How do we all decide on our attitudes and behaviors? Do we really develop attitudes on politics, religion, and the weather all by ourselves? Is the way in which we behave in different settings completely determined by our own individual thought processes? As it turns out, we do not. For years, Social Psychologists have stressed the power of social influence on our attitudes and behaviors, pointing to various factors that play a determining role in who we are as people. And the interesting thing is that this influence can be found in all aspects of life. That, surprisingly enough, includes our attitudes and behaviors with regards to food, weight, and exercise.
What does this mean? Simply that the company we keep can indirectly influence how we think about all things weight and physical fitness. Below is a list of the various factors that influence (and are influenced by) others in this domain, as well as suggestions for how to work around potential negative influence.
- Attitudes relating to obesity and ideal size correlate with a person’s BMI and with friends’ BMI’s and attitudes.
- How heavy our friends and family are is usually similar to how heavy we are.
- The environment that you are in shapes your perceptions of what is normal and what is right.
- Who you eat with can help or hurt you
- Your own activity level and attitudes towards exercise are likely influenced by your friends and family’s activity and attitudes. Key word: Conformity
Luckily for us, when we learn how we function as humans, we can work what we know to our advantage. Below are some suggestions for using social influence to help with your weight loss journey.
- Friends indirectly influence each other’s attitudes over time. Be the positive influence that changes friends’ attitudes about weight for the better. Avoid spending too much time with those with negative attitudes or attitudes that are indifferent to weight and health.
- Be sure to spend time with people of all weight variations. Seeing and speaking to lean and fit people will likely influence your unconscious perceptions and ideas about what weight/shape is “ok”. In turn, this may indirectly influence your eating and exercise habits. How others behave will influence you, and constantly being around big eaters or sedentary friends will hurt you.
- In line with point 2, the environment you place yourself in can either help or hurt your waistline. Make family trips active ones. Have fun with friends without involving the extra calories of parties and outings. Join a gym or a workout group that meets regularly. Check Brandon Weight Loss blog regularly to stay in the loop on healthy living. Become a part of Brandon Weight Loss’ online community so that you feel connected to others with similar goals and struggles!
- High levels of social interaction during mealtimes can lead to increased consumption of food. Be mindful of this when you’re out for dinner or have friends/family over. Decide on what and how much you will eat before the meal begins and stick to it. Take care to listen to your body. When you feel full, stop. Don’t let the conversation carry you away!
- Befriend the fit! Make sure you’ve got a couple of friends and relative who have similar views on exercise and fitness as you do. Keep regular contact with them and turn to them for encouragement if you’re overwhelmed by indifference or negativity from others!
Most importantly, become a part of a community that is interested in the same goals that started you on your weight loss journey. Talk to your weight loss coach regularly, subscribe to weekly Brandon Weight Loss blogs and monthly newsletters, and get to know others who are in the same boat as you. Feeling that you are a part of a great weight loss community will surely boost your morale and help you along your way.
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