Partners In Crime

Family, friends, and fun – that can be a combination for greatness, but maybe not!

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Back in 2007, there was a study that claimed to find a correlation between obesity and social circles. The quick-and-dirty conclusion was that if a friend, spouse, or family member became overweight or obese, then the chances of you becoming overweight or obese would also increase. While the math has been criticized, and further studies are in the works to verify the results, I think the reasoning behind the study makes sense.

We’re more likely to engage in similar behaviors of those around us, at least in my experience, whether they’re good for us or not. That’s why I say finding “partners in crime” when it comes to healthy living is such a great thing.

Take this weekend, for example. My family traveled to Houston to visit relatives for a 4th of July celebration. Left to my own devices, I would have embraced the excuse to binge and be lazy, and we all know where that leads! Luckily though, I have an awesome older cousin – kinesiology major at UT, applying to PT school this year, and way knowledgeable about nutrition and exercise. I also have a mom who knows my habits, and was on the lookout for any bingeing signs. Then, there are my aunts who like to work hard and train for triathlons.

So yes, while I did indulge in more food than usual (burgers and hotdogs…mmm), I also had other factors working in my favor. We all ate adequate breakfasts, lunches, and snacks so that we didn’t go too crazy at dinnertime. My cousin, aunt, mom, and I walked together to a neighborhood park and track for some exercise. We stayed up late, but we slept in and had a good breakfast of eggs and bacon. Yeah, I ate banana nut bread and cheesecake. Sure, I tried the homemade guacamole with some chips. But it was balanced and moderated by the other things we did that day.

Then get this: after the drive back to Houston, it was actually me who motivated my parents to workout (when it’s usually the other way around). My choice to visit the YMCA for a Zumba class gave my parents little excuse to stay at home. Instead, we all headed out to the gym together.

Even on Saturday, which would mark the completion of WEEK 1 of Insanity, I struggled to turn that video on. Just 40 minutes of effort, but it was tough to get my behind into gear and just do it. But I’m part of some online health sites, where other people are doing the same challenge – and just the thought of them putting in the work was enough to make me hit that dreaded PLAY button.

What I’m trying to say is this: sometimes, we just don’t want to do anything. Sometimes we don’t feel like watching what we eat, or getting out and exercising. And sometimes, that’s alright.

But when we surround ourselves with others that will keep us accountable, and struggle right there along with us, making smart choices and doing healthy things becomes a lot easier. It becomes less of a chore, and more of a habit.

It wasn’t until my second semester at college that I started to build better friendships, and that came with its pros and cons. For instance, I dated a super cool dude who was active in sports and dance – but when we went out to parties together, I would feel so awful the next day because I was too tired to work out and too down to eat right. On the other hand, I met some cool people that made me want to keep healthy – like one guy who at first only knew me as “Crossfit Girl” (I took that as a compliment!), and some classmates that would see me at the recreation center while I was working out (or working a shift as a weight room attendant).

It’s amazing how the little things can make a big difference. Just having someone to walk to the gym with, or wander around campus talking – it was enough to keep me active and motivated. It’s even better when you both have similar goals. It’s currently the summer, so motivation is readily available. But when the school year rolls around, I have faith that I’ll find the healthy partners I know and love.

Who are your partners in crime? Go out and find some!

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