Friends matter

Here is a post from Chris, a construction supervisor in Milwaukee. He has a healthy dose of sense of humor when it comes to living a healthy life. He also recognizes the importance of surrounding yourself with others who have similar goals. He has a great support system, and recognizes how much this affects his healthy lifestyle.

I have friends who like being active, I have [my fiance] who likes being active, I have a supportive family, and I know that if I were to start doing things that were very unhealthy, people would try and help me to reverse those decisions and turn my life in the right direction.

This has been shown time after time, that friends help us live longer, or, conversely, influence our levels  of obesity. So one strategy for living a healthy life is to look at the people with whom you surround yourself. While we certainly can't change everyone we see each day, we can make a conscious effort to notice our habits when we are with others. Around some people, we may tend to eat out more, drive more, or indulge more. Alternatively, others may inspire us to eat healthier or walk more. And best of all, certain friends or family members may motivate us to stick to our goals. Try to find someone who has the same health goals as you, and hold each other accountable. If you can't find anyone, I'm always looking for someone to motivate me!

But remember not to be too hard on yourself when you slip up. We're all human, we all make mistakes. Chris also points out that living a healthy life is about balance, not about perfection. As he says,

I know that I'm able to go out for a couple beers after work, because I worked hard during the day.  And yes - the beers aren't super healthy for me, per se... but life is about balance.  There are people who do everything that is perfectly healthy and nothing that isn't.  That life isn't for me.  I work out so I can enjoy life, not so I can become a super model (even though my dashing good looks already make me look like one).  I work hard so I can spend a couple snow day mornings watching Netflix on my sweet new HDTV.  I bike to work so I can have a few beers after work.  Am I in perfect health?  Absolutely not.  Do I eat crap sometimes?  Oh yeah.  I love me a Big Mac every now and again.  But I notice that after eating junk, I don't feel as good as after I eat a great healthy meal.  That motivates me to keep going and continue as healthy a lifestyle as I can.

P.S. One inspirational study mentioned in the NY Times article linked above: Thirty-four students wearing heavy backpacks were taken to a hill and asked to estimate how steep it was. Those that were standing next to friends estimated that the hill was less steep than those that were standing alone. The hill was the same in both cases; for some reason, it appeared less steep to those that were standing next to friends. Pretty awesome.