Earlier this month, I posted this, outlining the need for ‘affection.’
Affection can only come from social interaction, be that from friends, family or a closer loved one.
We may not think of this, but, like it or not, fitness is highly social.
Team sports being the easiest example for me, as an individual who played on dozens of various sports teams for most of my life, I can attest to the power of a group.
Not only do I feel I learned valuable social skills,but I believe it also helped me on a multitude of levels such as learning leadership skills, team play skills, fitness skills/behaviors, and strategy skills.
We can probably attribute our social settings to much of our greatest experiences, successes, failures, challenges and just plain fun in life.
Would you agree?
How fun is winning if you don’t have someone to share it with?
In fitness, we’ve seen the rise in the last 30 years of group classes, or group training like run or cycling clinics.
Quite possibly, the majority of participation in these events is driven by the social involvement, and not a fundamental need to lose weight or to feel fit.
Actually, in my opinion, the majority of these programs, from a purely fitness development stand-point, do a very poor job of developing particularly fit people, as they emphasize too much training time in one realm of fitness.
For example, too much aerobics or ‘cardiovascular training’ at the exclusion of proper explosive power, strength or resistance training.
I can however, state with confidence, that group settings do generally make people more fit than they otherwise would be, which is a start.
I’m also sure that this gives us insight into some key ideas.
Namely, that if you do have a strong desire to be fit, hanging out with and garnering affection from other fit people may just be a great way to do that.
Give serious thought to a training partner or buddy.
As I was stating earlier there is a general need for all human beings to seek out affection from others, and it can only be done in social environments. Refer to the book ‘The Social Animal,’ by David Brooks, for further evidence.
Generally speaking, we look for feedback or approval from bosses at work. We want to hear words of encouragement from coaches and peers. We want interaction, and connection with loved ones.
So let’s specifically look at the work of Dr. Nicholas Christakis. In his book ‘Connected,’ — see the video ‘Cole’s Notes’ version of this book here — he alludes to the hidden influence of social networks, touching briefly on the social impact towards obesity.
In short, it’s real.
If a close friend of yours gains weight in a given time period, you have a 57% greater likelihood of also gaining weight in that same time period.
If a friend in your immediate social circle is obese, you have a 45% greater likelihood of being obese.
The second degree of separation — your friends, friends — puts the likelihood of your obesity at 25% higher, simply by knowing someone who knows someone who is obese.
The third degree of separation — your friends, friends, friends or people you don’t even know— still puts the likelihood of your obesity at 10% higher than average.
It’s not actually until you reach, friends of friends, friends, friends, is there no longer a strong relationship between that persons body size and your own body size.
I don’t often like to throw stats out there to people, so what does this all mean?
Well like my example of John Doe, in the article Understanding, your social sphere, may actually be the limiting factor, and you are most likely not even completely aware of it.
Or maybe you are, and are in denial about it.
Keeping in mind that denial is a near essential human psychological protective mechanism, and not meant to serve as a derogatory term in that sentence.
If you read Dr. Christakis’ book or watch his video, you’ll see social networks are complicated.
In the context of fitness, they are very tricky to deal with, perhaps one of the most difficult things to address, particularly as a coach, when trying to bring around change.
Yet social connection more often than not, still needs to be changed if you are to realize a fuller fitness potential or optimal body-weight.
Peer or social pressure is a very powerful motivator that is not that easy to change.
A lot of the people close to you, will resist your change.
The simple fact that you are changing, may intimidate them, they may feel as if they cannot change with you and worry about you growing apart.
Obviously in doing so they may potentially lose a person from which they seek affection. They often throw negativity into the mix, to discourage you from changing.
People often fear change. We often fear what we don’t understand too. Don’t take it too personally at first, if people around you aren’t as supportive as you hoped they might be, but find at least one person who is — a coach maybe?
The others, I encourage you to endure, at least for a while.
Many of us feel that we cannot simply ‘divorce’ our friends for being a certain way, so I’m not suggesting you immediately cut ties with overweight friends, or be rude about it.
Instead of creating abrupt change, what you may find in this process is that your relationships gradually change.
One of two things generally will happen:
A) You will inspire your friends or loved ones to change with you. They will come around to what you’re doing.
B) You will lose a current friend or loved one, gradually, but that may not be a bad thing for your quality of life moving forward.
Be consistent, and courageous, both of these may take months or years even, to occur.
We’ve all had friends we drifted apart from over the years right?
Your values simply did not add up any more, and that’s OK, it happens. You may not even fully remember the experience.
People change and grow apart, this can be a part of life. Aim not to dwell too much on it.
My challenge to you this month, find at least one fit friend.