Getting healthy with friends

Friends on paddleboard
My sisters and I clowning around on the paddleboard at Lake Erie

Food brings people together. It is used celebrate and share in cultures around the world, and the social aspects of food are a major reason why I got into the nutrition field. However, when I first embarked on my journey of eating and living healthier, I came up against a problem: the only thing I did with my friends was eat.

Building relationships around food is universal – we meet first dates over coffee or a drink. We have friends we regularly meet for ice cream, a glass of wine, or dinner. We are creatures of habit, and it is apparent in where and when we meet with our friends and family.

Having habits or activities you always do with certain friends is not a bad thing! But for me, these habits became an issue once I wanted to stop my weekly ice cream habit, or consume just a little less wine. I realized that if I wanted to keep up my relationships with friends, while still transforming my health routines, I needed to find other activities to do with my friends! Wanting to improve my health was the nudge I needed to get out of my old habits and explore some different options.

So I did! I went to dance and yoga classes, formed a book club, and started making dinner for friends, rather than eating out. A weekly walk with a friend through the neighborhoods of my town became a great way to connect more deeply and to get moving on lazy Sunday mornings. And what did I find?

Making these changes actually improved my relationships with those around me. It seems surprising at first, but by getting out of our comfort zones and doing new things, me and my friends talked about different things, shared new experiences, and laughed quite a lot (particularly in our hip-hop dance class…).

It can be scary to shake up our routines or try something new. But the benefits can be huge. Particularly because you don’t have to choose between meeting your health goals and meeting with your friends. For me, my relationships and health began to support each other, bringing more ease and enjoyment to my daily life. It is really cool.

But what activities do you choose? Here are some ideas of ways you can get some quality time in with your friends without worrying about straying from your health goals.

Activities with Friends:

  • Go to an exercise class together.

    Who else is better to sweat it out with you in yoga, spin, or dance class than your friends? Having a friend in class will make it more fun, and you’ll have lots to talk about afterwards. Find a class that either you or your friend have been wanting to try, or something totally new for both of you!

  • Windowshop.

    Are you a city dweller? How about setting up a date to window shop down the nearest stretch of stores? Browsing, rather than having a dedicated shopping trip, allows you to spend more time together and to keep moving.

  • Join a team.

    Kickball, soccer, dodgeball, ultimate frisbee…adult leagues are popping up all over the country, and is a great activity that can keep you and your good friend seeing each other on the regular. Plus, you get to meet lots of other fun people who like to exercise! (Just watch out for too many post-win beers!)

  • Hit the trails.

    There are bound to be beautiful woods, trails, and parks nearby that you have yet to explore. Get your dose of nature on a beautiful day with a friend.

The key to changing up your routines, as is always the case, is flexibility. It is about expanding your horizons and getting to experience new things with your friends, so you don’t have to choose between following your health plan and spending time with those you love. Of course you are going to still get an iced cream or a beer, or have a date for burgers, and that is great! But by adding in some different activities, it keeps your relationships fresh, and keeps you both healthier.

What are your favorite ways to get active with friends?

How to start making healthy choices

Building healthier choices into your life can be a daunting task. There’s exercising every day, getting enough sleep every day, feeding your family right every day. None of these goals are easy to achieve, and particularly are hard to implement every single day. Because we phrase our goals in this way, it can be difficult to even imagining incorporating these practices into our current routine.

In chemistry, in our bodies, and in our lives, every action needs activation energy. Activation energy is a term used in chemistry for the really high amount of energy that chemical reactions need to get started. After the activation energy is reached, similar to pushing a rock up a hill, the reaction tumbles forward, and your energy to remain in that state plateaus at a normal, stable level. In chemistry, requiring high activation energy is a matter of protection! You don’t want things firing off all the time, making molecules, breaking apart, disrupting the balance. There has to be a clear and strong call to action before the infantry in your body get moving.
Activation energy

When it comes to the decisions we make every day, that high activation energy can stop us from taking the first step towards reaching our lifestyle goals.
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