I typed it! I just wanted to say that I love reading about how well your training is going. I can sense the "joy" you have for running in your posts! We should run together sometime soon :) It's great to be there for eachother on the long runs!
Melissa K.

Laura said...

Yep...love it. My run group has become some of my best friends as they are just so supportive and positive. A lot of my family just doesn't get what I do...and that's fine but it doesn't mean that I am making concessions anymore for them.

Terri said...

Great post! And so very true!

VK said...

Fabulous post!!! As I started to try to run, I've noticed that some of my friends don't "get me" and we've drifted, but I'm thankful to have found such inspiring and supportive "friends" on Daily Mile. YOU inspire me and YOU are the reason I started having my daughter run with me (after I saw that yours ran a race) so us finishing our first 5K today is due to YOU! :)

mostlyfitmom said...

I totally agree with you. When I went from working in an office to being back in university, I lost (some) weight almost automatically. Now, I'm surrounded by a very health conscious group of fellow dental students vs. a lot of sedentary accounting types and it makes such a difference! Here, people don't question me if I don't have a piece of birthday cake or pizza at functions, and we discuss the races we're planning to participate in this summer. It makes me want to do more, run faster, etc.

BTW, I ordered a couple of your headbands today. I've been growing out my hair a little so I've been wanting something to keep the hair out of my eyes, but the old headbands I have keep falling off!

Liz said...

I love this post and totally agree. While many of the people I grew up with are not obese, they do live very unhealthy lifestyles (drinking, partying, binge eating, starvation...). While they say there are proud of my love for running and my new lifestyle choices, they don't really understand why I choose this.

It's nice to have running friends who believe the same thing I do and can help me when I struggle.

Thanks for the inspiring post. :)

Wifey said...

Another great post! Support is so important - especially from your spouse. The running community is so supportive - online and in person - and it's made such a difference in my journey!

Winks & Smiles,
Wifey

Mile Posts by Dorothy Beal said...

Sounds like a good book!!!! I love reading. Have I already asked you this? Are you a member of www.goodreads.com?